Charles de Gaulle Carrier Strike Group Operating in Indian Ocean, Deploys Fighters to Singapore

January 18, 2023 11:44 AM - Updated: January 19, 2023 6:51 AM
JS Suzutsuki conducted a bilateral exercise with the French Navy Charles de Gaulle CSG in the vicinity of Western Arabian Sea. JMSDF Photo

The Charles de Gaulle Carrier Strike Group is now in the Indian Ocean exercising with the Indian Navy. At the same time, three Rafale fighter aircraft embarked on FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91) deployed to Singapore as part of the Rastaban joint power projection exercise with the French Air Force.

The strike group left Toulon Naval Base on Nov. 15 for Mission Antares, an operational deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean. The Charles De Gaulle CSG currently comprises carrier FS Charles De Gaulle (R91), destroyers FS Forbin (D620) and FS Provence (D652), and replenishment ship FS Marne (A360). During the Mediterranean phase of the deployment, the Charles De Gaulle CSG included U.S. Navy destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), Italian Navy frigate ITS Virginio Fasan (F 591) and the Hellenic Navy frigate HS Adrias (F459).

The Charles De Gaulle CSG and a French Navy Atlantique Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) are now conducting the Varuna bilateral exercise this week with the Indian Navy off the western seaboard of India. The Indian Navy is deploying destroyer INS Chennai (D65) and frigate INS Teg (F45), along with Indian Navy MiG-29K fighters, Indian Navy P-8I MPAs and Dornier 228 MPAs. The drill will include “advanced air [defense] exercises, tactical [maneuvers], surface firings, underway replenishment and other maritime operations,” according to an Indian Defense Ministry news release.

On Tuesday, three Rafale fighters from Charles De Gaulle linked up with a French Air Force Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) to fly 2000 miles to deploy to the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Paya Lebar Air Base. The three Rafales are expected to do an exercise with the RSAF before departing on Friday to return to the carrier.

Earlier this month, in the Western Arabian Sea, the Charles De Gaulle CSG – which at the time included U.S Navy destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG-103) – sailed with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Suzutsuki (DD-117). The JMSDF are part of the 43rd Deployed Surface Force for Counter-Piracy Enforcement (DSPE). The exercise included tactical training and a replenishment at sea exercise between Suzutsuki and Marne.

Since 2009, the JMSDF has deployed a DSPE force that includes a destroyer and contingent of two JMSDF P-3C Orion MPAs that are based at Djibouti with a ground support group to conduct counter-piracy escort and surveillance missions. Destroyer JS Makinami (DD-112) will leave on Sunday for the 44th DSPE and relieve Suzutsuki.

Beginning on Thursday, JMSDF mine countermeasures ship JS Uraga (MST-463) and minesweeper JS Awaji (MSO-304) will leave Japan for the JMSDF’s Indo-Pacific and Middle East Deployment 2023 (IMED23), which will last until May 23. The four-month deployment will see the two ships making port calls to Brunei, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, the Maldives, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. The ships will also participate in the U.S.-sponsored International Maritime Exercise (IMX) and Cutlass Express 2023 held in the Middle East.

PLAN ships underway. JMSDF Photo

On Sunday, two People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships made a transit through Japan’s Miyako Strait from the East China Sea into the Pacific Ocean, according to a Monday news release from Japan’s Joint Staff Office (JSO). On Sunday at 1 a.m. local time, the JMSDF sighted a PLAN destroyer and frigate sailing southeast in an area 120 kilometers northeast of Taisho Island. Hull numbers and images in the release identified the ships as destroyer CNS Nanjing (155) and frigate CNS Binzhou (515). The two ships subsequently sailed southeast through the Miyako Strait and into the Pacific Ocean, while replenishment ship JS Hamana (AOE-424) and a JMSDF P-1 MPA of Fleet Air Wing 1 based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base, Kyushu monitored them, according to the release.

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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