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.