[Photo] French Navy Rafale flying below sea level over lake in Djibouti

Rafale M jets fly over Lake Assal, the lowest point on land in Africa.

Lake Assal is a crater lake in central-western Djibouti which lies 155 m (509 ft) below sea level.

Here’s is a cool image of two French Navy Rafale M aircraft flying over the lake, one of the most saline in the world:  the salinity level of its waters (10 times that of the sea) makes the surface extremely bright.

Although we can’t be sure about the altitude the two French jets were flying, the leading plane in the formation seems to be quite low (check the shadow) over the lake, most probably below sea level.

Image credit: French Navy / Chasse Embarquée


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Ex pat Brit/Irish – living in far north of France just over 3 years. Can take it from me and personal experience, both at air shows and training, all 3 Frog flying services have no interest in low flying restrictions. Lot of these Aeronavale guys stationed in Bretagne, and they near took tiles of sis in law to be’s house, with bothe Rafale Ms, Super Etendards, and even the venerable old Alouettes during exercises, last time i visited. Course locals ranting and raving, while i near wet myself with excitement! Even the ancient Mirage 2000s spectacular performers at low level.

  2. one of my friends just passed the tests to be fighter pilot, on rafale! i’m so jalous when i see those kind of photos

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