French Mirage Aircraft Over Norfolk Skies

Last month RAF Marham played host to visiting Air Crew from France as they took part in a bilateral agreement training detachment.

The two Mirage aircraft from Nancy Airbase in France flew into RAF Marham after participating in the first of their training sorties. The French aircraft conducted a sortie over the North East coast with Typhoon’s from RAF Coningsby’s Number 3 Squadron and Hawk aircraft practising their Air to Ground support role.

The exercise was part of the defence cooperation between the UK and France that was agreed by the two countries back in 2010. The co-operation is intended to improve collective defence capability through the UK and French forces by working more closely together, contributing to more capable and effective forces and ultimately improving the collective capability of NATO and European Defence.

After an overnight stay at RAF Marham the French Mirage’s took off again to conduct a low level training sortie over Wales. They then returned to Marham for re-fuelling and to prepare for their final training sortie joining other air assets participating in a Close Air Support training mission over Stanta training range near Thetford. The Mirage’s departed Marham the following evening to make the return journey to France.

Sqn Ldr Stephane Peubez, a French exchange officer currently serving with II(AC) Squadron said “The French Air Force and the RAF have a lot in common: a history starting with WWI, shared operations like Gulf War 1, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan or Libya; a similar number of aircrafts and personnel. Therefore it is very important that both air forces can be able to train together from time to time. Even if it lasts only two days, this type of event is very interesting and the training values for the aircrews that flew over are big.

As the French exchange Officer on II (AC)Sqn I am very happy to fly on a different type of aircraft, but also to share and understand the work of the Royal Air Force. For a navigator, the Tornado GR4 is an interesting platform to fly in.

Being part of a front line Squadron and in particular in the RAF is something that I am very proud of. My family is over here in the UK and my baby girl was born in Scotland during my training at RAF Lossiemouth and that will give us some stories to tell her as she gets older!”

RAF Marham’s Tornados are planning a detachment to France later on this year to work with the French Air Force again. The exercise has been a great opportunity for the British and French to train together to gain a greater understanding of each others roles. This training is invaluable to further enhance the already close working relationship between the two nations.

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