Tag Archives: French Air Force

French Aerobatic Team Patrouille de France Announces Official U.S. Schedule

World’s Oldest Aerobatic Team to Fly 9 Full Demos Plus Flyovers in USA.

The world’s oldest aerobatic demonstration team, the French Patrouille de France, has announced their official flight demonstration calendar for their first ever U.S. tour. The team has scheduled 9 full airshow flight demonstrations in the United States plus a number of arrival/departure, fly-by and special events.

Patrouille de France began flying in 1931 using an early radial engine, high wing monoplane, the Morane-Saulnier MS-230. The MS-230 was an exceptional aircraft for the time and one of the first tandem cockpit single engine monoplanes, paving the way for modern tactical aircraft. It was an ideal demonstration aircraft then operated by French military flight instructors at early airshows.

The team disbanded as a result of WWII but reformed in 1954 and began operating the U.S. built Republic F-84, also flown by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. The team went on to fly the indigenous French built Dassault Ouragon, the Dassault Mystere IV, the Fouga Magister and finally their current aircraft, the nimble and pretty Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet light attack and advanced trainer twin-engine two-seat jet.

Patrouille de France will fly a unique demonstration for U.S. airshow fans since the team operates a large formation of eight Alpha Jets compared to only six demonstration aircraft by U.S. jet teams the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds. Some opposing maneuvers in their routine similar to U.S. team “knife edge” solo passes use four opposing aircraft instead of two making for a sensational photo opportunity.

According to AirShowStuff.com this is the United States demo schedule for Patrouille de France in 2017:

2017 North American Tour Appearance Schedule – Patrouille de France

March 19th: Arrive Bagotville, QC
March 25th: Statue of Liberty Flyby, New York
March 27th: Washington DC flyby and reception with French Ambassador
April 1st and 2nd: Melbourne Air Show, FL
April 3rd and 4th: Sun-n-Fun Airshow, Lakeland, FL
April 5th and 6th: Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of US entry into WW1, Kansas City, MO
April 7th-9th: Maxwell AFB Airshow, AL
April 10th-12th: Visit w/USN Blue Angels at NAS Pensacola, FL
April 12th: Flyby over Trescal Factory, Dallas, TX
April 12th: Refueling in Santa Fe, NM
April 13th: Grand Canyon, AZ Flyby/photoshoot
April 13th-16th: California Capitol Airshow, Sacramento & Golden Gate Bridge Flyby in San Francisco, CA
April 17th-18th: Visit w/USAF Thunderbirds at Nellis AFB, NV
April 19th: Refueling at Peterson AFB and USAF Academy Flyby, CO
April 19th: Refueling at Scott AFB, IL
April 20th-21st: VIP Event at Langley AFB, VA
April 22nd-23rd: Airshow at Stewart ANG Base, NY
April 28th-29th: NATO Tattoo in Norfolk, VA
April 30th: Wings Over Gatineau Airshow, Gatineau, QC
May 1st: Montreal, QC
May 2nd: Quebec City, QC
May 4th: Departure from Bagotville, QC

In celebration of the U.S. tour the demonstration aircraft will feature a special U.S. themed paint scheme recently unveiled on the official Patrouille de France Facebook page. The scheme features a new tail livery with stars and stripes.

Image credit: Patrouille de France

 

Amazing video shows three Jetmen fly in formation with the Patrouille de France display team

The three Jetmen Yves Rossy, Vincent Reffet and Fred Fugen flew together with the Patrouille de France in an unprecedented aerial choreography.

Little more than one year ago, Jetman Dubai flew in formation with an Airbus A380 over Dubai during a special publicity event organised by Emirates Airlines.

In October 2016, the three jetpack-equipped pilots formed up with the 8 Alpha Jets of the Patrouille de France, the French Air Force aerobatic display team and flew together at an altitude of 4,000 ft (1,200 m) and a speed of 140 knots (260 km/h).

Although it may seem an easy or random task, such formation flying requires much preparation in order to reduce turbulence and consequent instability.

Here below you can watch the rather unusual men-aircraft formation.

Image credit: © Airborne FilmsJetman

In 2011, Jetman Yves Rossy flew in formation with the Breitling Jet Team.

French Rafale aircraft intercept the U.S. B-52 bomber that performed Lafayette Escadrille Memorial flyover

The celebrations for the centenary of Lafayette squadron provided an interesting intercept opportunity.

The Lafayette Escadrille is one of the most famous U.S. squadron to operate in France before and during WWI.

It was formed on April 20, 1916 by 38 U.S. volunteer pilots who flew under French command a year before the U.S. entered into the conflict.

A memorial celebrates not only the 38 original pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille, but all 269 American pilots who flew with the French Air Force as part of the larger Lafayette Flying Corps, 68 of whom were killed during the war and are interred at the memorial crypt.

B-52 escorted by Rafale 2

During the ceremony held at the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette, France, on Apr. 20, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the squadron’s formation, one B-52, four F-22 Raptor fighters (from their deployment base at RAF Lakenheath), three FAF Mirage 2000Ns, one FAF Rafale and a World War I-era Stearman PT-17 biplane performed flyovers during the ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Layfette Escadrille’s formation.

Interestingly, the (somehow) rare flight of the B-52 strategic bomber inside the French airspace provided an interesting opportunity to the French Air Force Rafale that practiced an interception on the Stratofortress and took some cool air-to-air images (as happened last year when Dutch F-16s intercepted and escorted a “Buff” involved in a round-trip mission from Barksdale AFB to the Arctic and North Sea regions respectively).

B-52 escorted by Rafale 3

Image credit: French Air Force

 

U.S. Air Force B-52s take part in French-led CAS exercise “Serpentex” for the first time

U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers deployed to Moron Air Base have joined French Air Force fighters in CAS exercise

Taken on Mar. 1, 2016 the photo in this post shows a French Air Force Mirage 2000 performing a friendly intercept of a U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress belonging to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana in the skies over Northern France.

This aircraft, which is one of the three BUFFs deployed to Moron Air Base, Spain, in the last days, was intercepted during its flight to Norway for NATO exercise Cold Response 16.

Currently these B-52s are participating in close air support (CAS) exercise Serpentex 16 hosted by France in the Mediterranean Sea.

Kicked off on Mar. 7, Serpentex is an annual exercise that involves joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) from many partner countries.

The JTACs operate on the French Island of Corsica and work together to practice identifying targets and using that data to call in air strikes from nearby French and American aircraft.

Serpentex differs from other joint military exercises held in the region because it focuses on close air support only: in fact, during the drilsl, the B-52s joined with French fighters to support JTACs from several NATO nations, as well as those from Jordan and Saudi Arabia, who are also participating this year.

The presence of the B-52, which is taking part in exercise Serpentex for the very first time, represents a great training opportunity for the JTACs. “Most of them haven’t worked with bombers for these types of missions before. We have a longer duration and a lot wider turn radius than some of the fighters, so they’re going to have to find a new pacing for calling us in for close air support. But I promise that bomber CAS is worth the wait” Maj. Sarah Fortin, the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron assistant director of operations, said in a USAF release.

Noteworthy, whilst CAS role has traditionally been filled by various fighter platforms, the BUFF is well-suited for the mission since is able to loiter for extended periods and carrying a wider range of munitions than any other aircraft in the U.S. inventory.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Watch this cool video of an AFSOC MC-130J refueling a French combat helicopter at night

The French Air Force has conducted the first night HAAR (Helicopter Air-to-Air Refueling).

The following video shows a 352nd Special Operations Squadron MC-130J refueling French Air Force Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracals from the Escadron d’Hélicoptères (EH) 1/67 Pyrénées, during the night HAAR (Helicopter Air to Air Refueling) qualification flights conducted at the end of February.

French helicopters rely on foreign partners to conduct this peculiar kind of aerial refueling: along with the MC-130Js, the FAF Caracals often train with the Italian KC-130J tankers of the 46^ Brigata Aerea (Air Brigade) from Pisa. The FAF should be able to perform autonomous HAAR once the two ordered KC-130Js will be delivered in 2019.

According to Jane’s, in October 2015, France conducted its first operational HAAR mission, when a Caracal based in N’djamena, Chad, was refueled by a U.S. KC-130J.

H/T Pierre Maneval for the heads-up