French military personnel are continuing their search for the pilot of a second Dassault Rafale M fighter that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea yesterday, after rescuing one person shortly after the incident.
The pair of unarmed Rafales were conducting a test sortie from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle when the accident happened at around 18:00 local time. The pilot of one fighter was recovered by helicopter and taken back to the ship. The French defence ministry describes his condition as "safe and sound".
Ongoing search efforts have involved naval vessels, plus aircraft including Eurocopter SA365 Dauphin and Westland Lynx helicopters, Dassault-Breguet ATL-2 Atlantique and Dassault Falcon 50 maritime patrol aircraft and Northrop Grumman E-2C airborne early warning and control aircraft, the navy says.
The 24 September accident represents the first losses of Rafale aircraft operated by the French navy, which had an inventory of 23 of the type prior to the mishap, according to Flight's MiliCAS database. The pilot of an air force Rafale died in December 2007, when his B-model fighter crashed in central France during a training exercise.
The French navy operates the Rafale M from its lone aircraft carrier
The Charles de Gaulle left her home port of Toulon on 21 September with an embarked air wing comprising four Rafales, three Dassault Super Etendard Modernisé strike aircraft and three helicopters.