According to the 2021 operations plan, the Leopold 1er, along with 175 sailors, will once again escort the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. The CSG will form a multinational task force that will be deployed « in the Mediterranean Sea, in the Indian Ocean and in the Arabian Gulf », the Belgian Defense Ministry Ludivin Dedonder said to the Parliament National Defense Committee. The 4 months-long mission will have a gross cost of 22 million €.
« This engagement is to be considered as a reinforcement to the European pillar of NATO »Col. Givron, Belgian Armed Force staff
This will be the second time the Leopold 1er frigate integrates the GAN in two years. In February, she joined the GAN for the first time since 2015 for two months of exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The vessel had to return to its home port of Zeebrugge after a few weeks at sea after one case of Covid-19 disease was reported on board.
During two months, the Leopold 1er will also operate within the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, which is a multinational, integrated maritime force made up of vessels from various Allied countries. The SNMG1 is permanently available to NATO to perform different tasks ranging from exercises to operational missions.
Leopold 1er will be the main surface combatant asset available in 2021, as the Belgian Navy’s second Karel Doorman-class frigate, Louise-Marie (F931), will undergo a major technical overhaul in Den Helder, in cooperation with the Netherlands.