Hyeres June 12th 2010,
This year the Aeronavale (French naval aviation) celebrates its
centenary . The Aeronavale was created in 1910, when a Farman biplane
was bought and its first pilot was qualified. On Sunday June 13th 2010,
at NAS Hyeres, an impressive air show was held to celebrate one century
of the Aeronavale.
At Hyeres in 1922, the airfield was rented and the first
hangar was built. On February 1st 1925, official it was the of the
military base which was named Centre d'Aviation Maritime du Palyvestre (Palyvestre
Naval Aviation Center). During the years many squadrons and different
aircraft served at the base. On of the type's off aircraft the base is
known from is the Fouga CM-175 Zephyrs. Currently the following units
are based at Hyeres;
C.E.I. (Centre d'Entrainement et Instruction/ Training and instruction
31.F squadron equipped with WG-13 Lynxs.
35.F squadron equipped with AS 365F Dauphins and d'Alouette IIIs.
36.F squadron equipped with AS 565SA Panthers.
C.E.P.A./10.S (Centre d'Expérimentation Pratique de l'Aviation Navale/
French Naval Aviation Test Center) owning a MS.880 Rallye, a Alouette
III and a WG-13 Lynx.
E.P.P.E. (Ecole du Personnel de Pont d'Envol/ Flight Deck Crews School).
Saturday, June 12th, under a radiant sun, the rehearsal was held
for the N.A.S. Hyeres air show. With the actual air show taking place
on Sunday Some 40 aircraft and helicopters where on-display .
Besides the active military plane there was a collection of older planes
representing the history of the planes that where used by the Aeronavale
during the last decades. A Corsair, one of the twenty-six F4U-5 models
accepted by the Argentine Navy in 1957 and withdrawn from use in1966.
The Corsair was purchased in 1991 by the 'Association Franqaise d'Avions
Historiques' and shipped to France in 1994. It was reconfigured to a
F4U-7 variant and flew again in March 2000. The aircraft received an 14F
livery. Other war birds wearing French Naval Aviation colours included a
C-47D Dakota, CM.175 Zephyr, MS.760 Paris and aTBM-3R Avenger.
After thrilling the crowds at last years 'Legends' the French Flugwerk
Fw 190 now lies at the bottom of the Med The aircraft was rehearsing
for the '100 years of the Aeronavale' air show at Hyeres (Toulon) on 12
June 2010 when the engine seized in a slow roll. The pilot ditched
safely and was picked out of the water by the jet ski club on the beach.
The replica Fw 190 now lies 3 metres down with a fair bit of structural
damage sustained after hitting the water at over 200 km/h according to
the 63 year old pilot - whose 12th crash-landing this was.
During the show several ships moored in the bay of Hyeres including the aircraft
Charles de Gaulle. (France) , Principe de Asturias. (Spain) and the USS
Harry S. Truman.(USA) .
The navy's air arm now numbers over 200 aircraft and more than 6,700
The Aeronavale show is in a program off modernising. The last decade has
seen the introduction of France's nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the
Charles De Gaulle, the new Rafale M and the Hawkeye radar surveillance
The 45 Super Etendards are the biggest force, although the number of
Rafale's is slowly growing. The Super Etendards will remain in service
at least until 2015.
Funded under the government's Economic Recovery Plan, the retrofit
program ten Rafale F1 aircraft, having only air defence capabilities,
delivered to the Naval Aviation from July 1999 will be upgrade to the
Rafale F3 standard. These aircraft are currently mothballed at the
Landivisiau naval air station. The idea is to keep the airframe and all
suitable equipment, while removing obsolete parts and integrating these
F1 aircraft into the F3 assembly line. The duration of a F1-to-F3
retrofit will be between 12 and 18 months. This method will generate ten
upgraded aircraft with which to gradually replace the Modernized Super
Etendard (SEM) fighters now operated by squadron 11F and due for
retirement in 2015
In its helicopter fleet the introduction of the NH-90.replacing the
Lynx. and the Super Frelon. The NH90 NFH variant is primarily designed
for autonomous Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti Surface Warfare (ASuW)
missions. The comprehensive mission equipment packages allow a wide
range of additional missions to be performed including Search and Rescue
(SAR), maritime patrol, vertical replenishment, troop transport, medical
evacuation and amphibious support roles. The helicopter is designed for
embarked operations to be performed by day and night in adverse weather
conditions. As a stop gap measure after the retirement of the SA321G
Super Frelon operated by 32 Flotille, the Aeronavale is currently
operating two Eurocopter EC 225
The first upgraded Panther Mk 2 first flew in November 2008.The upgrade
adds a NVG-compatible lighting system to the cockpit, updated
communication systems including a NATO-standard data-link, the ability
to carry a light anti-ship missile and new electro-optical turret
attached to a pylon on the port-side of the aircraft.
The Panther Mk 2s are likely to enter service between 2012 and 2014. All
16 aircraft in service will be upgraded. Eventually the Panther Mk 2
will be serving alongside the NH90 for many years to come as the
backbone of the helicopter part of the Aeronavale.