Two Rafale fighters collide mid-air during air show in France

NATO Air Command

Two Rafale fighters collided mid-air during an air display at the Cognac air show in the southwest of France. 

The two aircraft belonged to the Vautour Bravo tactical display team of the 30th Fighter Wing. The wing had just won the Silver Tiger award for the best display at the NATO Tiger Meet 2022 in Araxos, Greece. “Rogue Spartan,” the leader, also won the Best Tiger Aircraft award for its livery. 

“During their tactical presentation, two Rafales from the 30th Fighter Wing touched each other in-flight,” said Colonel Nicolas Lyautey, commander of the 709 Cognac-Châteaubernard airbase where the air show was taking place. “One of them lost a piece of its tail fin, which damaged the roof of a house during its fall.” 

A picture shared on social media shows that the top of the Rogue Spartan fin was severed. This part includes several sensors of the Rafale’s SPECTRA electronic suite, including the missile launch detection system whose optronic is visible. It was recovered in the village of Gensac-la-Pallue, 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) east of Cognac.  

Other pictures seem to indicate that the leader’s left wingtip missile pylon and the wingman’s right canard were damaged, though the French Air and Space Force have not yet confirmed this. 

The two pilots managed to land safely. No injuries were reported. The French investigation bureau for State aviation safety (BEA-E) opened an investigation to identify the causes of this incident. 

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