The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the French Air and Space Force (FASF) rendezvoused over the Coral Sea on 17 August 2022. Following the FASF’s deployment from France to New Caledonia, travelling over 16,000kms, Dassault Rafale fighters and a Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft were greeted by RAAF No. 6 Squadron EA-18G Growlers between New Caledonia and Australia.

Commander Air Combat Group, Air Commodore Tim Alsop, said the meeting highlights the strength of the continued engagement between the two nations, and the ability to deploy air combat capability at short-notice. “The FASF conducted a rapid 36 hour deployment to New Caledonia with Dassault Rafale aircraft and a Multi-Role Tanker Transport,” Alsop said. “The capability to rapidly deploy with a small but potent force demonstrates the RAAF’s ability of project power and respond efficiently at short notice. It was a fantastic opportunity for our Growler aircraft to join the French Dassault Rafale aircraft for the last leg of their journey to Australia.”

Australia and France’s continued defence relationship is driven by shared values and an ongoing commitment to regional stability within the Indo-Pacific region. Alsop said both nations are committed to further enhancing engagement and interoperability. “We are committed to ensuring a stable, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, and will continue to work closely with our coalition partners.”

French and Australian forces have come together again during Exercise Pitch Black 22 in the Northern Territory which will run until 8 September.

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