Iraq: First Aerial Reconnaissance Flight
(Source: French air force; issued Sept 15, 2014)
(Issued in French; unofficial translation by
A French air force pilot doing his pre-flight check on his Rafale fighter passes alongside the newly-introduced RECO NG reconnaissance pod used for all ISR missions. (FrAF photo)
On 15 September 2014, two Air Force Rafale aircraft took off from the French air base 104 at Al Dhafra 104, in the United Arab Emirates, to carry out a reconnaissance mission over Iraq.

For this ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) mission, the Rafales were each equipped with a RECO NG pod. Carried under the aircraft, this instrument allows the collection of digital images at high and low altitudes, of high-speed day and night images as well as video surveillance.

Conducted under the tactical control of Rear Admiral Beaussant, the Admiral In Command of the Indian Ocean area (ALINDIEN), this mission was carried out in close coordination with Iraqi authorities and xith our allies in the region.

On September 13, French intelligence capabilities in the UAE had been reinforced by equipment flown to Al Dhafra in an A400M on the instructions of General Peter de Villiers, the Chief of Defence Staff. Forty military specialists and intelligence equipment were shipped from Air Base 123 at Orleans Bricy, while the next day, Sunday, September 14, a C135 tanker aircraft deployed to Al Dhafra from its home station at Istres (air base 125).

Visiting the United Arab Emirates after his trip to Iraq with President of the Republic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, defense minister, addressed personnel at the French base at Al Dhafra shortly before the departure of the two Rafales. He reiterated the determination of France just as an international conference on Iraq was opening in Paris.

Today’s ISR mission achieved is the first French flight of this king made over Iraq, and similar missions could be carried out in the coming days. The objective is to gather gain intelligence on the Daesh terrorist group, and to strengthen our capacity for independent assessment of the situation.

French forces in the United Arab Emirates (FFEAU) are part of the international presence of the French armed forces. They consist of a headquarters staff at operational level, the naval base in Abu Dhabi, Air Base 104 at Al Dhafra and the 13th DBLE, the Foreign Legion’s amed “Half-Brigade.”

The FFEAU maintains a permanent presence in the UAE under defense agreements and bilateral defense relations between France and its regional partners. They also have the task of supporting the military assets in the Persian Gulf and the northern Indian Ocean, and enable the training and hardening of forces in desert and urban areas.


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