Prior to graduating from the Ecole Polytechnique, Perrin completed military duty in the French Navy, where he was trained in ship piloting and navigation, and spent 6 months at sea in the Indian Ocean. Following Ecole Polytechnique, he entered the French Air Force in 1985, was awarded his pilot's wings in 1986, and assigned to the 33rd Reconnaissance Wing at Strasbourg Air Force Base (1987-1991). He flew the Mirage F1 CR and made detachments in Africa and Saudi Arabia. Upon graduating from EPNER, the French Test Pilot School, he worked on a variety of test programs while assigned to the Bretigny Test Center. In 1992, he was temporarily detached to the French Space Agency (CNES) and sent to Star City, Russia, where he trained for two months In 1993, he reported to the 2nd Air Defense Wing of Dijon Air Force Base as Senior Operations Officer (Operation Southern Watch). In 1995, he returned to the Bretigny Test Center, as Chief Pilot Deputy, in charge of the development of the Mirage 2000-5. In July 1996, CNES announced his selection as an Astronaut and assigned him to attend NASA's Astronaut Candidate Training in Houston, Texas.
Perrin has flown 26 combat missions and has logged over 2,500 flying hours in over 30 types (from jet fighters to Airbus).