Two Rafale fighters of the French Air Force were involved in a minor mid-air collision on Sunday but managed to land safely. The indent happened during the Cognac airshow in the commune of Chateaubernard.
Colonel Nicholas Liot, commander of the Cognac-Chateaubernard base, said that two Rafale fighters of the 30th Fighter Squadron of the French Air Force were involved in the accident.
One of the aircraft lost part of its tailfin in the collision, and the debris fell and damaged a house in the town of Gensac-la-Pallue. The two aircraft landed without difficulty, and no injuries were reported in the incident on the ground.
The French Air Force and local administration have launched investigations into the incident.
The Cognac airshow is a major event organized based at the airbase of Cognac-Chateaubernard. The two-day event includes both static displays of aircraft on the ground and flight displays, including by the Patrouille de France aerobatics team.
Organized by the Fondation des œuvres sociales de l’air, the air show at Base 709 in Cognac was held on May 21 and 22 this year. According to local media reports, the accident occurred on the last day of the much-awaited show at about 12:40 pm local time.
Despite the collision of the two aircraft, nobody was hurt, and the two aircraft managed to land safely. Local reports suggest that investigations have been launched.
“In aeronautics, there is only one priority: safety. We have to understand what happened,” said Colonel Lyautey, the Commander of the airbase, according to Air Live.
Both jets managed to land, one of them had just returned from the NTM where it had won the best livery trophy. pic.twitter.com/jf5kBpqYBD
— Julien Durand (@JulienD52088560) May 22, 2022
Out of the two aircraft that met with the collision, one was a Rafale 30-GA, an aircraft recently painted in the tiger-paint scheme for the NATO Tiger Meet exercise held in Greece.
The Tiger Meet exercise had lasted for more than ten days earlier this month, where the now damaged Rafale aircraft flew alongside German Eurofighters, Belgian F-16s, and Swiss and Spanish F-18s.
The two damaged jets were Rafale C single-seat fighter jets from the French Air Force Vautour Bravo tactical demonstration team formed in 2019. The demonstration of this team usually lasts 10 minutes, with the pilots showcasing the operational capability of their aircraft.
Accidents Involving Rafale
In February this year, the Rafale-M or Marine, which was stationed onboard the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, was redirected to Malta on the evening of February 6 after the nozzle of the refueling probe came off and the fighter jet could not gather enough fuel to return to the ship, EurAsian Times had reported.
Seems like a ?? fighter jet had to make an emergency stop in #Malta today. All is well though and the Rafale returned safely to @French_CSG. The last such emergency landing was in 2011, but Rafales had made it to Malta for the 2021 Air Show too. Glad no pilots were injured. https://t.co/fokqVJkPmV
— Daniel Fiott (@DanielFiott) February 6, 2022
The plane landed on Apron 2, and French experts were flown in via helicopter for a quick refueling and repair of the problem.
A French Navy NHI NH-90 NFH ‘Caiman’ was dispatched from the same aircraft carrier later that night with the part and a technical team to repair the jet. Later, both aircraft headed east towards the ship, and the plane took off from Malta at 00:16 that night.
A major accident occurred in 2009 when two Rafale Marines fell into the Mediterranean during a test flight.
The two supersonic fighters crashed in September 2009 while returning to the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle off the coast of Perpignan after conducting a test mission. One pilot recovered safely with some bruising on his face and an eye injury. However, the other pilot had gone missing.
The collision was described as an accident by the then French Defense Minister Herve Morin, who had stated that the combat planes had not encountered any problems as per examinations conducted by professionals.
Dassault Aviation’s Rafale is a twin-jet combat aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of short and long-range missions, including ground and maritime attacks, reconnaissance, high-accuracy strikes, and nuclear strikes.
Even though it was called a cursed aircraft for several years after its launch, it has become one of the most sought-after fighter jets in the world now.
Currently, the marine variant of the aircraft is under evaluation by the Indian authorities. If Dassault Aviation wins against Boeing for the Indian Naval contract, Rafale-M could become the first aircraft to be stationed aboard India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier.