Friday, April 8, 2011

Libya, 2 more Rafale M for the CdG

The 8 Rafale M currently operating on the CdG as part of operation Harmatan will be complemented by 2 more aircrafts from the ETR02.092 Aquitaine (Rafale initial training squadron) and CEAM (trial squadron).

The fact that the French Navy has to call back 2 planes usually dedicated to training and weapons trials shows the chronic shortage of Rafale M. Indeed, although 31 Rafale M has been delivered since 2000, 3 has been lost, 1 is used by the flight test Center, and 9 are kept in storage, waiting for their F1 to F3 upgrade. Therefore, The French Navy can only rely on 18 machines. And if we consider an average availability of 75-80%, that leaves a tiny fleet of 13-14 Rafale M ready to be used at a given time.

Needless to say that the small number of available planes and the high number of flight hours with heavy loads demanded by the Libyan campaign from the CdG is consuming the structural life potential of those airframes fast.

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