French Air Force concludes high-intensity Saphir exercise with 21 Rafale fighters

French Air and Space Force

The French Air and Space Force organized a high-intensity exercise involving a large deployment of Dassault Rafale fighters.

The “Saphir” drill was held at Mont-de-Marsan Air Base 118 near Bordeaux, southwestern France, from February 12 to 16, 2024.

In total, 21 Rafale fighters were involved, nearly a quarter of the French Air and Space Force fleet, according to Flight Global’s 2024 World Air Forces directory. The impressive lineup saw more than 200 sorties conducted over four days. 

“We took off at the scheduled time with a significant number of aircraft and then carried out the planned mission. It’s a real success,” Lieutenant-Colonel Laurent, commanding the “Normandie-Niémen” squadron, said after successfully executing a flight with around 20 aircraft.

The exercise aimed to optimize aircraft availability and bolster the combat mass of the French 30th Wing, encompassing fighter squadrons 1/30 “Côte d’Argent,” 2/30 “Normandy-Niemen,” and 3/30 “Lorraine”. In addition to pilots, the operation included all technical and logistical support personnel, such as mechanics, logisticians, and even manufacturers.

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