Twelve years after the arrival of the first fighter planes on the "Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Pijeaud" air base belonging to the French Forces in the United Arab Emirates (FFEAU), the air detachment celebrated the ten years of Rafale operations, an omnirole and game changer in every way.
Strategic fulcrum for operations in Afghanistan (Pamir), Libya (Harmattan) then Iraq and Syria (Chammal), the French air base in the UAE, established on September 1, 2008, welcomed its first fighter planes that same year.
Initially, France deployed Mirage 2000-5F of the fighter squadron (EC) 1/2 “Cigognes” to the advanced base, which were augmented in 2010 by the 3/30 “Lorraine” fighter squadron, reinforcing the air detachment with its first three Rafale.
In 2011, the Mirage 2000-5F left the UAE for good to take part in the Harmattan mission in Libya, and the 3/30 “Lorraine” squadron in turn received three additional Rafales. On June 24, 2016, the 3/30 “Lorraine” was replaced by the 1/7 “Provence” fighter squadron equipped with seven Rafales, which still contribute to the action of the international coalition against terrorism today through Operation Chammal.
Thanks to its versatility and its proven capabilities in foreign theaters of operations since 2007, the Rafale is the flagship of the French Air Force fighter component. To celebrate ten years of presence at the UAE air base, the fins of two Rafales have been specially decorated for the occasion.
For the realization of these painted works, the EC 1/7 “Provence” called on the experience of a staff on a short-term mission, Warrant Officer Stéphane, technical manager of the squadron structures workshop of Aviation Technical Support Squadron (ESTA) 15/030 based in Mont-de-Marsan. With around fifteen commemorative paintings to his credit, he perfectly masters the specific issues related to the painting of French Air Force fighter planes.