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


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

74 |

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.

Become a Premium Member to Read More

This is a premium article and requires an active Key.Aero subscription to view. You can also access it if you’re subscribed to one of our Key Publishing magazines.

I’m an existing member, sign me in!

I don’t have a subscription…

Why not join our community of aviation enthusiasts? Pick one of our introductory offers and access a wealth of world-class aviation content.