An 18-month overhaul to the FNS Charles de Gaulle will represent a major challenge to the French navy's Dassault Rafale M and Super Etendard Modernisé communities from September, with the service looking at the potential of conducting some training activities in Brazil.

Several Super Etendards could be deployed from the Brazilian navy's aircraft carrier São Paulo in early 2009, with pilots expected to perform around 10 landings each. Brazil will this month begin requalification flights on the vessel with its McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawks.

France's Rafale M pilots cannot maintain their carrier qualifications during the overhaul period, says Charles de Gaulle executive officer Capt Laurent Caillard, but its Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye crews will train aboard US Navy carriers.

The navy's Flottille 4F squadron performed trials aboard the Charles de Gaulle last month using its first of three aircraft to receive Hamilton Sundstrand NP2000 eight-blade propellers. Its two further examples will be modified by mid-year.

Source: Flight International