2 Mistral-class LHDs, 1 Horizon type Air Defense Destroyer, 1 FREMM Frigate, 25 helicopters and 1,500 personel are taking part in Cormoran 21.
Since September 27 and until October 15, 2021, a large Amphibious Ready Group with a focus on vertical lift (french designation: Groupe naval aéromobile or GNAM) is conducting exercise Cormoran 21 in the Mediterranean, a power projection exercise. Nearly 1,500 personnel from the French Navy and the French Army are engaged in this high intensity exercise. For the first time, a GNAM made up of the two Mistral-class LHDs: Tonnerre and Mistral is deployed, with two helicopter groups (from 3 units: 1st, 3rd and 5th RHC combat helicopter regiment) as well as an amphibious engagement group and two escort vessels.
During the night of October 7 to 8, 10 helicopters from the GNAM carried out a first raid from the sea, as part of the operational readiness for high intensity combat. 3 Tiger, 4 Caiman, 2 Puma and one Gazelle helicopter took part in this first night raid, this power projection action was performed in a manner that was as fluid as it was discreet: It was conducted in pitch black and without radio transmission, in a coastal environment that the scenario made particularly hostile.
The helicopters were assigned to deploy two teams from the amphibious engagement group in the target area. This group was then tasked to provide information on the enemy.
At the same time, the air defense destroyer Forbin and the multi-mission frigate Provence provided close protection for Task Group 471.01 against air threats, while standing ready to conduct a coastal fire support mission. Earlier that day, the escorts had successfully kept opposing naval units out of the GNAM range, helping to ensure the task force’s discretion and the freedom of action of the two LHDs.
After 10 days of integration and training, the success of this first raid illustrates the ability of the GNAL to operate in particularly demanding conditions.
Admiral Pierre Vandier, the Chief of Staff of the French Navy said in a message on Twitter:
“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. 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.”
According to the French Navy, the Cormoran 21 exercise allows units of the two services to train in the projection of about two dozens of combat helicopters from two LHDs, by carrying out several night power projection actions, from the sea towards land based objectives, in a high intensity setting. It allows the French Navy and the Army to strengthen their interoperability by integrating the new generation equipment of the SCORPION program, which should make it possible to outclass an adversary of equivalent power.