Three Rafale jets have been sent to Guyana to protect the first launch of the Ariane 6 missile.

After more than a decade of development, funding difficulties and multiple delays, the new Ariane 6 rocket is set to launch for the first time from the Guiana Space Center. [CSG] On July 9. This marks one year since the last flight of Ariane 5, during which the Syracuse 4B military communications satellite was successfully placed into orbit.

During each launch, the Guyana Armed Forces were [FAG] Called upon to ensure the approach to the Guiana Space Base is protected, as part of Operation Titan.

The ground component of the system then developed was based on the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment's corps. [REI]Responsible for the mission of controlling the area, in addition to elements of the 9th Marine Infantry Regiment. [RIMa]In the air, in conjunction with the GM-400 air defense radar, two Fennec helicopters, capable of carrying out active air security measures. [MASA]responsible for keeping any intruders away. As a precaution, Mistral surface-to-air missiles were also deployed. Finally, a French Navy patrol boat and a speedboat [VCSM] Gendarmerie forces monitor the maritime approach.

However, when it comes to a more “sensitive” than usual launch, this system is reinforced by the Air and Space Forces. [AAE]As part of Operation Popo. This typically consists of three fighters, an E-3F Awacs early warning aircraft and a tanker aircraft.

Such a configuration was deployed in December 2018, to put the first of three satellites in the CSO constellation into orbit. [Composante Spatiale Optique] By Soyuz launcher. And also in 2021 to launch Vega rocket with CERES electromagnetic intelligence satellite [CapacitÉ de Renseignement Électromagnétique Spatiale].

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On its inaugural flight, intended to verify its behavior and test its capabilities, Ariane 6 will carry not a military vehicle but several payloads, including a 2-ton inert mass the size of a Galileo satellite, eight “cube satellites,” two atmospheric entry capsules and a battery of sensors.

However, given the sensitivity of this first launch, which was supposed to give Europeans access to space again, it was decided to carry out Operation “Popo” to reinforce the Titan protection system. Thus, three Rafale aircraft from the 4th Fighter Wing arrived at the 367th “Captain François Masset” air base in Cayenne, on July 1.

In its weekly update on the status of operations, the General Staff of the Armed Forces [EMA] He was somewhat stingy on details. He merely noted that “these aircraft complete the powerful air, ground and land complex that ensures the protection of this strategic launch.” But according to France-Guyane, the three Rafale aircraft will remain in Cayenne until July 17. Note that, unlike previous Bubo operations, none of the AAE’s four E-3F AWACS aircraft have been called up this time.

Stan Shaw

<p class="sign">"Professional food nerd. Internet scholar. Typical bacon buff. Passionate creator."</p>

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