VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- For the first time in a decade, the French Navy is training alongside its U.S. counterpart, right here in Hampton Roads.
The French Navy's Dassault Rafale M fighter was on full display at Oceana.
France has sent 12 of the jet fighters, along with one E-2-C, and, 350 sailors and naval aviators to deploy with the Bush this spring, as their nuclear-powered carrier, the FS Charles de Gaulle finishes scheduled maintenance.
The French fliers are currently conducting air-to-air and air-to-ground training at Oceana and Fentress Field, and Naval Station Norfolk.
After that, the French squadrons will embark on the Bush for two weeks of day and night flight operations involving catapult launches and arrested landings.
It is the first time the French and US Navies have trained together like this in ten years.
The French are fired up, 'to see how the U.S. aviation is training, so that we can try to take what's good from it, and we try also to show them we know how to work too," said French Naval Air Force pilot, Commander Marc, who asked that we not use his last name.
Their American counterparts are equally enthused.
"I've been active duty for 18 years and this is the first time I've got a chance to do something like this," said CDR Kevin Chlan, commanding officer of VFA-31.
"We get to focus on working on a person to person basis, whether that our pilots, NFO's or maintainers, just kind of passing share experiences and learning," said CDR Christian Goodman, commanding officer of VAW-124.
"To have an opportunity to have the French Navy come over and improve our ability to fight alongside them is not lost on me how significant that is, and what a wonderful opportunity that is," said CAPT Jim McCall, commander of Carrier Air Wing 8.
The public can see the French jets for themselves with a pair of flyovers over the next two days. The first fly-over is scheduled Thursday a little after 5 p.m. over Norfolk Scope following the NATO festival flag raising.
The second flyover is planned a little after 10 a.m. Saturday above Waterside at the start of the 65th Annual Parade of Nations.
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