French involvement

France was one of eleven nations taking part in Maple Flag 38. The French Air Force detachment arrived for the start of period one with four Mirage 2000Ns, four Mirage FICTs and two C-160NGs, which remained based for the first two periods. The aircraft arrived from Istres, France, on May 12, having routed via Lajes in the Azores and CFB Bagotville, Quebec. All three legs were supported by C-135FRs: three tankers were used to support two cells of fighters, four Mirage 2000Ns and four Mirage FICTs. In period three, the Mirage 2000Ns returned to France, replaced by a C-130H and an E-3F AWACS.

Lt Col PJ Dupont, the French Air Force detachment commander, told AFM: «We have approximately 180 personnel deployed, and all the French Air Force aircraft are scheduled to fly two missions each day. All eight Mirages are flying low-level strike missions, usually taking the last departure slots within the mission. During each period, the French acted as package commander, an important issue co-ordinating all the missions between the nations working with French assets. The Mirage 2000N performs the conventional strike mission, and this year it was the turn of the squadrons based at Luxeuil to participate in a large force multi-national exercise. French Air Force pilots take part in an exercise like this once every three years. The Mirage FICTs were crewed by both FICT and FICR pilots because the FICT is heavily tasked this year: in France, Chad, and soon Afghanistan.»

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