NOTES ON FRENCH AIR FORCE IN CHAD and CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

The security situation in Chad has worsened along in its eastern district of Biltine that borders with Sudan following recent fighting between Chadian Government forces and rebel fighters from a coalition aiming to depose President Idriss Deby who has ruled for 16 years.

In May 2006 President Deby was re-elected to power, only two months after a coup failed to overthrow him.

Particularly affected in current fighting being the eastern villages of Iriba, Guereda and Bahai. These areas have camps that contain around 110,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled from neighbouring Darfur.  An estimated 80,000 Chadians have also been displaced due to the violence. U.N. and Non Government Organisations have begun withdrawing personnel due to the situation. The Chad government has suggested moving them further west.

France provides the army, of its former colony, with logistical and intelligence support. The   French military contingent includes  Mirage fighters stationed in Chad.

On Monday 27th, November fearing fresh rebel attacks on the capital N'djamena,  Chadian soldiers began reinforcing their positions including tanks guarding the main entrance to the city. A French Mirage fighter jet supported them by carrying out  low-level reconnaissance flights over the capital and surrounding areas at dawn.

On Tuesady 28th November 2006 Chadian rebels claimed they had shot down a Chadian military plane 40 km (25 miles) west of Abeche, that was attacking their positions, with a captured ground-to-air missile in fighting near the eastern town of Abeche. The plane shot down is thought to be one of two  Italian-made Marquetti fighters from Libya that  Muammar Gaddafi had made available to Chad's military to counter the rebel threat.

The FAF lost a Mirage F-1CT in the desert area of Abéché  Chad on Friday 1st September 2006 due to a birdstrike during a low level flight.

Chad has recently become Africa's newest petro-state with significant reserves being found.

Reuters reported that during the weekend of 2nd-3rd December 2006 French Mirage F-1s based in Chad "opened fire on rebel positions in the Central African Republic on several occasions", this based on information from the French Defence Ministry.

France has around 300 troops in the Central African Republic and six Mirage F-1s based in Chad to support CAR government troops.

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