French air force emphasis on extreme low flying?

A bit of a strange question. Anyway, I’ve noticed that Youtube has dozens of videos of French air force pilots performing feats of extreme low altitude flying. Whilst all militaries will naturally want pilots to know how to fly under the RADAR, I’ve never seen a video of another air force taking it to the extreme that the French seem to. For instance, watch this. At around 2.45 in the video, there’s a helicopter flying so low through a field that it passes under a power line. This video also shows Mirage fast jet pilots buzzing a road with what looks like traffic passing just feet underneath them. This helicopter can’t have been six feet off the ground at the lowest point in its pass. At 40 seconds in this video, a Mirage zips past a lighthouse which is quite clearly towering over the jet, and on and on. Are the French just better at advertising the fact, or do they put an emphasis on extremely low flight that other militaries do not?

Copycats. The Israeli Air Force has been flying fighter jets under power lines for decades.

I’ve seen some of those vids before. Always had the feeling it had to do with the region they were stationed in.

Edit: to Alessan, maybe it’s a built in feature of Mirage based aircrafts :slight_smile:

In the USAF we used to tool around at 100 ft at 500 knots. All in a day’s work, and fun to boot. But woe betide the guy who was caught on video at 99 ft.

Despite a lot of uninformed US chest beating about French wimpiness, the French are agresssive adventurers, especially in the air. Many extreme sports like hang gliding, parasailing, etc., got their start in France, or at least have lots of devotees there.

I suspect a lot of the cool video exists because (unlike USAF) the French military is a little more relaxed about guys showboating.

Back in my day (1980s), extreme low altitude high speed flight was the only way to survive against Soviet style air defenses. And even then it was iffy; we expected to lose a lot of guys in the first few days before we tore down their air defense network.

Nowadays, between stealth and the changed nature of the enemy du jour, extreme low altitude is not the only viable tactic. In fact it’s not a very good tactic at all for places like Afghanistan. So by and large USAF doesn’t use it much there.

But it remains a lot of fun. So guys deployed to the war zone will play and other guys will take pictures. And with youtube available, we all get to see them.

But still, woe betide the USAF or USN guy caught hotdogging.

Huh. I thought they got rid of DADT.

Someone mentioned low-level flypasts?

Check out number 3, if the plane had hit him it’d have probably just bounced off!

On the topic I imagine there’s more French low-level flying because they have planes suitable for the job and a more relaxed official view of it.

Maybe not a direct explaination, but the French aerospace-defense industry has traditionally been very big on exports. A large part of why they host the big airshows and generally like showing their military aircraft off is that they’re trying to sell them!

To speculate a little, French jets like the Mirages have always been a bit of a bargian brand versus the more expensive US and Russian jets. Since these were being sold to a lot of smaller countries that might not have much of a chance of actually getting air superiority versus a larger airforce, performance at low altitudes could be a key selling point.

From what pilots have told me, low flying is not very difficult compared to flying *in *mountain ranges.

I have been overflown by a Royal Airforce pilot at much less than 100 feet when traveling up to Loch Ness - scared the bejesus out of me, as he (or she) came up behind me, fast enough that there was no sound warning until he was right overhead and then it was SO loud, I’m surprised I didn’t run into oncoming traffic I jumped so high…

That reminds me of an incident that took place once when I was out walking my dog in an isolated country area, with no warning at all an army helicopter shot over the brow of a hill about one hundred feet from me and shot overhead at treetop height. What amazed me was that I didn’t hear a thing until it was in sight and helicopters aren’t exactly quiet.

I wouldn’t want to be trying to escape from one…

I like #2 on that video. French KC-135. Sucker flies so low, he can refuel a pickup truck with that thing. :smiley:

As long as the pickup truck can do 300 knots (345 mph) to keep up!

It will if you throw it hard enough. :smiley:

They seem to have that covered, too. (Seriously, check out 0.53 in that video, then again at 1.13. I thought the “rotate your plane to fit through a tiny gap in the cliffs” was only a Hollywood thing).

I was on a coach trip in the hills along the edge of Loch Ness and looked down on a jet flying along the loch.