That time the French used a weaponized ultralight.

The pinnacle of french aviation.

2y ago

Ultralight aviation really started to get popular in the late 70's. The art of flight was now within the reach of the common people who didn't have the time, money or talent to be an actual airline pilot or better yet, a fighter jet pilot. Dozens of manufacturers popped up offering a wide variety of small lightweight aircraft. One of which was Aeronautic 2000 founded by Henri de Beaufort and Roland Magallon.

Baroudeur has a couple of translations, either "adventurer" or more ironically "fighter"

Baroudeur has a couple of translations, either "adventurer" or more ironically "fighter"

Their first model was the Baroudeur. The small 2 stroke rotax engine powered plane became a great success. A two seater version was offered in 1982 and at the 1983 Paris airshow a special weaponized version was shown with either 2 or 4 rocket launchers. Whether this was purely a joke or a serious proposal is unknown. Aeronautic 2000 was acquired by Matra in September 1983 and was re-dubbed as Zenith-Aviation. Matra covered a wide range of activities, one of which was weapons manufacturing.

Apart from some failed attempts by the Palestine Liberation Organization in the middle east nobody really tried to find out the full potential of weaponized ultralights. The idea of a small aircraft that could be assembled with basic knowledge and training from soldiers stuck with Matra and testing of a weaponized Baroudeur by the French army began in december 1984.

In collaboration with rocket launcher manufacturer Luchaire 2 missile pods were attached to the wings of a 2 seat Baroudeur, each capable of holding 2 89mm air-to-surface missiles. The actual firing of the rockets happened at the lake of Cazaux in Les Landes. Nobody really knew what to expect from a combination of explosives and a flimsy 175 kilogram plane so they ordered the pilot to fly at just 10 meters above the water level and to wear a diver suit...just in case...

In the end everything went according to plan and the test was deemed very successful. But the army officials weren't impressed. The project was eventually abandoned and disappeared into obscurity never to be seen again.

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