RAMSTEIN, Germany – France has participated in NATO's enhanced Vigilance Activities providing four of its fighter aircraft and two air-to-air refueling aircraft since February 24.
Allied Air Command integrates the French Air and Space Force's Rafale fighters - that are refueled by A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft - into the standing arrangements to safeguard the skies above the Allies.
The French fighter aircraft take off from their home base at Mont-de-Marsan to fly so-called Combat Air Patrol (CAP) missions along the Alliance's eastern flank. While the fighters are on station for three hours two times every day, the A-330 MRTTs conduct refueling.
"NATO's enhanced vigilance is a powerful statement of Alliance resolve and cohesion," said Lieutenant General Pascal Delerce, Deputy Commander of Allied Air Command. "These activities are prudent and defensive measures that increase our readiness, underpin Alliance war prevention aims, and clearly demonstrate our commitment to protect all Allies," he added.
The French Armed Forces are mobilised and determined to reinforce NATO's deterrence and defence posture on the Alliance's eastern flank
A French Air and Space Force Rafale fighter aircraft during pre-flight checks in a hangar at the home base at Mont-de-Marsan. Photo by French Air and Space Force.
A French Air and Space Force A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft during take-off. Photo by French Air and Space Force.
The use of air-to-air refueling allows the French Air and Space Force to effectively conduct CAP missions along the Alliance's eastern flank. Photo by French Air and Space Force.
"Since 24 February, France has been involved in surveillance and air defence missions over Poland," said General Thierry Burkhard, French Chief of Defence. "The French Armed Forces are mobilised and determined to reinforce NATO's deterrence and defence posture on the Alliance's eastern flank," he added.
"These enhancements strengthen our collective defence posture and are aligned with the Alliance's agreed Concept for Deterrence and Defense of the Euro-Atlantic Area (DDA)," General Delerce said. "This concept ensures NATO has ready forces, positioned across Europe, that clearly demonstrate Alliance solidarity in deterrence and our unified determination to defend all Allies," he concluded.
Moreover, from March 31 until August 1, 2022, France is deploying four Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft and a 100-strong air force detachment to Ämari, Estonia. This scheduled deployment is augmenting NATO's Baltic Air Policing. It will be the eight time France participate in this Allied mission enduring since 2004 and the third deployment to Estonia after 2018 and 2020.