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French Navy pilots train on U.S. carrier
USS George H.W. Bush. © Emmanuel Huberdeau

French Navy pilots train on U.S. carrier

French Navy pilots are currently training on the USS George H.W. Bush in the Atlantic as part of exercise Chesapeake 2018.

With the French Navy's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier undergoing scheduled major maintenance until autumn, French pilots and support crew are currently training on the USS George H.W. Bush in the Atlantic as part of exercise Chesapeake 2018.

After a month of training on shore in Virginia, more than 300 crew from the French airborne group -- pilots, mechanics and flight deck staff -- have joined the U.S. carrier. Twelve Rafales and a Hawkeye surveillance aircraft are with the crew on their ten-day deployment.

On completion of the initial pilot qualification phase, the French aircraft will be involved in a variety of tactical training missions alongside U.S. Navy fighters.

It is not the first time that Rafales have operated from a U.S. carrier — two Rafales first performed take-off and landing trials on the USS Enterprise in 2007, and a U.S. deployment was also organised during the French carrier's first major maintenance visit in 2008. There have been multiple exchanges over the years, but the scale of the current exercise is unprecedented.

Nor is it a first for the French naval aviators, all of whom undergo initial training in the U.S.

The exercise is intended to strengthen partnerships and deepen interoperability between the two nations' naval forces, demonstrating the French group's capability to operate from a U.S. carrier.

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