French Navy, Army Drill to Launch Helicopter Attacks From the Sea

October 18, 2021 4:19 PM
An MV-22 Osprey from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 263 takes off from French amphibious ship FS Tonnerre on June 28, 2019, during exercise Semper Thunder at Camp Lejeune, N.C. USNI News photo.

KUALA LUMPUR – The French Army and Navy last week completed the Cormoran 21 exercise after more than two weeks of drills in the Mediterranean.
Cormoran 21 is a power projection exercise involving the joint amphibious and airmobile capabilities of the two services where 24 Army helicopters join amphibious operations commandoes embarked on French Navy ships to form the Groupe Naval Aéromobile (Naval Airmobile Group).

A total of 1,500 personnel from the two services were involved in the exercise, with the Army’s contingent including six Tigre attack helicopters, six NH90 and two Puma tactical transport helicopters and 10 Gazelle reconnaissance helicopters. All of the aircraft were from the 4th Air Combat Brigade and commandoes of the Amphibious Engagement Assistance Group of the 6th Light Armoured Brigade. The French Navy deployed landing helicopter docks FS Mistral (L9013) and FS Tonnerre (L9014), destroyer FS Forbin (D620), frigates FS Provence (D652) and FS Auvergne (D654) and an Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft. Each LHD embarked 12 army helicopters.

A French Defense Ministry news release said the exercise showed 20 attack helicopters from two LHDs could operate together for complex missions, including operations at night.

Following ten days of force integration training, the task force carried out a series of exercises involving infiltration and reconnaissance, airmobile extraction, airmobile night raids, evacuation of nationals, naval gunfire and missile strikes on coastal targets, and defending the task group from air, surface and underwater threats.

“The LHD Tonnerre and Mistral are participating in the exercise Cormoran 21. The main goal is to train the crew and their comrades of the army to conduct projection operations from sea to land, under high threat and in degraded conditions,” French Navy Chief Adm. Pierre Vandier posted on his social media account last week after visiting the exercise.
“Facing operational challenges of the coming world means not only mastering its codes but also being able to innovate in all fields and environments. These exercises are the incubators of tomorrow’s military responses. High intensity combat readiness and interoperability with other forces are a necessity. Yesterday, we witnessed a complex air raid illustrating the ability of our forces to operate in demanding conditions.”

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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