Losses and Aviation Safety

French Navy Rafale M diverted to Malta after the Nozzle of the Refueling Probe Broke Off

A French Navy NH-90 NFH ‘Caiman’ helicopter was dispatched to Malta International Airport from Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier with the part and a technical team to repair the jet.

According to Horizion Facebook Page, a Marine Nationale (French Navy) Dassault Rafale M currently embarked on the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle diverted to Malta International Airport in the evening of Feb. 6, 2022 after the nozzle of the refueling probe broke off (as shown by the main image in this article) and the front line fighter could not receive fuel to return back to the carrier.

Later during the night, a French Navy NH-90 NFH ‘Caiman’ helicopter was dispatched from Charles de Gaulle with the part and a technical team to repair the jet, shortly after midnight both aircraft headed east towards the carrier.

As reported by USNI News, Charles de Gaulle Carrier Strike Group (CSG) left on Feb. 1, 2022 for its Clemenceau 22 deployment, which will last until April and take the CSG to the Mediterranean.

During the deployment, European Union, NATO and French partner nations assets are part of the Task Force 473 which is built around aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91). French Navy ships in the task group along with Charles de Gaulle are destroyer FS Forbin (D620), frigates FS Alsace (D656) and FS Normandie (D651), replenishment ship FS Marne (A630) and a nuclear attack submarine. Partner ships integrated into the group are U.S. Navy destroyer USS Ross (DDG-71), Spanish Navy frigate ESPS Juan de Borbon (F102), Hellenic Navy frigate HS Adrias (F459) and Royal Moroccan Navy corvette Sultan Moulay Ismail (614). A Hellenic Navy submarine joined the task force on Feb. 7.

The embarked air group aboard Charles De Gaulle includes 20 Rafale F3R fighters of Flottilles 12F and 17F, two E-2C Hawkeyes Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEWC) aircraft of Flottille 4F, 1 Dauphin helicopter and 1 Panther helicopter of Flottille 35F and 36F, respectively, and a NH90 NFH Caïman anti-submarine warfare helicopter of Flottille 31F. A Belgian Air Component NH90 helicopter is embarked on Forbin.

Land-based fixed wing aircraft supporting the deployment are a French Navy Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft and a US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

According to Naval News Task Force 473 will support Operation Chammal, the French component of Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS, and is also set to conduct exercises with the Italian Navy, the US Navy’s Harry S. Truman CSG and other NATO ships operating in the Mediterranean.

Photo credit: Horizon Facebook Page

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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