As we reported earlier, France announced that it would increase its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, citing “concerns about the tensions caused by Turkey’s unilateral decisions on oil exploration”.
On Monday 10 August Turkey deployed a seismic research vessel, the Oruç Reis, escorted by military vessels, in the southeastern Aegean Sea, a disputed area of the Mediterranean rich in gas fields.
A French ministry of armed forces statement issued today confirmed the combined exercise involving Mistral-class LHD Tonnerre and the frigate La Fayette (first ship in class). In addition, Two French Air Force Rafale fighters stopped in Souda, Greece, on their way back from a scheduled deployment to Cyprus.
Hellenic armed forces general staff’s statement (transltated from Greek by Naval News):
On Thursday, August 13, 2020, in the framework of the ongoing military cooperation between Greece and France, a combined naval exercise was held with the participation of means and personnel of the two countries, in the Eastern Mediterranean sea area, including the area that Turkey has blocked with illegal NAVTEX in order to conduct surveys.
The following units took part in the exercise: Hellenic Frigates “SPETSAI”, “AEGEAN”, “LIMNOS”, “KOUNDOURIOTIS” and a French group of ships (Task Force) consisting of the French Helicopter Carrier FS “TONNERRE” and the Frigate FS “LA FAYETTE”.
The exercise included advanced maneuvers, combined mission planning, exchange of tactical information, communications as well as aircraft cooperation. It helped to promote the level of operational readiness, combat capability and cooperation of the participants in an allied context.
Also, as part of the military cooperation between the two countries, two French RAFALE aircraft landed and used the facilities of the 115th Combat Wing in Souda for re-service.