Fleet Air Arm Merlins deploy aboard French assault ship

Royal Navy MerlinWhile the UK and French governments continue to mince words regarding the Brexit negotiations, for their respective military forces working together it seems its business as usual. The French Navy amphibious assault ship FS Mistral left Toulon earlier this week to begin the service’s anuual five month Jeanne d’Arc deployment. Joining the ship’s air wing of transport helicopters were two Royal Navy Merlin HC.3A helicopters of the Fleet Air Arm’s No.845 Naval Air Squadron. The British contingent includes up to sixty personnel to operate and maintain the aircraft in support of French forces during the deployment.

Speaking on the deployment, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

France is one of our closest allies and our world class maritime forces are combining to show we can operate together effectively. Whether deployed together at sea, striking Daesh from the air, or contributing to NATO deployments in the Baltics, Britain and France will continue to work hard for our shared security.

Other aircraft deployed aboard the Mistral include a French Navy Dauphin to provide SAR and light utility duties and two French Army Gazelle light observation helicopters. Ground forces onboard will include the French Army’s Embedded Tactical Group. The deployment will take the force to Japan, Guam, Vietnam, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Australia. Barring the vessel is not called to respond to a major incident, the FS Mitsral is expected cover some 24,000 miles.

As well as exercising France’s foreign policies the deployment will provide intensive training for those onboard with the French Navy outlining;

The Jeanne d’Arc mission also integrates elements from other armies and services. Among them were Saint-Cyrians, doctors from the army health service, commissioners of the Armed Forces Commissariat, pupils of the Directorate-General for Armaments and pupils administrators of maritime affairs. A plurality which gives this mission a significant and formative joint dimension for all these young future cadres.

It is within this operational framework that 137 French and foreign pupil officers of the promotion EAOM 2017 make their first operational deployment of long duration.

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