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French military jets brush in mid-air ‘near-miss’ in practice session

The Rafale planes later landed without incident but a piece of one aircraft fell and damaged the roof of a home in a nearby village in the south-west

Two Rafale French military plane performing during an air show

The Rafale French military planes landed without incident after the accident Pic: Richard Whitcombe / Shutterstock

An investigation is under way after two French military jets brushed against each other in mid-air during a practice session in southwest France yesterday (May 22).

Both planes then landed without incident. 

The Rafale aircraft from the 30th hunting squadron brushed each other during a tactical presentation at the 709 Cognac-Châteaubernard base in Charente at around 12:40, confirmed commander Colonel Nicolas Lyautey.

Both planes then landed “without difficulty” and “no one was injured”, he added, saying that the incident was “very rare”.

A technical investigation is now underway, and administrative and legal inquiries are set to follow.

The incident is the first of its kind in 12 years, after a similar accident happened in April 2010, the Air Force press office said.

“One of the [aircraft] lost a piece of its fin, which damaged the roof of a house when it fell" in the neighbouring village of Gensac-la-Pallue, Colonel Lyautey said.

A resident of the affected street in Gensac-la-Pallue told AFP that the debris “damaged a roof” before “falling on the pavement”. He said: “It was a piece measuring around 1m40. I saw it from a distance, and there were lots of law enforcement officers around it. A neighbour sent me a photo.

“Just as well that the occupant of the house wasn’t at home when it happened.”

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