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The two French Air Force Rafale B and C on their way to strike ISIL targets in Iraq with heavy fuel tanks and GBU-12 bombs

Two Rafale fighter jets of the French Air Force conducted the first French air strikes in Iraq against ISIS on September 19th 2014. The target was identified by the French Defense Ministry as a logistical depot located at Daech in Iraq’s north east. The two rafale from the 3/30 “Lorraine” Fighter Squadron were in fact operating from Al Dhafra Air Base in United Arab Emirates. There, the French Air Force maintains 4 additional Rafale fighter jets as well as supporting aircraft.

The strike package consisted of the 2 Rafale, one single seat C-model and one two-seat B-model each equipped with the Damocles laser designator/ targeting pod attached to the right of the aircraft’s centerline. The armament on each aircraft consisted of 4 GBU-12 Paveway II (500 lbs) Laser Guided Bomb, with a pair of bombs mated to a single dual bomb rack underneath each wing. Each aircraft was also fitted with a single MICA short/medium range air-to-air missile attached to the left wing’s tip.

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George Seguin picture of the Damocles targeting pod at LeBourget Paris 2009 air show

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The wing-tip attached MICA short/medium range air-to-air missile on a rafale jet (David Monniaux)

 According to the French Defense Ministry, the strikes took place on Friday morning between 9h40 and 9h58 with each aircraft releasing two GBU-12 bombs. Pictures of the two returning Rafale showed a single GBU-12 remaining on each of the aircraft’s wings.

The strike package consisted of a French Navy Breguet Atlantique 2 Combat Intelligence platform that conducted Battle Assessment Damage (see pictures), a French Air Force C-135-FR tanker along with unspecified US Air Force CSAR assets in support.

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French Defense Ministry released photos of the target pre and post strikes.

Total mission flight duration to and from the target zone was approximately 5 hours requiring 3 in-flight refuels. Both aircraft showed a “Heavy” fuel load configuration consisting of three externally attached 2,000-Litre (528 US Gallon), one centerline and two on wings.

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The French Navy Breguet Atlantique 2 Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Maritime Strike aircraft (French Defense Ministry)

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