Each year the French Air Force organizes several national and international airshows. In 2015 one of the international air shows, or Meeting de l'Air (MdlA), was held on the 27th and 28th of June at Base Aérienne 116 Luxeuil – Saint Sauveur (BA116). This French Air Base is located 5 kilometers south of the town of Luxeuil – les-Bains in the department of Haute-Saône, France, and about 100 kilometers away from the border with Germany. After the PSA Peugeot – Citroën plants from Vesoul, the base is the second largest employer in the department. The base occupies an area of 477 hectares and has two runways.

Operational history BA116

The build of the air base started in 1912 and in 1916 the first squadrons were stationed there, forming Bomber group 4 "Belfort". Throughout the years, also other units than bomber groups were stationed at the air base such as units with reconnaissance tasks. During World War II the air base was under control by the German Air Force from 1940 until 1944. Since the 18th of July 1958 the base is named after Lieutenant-Colonel Papin. Papin was a French pilot who died on the 1st of February 1946 due to a crash with his Spitfire Mk. IX while attacking a Chinese warship. From 1973 until 2012 the base had a nuclear status after the AN.22 nuclear weapons were stationed there. In 1988 the French Air Force stationed the Mirage 2000N (the N stands for nuclear) at Luxeuil Air Base. These aircraft perform conventional strike and nuclear deterrence missions, carrying the medium-range Air-Sol Moyenne Portée ASMP missiles for the latter. Ultimately these bombers operated from Luxeuil for almost 25 years. After the Mirage 2000Ns were transferred to BA125 d'Istres – Le Tubé in October 2012, BA116 is the home of EC01.002 "Cigognes" squadron, flying with the Mirage 2000-5F.

Static display

Colonel Jean-Jacques Mailhol, commander of BA116, welcomed the visitors of the air show by opening the gates at 09.00 o'clock. The North-South runway and the platforms beside it were in use for the biggest part of the static show. Their several French and foreign military aircraft could be seen. French participants for example were the Alpha Jet E, a Mirage 2000B and a C-160R Transall. The crowds biggest attention went to two US Air Force A-10Cs, normally based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, USA, a Mig 29 of the Slovakian Air Force and a Polish Su-22UM. Other participants in that part of the static display were aircraft of Frances closest neighbours, like a PC-7 of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, two German Tornado IDS and one Belgian F-16AM. Walking to the western part of BA116, on the flight line next to the East-West runway almost all participants of the airshow could be seen. On the platforms beside the flight line Frances primary jetfighters were parked to take a closer look at, such as the Mirage 2000-5F, Mirage 2000D, Rafale C and its Navy brother the Rafale M. Behind the hangars, in the gras between the several preserved types of Mirages, a Polish Army Mi-24D, a French Army SA-342M Gazelle and a French Air Force TB-30 trainer were parked.

Air show

The airshow was a traditionally one for a MdlA. It started off with a C-160R dropping several paras. Furthermore the show was a variety of Frances historic aircraft, like an AD-4N Skyraider, a Sea Fury FB-11 and two Dassault 312s, and more modern aircraft in service with the French Air Force, like the previously mentioned Mirages and Rafale. The French Air Force demonstrated how their Mirage 2000-5F pilots operate when a unidentified and possibly hostile airplane has to be intercepted and forced to land. Furthermore the well-known Ramex Delta, consisting of two Mirage 2000Ns, performed a role demonstration. Of course the Patrouille de France, flying the Alpha Jet E, gave a perfect and tight flown demonstration, as well as the Cartouche Doré flying the TB-30. Not much seen during air shows so far, was the performance of a French EC725R Caracal helicopter. This fairly new addition to the French Air Force, in service since 2005, is mainly mend to be used for Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) and for transportation of troops and goods. Foreign participation was also present. As always, when the Suisse Air Force demonstrates its F-18C, the audience is bound to see an aggressively and tightly flown display. The Suisse demonstration pilot did not let the crowd down in their expectations. The same applied for the Italian Air Force demonstration team Il Frecce Tricolori. Several of their MB-339PANs were adorned with a big the Italian flag and golden team numbers, in celebration the 55th birthday this year of this world famous demonstration team.


The French organization charged an entrance fee of 10 euros. On itself this is not a big amount to spend on a fairly good airshow. Nevertheless, the French could have shown some more of their hardware for this fee. For example, noticeably absents of the French Air Force were the E-3F, the C-135FR and the AS550/555. Not even their newest addition, the A400M, was shown. The same applied for the French Army AS532UL Cougar and SA330B Puma helicopters and the French Navy Super Etendard and Br.1150 Atlantic NG. Furthermore it would have been nice if the French also start showing some of their more rarely seen airplanes, like the D140, DHC-6, Falcon 20 and helicopters like the Lynx HAS2/4 or EC665 Tigre. Logistic services were well organized. Food and drinks were available for fairly normal air show prices. Traffic and parking places were on or close to the air base. After the airshow the Gendarmerie did a fine job guiding the visitors to the open roads without traffic jams. Overall, a typical Meeting de l'Air. One were one would have expected something more to see in the end, but in the meantime it wasn´t boring at all.