Athena the art of special ops

Jan Kraak reports from Mont-de-Marsan, France, on the latest edition of the Armée de l’Air’s Exercise Athena

MILITARY FRENCH SPECIAL OPS

Integration between air and ground assets continues at a steady pace. The Rafale fighter can now drop laser-guided bombs on targets designated by an MQ-9 Reaper, and a Joint Terminal Air Controller can instruct both planes while viewing live feeds from the aircraft through an encrypted data link. All photos Jan Kraak

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In preparation for deployment overseas, Armée de l’Air Special Forces participate in Exercise Athena, a work-up training event regularly staged in south-west France. This year’s first edition, Athena 2018-1, was staged between January 15 and 26 and involved 300 personnel and seven aircraft deployed to BA118 Mont-de-Marsan. Other participating aircraft operated from their respective home bases. The majority of activity took place on the Captieux firing range, a 45-minute car drive from BA118.

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