France has deployed the Mamba air defense system in Jordan
PARIS, ($1=0.84 Euros) – Since November 2014, as part of Operation Chammal [name of the French participation in the anti-jihadist coalition “Inherent Resolve” led by the United States – ed.], the Air & Space Army deploys units to the airbase [BAP, in French – Base aérienne Prince-Hassan, in English – French Prince-Hassan Air Base – ed.] H5, located in Jordan.
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Currently, around 300 airmen are assigned to operate four Rafale aircraft, the latter being regularly called upon for intelligence and support missions for the benefit of the coalition.
The BAP H5 has several advantages: in addition to strengthening links between Jordan and France, it reduces the flight time of the Rafale [as well as other planes which have occasionally deployed there, such as the C-160 Gabriel, the A330 MRTT, or E3F AWACS] to fly over Syria and Iraq.
The operating cost of this base remains low, because of the advantages it provides. It is indeed an important logistical support point while providing strategic depth vis-à-vis the Persian Gulf. Finally, its location near several hotbeds of crises in the region, makes it an “element of autonomous assessment of situations”, as recently supported by the deputies Gwendal Rouillard and Philippe Meyer, in a report on the “stability in the Middle East and after Chammal.”
Another indication of the importance of this base planned in Jordan: the deployment by the Air & Space Army, in August, of a Medium Surface-to-Air Missile Platform/Terrain [SAMP/T] Mamba. The system, although it is regularly used in Metropolitan France for the protection of airbases and during special air security arrangements [DPSA], had never been sent on external operations [OPEX].
As a reminder, implemented by the Ground-to-Air Defense Squadrons of the AAE, the Mamba is above all a theater anti-missile system that can engage any type of air threat over 360° thanks to the Aster 30 interceptor missile, which can destroy a target over 100 km away. It is made up of five interconnected modules, including the CMD3D [Defense Management Center in the 3rd Dimension], fire control, and an Arabel radar. Eight copies are currently in service.
According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces [EMA], the deployment of a Mamba system on the BAP H5 meets several objectives. First, it aims to “consolidate the partnership with Jordan”. But it is mostly about “training” with partner air forces in “joint anti-aircraft defense exercises of a hold” … and experiencing it in “extreme” weather conditions.
“Daily exercises are carried out throughout the deployment, whether with the Rafales of the BAP in the Levant, aircraft from the partner country or coalition forces from Operation Inherent Resolve returning from their mission. The aim is to test the interception and engagement capabilities of MAMBA, in complex scenarios and to test its interoperability with allied assets,” explains EMA.
The commander of the ground-to-air defense detachment which implements this system in Jordan enumerated four issues for this deployment: “to practice with our partner, to test the capacity of the weapons system to protect a hold where elements are placed. French against air attacks, test the projection capability of the MAMBA and confirm its interoperability.”
With the deployment of this Mamba system, “France is maintaining its bilateral relationship with Jordan” and “also intends to illustrate its willingness and capacity to protect its interests and those of its partners in the Near and the Middle East”, summarized l ‘EMA, for whom it is also a question of demonstrating that the French forces can “deploy modern, integrated and interoperable weapon systems within a limited time frame”.
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