the air force’s tribute to industrial know-how

the air force's tribute to industrial know-how

Two emblematic aircraft built by Dassault are on display until September 18 in the gardens of the Hôtel des Invalides.

The MD 450 Ouragan n°297 and the Rafale n°B01 have been installed on the forecourt opposite the Hôtel des Invalides. On the ground, the two planes frame the central aisle. Suddenly the Patrouille de France appears and its tricolor panache. For the inauguration of the exhibition “from the Hurricane to the Rafale”, the Air Force did not spare its efforts nor the effect of surprise for its guests. The exhibition will be visible until September 18 in the north gardens of the Hotel. It recounts 70 years of military and industrial partnership between the State and Dassault*.

The Chief of Staff of the Air and Space Force, General Stéphane Mille, and the CEO of the Dassault Group, Éric Trappier, inaugurated the event together, in front of an audience of guests, soldiers and civilians, and in the presence of the shareholders of the group founded by Marcel Dassault: Marie-Hélène, Laurent and Thierry, the children of Serge Dassault as well as Héléna Meilhan, the daughter of Olivier Dassault. These planes tell a long story. The construction of the prototype of the Ouragan dates from 1948. American military aid after the Second World War will also allow the financing of 185 planes!

To be installed in front of the Invalides, the Ouragan, with its nose open and its airfoil “in low position”, and the Rafale, with its very special fuselage, had to be disassembled and then reassembled. The operation required exceptional convoys and several days of work. The MD 450 is normally kept by the Association Espaces Aéro Lyon Corbas, the other by the DGA.

“Seventy years of excellence”

The two machines on display illustrate an industrial career in the service of the French army, “seventy years of excellence”, said General Mille, narrating the major operations carried out since then by the Air Force, including sovereign deterrence missions. Between the Ouragan and the Rafale, the planes will be called Mystère, Mirage or Jaguar, “dream names”as said Marcel Dassault, the founder.

For the inauguration of the exhibition, the Patrouille de France flew over the Hôtel des Invalides. Serge Dulud.

The Alpha Jet, which equips the Patrouille de France, was designed in partnership with the German company Dornier. “This plane shows that we can cooperate with Germany and that cooperation can work when it meets simple and effective rules!”, launched Éric Trappier in his speech in an allusion to the Franco-German project for a new generation aircraft SCAF, the subject of complex and laborious negotiations with Airbus. The project is waiting for a political impetus to restart.

“No modern and efficient army without combat aircraft. But also, there are no combat aircraft without a high-performance industry”summed up Éric Trappier. “The complexity is such that, today, only 3 or 4 countries in the world, including France, know how to master and produce a combat aircraft in complete autonomy. Mastering this complexity is a slow learning process, a process of accumulation, maturation and transmission of experience from one generation to the next. We don’t improvise as an aircraft manufacturer”he underlined before paying tribute to the know-how of his teams and their predecessors.

*(The Dassault group owns the Figaro).