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French Sailors Experience Flight Operations Aboard Roosevelt

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080722-14
Release Date: 7/22/2008 4:45:00 PM


By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman John Suits, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs

USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)(TR) is conducting carrier qualifications with members of the French Navy during Operation Brimstone July 21-31.

Pilots from the "Tomcatters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 and French navy pilots are learning the value of camaraderie and the true meaning of the term 'shipmate.'

"Every day we have close air support and air defense missions preparing us for carrier qualifications," said French Lt. Lebars "Barzy" Stephan, a Rafale pilot assigned to the 12th Fighter Squadron.

"It's very nice being aboard TR because we are learning to work together as allies so we can fight more efficiently and effectively. For me, it's also nice to compare the specifics between the F/A-18E Super Hornets and the French Rafale aircraft."

While working together, the pilots of both navies recognize their similarities.

"It's been a real treat to have them [the French pilots] around because of the camaraderie and to see the different aspects of their coalition capabilities," said Lt. Christopher "Buttercup" Jones, a pilot assigned to VFA 31.

"Learning about each other's cultures helps us with our teamwork. They're just like us, because at the end of the day, we're still pilots and we share a lot of things in common, such as terminology, hobbies, and motivational skills."

Other similarities include how flight operations are controlled and the importance of communications during flight deck operations and carrier qualifications.

"I was called this year to participate in carrier qualifications aboard TR," said Lt. Cmdr. Yann Beaufils, French Air Boss. "Being an air boss is the same on an American or French aircraft carrier. In the tower, I have direct contact with all the French pilots as they're flying. Everything is pretty much the same on French and U.S. aircraft carriers. Both our navies are the only ones to operate with these catapults and arresting gear systems on the flight deck."

During their training, French and U.S. Navy pilots train every day to ensure that TR carrier qualifications run smoothly. It's good for camaraderie, and also helps instill a sense of pride and teamwork, strengthening allied relationships in training and war-time environments.

Commanded by Capt. Ladd Wheeler, Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRSCG). The TRSCG is preparing for a scheduled deployment later this year.

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