Interview with Captain Benoît "Tao", Rafale pilot during the Singapore Airshow

On the occasion of the Singapore Airshow, the press department of the French Embassy had the opportunity to interview Captain Benoît "Tao" who carried out the Rafale’s flight demonstrations.

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Can you introduce yourself in just a few words?

My name is Benoît "Tao" (code name in the army). I am a fighter pilot and currently the Rafale Solo Display presenter. I joined the Air Force in 1998. From 2000 to 2006 I was in the Mirage 2000 squadron. I am now a Rafale pilot since 2007. Although I am presenter for the displays during air shows, I can be called on a mission at any time.

How to become a fighter pilot? Do you fly on different types of fighter jet?

It is possible to join the army with the baccalaureate (O-level). Then, we have to go through a standard training and we learn how to fly a fighter jet on the various air bases in France (Cognac, Tours, Cazaux). A pilot only flies on one specific type of aircraft. It takes about one year of training to control a fighter aicraft like the Rafale and to reach the first operational stage.

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How many Rafale are there in France? Are you the only Rafale presenter?

Yes, I am the only Rafale presenter for 2 years: the presenter is the only one to perform air shows displays. Then he becomes "coach" for the next two years. There are over one hundred Rafale pilots for about hundred and forty Rafale in France.

What are the capacities of the Rafale?

The Rafale is a multi-role fighter jet developed by Dassault Aviation. It is a super-maneuverable plane which can reach a maximum speed of 750 knots (at sea level: 1389 km/h, at altitude: 1925 km/h). It reaches 40 000 feet (12 000 meters) within 2 minutes from releasing the brakes at take-off. Although not designated a stealth fighter, the Rafale is a discreet fighter jet. It can fly with 1 or 2 pilots.

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What differentiates it from another fighter jet?

It is a highly versatile aircraft that can carry out a wide range of missions. Its strengths also lie in what cannot be seen. Inside the aircraft, there are many last generation software that effectively synthesize and transmit the information to the pilot

For what kind of operations it is used?

It has been used in recent years by the French Air Force for reconnaissance and strikes flights in Libya, Mali and Syria and Iraq.

The press department team of the Embassy wishes to thank captain Benoît"Tao" and Major Grimal for their time and for organizing this interview.

Dernière modification : 24/02/2016

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