The French Navy (Marine Nationale) aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and its strike group (CSG) will set sails in early February for the “Mission Clemenceau 22” deployment. The French CSG will conduct “tri carrier operations” with the Italian Navy (Marina Militare)’s Cavour CSG and the U.S. Navy’s Truman CSG.
During a press briefing held today at the French Ministry of Armed Forces, Rear Admiral Boidevezi explained that Mission Clemenceau 22 will focus on the Mediterranean region but some of the assets (a frigate and some fighters) will also deploy in the Black Sea. The French CSG will initially train with the Italian Navy and aircraft carrier ITS Cavour and its F-35B. In the Eastern Mediterranean, the two carriers will meet with the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) CSG and conduct rare “Tri Carrier Operations”. The French CSG will conduct additional activities with the American CSG. On the way back, the French CSG will sail in the Adriatic Sea.
A French Navy spokesman told Naval News that it is the first time that a French CSG will interact with a U.S. Navy CSG following the recent signature by the two navies of the Strategic Interoperability Framework.
According to our French Navy source, the carrier operations between the French and Americans will take place in the Eastern Mediterranean in February/March and will see the following take place:
- Combined sea control
- Combined power projection
- C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence) data sharing
All this is in line with the Strategic Interoperability Framework. Naval News was explained that a particular focus will be placed on the data and information sharing because the U.S. Navy uses some very stringent encryption systems and both navies will make sure that such encrypted data can be read and accessed by the French.
E-2Ds tested for the first time with the French Navy
In addition, the maneuvers should see the launch and recovery of French Navy aircraft aboard USS Harry S. Truman and the launch and recovery of U.S. Navy aircraft aboard Charles de Gaulle. In particular, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft will trap and be launched for the first time from the French Navy aircraft carrier and will be tested with the French CSG. For the record, the French Ministry of Armed Forces announced one year ago that it had approved the acquisition of three E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. The contract was officially awarded in December 2021. E-2Ds from the “Seahawks” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 126 are currently deployed aboard the Truman.
Contacted by Naval News for comments, a U.S. Navy 6th Fleet spokesperson said:
“Due to the U.S. Navy’s operational security policy, we do not comment on future operations. Deployments are dynamic in nature but U.S. naval forces routinely operate with allies and partners in accordance with international law supporting maritime security across the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations”.
The Truman CSG departed Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, and Mayport, Florida for a regularly scheduled deployment, Dec. 1 2021. Elements of the strike group include the staff of Carrier Strike Group 8; flagship USS Harry S. Truman, commanded by Capt. Gavin Duff; the nine squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, commanded by Capt. Patrick Hourigan; the staff and guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 28 commanded by Capt. Todd Zenner, which include: USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), USS Cole (DDG 67), USS Gravely (DDG 107) and USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109); the Royal Norwegian Navy’s Fridtjof-Nansen class frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310) deployed as part of the Cooperative Deployment Program; and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56).
Mission Clemenceau 22
Clemenceau 22 will mark the 14th operational deployment of the French CSG. During the briefing, the spokesman of the French Ministry of Armed Forces, Hervé Grandjean, said:
“This deployment is a symbol of political and military power. We are sending a strong message to our partners and competitors. The possession of an aircraft carrier with nuclear deterrence is one of the attributes that allows France to hold its military rank, its rank of permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. I also remind you that the aircraft carrier has the nuclear naval aviation force aboard and that it is one of the components of the French nuclear deterrent.
In addition, the aircraft carrier and its CSG are NATO Response Force certified and thus the aircraft carrier and its command staff [ed. note: CTF473] are a key asset of the Atlantic alliance”.
French CSG composition:
- Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91)
- Horizon type Air Defense Destroyer Forbin (D620)
- Air Defense FREMM Frigate Alsace (D656)
- FREMM frigate Normandie (D651)
- Durance-class replenishment oiler Marne (A630)
- A Rubis-class SSN
This mission will mark the first operational deployment for the latest frigate to be commissioned with the French Navy: Air Defense FREMM Alsace.
All Rafale M fighters in the airwing (between 20 and 24 aircraft) are in the latest standard known as F3R, a first for the French CSG.
Several allied units will be part of the French CSG:
- US Navy Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71)
- Spanish Navy Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate Juan de Borbon (F102)
- A yet to be named Hellenic Navy frigate
- A yet to be named Hellenic Navy submarine
- An NH90 NFH of the Belgian Navy