France to deploy Rafale fighter jet in Afghanistan | india | Hindustan Times
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France to deploy Rafale fighter jet in Afghanistan

india Updated: Nov 29, 2006 17:54 IST

The French air force said on Wednesday it has asked President Jacques Chirac to approve the deployment of the new Rafale fighter jet in Afghanistan next year, for the plane's first major operational test.

"We want the Rafale, which has been in use by the air force since June, to take part in a mission above Afghanistan to highlight its operational capacity," air force spokesman Frederic Solano said.

"We have tested it in France and abroad in an exercise. Now it has to prove itself in action," he said.

The Rafale has so far taken part in sky patrol operations on French territory as well as in NATO's latest annual exercise in Spain.

The multi-role combat aircraft -- the pride of France's Dassault Aviation -- has yet to be exported and so far counts the French military as its sole client.

It would be deployed in Afghanistan as part of the Serpentaire air support mission, which currently has three Mirage fighters based at Dushanbe in Tajikistan and a C-135 refuelling aircaft at Manas in Kirghizstan.

The aircraft are part of France's contribution to Operation "Enduring Freedom" and support for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.