french military aircraft...

Dassault Mirage

The French Air Force was formed in 1909, just 6 years after the first powered flight by the Wright brothers and is the oldest air force in the world. The Armée de l'Air (Army of the Air) is a branch of the French Armed forces.

The French developed their air force from 1909 and introduced the concept of fighter pilots in World War I. During the interwar years, however, particularly in the 1930s the government nationalised all defence industries, ripping all the old companies apart and forming giant conglomerate groups on a purely geographical basis. Far from increasing output, it caused chaos; and the excellent designs that remained with the tattered surviving private firms were denied essential parts and suffered delay of a year or more.

The frantic French government had by 1938 turned elsewhere for fighters and placed massive orders in the USA. One type, the Curtiss Hawk 75, reached the squadrons in significant numbers and even managed to achieve near-parity with the 109 despite a poorer flight performance. But the only fighter available to the Armee de l'Air in really large numbers in 1939, the M .S. 406, was stuck with 860hp, so that when it met the Bf 109E it was shot down in droves.

By the time the other US types were in their crates France had succumbed to the might of the German Blitzkrieg were the Luftwaffe, crushed both the French and British air forces during the Battle of France.

Post World War 2 the French nation developed a successful aircraft industry at home. The famous Mirage series of delta wing jet fighters aircraft built by Dassault Aviation led the way forward with the resurgence of the French aircraft industry. The Mirage was one of the most popular post war aircraft and demonstrated its abilities in both the Six-Day War and Gulf War. The French Air Force is currently replacing its front line fighters with the newly developed Rafale multi-role jet fighter, the first squadron of which became operational in 2006 at the Saint-Dizier air force base.