On April. 7, France conducted massive drills of its strategic nuclear forces that mobilized as many as 50 military aircraft including WC-135 Constant Phoenix atmospheric sampling aircraft.
The French Air and Space Force said in a statement that the maneuvers included a mock nuclear air raid carried out over French territory under the Poker exercises.
Poker drills are conducted several times per year without much publicity. Exercises include air-to-air refueling of fighters, low altitude penetration by fighter bombers and the simulated shooting down of a missile (once the nuclear charge has been deactivated).
Under the Poker exercise, French Air and Space Force scrambled 50 military aircraft, including modern Rafale fighter jets, WC-135 special-purpose aircraft, A330 MRTT aerial refueling tanker aircraft, AWACS E-3s, and Mirage 2000 fighters, come together to form a fleet in northern Brittany.
France 3 reports that the exercise involved some planes role-playing as enemies while other ‘French’ planes attack a simulated enemy territory in the Massif Central.
During this raid, anti-aircraft defense systems also traced and tracked the sky to hunt down the attackers.
Although these exercises are only a test, in the event of a real crisis and a direct threat to France, it would be up to the Rafale jets to lead a warning strike.
That warning strike would be the president’s decision to use an atomic weapon, something that French pilots would not consider to be trivial.
#Poker 4 fois par an, l’armée de l’Air et de l’Espace mène un raid de plusieurs dizaines d’avions, reproduisant, sur le territoire national, un raid nucléaire. Il s’agit de l’opération Poker ! pic.twitter.com/4eCBpGoIHY
— Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace (@Armee_de_lair) April 7, 2021