The French Air force Rafale were the very first fighter jets of the coalition to enter the Libyan air space on March 19th 2011 forcing the Gadhaffi forces attacking Benghazi to retreat.
8 Rafale B/C and 4 Mirage 2000 D/-5 took part in this first day operation destroying several tanks after a more than 2000 km flight from their home bases in France.
3 Days later, the Rafale M deployed onboard the CdG aircraft carrier were conducing their first recce mission over Libya.
All in all the Rafale M have remained 4 months in the theater logging 2000 flight hours in 1000 sorties (more than 7 sorties/day, 2 hours/sortie).
The Rafale B/C are still operating from the Sigonella Air Base, Scicilia, after 6 months of operation. They have logged 4000 flight hours in 900 sorties (more than 5 sorties/day, 4.4 hours/sortie)
it is worth noting than the Rafale M were able to performed 10% more sorties in a shorter amount of time (about 20% less days on site) than the Rafale C due to the fact that they were operating closer to the war zone. Even more striking is the fact that the Rafale M logged twice less flight hours for about the same number of sorties for the same reason (Aircraft carrier very close to the Libyan coast).
The 1900 Rafale sorties represent more than 40% of the French Forces sorties and were splitted as followed :
- offensive sorties (A2A and A2G) : 855 (45%)
- Recce sorties : 855 (45%)
- Budy-budy refueling (Rafale M only) : 190 (10%)
Rafale goes to Libya... for war
Details on Rafale mission over Libya
First pictures of the Rafale engaged in Libya
First Rafale M mission over Libya
Video of the carrier operations onboard the CdG