Thursday, September 23, 2021

France conducts massive drills of its strategic nuclear forces

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).

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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.

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About this Author

Dylan Malyasov
U.S. defense journalist and commentator. Aviation photographer. Dylan leads Defence Blog's coverage of global military news, focusing on engineering and technology across the U.S. defense industry.

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