Jungly Sea Kings Join FS Charles de Gaulle amid Anglo-French Exercise

Jungly Sea Kings Join FS Charles de Gaulle amid Anglo-French Exercise

Jungly Sea Kings of the Commando Helicopter Force were given a glimpse of traditional style aircraft carrier operations when they joined France’s flagship.

The green helicopters, used to carry Royal Marines and their kit into battle, flew on to FS Charles de Gaulle in the Med in the middle of a major Anglo-French exercise.

The two joined forces as Britain’s Response Force Task Group linked up with the Charles de Gaulle battlegroup in the Med for Corsican Lion.

The two-week exercise drew to a close at the weekend watched by the defence secretaries of Britain and France; before they visited British and French marines and their kit had been put ashore on Corsica’s east shore – renamed the fictional Barbary Coast for the exercise.

The amphibious ships in the Anglo-French task force (HMS Bulwark, Illustrious, RFA Mounts Bay, FS Mistral) delivered the troops and kit to their destination by landing craft and Jungly helicopters, with the de Gaulle providing fast jet air power courtesy of her Super Étendards and Rafales.

As part of all that interopérabilité, some of the CHF Sea Kings dropped in on the French porte-avions.

“It’s an awesome-sized ship – it’s like a small airfield at sea.

“Flying on to her between the waves of fixed wing taking off and landing is pretty tight, an insight into our future carrier operations,” said Sea King pilot Lt Will Orme, the first Junglie to land on France’s flagship.

Although the main training objective was to prove that the two countries could work side-by-side, it also offered the chance to integrate each others equipment and communications as Britain and France look to forge a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, ready to respond to global events at short notice, by the middle of the decade.

“Trooping drills with the French Marines are the same as with our Royal Marines,” said Cpl Mark Haffenden RM, a Junglie aircrewman.

“They have some different ways of operating and everyone is interested in their kit. We’ve flew around the exercise area and they have the same tactics as 3 Commando Brigade.”

The Junglies were based on Illustrious for Corsican Lion and joined Lusty in Toulon harbour once the exercise ended.

The Anglo-French training was the first major ‘set piece’ event of Cougar 12, the annual deployment of the Response Force Task Group which is the RN’s short-notice force ready to act on the world stage if required – as it did 12 months ago off Libya.

Next up for the group is rare training with the Albanian armed forces on the east shore of the Adriatic, Exercise Albanian Lion.

Naval Today Staff, November 2, 2012; Image: Royal Navy