Dassault treats Hollande to air show at RMAF base

LAILI ISMAIL


SUBANG JAYA: Despite the rainy weather, French-made Dassault Rafale multi-role combat aircraft flaunted its agility during an air show at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base, here earlier this afternoon.

As part of his state visit, French President Francois Hollande and his delegation were treated to the air show after a static demonstration of the newly-arrived Airbus A400M military aircraft.

Hollande was seen in a cordial mood as he witnessed the demonstrations in the presence of Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

Also present were Armed Forces chief General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor and RMAF chief General Datuk Seri Affendi Buang.

French Air Force pilot Captain Jean-Guillaume Martinez, the solo display pilot who flew the state-of-the-art Rafale jet said despite the challenging weather, the air show which lasted about 10 minutes went on without a hitch.

“The visibility was only about four to five kilometres because of the bad weather but I tried my best to give a good air show. At the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) last week, I did better air shows,” he said with a laugh.

Martinez who is also known by his call sign ‘Marty’ has logged in 1,400 hours on the Rafale with two decades of experience in the French Air Force under his belt.

“This is my second year as a display pilot but first time here for my president’s visit and LIMA but I might come back for LIMA as a coach for the next display pilot,” he added.

The two-seater aircraft, designed and built by Dassault Aviation, was also used to perform at LIMA 2017 last week by the same set of French Air Force crew.

The multi-role fighter jet, equipped with a wide range of weapons, has been referred to as an ‘omnirole’ aircraft by Dassault.

Meanwhile Airbus had on March 22 officially delivered the fourth and final A400M aircraft on the sidelines of LIMA.