NewsIncredible skill of a French pilot. He landed in thick fog on an aircraft carrier

Incredible skill of a French pilot. He landed in thick fog on an aircraft carrier

Rafale M landing during dense fog on an aircraft carrier.
Rafale M landing during dense fog on an aircraft carrier.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | Ukrainian Front

9:24 AM EDT, October 18, 2023

Pilots operating from aircraft carriers often deal with very harsh weather conditions. This is perfectly illustrated by the recording from the cockpit of a French Rafale M plane landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

Naval aviation pilots are considered among the best, but given the conditions they have to struggle with, this is not an exaggerated opinion. Below, one can see a recording showing the landing of a Rafale M aircraft on the deck of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier with virtually zero visibility.

Due to the extremely dense fog, seeing the deck of the aircraft carrier was only possible after landing. The pilot was able to land the plane solely based on instrument readings and flight path correction systems.

Landing with zero visibility on an aircraft carrier

Landing in zero visibility is not an easy task, especially on an aircraft carrier. It's worth noting that its deck, unlike a regular runway, moves because the ship is riding on waves, and the pilot has to hit the so-called aerofinishers. These are special extended lines that the plane catches with a special hook, allowing it to brake on a very short runway.

In such conditions, the smallest mistake results in the loss of the machine in the depths of the sea or ocean, sometimes associated with the death of the pilot. In recent years, the Russians have lost a couple of Su-33 aircraft from the deck of the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in this way.

Rafale M — a French multi-purpose aircraft that is an export hit

The approaching landing aircraft is a naval variant of the multirole Rafale, designated as Rafale M. This French design, first flown on June 4, 1986, is the result of a joint European future fighter project from the 70s of the 20th century, from which the Eurofighter Typhoon evolved, which the French withdrew from.

It's worth noting that the naval version of Rafale M was the first to be introduced into service in the Aéronavale (naval aviation) in 2001. Rafale aircraft are relatively small twin-engine designs based on the use of a delta wing with a "duck" tail. The Rafale was designed as a multi-purpose machine capable of gaining air superiority, attacking ground targets, or carrying out a nuclear attack (an option available exclusively to Paris) depending on the configuration of the armament.

The Rafale's armament comprises the onboard NEXTER 30M791 30 mm caliber cannon with a rapid-fire rate of up to 2500 rounds/min and over ten tons of payload carried in the naval version on 13 pylons. The arsenal includes advanced long-range air-to-air Meteor missiles, short/medium-range air-to-air MICA missiles (RF radar-guided or IIR - imaging infrared seeker guided variants), anti-ship AM 39-Exocet missiles, maneuvering Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG missiles, guided BANG bombs (convertible sets à la JDAM), and ASMP-A with a thermonuclear warhead.

In addition, the Rafale has an extensive self-defense system that includes the SPECTRA electronic warfare system, and the DDM-NG that alerts the pilot in a 360-degree radius of incoming missiles. Add to this sensors in the form of modern AESA type radar and a passive IRST (Infrared Search and Track System) that facilitates detection even of aircraft made with stealth technology, and we have a very well-balanced machine capable of handling a very wide range of tasks.

This is evident from recent export successes, starting from India and ending in the UAE, Indonesia, Greece, or Croatia. Meanwhile, Serbia and Saudi Arabia are currently interested in their acquisition.

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