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Video - French Air Force pilots training

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This Rafale is taking off from air base 118 ( south west France ) with two missions : The support of French troops in Mali, and photographing military objectives. The action seems real, except that all this, is in fact, a reconnaissance training exercise organized by the French Air Force. The goal : Put the pilots in different conditions the closest possible to the reality on the ground.

Commander Nicolas, French air force pilot :

"Peacetime missions means we have air supremacy, and for example we have given 20 objectives to photograph. The goal is to take a maximum of objectives, because we are unable to do all 20. So the pilots have to choose the goals. Certain objectives are worth more than others, i.e. more difficult than others, so they have higher scores. It's really tactical. And for the "wartime"  missions, there's an imposed time limit.  We are forced to fly low altitute because there is a perceived threat. Remember we are simulating realistic wartime threating situations."

A few hours earlier, the mission of Captains Olivier and Guillaume began with a briefing. All details of the day's operation are discussed and planned around a map of the area concerned. A serious rehearsal before take-off ...

Final preparations before inspection of the aircraft out on the tarmac. Once the final checks have been carried out, the Rafale lets it be known that it's impatient to  be in the air in no uncertain  manner ....

Objectives of the day are to support the French troops on the ground and identify enemy positions. The other part of the mission is to photograph high priority military objectives, and return to base, imperatively, not more than 90 minutes later ...

Captain Olivier, French air force pilot :

"We are quite satisfied with the result satifaits. In spite of everything, we had a few unforeseen incidents because we had a 'plane that had no reconnaissance pod available. But the capabilities of the Rafale, especially with the little camera that you see on the nose of the 'plane, enabled us nevertheless to collect the ground images."

The Mirage F1, which hitherto was dedicated to reconnaissance will bow out on July 14th., next. The Rafale, which has already conducted reconnaisance missions since 2011, will take over from the Mirage definitively...

Captain Pierre, French air force pilot :

"I remember the first day in Libya with Operation Harmatta. We had Rafales carrying out "reconaissance", plus other missions, and in the wake of those aircraft, for ground strikes and once again, on reccies, after that. So we have a very versatile aircraft which has now reached maturity."

France hopes to expand exercises of this type, internationally; and with the goal of establishing a platform for exchange and the invention of new work methods, to invite more foreign squadrons to participate.a

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