From 2007 to 2011, French Air Force and Navy Rafale fighters went into action on multiple occasions in Afghanistan, where they clearly demonstrated their effectiveness. The AASM/Hammer precision-guided modular air-to-surface weapon, laser-guided bombs and 30mm cannon were employed with remarkable precision.
In 2011, French Air Force and Navy Rafales spearheaded coalition operations over Libya. They were the first fighters to operate over Benghazi and Tripoli, and they carried out a large portion of the spectrum of missions the Rafale was designed for: air superiority, precision strikes with Hammers, deep strike with SCALP cruise missiles, Intelligence, Surveillance, Tactical Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) and Strike Coordination And Reconnaissance (SCAR). During the Libyan conflict, hundreds of targets – tanks, armored vehicles, artillery pieces, fuel and munition storage dumps, command centers and air-defense systems (SA-3 Goa and SA-8 Gecko fixed and mobile SAM launchers) – were hit with impressive accuracy by Rafale aircrews.
From early 2013 to September 2015, French Air Force Rafales were engaged in missions in Mali. They were involved in strikes against enemy logistics facilities, as well as supporting troops in contact with the enemy. Four Rafales undertook the longest raid in French Air Force history, taking off from Saint-Dizier, in eastern France, and landing in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, after hitting 21 targets and spending no less than 9 hours and 35 minutes airborne. N’Djamena subsequently became a Rafale forward operating base (FOB), fielding up to eight aircraft. This engagement was a major step forward for the Rafale, which was based in Africa for operations in the Sahel-Saharan strip.
More recently, French Air Force and Navy Rafales were engaged in strikes against enemy forces in the Middle East as part of an international coalition.
In Iraq and Syria, Rafales operate in difficult conditions, far from their bases, taking advantage of their exceptional operational range to strike distant targets with surgical precision. French Navy Rafales operating from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier significantly increase the number of aircraft in theater.