France has tested new weapon loads, including GBU-12 laser guided bombs, on its fighter aircraft attacking Islamic State positions in Syria.
French air force Dassault Mirage 2000N, which is being modified to carry four GBU-12 laser guided bombs, has taken off on a strike mission from its advanced air base in Jordan. The modification doubles its payload for close air support missions, French Air Force announced today.
The French Air Force in recent weeks has also significantly increased striking within Operation Chammal, its air strikes against Daesh terrorist group. On October 14, 2015, a Rafale for the first time fired a BLU-126 bomb fitted with the Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon (AASM) with GPS / laser guidance.
The introduction of this weapon into operational service was decided on October 1 by the air force command, in the wake of operational test and evaluation carried out by the program team at the air force’s Centre d’Expertise Aérienne Militaire (CEAM) trials unit at Mont-de-Marsan air base.
On October 5, an AASM weapon was loaded onto an operational aircraft for the first time. The BLU-126 is a 250 kg bomb fitted with a smaller explosive charge, reduced from 87 kg to only 13 kg. This reduces collateral damage, and makes the AASM particularly well-suited for use in urban areas, while maintaining accuracy.
Since the beginning of Operation Chammal on September 19, 2014, the aircraft of the French Air Force have carried out more than 300 airstrikes. France’s expeditionary force currently consists of twelve air force combat aircraft (six Rafales, three Mirage 2000Ds and three Mirage 2000Ns) and an Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft (used for ISR missions—Ed.)