Naval Air: Brothers In Steam


June 13, 2010: French carrier based Rafale aircraft continue to expand their ability to operate on American carriers, and vice versa. This was demonstrated June 4th when a Rafale landed on an American carrier, was taken below to the hanger deck, where French technicians made some adjustments to one of the Rafale's engines. Then the Rafale was taken back to the flight deck, where it was launched into the air.

This sort of thing has been going on for over three years. Back then, the American carrier John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and the French carrier Charles de Gaulle (R 91) operated together off the coast of Pakistan, in support of operations in Afghanistan. Both nuclear powered carriers supplied bombing and reconnaissance missions for troops in Afghanistan. Aircraft conducted touch-and-go landings on each others carriers. Two French Super-Etendards, two Rafales and a French E-2C Hawkeye did so on the Stennis. Each day, six sailors from each carrier, went to the other and spent the day working there, and getting to know the routine. The two carriers participated in a number of training exercises, and a good time was had by all. Not only that, but the French ship carries a good supply of alcoholic beverages, something American warships have not been able to do since 1914.

In the last two years, Rafales have landed on American carriers several times. Pilots from both navies have trained on each others aircraft. All this is largely the result of the fact that the new French carrier, the 38,000 ton Charles de Gaulle (R91) is designed along the same lines as American carriers, including the use of a steam catapult. The de Gaulle carries up to 40 aircraft and helicopters.



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