French Rafale fighters to operate from USS George H.W. Bush this spring

French Navy Rafales, E-2C deploying to Hampton Roads this month

By Dario Leone
Mar 31 2018
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The deployment will occur just before French Navy aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R91) is expected to complete a major maintenance period which started in 2015

The French Navy is bringing 12 Rafale Ms and one E-2C to Hampton Roads, Virginia for a deployment that will eventually see them embarking aboard USS George H.W. Bush.

Twenty-seven naval aviators will practice air–to–air and air–to–ground training missions from NAS Oceana and NS Norfolk – as well as Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) at Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress.

According Wavy TV, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 will host French aircraft during their stay in Hampton Roads.

They will then proceed to spend two weeks aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Aviators from the French Navy will be in Hampton Roads starting in April to train with the U.S. Navy.

As we have previously explained the deployment will occur just before France’s aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R91) is expected to complete a major maintenance period which started in 2015.

However even if the aircrews will do carrier qualifications aboard Bush, Capt. Jean-Emmanuel Roux de Luze, French Naval Attaché to the U.S. said last January that the aim of the attachment is beyond just carrier qualifications and cross-deck operations.

“We want to demonstrate our ability to integrate with U.S. military services,” Roux de Luze said. “We want to show we do maintenance, demonstrate we can load weapons.”

He said that this kind of joint operations are aimed to demonstrate how the services can work together. “With the U.S. Navy, the technology used, procedures, communications equipment are all basically the same,” Rouz de Luze pointed out.

French carriers in fact have similar catapult systems to U.S. carriers.

“Embarking our French allies and 13 Marine Nationale aircraft demonstrates our interoperability to deliver sustained airpower from the sea. This underway is greater than two professional navies working together; rather we are flying side by side as one team,” Capt. Sean Bailey, USS George H.W. Bush commanding officer, said in a statement.

French Rafale fighters to operate from USS George H.W. Bush this spring

The training is slated to last from early-April to mid-May.

Photo credit: MC2 Tyler Caswell / U.S. Navy


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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