French Rafales op­er­a­tional in Poland


Since May 6, 2014, the French Air Force de­tach­ment de­ployed to Poland at the re­quest of NATO has as­sumed its quick re­ac­tion alert (QRA), stand­ing by to scram­ble air­craft to en­sure the ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity of the airspace of the Baltic States.

This de­ployed is manned by about 70 soldiers sup­port­ing four French Air Force Rafale com­bat air­craft, which since April 28 are sta­tioned at Mal­bork air­base. Its goal is to help en­sure the na­tional sovereignty of the Baltic coun­tries over their air space, which have no air de­fence forces of their own, and to de­fend their ter­ri­tory against any air threat. In case of doubts about any air­craft fly­ing in this airspace, the Rafales can take off in a few min­utes, 24 x 7.

Dur­ing its de­ploy­ment, the French de­tach­ment al­ter­nates the NATO Air Po­lice mis­sion with train­ing mis­sions to­gether with the Pol­ish Air Force. A two-hour train­ing mis­sion, for ex­am­ple, was flown on May 6 along­side other NATO com­bat air­craft.

The de­ploy­ment of these fighters comes un­der the re­as­sur­ance mea­sures de­cided by France to show its sol­i­dar­ity with its East­ern Euro­pean al­lies. De­cided on April 16 at the re­quest of NATO, it com­ple­ments the de­ploy­ment of E-3F AWACS air­craft which, since April 1, share in NATO sur­veil­lance mis­sions of Pol­ish and Ro­ma­nian airspace from their base at Avord, in cen­tral France.

This is the first time that the Rafale are thus de­ployed to en­sure an on­go­ing op­er­a­tional mis­sion in a for­eign coun­try. Their de­ploy­ment was fa­cil­i­tated by the de­ploy­ment of a pre­cur­sor de­tach­ment on April 24. Con­sist­ing of 60 mil­i­tary per­son­nel, this ech­e­lon set up sev­eral tonnes of equip­ment in time for the ar­rival of the Rafales.

This de­tach­ment has a dual mis­sion: Con­duct train­ing at NATO Air Polic­ing along­side Pol­ish crews; and Par­tic­i­pate, at the re­quest of NATO, in mon­i­tor­ing the airspace of Lithua­nia, Latvia and Es­to­nia and en­sure their sovereignty.

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