France tested firing nuclear-capable missile from a Rafale

On February 5, France unveiled that its forces had fired a nuclear-capable missile from a Rafale fighter jet, as part of an 11-hour mission. This mission saw a Rafale fighter refuel and fire an unarmed missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

France tested firing nuclear capable missile from a Rafale A Rafale fighter jet during a flight demonstration at Salon du Bourget in France (Picture source : Air Recognition)

France, during this 11-hour mission, tested all phases of a nuclear strike. "These real strikes are scheduled in the life of the weapons' system," said a spokesman for the French air force, Col. Cyrille Duvivier. "They are carried out at fairly regular intervals, but remain rare because the real missile, without its warhead, is fired" he added.

In addition to this capability the French Air Force has to launch nuclear missiles from a fighter jet, France also operates a fleet of ballistic-missile submarines that can fire some of its 280 nuclear warheads. Though, because the subs move in secrecy, they don't provide the same messaging effect as more visible fighter jets.

This announcement of a nuclear test came only a few weeks after both US and Russia decided to fall out of the Intermidiate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) which prevented both of them to build nuclear missiles having a range between 500 and 5,500 km.