Cooperative engagement: a nuclear submarine designates a target for the benefit of the Rafale fighter from the French aircraft carrier

Since leaving Toulon on January 22, the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle has been very busy in the Mediterranean and then in the North Atlantic, as we already mentioned in our lines. Between anti-terrorist operations, diplomatic demonstration maneuvers and other interallied exercises, the French Carrier Strike Group (GAN) is also used to test and validate new tactical capabilities. This was notably the case on March 17 when the nuclear attack submarine (ANS) participating in the usual Charles de Gaulle escort was used to designate a surface target (simulated) for the benefit of the Rafale M fighters of the aircraft carrier, as part of a "linkex" exercise.

Technically, however, this target designation was not made directly between the SNA and the Rafales, but passed through an E-2C Hawkeye radar aircraft which then acts as a command aircraft for the fighters. This “linkex” exercise nevertheless opens the way to new collaborative naval watch capabilities which should expand considerably with the arrival of two new assets for the French Navy: the new generation ANS Barracuda type and Rafale M to F4 standard, which we have both covered in detail in dedicated articles.

Rafale can engage heavily defended surface targets with Exocet missiles, but also many smaller ships using AASM bombs. The detection, recognition and designation of these targets can be done using the aircraft's internal radar, a dedicated patrol or AEW&C plane, a surface ship or even a submarine.

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