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  • Rafale destroys Libyan jet, as France steps up action

Rafale destroys Libyan jet, as France steps up action

The French air force has stepped up the intensity of its Operation “Harmattan” activities against pro-Gaddafi forces, launching its first MBDA SCALP-EG cruise missiles and also destroying a Libyan aircraft which had violated the UN-mandated no-fly zone in the country.

Overnight on 23-24 March, a package of four Dassault Mirage 2000Ds conducted a strike mission against an air base around 135nm (250km) south of the Libyan coast using SCALP-EG weapons, the French defence ministry says. Two of the aircraft were drawn from a detachment at Solenzara air base on Corsica, while the others flew from a base on the French mainland.

Two Rafale Ms launched from the French navy aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle were also involved in the operation.

In a separate action, a French air force Boeing E-3F airborne warning and control system aircraft identified an illegal Libyan aircraft movement near Misrata, east of the capital Tripoli. The service vectored a strike package onto the target as it returned to its base, and a Rafale destroyed it using a Sagem AASM air-to-surface weapon.

© Sipa Press/Rex Features

Early media reports suggested that the Libyan aircraft targeted in the incident was a Soko G-2 Galeb trainer, but the French air force has yet to provide confirmation.

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