- The most important thing is that the Rafale's RBE2 passive electronically scanned radar, which was made by Thales, can look down and shoot at targets.
- Mario Banoi, the Croatian Minister of Defense, and Florence Parly, the French Minister of Defense, signed a deal for 12 used Rafale F3-R fighter jets.
In the last week, the Rafales that were stationed over Lithuania did 16 missions. These missions included a real air police alert and a mission to keep an eye on things. The French military’s Military operations wing posted the information on Twitter.
As part of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing, Hungary gave the security of Lithuania’s airspace to the Polish and French air forces at the beginning of December.
Together with the NATO Allied Air Command, the mission’s goal is to protect the airspaces of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia from attacks from the air.
Four French Rafales jets and four Polish F-16 Fighting Falcons took the place of the Hungarian fleet, which was mostly made up of JAS-39 Gripens. Since then, the Rafales have flown a record 60 missions to help with air policing. This may be the first time these planes have been used for air policing over the Baltic.
#eAP | La semaine passée, les Rafale en 🇱🇹 ont effectué 16 missions, dont 1 alerte réelle de police du ciel et 1 mission de surveillance au profit de @NATO dans les pays Baltes. Depuis leur déploiement en décembre, env. 60 sorties aériennes ont été effectuées #ShieldingTheSkies. pic.twitter.com/YaHSdM7X9q
— Armée française – Opérations militaires (@EtatMajorFR) January 8, 2023
As part of its mission to keep the air safe, the plane went on “Alpha Scramble” alert at the end of December. Official reports say that the plane chased after and escorted two Su-27s and an Il-20 near the Baltic airspace. A video of the chase was then posted on Twitter.
Alpha Scramble is an alert departure that is used to find and attack an enemy plane right away.
On December 27, an alert scramble was done over a Russian Il-20 attack plane flying from the Russian mainland to Kaliningrad and two Su-27 fighter jets flying into and out of the Russian exclave in international airspace.
On December 28, NATO planes took off to attack two Su-30 fighters flying from Russia to Kaliningrad through international airspace. All Russian planes, except for the Su-27 fighters, were in radio contact with the Regional Traffic Control Center, even though they weren’t using their transponders or having flight plans.
#eAP | Ce matin, une patrouille de Rafale @Armee_de_lair déployés en Lituanie dans le cadre de la mission @NATO #eAP a décollé sur alerte « Alpha Scramble » pour vérifier l’identité et accompagner 2 SU27 et 1 IL20 aux abords de l’espace aérien balte. #SolidaritéStratégique pic.twitter.com/d74wxqVW4A
— Armée française – Opérations militaires (@EtatMajorFR) December 27, 2022
With the war in Ukraine still going on and relations between Russia and the US and Europe getting worse, Russian fighter jets have been flying over the Baltic Sea a lot in the last few months.
In October, Sukhoi Su-30, Su-27, Su-24M, and Illyusin Il-20 spy planes from the Russian Air Forces (RuAF) were intercepted by German Eurofighter Typhoons. The German planes followed them and kept them safe.
Now that the Royal Netherlands Air Force is getting ready to send out some of its F-35 fighter planes, the Enhanced Air Policing mission will get a boost. In February and March 2023, eight F-35s will be sent to Malbork, Poland, as part of NATO’s mission to strengthen defences along the eastern flank.
French Rafales Proving Their Mettle Globally
The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter plane that can do all types of combat aviation missions, such as air superiority and air defence, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes, and nuclear deterrence.
The EAP missions show that the aircraft is good at fighting, which may be because it has top-notch radars and an electronic warfare system. The electronic warfare system on the Rafale is made by Thales and is called Spectra. It has a solid-state transmitter, a DAL laser warning receiver, missile warning, detecting, and jamming systems.
The most important thing is that the Rafale’s RBE2 passive electronically scanned radar, which was made by Thales, can look down and shoot at targets. The radar can track up to eight targets and can be used to find and rank threats.
The plane is becoming more and more popular. Greece was the first country in Europe to buy the plane. In January 2021, they signed a defence agreement to buy 18 Rafale fighters. On January 18, 2022, they got six of them. Later, Athens decided to add six more jets to the order. This was done in September of last year.
In November 2021, Mario Banoi, the Croatian Minister of Defense, and Florence Parly, the French Minister of Defense, signed a deal for 12 used Rafale F3-R fighter jets. This was done to update the Croatian Air Force. Also, countries like the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia have bought French planes.
The Marine version of the plane has become the Indian Navy’s top choice. They are expected to sign a deal for 26 Rafale Marines later this year.