Two French fighters crash, one pilot recovered alive

25th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Two French Rafale jet fighters crashed on Thursday in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of France, one pilot has been found alive, the French navy said

"Major air and sea resources were deployed immediately in the zone to find the pilots and one has been recovered," a navy statement said, adding that rescue efforts were continuing.

The accident occurred around 6pm (1600 GMT) about 30km (20 miles) east of the coastal city of Perpignan during a test flight in which the two aircraft were taking part, the statement added.

The high-tech fighters were flying from the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

Built by French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation, the EUR 50 million (USD 72 million) Rafale first rolled out of the production line in 1998.

France plans to have a fleet of 294 Rafale jets, including 60 for its navy. So far 80 jets have been delivered to the air force and the navy.

But the plane has yet to find a foreign buyer, although Brazil recently expressed interest in buying 36 Rafales in a deal that would be worth several billion dollars.

The Rafale, which can fly at as fast as Mach 1.8, 2,000 km (1,200 miles) per hour, or nearly twice the speed of sound, is designed for air-to-air combat, reconnaissance flights and nuclear bombing missions.

The Rafale flies regularly in Afghan skies, dropping 250 kg (550 pound), laser-guided US bombs to support NATO troops on the ground.


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