Text & Pictures : Luc Dujardin © sbap 2011
On June 18-19, the Saint-Dizier air base celebrated its 60th anniversary and the first 30.000 flight hours on Rafale. To commemorate this, two Rafales were specially painted in a dark black-grey colour with "30.000 hours" written on the back and "Armée de l'Air" painted on the belly. Two Rafales were seen as static display behind the hangars, in the public area. It was even possible for children to climb into the cockpit. Four other Rafales could be seen inside the last hangar on the left of the public area, where tables were set for lunch. On Saturday June 18, the weather was sunny but suddenly some spectacular cumulonimbus generated violent, brief thunderstorms and it disturbed the airshow a little. The Royal Jordanian Falcons team and other light aircrafts did not take off at all and the planning of the other displays was changed because of the poor weather conditions. Three famous aerobatic teams like "The Red Arrows, The Breitling Jet Team and the Patrouille de France were lucky enough to fly in good weather. This event was in the end a beautiful success and the many visitors enjoyed it very much.
BA 113 “Commandant Antoine de Saint-Exupéry” at Saint-Dizier Robinson is the home base of all French Air Force Rafale. Since the retirement of the last French SEPECAT Jaguars in 2005, the base and its units have prepared for the Rafale’s arrival. During the waiting period, some locally based Alpha Jets have allowed the pilots to maintain their flying skills.
EC 01.007 “Provence” operates combat aircrafts from BA 113 since 1973. It was the first squadron to get the multirole fighter Dassault and became operational in 2006. At the beginning, its first role was qualifying and training pilots to fly the new fighter. As it used to do with the Jaguars, the squadron still performs strike missions, but its main mission is air defense, thanks to the high capacities of the Rafale. The secondary mission of the “Provence” is transformation and training of all French Air Force Rafale pilots, plus the annual control of their know-how.
The second main unit of the air base is EC 01/091 “Gascogne”. Also flying the Rafales, this squadron has arrived at Saint-Dizier in 2008. It is operational since July 2010 and its main mission is nuclear deterrence with ASMP-A nuclear missiles.
Since June 2010, another unit is working at Saint-Dizier. The Escadron de transformation Rafale ETR 02.092 “Aquitaine” was created as a special/proper/genuine centre of expertise for the use of the Rafale. Crews of both French Air Force and French Navy are working together in this totally new structure. This unit allows: 1.) the training on the simulator for the benefit of flight crews, 2.) standardization of the use of the plane, 3.) study of new tactics and 4.) analysis and validation of various concepts and programmes. The squadron can welcome a dozen trainees, either straight from school, or having begun their careers on other fighters. Every year, the “Aquitaine” teaches eight young trainees (six for the Air Force and two for the Navy), as well as about fifteen pilots and armament-systems-experienced-officers. The ETR is composed of about twenty instructor pilots and simulator instructors. The squadron uses the planes of the base, as well as the Centre of simulation Rafale. One Rafale "M" has been deployed by the French Navy to Saint-Dizier. It is operated by ten marine mechanics.
EDSA 05.950 “Barrois” is the last, but not least, of the main units based at Saint-Dizier. It is a ground-to-air defense squadron with a mission of protection, alert and surveillance, which operates ground-to-air Crotale new generation missiles, mobile Mistral missiles and 20mm AAA guns. The squadron completes its control system by the activation of a watch-on-sight-network. It participates regularly in active measures of air safety through the implementation of the concept of protection “bubble" and can be deployed in foreign theatres of operation.
At this point in time, all the Rafales flown by French forces are using fully integrated avionics systems with standard F3.2. The Rafale is now fully serviceable in any air defense, strike or reconnaissance mission and can use all new reconnaissance pod Reco-NG, targeting pod Damocles, AASM-IR, Exocet missiles, etc. Some of these systems are not yet in operational service and some of them were not delivered in sufficient numbers to the French forces and in consequence, tactical use must be planned in advance to be most efficient. With the addition of standard F3.2, the radar is at last fully operational with full capacities, even in air-to-sea or terrain-following. The SPECTRA auto-protection system has been ugraded too. Each Rafale squadron operates 20 aircrafts and EC 01.007 “Provence”, due to its training role, is flying with 5 single-seaters and 15 two-seaters.
Dizier, the homebase of the Rafale. EC 01.007 Provence is one of the French
Air Force unit involved in the Lybian operations.
The aircraft on the pictures are in maintenance at base and Saint Dizier is the technical point for the all Rafale fleet.
|Mirage 2000N from EC 03.004 "Limousin" based at Istres|
|Typical French shelter||Mirage 2000N from EC 02.004 "Lafayette" based at Luxeuil|
|Mirage 2000N at take off||Air refueling in the backlight|
|The Mirage 2000N, Nuclear vector||Boeing C135FR from GRV 093 "Bretagne"|
|Back from mission...|
|RAF tornado GR 4 from 617 Squadron, the well known "Dam Busters"|
|Alpi Pioneer STD 300||The new version of the Cricri equipped with four electrical engine !|
|Morane Saulnier MS317||Douglas C47A|
|Transall from ET 03.061 "Poitou" based at Orlean-Bricy||Transall in short final|
|Yakovlev YAK 11||North American T-6 Harvard|
|ACROEZ Speed Canard||Extra 300S from the Royal Jordanian Falcon|
|Jack Krine and his "Full Metal" Fouga Magister|
|The "Red Arrows" ready for their 2011 presentation||Take off|
|Some physical exercices...||The "Reds" are on taxi after the show|
|Heavy hailstorm...incredible!||"Reds" reflections...before departure|
|North American T28 Trojan (In reality a Fennec based at Beaune)|
Rafale Display 2011
|Cpt Cedric "Rut" Ruet is accustomed to new technologies...self the mobile !|
|The Demo Rafale and his 30.000 flight hours livery||As usual for this kind of fighter, a powerfull demonstration|
|Back to the parking||Note the "petit prince" drawing on the tail in homage to Saint Exupery|
|"Mitch" and his "Vortex F-16AM||A splendid demonstration underlining the 65 years of the Belgian Air Force|
|No more comment needed as the simple word : Beautifull||The F-16 power !|
|The Breitling Jet team||Inverted flight|
|A fantastic civilian aerobatic team !|