Red Arrows and Patrouille de France here below

Tours French Air Force Base celebrated its centenary this year on Sunday, the 7th of June as the air base was born in late 1915, fielded with the aviation school on Caudron G3. MF33 Flight (1/33 Belfort) was born in Tours in October 1914 but there is no evidence that it was stationed at Parçay-Meslay airfield.

The airshow gathered lots of aviation professionals as well as recreational aviation booths. About 56,000 people attended the event – a bit more than expected. The Belgian F-16 solo display, the Moroccan Marche Verte, the Red Arrows, the Patrouille de France, then the Rafale were the highlights of the beautiful day. The Swiss Army Super Puma helicopter performed an outstanding display, and a P-51 D Mustang and a Spitfire delighted WW2 fighter aircraft enthusiasts. Other flypasts performed by two Dassault Flamant MD.311, de Havilland Vampire and Mosquito made the attendees dream.

The visitors could also admire numerous aircraft in the static display area: RSAF and Luftwaffe Eurofighter Typhoons, a curious Piaggio 149 as its roundel comes from the UPDAF – Uganda Peoples Defense Air Force, a Caudron C.800 glider which looked like the C.25S that were used in the movie “Don’t look now… We’re being shot at!” (La grande vadrouille) flown by famous French actors Bourvil and Louis de Funès. A nice RSAF (Republic of Singapore Air Force) Aermacchi M-346, a Dewoitine 501 which used to be stationed at Tours air base, a few WW2 Piper Cub, Dassault Mirage 2000-D, Mirage 2000-5, Rafale, and last but not least 2 A-10 Warthogs, and many more aircraft.

With the nice weather, cool northbound winds, and the smooth organisation, the event turned out to be a great success.

SUPERB French Navy RAFALE Video

Make your life a dream,
and this dream a reality.

Fais de ta vie un rêve
et de ce rêve, une réalité.

(Antoine de Saint Exupéry)

BRAZIL puts off its decision to buy new Fighterjet

Brazil is to spend up to 7 billion dollars (around 12 billion reals) for its Brazilian Air Force (FAB – Forca Aerea Brasileira) next procurement – fighter aircraft. There is no way to predict whether it will be Rafales, Gripens, or Super Hornets. Nobody knows much about what the tender outcome will be. We just know that India would advise Brazil in this competition. We will have to take another six months until Brazil makes a decision on this bid ie on December 31, 2012, or even later.

On the one hand, the French Dassault Rafale is deemed ahead thanks to its performance, the Swiss NAC tests, and thanks to a transfer of technology pledge. Moreover, the Rafale (carrier-capable) has won the Indian MMRCA tender among strong contenders – F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, MiG-35 Fulcrum F, Eurofighter/Typhoon, F-16IN Super Viper, JAS 39 NG Gripen. On the other hand, the U.S. Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet would be cheaper but the transfer of technology still depends on another aircraft sale.

Remember about fighter aircraft performance… 3 years ago!

Could RAFALE benefit from F-35 glitches?


JSF F-35 Lightning II
F-35 Lightning II

The British Harriers were to be replaced by the F-35Cs. Do you remember? You may have learnt from the recent news that the carrier variant of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Joint Strike Fighter – CV JSF (Carrier Vessel variant’s Joint Strike Fighter) – F-35C was unable to catch the wire onboard the aircraft carrier during the latest landing tests.

Strange as it may seem, the F-35C’s designers may have not forecast what would unfold during a test flight while landing on an aircraft carrier:

The arresting hook (tailhook) never engaged the arresting wire as the clearance between the tail hook and the main landing gear’s tyre tread is too short for such a speed. An F-35C Lightning II missing her carrier landing has been reported even though some U.S. officials would have dismissed such information which might result from simulated tests.

Added to that is a software bug which had grounded the CV JSF for 6 days a few month earlier for the fifth-generation fighter aircraft might have encountered wing-folding input while flying!

As a result, the British Ministry of Defence might find a Plan-B solution as these design flaws, and some others which date back to November 2011 are deemed unacceptable for such an expensive fighter aircraft – $139.5 million for the F-35C (CATOBAR – Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery), and $150 million for the F-35B (STOVL – Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing). The latter can land on carriers but she is more expensive, and the JSF program costs have already increased several times.


Moreover, the JSF would not be able to fire AMRAAM air-to-air missiles as reported in this video:



RAFALE La Ferté Alais 2010 - © Xavier Cotton
RAFALE La Ferté Alais 2010 © Xavier Cotton

And there’s even more: according to a Pentagon study team report, 13 areas of concern that remained to be addressed in the F-35 would have been identified. For instance, the Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) would not work properly…

The British MoD is therefore considering the purchase of either F/A-18E Super Hornets or RAFALEs for the RAF. The French Dassault which has already lost the Swiss NAC tender due to replace the Swiss Air Force’s F-5s, would be proposing a new offer with 18 RAFALEs at a cost deemed lower than the 22 SAAB Gripens’ one according to the Swiss press.

The RAFALE is still in competition with the Eurofighter in the Indian MMRCA tender. the Indian officials are expected to make a decision this week. To be continued… ==> We have just learnt (on January 31, 2012) that the RAFALE has won the MMRCA tender… :-)


Photo 1: © Recce 233 Savoie; Photo 2: © Xavier Cotton –