French navy Dassault Rafales have flown their first sorties in support of the coalition campaign against the regime of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, launching from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

Two F3-standard Rafale Ms from the navy's Flotille 12 unit conducted daylight reconnaissance missions over Libya on 22 March, the service says. Each carried a Thales Reco NG imagery intelligence pods and MBDA MICA short-range air-to-air missiles.

 Rafale M Charles de Gaulle - EMA French navy

Rafale M launch - EMA French navy

Both images © EMA/French navy

France's maritime contribution to enforcing UN security council resolution 1973 includes an air wing of eight Rafales, six Dassault Super Etendard Modernise strike aircraft, two Northrop E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning and control system aircraft and embarked helicopters.

The Charles de Gaulle left the French port of Toulon on 20 March to support the currently US-led Operation "Odyssey Dawn", with the vessel forming part of the navy's Task Force 473.

 Charles de Gaulle - EMA French navy
© EMA/French navy

Paris refers to the Libyan operation as Operation "Harmattan". Its air force has also provided Rafales to the campaign, along with Dassault Mirage 2000D strike aircraft and Mirage 2000-5 fighters.

Source: Flight International