France’s first “Top Gun” class for Rafale pilots graduates

The first class of the French Air and Space Force Qualified Weapons Instructor (QWI) course for Dassault Rafale fighter pilots has graduated.

On August 1, 2022, the CEAM announced that the first class, which was composed of three pilots, a navigator from the Air and Space Force, and a pilot from the Naval Aviation, all received their Qualified Weapons Instructor diploma during a short ceremony.

“Upon their return to the squadron, the QWI Rafales will now have the important task of carrying out advanced instructions for all crews, of advising the command on the tactical use of the Rafale, and of contributing to the evaluation of forces,” the CEAM explained.

(Credit: CEAM AWC)

Launched in May 2022, the Rafale QWI course took place at the Air Warfare Center (CEAM) located at the Mont-de-Marsan Air Base near Bordeaux, and comprised “six intensive weeks of theory lessons, simulator sessions, and real flights.”

“The objective of this training is to perfect their knowledge and mastery of their weapon system and to deepen the tactics, techniques, and procedures,” the CEAM detailed.

With this formation, the CEAM follows in the footsteps of the United States Navy and its legendary Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, more commonly known as TOPGUN, and the Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor course of the British Royal Air Force and Navy. 27 instructors from 5 different units participated in the training course.

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