British, French Navy Perform Airlifts During Corsican Lion

A force of four ships, three British, one French, used their helicopters and landing craft to evacuate civilians from a ‘war-torn’ Mediterranean island in a mock humanitarian crisis during Exercise Corsican Lion.

For the past week, more than 2,000 British and French sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines have been engaged on Exercise Corsican Lion which was being played out on and off the north and south coasts of the island.

The exercise is the latest test of the two nations’ armed forces as they work to create a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, an amphibious task group which the British and French military can form to respond to international crises, dealing with anything from conflict to humanitarian missions.

The forces, UK flagship and helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, amphibious assault ship HMS Bulwark, ro-ro military ferry Hartland Point, and French assault ship FS Dixmude spent three days training off the northern Corsican coast, before shifting to the island’s southern shores for the active phase of the exercise.

At dawn on Sunday, 130 Royal Marines from 45 Commando were airlifted ashore in waves from the Dixmude, British Apache gunships, Chinook and Wildcat helicopters were among those supporting the effort, so they could secure the evacuation site where 40 British and French sailors playing the part of evacuees were waiting to be saved. With the perimeter secure, the ‘civilians’ were brought back to Dixmude and Bulwark by helicopter and landing craft.

This was the second time Corsica has played host to the Anglo-French exercise; this year’s run out was also the first major work-out for the RN’s amphibious task group on its annual Cougar deployment.

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Images: Royal Navy