French Navy’s Charles de Gaulle Aircraft Carrier Now Supporting NATO Mission

The French Navy (Marine Nationale) aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and its air wing has started supporting NATO’s enhanced Vigilance Activities in the Black Sea region following a short logistical stop in Cyprus.

The French carrier strike group (CSG) stopped a few days in Cyprus, and went back to sea on March 2nd, heading to the central Mediterranean sea. The French CSG is thus actively reinforcing the defense and dissuasive posture of NATO in Eastern Europe.

The French CSG set sail again yesterday after a few days of port call in Cyprus. Clemenceau22 continues, but the mission evolves to adapt to the current geopolitical situation. The flexibility of the carrier vessel nuclear and her escort is once again a major asset. The diversity of the CSG’s naval and air assets, its ability to last at sea and its freedom of action, allow France and its allies to have at their disposal a flexible instrument of power, capable of adapting very quickly. The detection capabilities of the E2-C Hawkeye will notably enable the carrier strike group to assess the surface situation at the Europe maritime borders, especially in the Black Sea. Deployed yesterday in CJTFOIR to fight against Daech, engaged today for the benefit of the reassurance of our NATO partners on the eastern flank of Europe, the carrier strike group continues to operate for the protection of France and the European continent.

French Navy statement on Twitter

Contacted by Naval News, a French Navy spokesman said the CSG will contribute 3 Combat Air Patrols (CAP) of two Rafale M each, per day. This translates into a nearly permanent (24 hours) presence. In addition, a daily E-2C Hawkeye flight is planned from the carrier, as well as occasion patrols by the two ATL2 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) currently based in Cyprus. The Rafale M will be refueled by NATO tankers present in the area. The patrol zones are the skies above Romania, Bulgaria and the Black Sea. The spokesman didn’t want to specify the exact locations where the CSG will be sailing other than the “central Mediterranean sea”.

Tayfun Ozberk, a former Turkish Navy officer (and regular Naval News contributor), stated that the Aegean Sea, while closer to Romania and the Black Sea region, is not an ideal environment for carrier operations due to the sea’s littoral structure, which includes many islands and heavy maritime traffic. The north of Crete island is is more compatible, although the distance gained is only minimal in comparison to the open water of the central Mediterranean.

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