French fighter pilot reports traumatic “attack run” hazing

Alan Wilson

A French fighter pilot filed a legal complaint after being subjected to an unusual and traumatizing hazing, as reported by local media La Provence. 

In March 2019, the then-26-year-old fighter pilot arrived from the 115 Orange-Caritat airbase, southeastern France, to his new affection on the French island of Corsica.

After being coldly greeted by his new colleagues, the pilot was tied up and thrown in the back of a pick-up truck with a bag over his head, before being driven to the Diane firing range, north of the 126 Solenzara airbase. Normally, the area is used by air units to practice carrying out strafing runs, during which they shoot their guns at ground targets.

There, the blindfolded pilot was strapped to an air-to-ground target, a large red cross. Several Mirage 2000 fighters then proceeded to make air-to-ground attack runs using their 30mm guns at distances ranging from 500 meters to 1 kilometer around the victim for around 20 minutes. The whole scene was filmed and photographed by the perpetrators.

On May 7, 2021, after unsuccessfully requesting a new affectation for two years, the soldier lodged a complaint before the Marseille prosecutor’s office for “aggravated willful violence” and “deliberate endangerment of others,” with the aggravating circumstance that the acts were committed by “professionals, staff of the army and officers.”

The French Ministry of Armed Forces confirmed the incident had been investigated by the Air Force. “This investigation led the command to initiate the disciplinary process against those responsible identified,” a Ministry spokesperson said, without detailing how many people were involved or their rank. “The Air and Space Force condemns any activity likely to undermine the integrity, both physical and psychological, of its staff and in the image of the institution.”

Also in 2019, the French Air Force investigated an incident during which a civilian passenger was accidentally ejected from a twin-seat Rafale B fighter jet. The 64-year-old employee of a French defense manufacturer had been pressured by his colleagues, including a former military pilot, into participating in a fighter training mission.


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