Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) Rafale B 322 ‘4-HU’ has received markings to denote a ground kill of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in the Middle East.
Seen recently at Saint-Dizier in France, Rafale B 322 was deployed to Jordan for Opération Chammal, the French contribution to Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).
The jet’s bombing markings represent delivery of eight 500lb (227kg) GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs (LGBs), five AASM (Armement Air-Sol Modulaire) guided munitions and a drone.
The Rafale was tasked with destruction of a crashed coalition UAV to avoid its wreckage falling into the hands of so-called Islamic State or other insurgent groups. Based on the marking, the UAV was apparently an MQ-9 Reaper.
As well as these mission markings, Rafale B 322 – assigned to Escadron de Chasse (EC) 1/4 ‘Gascogne’ – wears the Tête de Loup (wolf’s head) emblem of SPA 79 on the left hand side of the fin.
France recently replaced the Armée de l’Air two-seat Dassault Rafale Bs operating from Azraq Air Base, Jordan, on Opération Chammal missions with single-seat Rafale Cs. The changeover – announced by the service on August 14 – had taken place the previous month.
On July 19, the first two of the replacement Rafale Cs landed at France’s Base Aérienne Projetée (BAP, Forward Air Base) at Azraq following a direct flight from France with air-to-air refuelling. Two Rafale Bs then departed in the opposite direction to land back in France on July 21.
Mixed patrols of one Rafale B and one Rafale C followed for three days after the new aircraft arrived, providing fire support and tactical reconnaissance for coalition allied forces in the Iraq-Syria combat zone. Since March of this year, Groupe de Bombardement 43 (GB43) at Azraq has consisted exclusively of Rafale Bs. Since July 25, GB43 has continued its operations solely with Rafale Cs.