Sunday, June 12, 2011

Royal Navy pilots to fly the Rafale soon ?

Apparently, the next step of the British-French bilateral defense agreements is to send Royal Navy pilots onboard the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier where they will fly on the Rafale M.

The news is reported by the Telegraph, June 12th :

[...] The first five of 30 Royal Navy pilots have begun French language training at the defence college in Paris before they join the carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, where they will fly Rafale jets.
They will spend 16 weeks studying French so that they are able to communicate with their colleagues on board the vessel.
While they will wear their own uniforms they will sleep, eat and work alongside French fighter pilots, in what has been described as a major test of co-operation for the two Navies. [...]

This is indeed a major boost for the cooperation between the to Navies which are more than ever suffering budget cuts.
While the Royal Navy is intended to receive her first CVF around 2018, the British F-35C will most probably not be fully available before the end of the decade. It is therefore crucial for the British pilots to maintain their skills as far as general carrier operations are concerned. They will also gain valuable experience regarding the specific handling of a modern CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery) fighter which is launched and recovered the same way as the F-35C.

If the French Navy situation is brighter on the fighter side (2nd Rafale M squadron to be operational this summer), the CdG still doesn't have a sistership to supplement her when she is in dry dock for scheduled maintenance period (which is 1.5 years every 7 years to replace the nuclear fuel). As a result, the French Navy pilots will also need a back up carrier around 2016-2018 to keep training. Logically, they will most probably do so on the brand new Queen Elisabeth CVF carrier alongside their British colleagues, all flying Rafale M fighter jets.

Also read : The British Rafale fairy tale


  1. Good for both sides. Perhaps one day Marine nationale pilots could get to land on Queen Elisabeth CVF; sweet!

  2. I hope those pilots will be more polite than the RAF pilots who exaggeratedly criticized the Rafale afterward.

  3. Indeed. It would be a tremendous opportunity for the RAF/RN pilots to learn CATOBAR operation first hand; they will mind their manner :)

  4. Extremely good. Both talents merging together is a nice idea. Thanks for sharing this.

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