The French Air Force has deployed several Rafale multi-role combat aircraft for a training exercise at Banak Air Base in Norway.
Exercise Arctic Thunder involves participation from 11 Rafale fighters for air-to-ground weapons firing and 200 French airmen, including thirty aircrew from fighter squadrons 1/7 Provence, 1/91 Gascogne and 2/30 Normandie-Niemen.
The French detachment also includes technical support staff, commandos, technical information and communications systems.
Arctic Thunder director lieutenant colonel François Tricot said: "It is first of all the first firing campaign conducted by the French Air Force above the Arctic Circle.
"It is also the first time that Rafale crews participate in a common air / ground firing campaign, and the first time they train abroad to deliver the Armement Air/Sol Modulable (A2SM), including its laser-guided version. "
Normandie-Niemen commander lieutenant colonel Yann Malard said: "A firing campaign allows us to understand the difficulty of delivering weapons under realistic conditions.
"With this type of training, young crews, as well as more experienced ones, encounter situations they are likely to find in combat operations.
"In general, this reinforces our ongoing ability to intervene."
The French Air Force has scheduled a mid-term aircrew rotation on 30 August, so as to enable a maximum number of pilots and navigators flying on Rafale to participate in Exercise Arctic Thunder, which is scheduled to conclude on 5 September.
The French aviators train on several Norwegian facilities, including the Halkavarre shooting range located near the base ever year.
Equipped with several types of targets, the terrain enables firing of several types of weapons, training munitions, a cannon and various guided weapons, including GBU 12 laser-guided bombs and A2SM laser-guided munitions, while offering the scope for multiple tactical scenarios.
Image: Eleven French Rafale fighters are participating in Exercise Arctic Thunder in Norway. Photo: courtesy of Joey Quan.