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Defilé Aérien de l’Armée de l’Air; Evreux, July 14, 2015

Quatorze Juillet Défilé Militaire, part 2; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

During the Defilé Aérien above the Champ Elysees more than 55 aircraft and 31 helicopters from the various French air forces will fly in one formation. All of these participants in the formation represent a specific part of the French Air Force, Army and Navy. The flying part is only a small part of the entire military parade.

The Defilé Aérien de l'Armée de l'Air (Aerial Parade of the French Air Force) will be launched over the Champ Elysees in Paris at 10:40 am. The opening of the parade is flown by the Patrouille de France (PDF) which will fly along in the formation over the city with no less than twelve Alpha-Jets. The aircraft of the PDF will form the Cross of Lorraine (Croix de Lorraine) in the air. This cross symbolizes the freedom of the French and was during the Second World War used by the French units. The second formation was the Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres (Free French Air Forces, FAFL). This formation was led by a tanker of the type C-135 of GRV 2/91 "Bretagne" from Istres-le-Tube. The tanker was followed by four Rafales of EC 30/2 "Normandie-Niemen" from Mont-de-Marsan. These aircraft were followed by four Mirage 2000Cs of EC 2/5 "Ile de France" from Orange. This formation represented the French air defense units which are guarding the French airspace. The aircraft have the national QRA mission in the country and are 24 hours a day ready for take-off. The next group which would follow during the parade was the Forces Aériennes Stratégiques (Strategic Air Forces, FAS). This group also was led by a C-135 tanker. The tanker was followed by three Rafale B aircraft from St Dizier and are assigned at EC 1/91 "Gascogne". The second part of the strategic formation consisted of three Mirage 2000Ns from Istres-le-Tube and are assigned to EC 2/4 "La Fayette". The Rafale B and the Mirage 2000N can be equipped with the ASMP nuclear medium-range missile.

The fourth sub-formation was the Projection de Puissance (Offensive Air Force). The offensive units are specialized in attacking ground targets in enemy territory. The aircraft of this component were in the past often used in the Middle East and North Africa. This formation was formed by four Mirage 2000Ds from Nancy where they fly at EC 3/3 "Ardennes". The Protection Police du Ciel (French Air Policing Force) was conducted by an E-3 from Avord of the EDCA 1/36 "Berry". The AWACS was followed

by three Mirage 2000RDYs which are based at Luxeuil where they fly at EC 1/2 "Cigogne". The E-3 will monitor with its radar 24 hours a day the airspace and the French Mirages will fly CAP missions and are 24 hours a day on QRA. The French flight training was in the formation represented by three Alpha-Jets. These aircraft were flying in the formation called Formation et Entrainement (Training Formation). The Alpha-Jets were from Cazaux where they fly at ETO 1/8 and ETO 2/8. The last fighter aircraft which flew along in the formation were the maritime fighter aircraft of the Aeronavale. Two Super Etendards and two Rafale M's flew along and are based at Ladivisiau. These aircraft are deployed at the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. The maritime block was completed with an Atlantic and a Falcon 50. These aircraft are from at Lanveoc and are used for reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare.

The next block which would follow in the formation consisted of the strategic and tactical transport aircraft. This formation was led by an A-400M Atlas. This aircraft is new to the French Air Force and is entering operation in the upcoming years. The aircraft will be based at Orléans where they will fly at ET 1/61 "Touraine". There was also one French C-130 Hercules present in the formation. This aircraft is also based at Orléans and is assigned to ET 2/61 "Franche Commité '. Besides the French Hercules also a Spanish Hercules flew along. The second part of the transport formation was led by a C-160 Transall of CIET 1/64 from Evreux. The tactical transport aircraft which flew along was a Casa CN-235. This aircraft came from Creil where it is assigned to ET 1/62 "Vercors". Besides this French aircraft also a Casa C-295 of the Spanish Air Force flew along. The Sécurité Civile (Civil Security Service) flew along with a Beach King Air 200 and two Bombardier CL-415 firefighting aircraft. These aircraft are used for safeguarding the national security. The aircraft are used for observations and forest fire fighting. These aircraft are all stationed at Marseille in southern France where they fly at the Groupement des Avions Bombardier d'Eau (Group Firefighting Planes). The Defilé Arienne ended with the Airbus A340. This large aircraft is part of the Transport Stratégique (Strategic Transport Fleet). This large aircraft is stationed at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and is flying there at ET 3/60 "Esterel".

The flying part of the parade will end with a formation of helicopters which were flying over Paris. In total, the formation consisted of 31 helicopters from various armed units. The formation was led by the Combat Aéroterrestre (Combat Helicopters) of the Aviation Légère de l'Armée de Terre (French Army Air Force, ALAT). This group consisted of two Tigre attack helicopters and a Gazelle. The second part was the Patrol Ham et Maneuver Assault (Troop Transport Helicopters). This group consisted of two NH90s and a Cougar. The second part consisted of the Imex Patrol Mixte et HM PC (Commando Intervention Formation). This formation consisted of a Tigre and two NH90s. The group Actions Spéciales (Special Forces) consisted of a Gazelle, a Tigre and a Caracal. This group is responsible for the CSAR mission in France. The group with observation helicopters (Mission Hephaïtos) consisted of a Gazelle, a Puma and an EC145 of the Sécurité Civile. The last group of helicopters of the French ALAT consisted of two Pumas of the anti-terrorism team. This group was also supplemented with a Puma from the French Air Force (AdlA). The following groups which would appear were from the AdlA. These groups were a CSAR team which consisted of a Caracal, a Puma and a Fennec and a SAR team which consisted of a Super Puma, a Caracal and a Fennec. The ninth groups consisted of two NH90s, a Panther and a Dauphin and were all from the Aeronavale from Hyéres. The last group of helicopters was of the Gendarmerie and consisted of an EC145 and two EC135s. The flying part of the parade is always considered as one of highlights of the whole Defilé Militaire.

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