Iraq: first aerial reconnaissance flight
On 15 September 2014, two French Air Force Rafale aircraft took off from the French airbase 104 at Al Dhafra, United Arab Emirates, for a reconnaissance flight over Iraq.
For this ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) task, each Rafale was equipped with a RECO NG pod. Fixed beneath the aircraft, this instrument can record digital images at high and low altitudes, take high-speed photos both during the day and at night, as well as conduct video surveillance.
Conducted under the tactical control of Rear Admiral Beaussant French Joint Forces commander in the Indian Ocean (ALINDIEN), this mission was carried out in close coordination with the Iraqi authorities and our allies in the region.
On September 13, a reinforcement intelligence team was sent by the UAE on an A400M aircraft following the decision of General Peter de Villiers, Chief of the Defence Staff. Forty soldiers and intelligence equipment have been sent from the Orleans Bricy 123 Airbase. The next day, Sunday, September 14, a C135 refueller from Istres 125 airbase flew to the Al Dhafra French airbase.
Visiting the United Arab Emirates after his trip to Iraq with the President of the French Republic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Defense Minister, addressed the French soldiers at the Al Dhafra airbase shortly before the departure of the Rafales. He reiterated France’s determination at a time when Paris was hosting an international conference on Iraq.
The ISR conducted today is the first such French flight over Iraq. Similar missions could be carried out in the coming days. The aim of the French armed forces is to gather intelligence on the terrorist group Daesh and strengthen our capacity for an independent assessment of the situation.
French forces in the United Arab Emirates (FFUAE) consist of an operations headquarters, the naval base in Abu Dhabi, the Al Dhafra 104 Air Base and the 13th DBLE. The FFUAE maintain a permanent presence in the UAE under defense agreements and conduct the bilateral defense relations between France and its regional partners. They are also tasked with supporting the military assets in the Persian Gulf and the northern Indian Ocean, and help in training and preparing the forces in desert and urban areas in battle hardy conditions.