Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton will once again receive tremendous support from the French Navy at this year’s International Air Day on Saturday 8 July. Making its only UK flying display appearance of this year, the French naval power’s thunderous fast jet role demonstration will return to Air Day.
The pair of Rafale M carrier fighters, which won the Best Fixed Wing Display award last year, will join Air Day’s fast jet line up alongside the RAF Typhoon, Belgian Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon and Czech Air Force Gripen and ALCA L-159 pair.
Equipping three squadrons based at Landivisiau on the other side of the English Channel – the fast, agile and heavily-armed Rafale M can switch roles in real-time. Launching from the mighty Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, the Rafales are regularly on global frontline deployments.
The French Navy’s static contribution comprises an Atlantique Mk2 maritime patrol aircraft and a Westland Lynx HAS4 small ships’ helicopter; both are relatively rare visitors to these shores. Able to perform missions lasting up to 18 hours, the long-serving Atlantique Mk2 has a wealth of capabilities, being tasked with submarine escort, surveillance, intelligence-gathering and electronic warfare.
While all Royal Navy Lynx models are now retired, the French Navy still has in service 21 HAS2 and HAS4 variants. Fitted with radar, sonar, acoustic data transmission and FLIR (forward-looking infrared) systems – plus Mk46 or MU90 Impact torpedoes – France’s Lynx fleet is mainly tasked with anti-submarine warfare.
The flying display is truly shaping up to be an impressive one which is reflected by ticket sales to date. There are only a few places left available in some of the enclosure packages which organisers anticipate will be sold out in the coming weeks. Discounted advance tickets are now also available over the counter at participating Tourist Information Centres. Further information and online booking available at www.royalnavy.mod.uk/yeovilton-airday