Rafale in the French Air Force, "Terrible !"
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, delta-wing, fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Dassault described the Rafale as being an omnirole fighter. The Rafale is a multirole combat aircraft; capable of simultaneously undertaking air supremacy, interdiction, reconnaissance, and airborne nuclear deterrent missions. The Rafale is distinct from other European fighters of its era in that it is almost entirely built by one country, involving most of France's major defence contractors, such as Dassault, Thales and Safran.
In 2011, aviation journalist Craig Hoyle speculated that the Rafale's performance in Libya is likely to be pivotal to the aircraft's export future, reporting that the Rafale had managed to maintain a high operational rate throughout the Libyan deployment. Hoyle also noted that the Libyan combat experience had caused several urgent operational requirements to present themselves, such as the need for a lighter ground-attack munition and for modifications to the AASM weapon to be more effective when used in the close air support role.
In January 2013, the Rafale took part of "Opération Serval", the French military intervention in support to the government of Mali against the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa. The first mission was carried out on 13 January, when four Rafales took off from an airbase in France to strike rebel training camps, depots and facilities in the city of Gao, eastern Mali. Subsequent airstrikes in the following days by Rafale and Mirage fighters were reportedly instrumental in the withdrawal of Islamist militant forces from Timbuktu and Douentza. Both Rafale and Mirage 2000D aircraft used in the conflict have been based outside of North Africa, making use of aerial refuelling tanker aircraft to fly long range sorties across Algerian airspace and into Mali.