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    A Hercules C-130 prepares to take off from Fort-de-France airbase on a mission in Haiti.

    Mirage 2000 C turnaround underway following a flight assistance mission.

    A Mirage 2000 C takes off to performan air defence mission above the Kourou Space Center.

    A Mirage 2000 D takes off from Solenzara airbase during the Serpentex exercise.

    Two Rafale aircraft on an escort mission to Abu Dhabi.

  • 01 The Air Force is involved in all five of the strategic functions identified

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    Knowledge and AnticipationKnowledge and anticipation constitute a new strate-gic function, a priority, and they are our first line of defence. They encompass every area of intelligence, including Space.

    The French Air Force makes a vital contribution to this knowledge and anticipation function. It takes part in strategic monitoring and operational support activi-ties. The Air Force uses the GRAVES system to carry out Space surveillance, an activity that will be of crucial diplomatic, economic and military importance in the fu-ture. Thanks to its Operations Center in Lyon, the Air Force, working within an interministerial and multina-tional framework, is capable of assessing threats to the countrys air space at any time.

    PreventionPrevention entails taking action to prevent the appearance or worsening of threats to national security.

    In this area, the French Air Force actively combats all forms of trafficking, illegal immigration and piracy.Its presence is felt all over the world. Its combat and transport aircraft and helicopters are permanently pre-positioned on airbases in Senegal, Chad, Gabon, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates.

    DeterrenceThe credibility of deterrence relies on two complementary components, seaborne and airborne, with specific assets and methods of penetration.

    The airborne component is represented in the French Air Force by the Forces Ariennes Stratgiques (FASFrench Air Strategic Command), with the Mirage 2000 N carrying the ASMP medium-range air-to-ground missile. As of 2010, this aircraft is being phased out and replaced by the Rafale/ASMP-A combination. These air-craft are supported by ageing Boeing C-135 FRs, which will need to be replaced by Multirole Transport Tankers.France is the only European country with this inde-pendent capability, which plays a vital role in the countrys defence at a relatively low cost. The air-borne component only accounts for 13% of the cost of the nuclear deterrent.

    A Rafale from the fighter squadron 1/91 Gascogne, carrying an ASMP-A missile.

    A C-135 FR from the air-to-air refuelling squadron GRV 2/91 Bretagne seen landing.

    Mirage 2000 N formation.

    Mirage 2000-5in the United Arab Emirates.

    Helios satellite.

    A Mirage F1 CR in Africa.

    A Harfang UAV in Afghanistan.

    An E-3F AWACS in French Guiana.

    Djibouti airbase.

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  • 01Protection

    The French Air Force deploys significant assets to protect French citizens against threats from the sky and from Space.

    Everyday, some 10,000 to 15,000 aircraft fly over France. Working within an interministerial framework, more than 1,000 members of the Air Force keep watch round the clock to detect and identify these aircraft. They also guarantee freedom of action for Government authorities and protect the countrys key facilities. Command and control (C2) resources, airspace and Space surveillance systems as well as interceptors, evenly distributed across airbases throughout the country, are all part of the permanent air security posture.In addition to this permanent mission, the Air Force is also called on in the event of natural catastrophes or industrial disasters to help those in difficulty and sup-port public health action. Other public service missions include providing assistance to aircraft in distress, contributing to anti-terrorist measures and helping to

    fight forest fires. To give an idea of the scale of these operations, Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) aircraft took off 2,000 times in the past 12 months and provided assis-tance to 200 aircraft in distress. They flew on 130 search and rescue operations and saved twenty lives. The Air Force is responsible for coordinating and carrying out these actions.

    InterventionIntervention outside France remains the most impor-tant type of action (because it is the most demanding) for determining the size of our armed forces.

    French Air Force aircraft are deployed or ready to inter-vene in a wide range of operations, from humanitarian missions to combating terrorism. Fifteen hundred air force personnel are currently deployed on temporary missions. Based in 12 countries across the globe, they are particu-larly responsible for ensuring the operational readiness of thirty aircraft, including fighters, tanker aircraft, tactical transport aircraft, helicopters and UAVs.







    A Fennec helicopter in action during the floods that hit southern France.

    A Hercules C-130 and Transall C-160 on the ground of Fort-de-France airbase.

    Two Mirage 2000 C aircraft on patrol.

    Vigipirate anti-terrorist patrol at Roissy CDG airport in Paris.

    ASTER missile fired from a SAMP/T system. Air defence controller.

    Fennec MASA helicopters in French Guiana.

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  • 02 COMMITMENT AT HOME AND ABROAD02Frances armed forces need undisputed operational supremacy to face enemies. The Air Force plays an important role in national security and is a vital strategic component of any joint military operations.Space surveillance

    France is the only European nation equipped to assess the situation in Space, with Air Force radar equipment and

    the GRAVES and SATAM systems detecting and tracking low-orbit satellites. A Space center will soon be opened at the Lyon-Mont-Verdun base. The center will merge all the sensor data received to provide extremely accurate daily

    reports on the situation in Space. Known as COSMOS, the center will be the Joint Space Commands (CIE) surveillance tool. The Air Force has been instrumental in helping France

    reaffirm its Space surveillance capabilities alongside fo-reign partners (Germany and the United States).

    Air-land OperationsWith a total strength of more than 700, the French Air Forces

    paratrooper commandos (CPA n 10, n 20 and n 30) can be used in air-land operations (special operations for CPA n 10).

    Their action is geared towards the use of the third dimension: high-altitude-qualified paratroopers (High-Altitude Low-Opening,

    High-Altitude High-Opening), Forward Air Control and Close Air Support and reconnaissance of rudimentary airstrips.

    At the same time, the Air Forces units deploy tactical transport aircraft and utility helicopters and train their crews

    for special missions, such as airdropping personnel and equipment, combat search and rescue missions, tactical

    landings and evacuating nationals.

    Force ProtectionWith its land-based, medium-range, surface-to-air defence system (SAMP/T), the French Air Force has extended the concept of land-based air defence and is now able to combat all modern airborne targets, including tactical ballistic and cruise missiles. The SAMP/T system is thus capable of defending combat forces, airbases and key points against attack from the air. It also represents Frances contribution to the initial missile defence capability defined in NATOs Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) programme.

    ProjectionAccording to the French White Paper on Defence and National Security, the country must be capable of pro-jecting 1,500 troops over a range of 8,000 kilometers in less than five days.The Air Forces current internal resources allow it to meet 25% of this objective. This figure will drop further as C-160 aircraft are phased out. As of 2013, however, the Air Force will begin to take delivery of 50 A400M transport aircraft and, with the help of the MRTT fleet, will be in a position to meet this objective in full.

    Nuclear roleThe strike capabilities of Frances nuclear deterrent are being sustained and improved in a number of ways. This can be seen in the progress made in the ASMP-A missile programme, the operational fielding of this missile on Ra-fale aircraft in 1/91 Gascogne fighter squadron in Saint-Di-zier since July 1st 2010, and the phasing out of Boeing C-135 and KC-135 tankers in favour of multi-role tanker transport aircraft (MRTTs).These developments also respond to new nuclear security standards applying to storage and deployment. With its la-test equipment, the airborne nuclear component rises to the challenge of the new geostrategic situation.

    Air Policing and Flight AssistanceAbout a thousand air force personnel are on duty 24/7, all year round, to fulfil the Air Forces air se-curity mission. At present, eight Rafale or Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft, five armed Fennec helicop-ters, one C-135 tanker and one E-3F AWACS air-craft are ready to intervene within 15 minutes to guarantee the Government


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