Jan 15, 2015

Charles de Gaulle to sail for Gulf, possible participation in Islamic State air strikes

The French Navy's aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is deploying with its battlegroup to the Gulf, and is understood to be preparing to contribute to coalition air strikes against Islamic State.
Sailing on 13 January, the carrier battlegroup - which includes a nuclear-powered attack submarine - will head from Toulon through the Suez Canal to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf on Operation 'Arromanches'. The deployment is scheduled to last until May at the earliest.
While there has been no confirmation from French authorities, the carrier - with about 20 combat aircraft embarked - is likely to support air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, Operation 'Chammal'.
'Chammal' was launched in response to an official request for assistance from the Iraqi government. The operation currently involves 15 French Air Force combat aircraft, one Boeing E-3F Airborne Warning and Control (AWACS) aircraft, and one Boeing C-135FR tanker, as well as two French Navy Breguet Atlantique maritime patrol aircraft.
Public confirmation of Charles de Gaulle 's participation in the strikes could come on 14 January, when president François Hollande is scheduled to give his annual new year's speech to the armed forces aboard the carrier in the Mediterranean.
Charles de Gaulle 's embarked air assets include two squadrons of fighter aircraft: 11F (or flotille) with the Dassault Rafale M aircraft, and 17F with the Dassault Super Etendard Modernisé (SEM). The SEM aircraft are scheduled to be withdrawn from service in 2016 and replaced by the Rafale M. Also present on board are two Northrop Grumman E-2C command-and-control aircraft from squadron 4F.
The Rafale M aircraft on board are currently configured to F3.3 standard, with full capacity in air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

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