Integration between air and ground assets continues at a steady pace. The Rafale fighter can now drop laser-guided bombs on targets designated by an MQ-9 Reaper, and a Joint Terminal Air Controller can instruct both planes while viewing live feeds from the aircraft through an encrypted data link.
Of the ten Twin Otters delivered to the Armee de I’Air between 1980 and 1983, only five remain in use: two are assigned to ET 3/61 at BA123 Orleans, while the other three are operated by the secretive GAM 0/56 based at BA105 Evreux.
A flight engineer lowers an airborne tactical extraction platform, which is immediately readied by the Special Forces team on the ground. The troops can get on to the platform and hook-up within a few seconds, after which the helicopter crew can immediately take off.
Except for two aircraft assigned to the Groupement Aero Mobilite de la Section Technique de I'Armee de Terre, the Aviation Legere de I'Armee de Terre test and evaluation unit, the AS532UL Cougar fleet is now entirely based at Pau with the helicopters being assigned to 4e RHFS and 5e RHC.
The airborne tactical extraction platform is an alternative to ropes used for Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction (SPIE). Troops are above one another when using the SPIE, but are all at the same level on the extraction platform, which allows for a quicker ingress and egress.
The EC725 Caracal is equipped with a five-blade rotor, a MAG-58 machine gun and an aerial refuelling probe. To improve its autoprotection and assault capabilities, in the near term the Caracal will be equipped with additional heavy weapons.