Ministers of Defence from France and Norway flew to Souda Bay on the island of Crete to inspire the pilots of air fighters stationed there. State television NET reported that the ministers watched two French and two Qatari Mirage 2000 taking off to Libya. There are currently 6 F-16 from Norway and 3 Mirage from France operating from Souda against Libya. Locals report of take off and landing sound also at night.
According to AFP French Defence Minister, Gerard Longuet hailed as ‘essential” the role of Qatar warplanes in Libya operations. “This is the first time that there is such a level of understanding between Europe and the Arab world,” Longuet added during his 90 minutes long visit to the military base of Souda.
Souda-based French and Qatari Mirage fighters have jointly operated over Libya since March 24, French squadron commander Antoine Guillou told reporters.
“Two French and two Qatari planes fly missions twice a day to patrol Libyan airspace,” Guillou said. France 100 military staff and three Mirage jets that are periodically rotated with new arrivals from home.
Qatar currently has six Mirage 2000-5 jets and a 200-strong military detachment at Souda.
Norway’s Defence Minister Grete Faremo visited the Norwegian Air Force F-16 squadron , in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Faremo landed in Crete just before midnight, to inspect and inspire the Norwegian contingent, which numbers well above 100, including the ground crew and support personnel.
- I am very satisfied by the way in which they have carried out their mission so far, the Norwegian Defence Minister says.
She also told the troops on the Souda Bay base that she was very pleased by the way in which the Norwegian force was made fully operative in such a short time. (Norwaypost)
It is not a rarity to see estimmed visitors at Souda Bay however the visits take place in an unbelievable low profile. On March 27 , Chief of France Air Force, Gen. Jean-Paul Palomeros and of Qatar’s Gen. Mubarak al-Khayanin payed a short visit to Souda as well. The 6 Mirage 2000 from Qatar are supported by french personnel and fly missions to Libya together with the French Mirage.
A couple of days earlier Chief of Belgian Armed Forces Gen. Charles-Henri Delcour visited his own F-16 squadron. (enkripto )