On the night of September 19 to 20, the French Strategic Air Forces (FAS) trained as part of the third Poker exercise of the year 2023. This exercise allows the FAS to simulate a long-distance raid, the penetration of a airspace protected by an opposing force (OPFOR) and the firing of an ASMP-A nuclear missile. This exercise is taking place in France and mobilizes significant resources within the Air and Space Force, whether in headquarters, logistics services, various aircraft, etc.
Nuclear raid on France
This September 19 in the early evening, the Air and Space Force took off several tankers, visible on the various sites of flight tracking : this is the third and penultimate strategic air raid exercise. Called Poker 23-3, this exercise allows the Strategic Air Forces (FAS) to simulate a long-range air raid simulating a nuclear attack against a fictitious enemy country but while remaining in France. The exercise thus follows a route which does not change from previous Poker exercises:
- Gathering of raid elements, such as tankers, escort fighter jets and Rafale fighter jets equipped with a dummy ASMP-A missile
- Flight to the Mediterranean Sea via the Bay of Biscay, the Pyrenees and finally, arrival on the Gulf of Lion
- Simulated strategic air raid where the strategic Rafales carry out a low to very low altitude flight in order to simulate a missile strike on a target located in the center of France
This last phase obviously generates noise pollution in the areas flown over. Also note that during this phase, the escort fighters must obviously protect the FAS Rafales against an opposition force (OPFOR) simulated by other combat aircraft from the Air Force and the French. Space.
Between secrecy and international agenda
If the French Armed Forces never discuss the choice of dates, the holding of this exercise in mid-September coincides with the general assembly of the United Nations (UN). This exercise then makes it possible to recall the French dissuasive nuclear capabilities, in fact bringing an influence to the speech of the French official present in New York for this year 2023.
The number of devices mobilized is unknown but the sites of flight tracking in any case showed the presence of Phénix and Stratotanker tankers (below). It is also possible to easily confirm the presence of several Rafale combat aircraft equipped with a dummy ASMP-A nuclear missile. Finally, to see if, like in January this yearthe Rafale M combat aircraft of the Nuclear Naval Air Force (FANu) were also included in this exercise.