Armed Forces in French Polynesia
In French Polynesia, half a dozen military aircraft share a wide range of missions on a territory the size of Europe. As Frédéric Lert explains, there’s a permanent battle against the ‘tyranny of distance’.
Tahiti… While the name is suggestive of an island paradise, the reality of patrolling French Polynesia is a major challenge. It has a population of a medium-size city – 280,000 inhabitants – spread over five archipelagos and 118 islands, 76 of which are inhabited. All this in a maritime area that, if it was transposed onto a map of Europe, would stretch almost from London to Helsinki, and east to Athens. This confetti of islands scattered across the map presents a big headache when it comes, for example, to recovering a premature baby from an isolated island, a fisherman adrift in a boat, or assisting the population after the passage of a cyclone.