US, French Pilots Swap Flight Decks
U.S. and French aircraft embarked on the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and the French aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91) kicked off combined flight operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, Jan. 14, the US Navy informed yesterday.
Even though different in size and the ways things are done, the crews availed of the opportunity to launch and land on each other’s ships and spice up their every-day routine.
Lt. Cmdr. Bex Boyd, an F/A-18 pilot assigned to the “Gunslingers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105 and Cmdr. Forrest Young, VFA-105’s commanding officer, were the first two U.S. Navy pilots to land on the French aircraft carrier during the current period of operations.
“The experience was similar to landing on Harry S. Truman but since Charles de Gaulle is just a little smaller, the sight picture was a little different,” said Boyd.
A French Rafale pilot known as “Pronto” noted: “It’s a great opportunity to test our interoperability through this kind of experience. I have already landed on an American aircraft carrier but it was the first time for me to do it with a Rafale F-3 (French most advanced single-seat jet fighter).”
U.S. and French pilots have also teamed up in air defense, a war at sea exercise, and a variety of other operational and training scenarios.
The flight operations are part of an ongoing period of overall combined operations between the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HST CSG) and French Task Force 473, which will last throughout January, the aim being bolstering cooperation and interoperability.
Naval Today Staff, January 21, 2014; Image: US Navy