French Navy Dassault Rafale M fighters and Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye AEW&C planes will train first with U.S. Navy aircraft at NAS Oceana
USNI News has learned from French officials that a contingent of French sailors and naval aviators will deploy aboard American carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) from April to May this year.
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. Even if the aircrews will do carrier qualifications aboard Bush, Capt. Jean-Emmanuel Roux de Luze, French Naval Attaché to the U.S. said 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.”
French Navy Dassault Rafale M fighters and Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) planes will train first with U.S. Navy aircraft at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, in Virginia Beach. French sailors will work with their U.S. counterparts maintaining the aircraft, then the French forces will embark aboard Bush and operate as part of the air wing, Rouz de Luze explained.
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.
“Today we are 95 percent interoperable,” he explained. “Our concerns in our navy is in 10 years, in 15 years will we be able to work like that.”
“Due to its size and power, the US Navy does not really need us and not really need help of other navies,” Rouz de Luze added.
But even though the U.S. Navy can go alone politically, Rouz de Luze said the U.S. needs to be part of a coalition or NATO operation because doing so give legitimacy to a military action.
France has been an active contributor to the anti-ISIS coalition air strikes via the country military’s Opération Chammal since 2014.
Photo credit: MC2 Tyler Caswell / U.S. Navy