French fighter jets flew over Larnaca and Paphos on Monday as part of the air group on aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle currently deployed in the Mediterranean.
Rafales were seen and heard carrying out low-flying missions over Larnaca and Paphos, prompting officials to issue announcements that there was no reason for concern as the fly-bys had been planned in advance.
According to 24News, the fighter jets were conducting test missions for possible use of airstrips in case of need, but no planes touched down on Monday. Additional flybys were not ruled out in the following days as FIR Nicosia has okayed the missions for the month of March.
More flybys were not ruled out in the coming days as FIR Nicosia has okayed the missions for the month of March
Some 30 Rafale jets are said to be part of the air group on Charles de Gaulle taking part in the exercise FANAL 2019, focusing on carrier strike group operations across all maritime warfare disciplines aimed to enhance performance and interoperability between participating naval forces.
The newly upgraded and refurbished aircraft carrier, currently deployed in the Mediterranean, is reportedly on its last training drill before taking part in French operations against the Islamic State group in Syria. It will then hold joint maritime exercises with the Egyptian navy, the Indian navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force.
The USS Donald Cook, which is not unfamiliar with Larnaca port following last year’s visit, is also taking part in FANAL 2019.