The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the French Air and Space Force (FASF) rendezvoused over the Coral Sea on 17 August 2022. Following the FASF’s deployment from France to New Caledonia, travelling over 16,000kms, Dassault Rafale fighters and a Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft were greeted by RAAF No. 6 Squadron EA-18G Growlers between New Caledonia and Australia. Australia and France’s continued defence relationship is driven by shared values and an ongoing commitment to regional stability within the Indo-Pacific region. Air Commodore Tim Alsop said both nations are committed to further enhancing engagement and interoperability. French and Australian forces have come together again during Exercise Pitch Black 22 in the Northern Territory which will run until September 8.
Commander Air Combat Group, Air Commodore Tim Alsop said,“The meeting highlights the strength of the continued engagement between the two nations, and the ability to deploy air combat capability at short-notice. The FASF conducted a rapid 36 hour deployment to New Caledonia with Dassault Rafale aircraft and a Multi-Role Tanker Transport. The capability to rapidly deploy with a small but potent force demonstrates the RAAF’s ability to project power and respond efficiently at short notice. It was a fantastic opportunity for our Growler aircraft to join the French Dassault Rafale aircraft for the last leg of their journey to Australia. We are committed to ensuring a stable and open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.”
The Boeing EA-18G Growler is an American carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft, a specialized version of the two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet. The Growler’s electronic warfare capability is primarily provided by Northrop Grumman. Australia has also purchased twelve EA-18Gs, which entered service with the Royal Australian Air Force in 2017. The Growler has more than 90% in common with the standard Super Hornet, sharing airframe, Raytheon AN/APG-79 AESA radar and weapon systems such as the AN/AYK-22 stores management system. On 3 May 2007, the Australian Government signed an A$2.9 billion contract to acquire 24 F/A-18Fs for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as an interim replacement for its aging F-111s.
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy. The Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) Phénix is a European aerial refuelling and military transport aircraft based on the civilian Airbus A330. 15 aircraft ordered by the French Air and Space Force with the last unit expected to be delivered by 2025.