France offers his Rafale fighter aircraft to protect UAE against Houthi rebel’s aerial attacks

According to information released on the Twitter account of Florence Parly French Minister of the Armed Forces on February 4, 2022, France has offered its assistance to the UAE (United Arab Emirates) with Rafale fighter aircraft for the protection of its airspace following the recent Houthi rebel’s attacks using drones and missiles.
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Graphic of French armed forces deployed in the United Arab Emirates. (Picture source French MoD)

Houthi rebels have launched attacks against UAE (United Arab Emirates) in response to the fight of United Arab Emirates, a member of a Saudi-led coalition fighting the armed groups in Yemen. The UAE, with the Saudis, is most active conducting land, air and naval operations in Yemen.

Since January 2022, Houthi rebels have conducted attacks against three oil tanker trucks and an under construction airport extension infrastructure in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates conducted by the Houthi movement using drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. At the end of January 2022, United Arab Emirates has intercepted a missile fired from Yemen. It was the third attack in recent weeks.

France is a close ally of the Emirates, having a long-term military presence in the country and being only second to the US in terms of arms exports. In December 2021, the United Arab Emirates agreed to buy 80 Rafale fighter jets from France as part of a 17 billion-euro deal signed during President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the Gulf nation in December 2021.

According to information released by the French Ministry of Defense, French Rafale fighter aircraft will conduct operations from the Al Dhafra air base offering refueling and surface-to-air capacities. French armed forces deployed in UAE will help UAE to detect and intercept drone strikes or cruise missiles targeting the national territory.

Since 2008, the French air force has deployed Mirage 2000-5F and Rafale fighter aircraft at the Al Dhafra Air Base which is located approximately 32 km south of Abu Dhabi. Under its strategic partnership with the UAE, France has a military presence at the Camp de la Paix ("Peace Camp"), also called Abu Dhabi Base and known and referred to by the French military as Implantation militaire française aux Émirats Arabes Unis (I English French Military Settlement in UAE).

Abu Dhabi base comprises three military camps of the French Army with around 250 military personnel. The French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly has announced that seven Rafale jets deployed at the Al Dhafra airbase will operate with the Emirati military on surveillance, detection, and interception missions.

According to a graphic published on the Twitter account of Florence Parly, French armed forces deployed in the United Arab Emirates include 7 Rafale fighter aircraft, 15 Leclerc MBTs (Main Battle Tanks), 20 VBCI 8x8 armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle, 28 VBL light 4x4 armored tactical vehicles, and 5 CAESAR 155mm 6x6 self-propelled howitzers.

The Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. It can be armed with more than 9 tons of weapons mounted on 14 hardpoints. The weapons include Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles as well as Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick and PGM100 air-to-ground missiles and Exocet / AM39, Penguin 3 and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

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French Air Force Rafale fighter aircraft (Picture source French MoD)