Aviators from the French Navy will be in Hampton Roads starting in April to train with the U.S. Navy.
Navy officials say 27 pilots will conduct air–to–air and air–to–ground training at Naval Air Station Oceana and Naval Station Norfolk — as well as Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) at Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress.
The French pilots will be flying 12 Marine Nationale Rafale-M multi-role fighter jets and one E-2C Hawkeye airborne command.
Officials say the squadrons training in Hampton Roads are being hosted by Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8.
Following the above training, the squadrons will embark the USS George H.W. Bush for around two weeks for day and night flight operations.
The French pilots are training aboard the George H.W. Bush because France’s aircraft carrier, the Charles De Gaulle, is undergoing a mid-life overhaul, officials say.
French carriers have similar catapult systems to U.S. carriers.
“Embarking our French allies and 13 Marine Nationale aircraft demonstrates our interoperability to deliver sustained airpower from the sea. This underway is greater than two professional navies working together; rather we are flying side by side as one team,” Capt. Sean Bailey, USS George H.W. Bush commanding officer, said in a statement.
The training is slated to last from early-April to mid-May.