Two Dassault Rafale fighter jets of the French Air and Space Army flew so low over the small village of Le Castellet near Manosque that they struck an electric line, cutting off the power supply to the village for most of the day.
They had taken-off from the Orange-Caritat airbase in Vaucluse for a low-altitude training exercise.
The incident that occurred on February 17 had cut three medium voltage lines triggering power outages in the village of 300 residents. As part of the training, two Rafales from the 4th squadron of 113the airbase of Saint-Dizier-Robinson (Haute-Marne) flew over the area at an altitude of at least 80 meters.
The mayor of the village, who saw the jets from his car, told the media: “It went so low that it made a hell of a din, I then looked up and saw the second aircraft. It was so low that I said to myself: it went under the power lines.”
After going further down the road, he came across sectioned electric cables hanging on the ground. He said: “One of the planes hit the line and cut it. I immediately called the emergency services and the electricity company team.”
According to reports, the fall of the three cables caused a minor fire, which was quickly brought under control by the firefighters.
Deploring the “rare incident”, a French air force spokesperson told reporters: “There were no casualties. This in-flight incident forced the pilot of the aircraft to land safely at 14:11 [13:11 GMT] at the Orange airbase”. An investigation has been ordered into the incident.
Designed and manufactured by the French company Dassault, Rafale is a canard delta wing, twin-engine, multirole fighter jet which can perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike, and nuclear deterrence missions.