Charles de Gaulle Air Group Trains With Dutch F-16s and F-35s

April 3, 2020 (Google Translation) – From 23 to 27 March, the “Frisian Resilience” exercise took place during which the carrier strike group and its Dutch partners reinforced their interoperability during high-level tactical training.

Born of a strong Franco-Dutch desire to strengthen cooperation between their armed forces after the cancellation of the combined exercise Frisian Flag, the exercise Frisian Resilience brought together for five days, French Rafale Marine, F16 and F35 Dutch. They alternately joined or opposed during air combat exercises. The GAé Marine Rafale deployed from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier met the Dutch F-16 and F-35 which took off from Leeuwarden air base in the Netherlands, from where the controllers also assumed the role of Air Control Unit (ACU or air control) and Ground Control Interception (GCI or tactical control).

Each day, two decks, each made up of four Rafale marine and catapulted from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, carried out air superiority exercises in a high intensity conflict. In addition to these air combat training, daily air defense exercises by a force at sea (ADEX) tested the protection capabilities of GAN buildings, the responsiveness and the expertise of their crews.

On March 27, the culmination of these five days of high intensity training, a large air attack scenario of the carrier strike group was implemented, bringing together all the Dutch aircraft having participated in the five days of exercise , or ten F-16s, and two F-35s. Four Rafale marine, tactically controlled by an E2C-Hawkeye of the carrier strike group then by the air defense frigate (FDA) Chevalier Paul , were responsible for protecting the GAN, composed for the occasion of 9 warships (the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, FDA Chevalier Paul, FASM La Motte-Picquet , BCR Somme, a nuclear attack submarine (SNA), the German frigates Lübeck , Danish Niels Juel, Spanish Blas de Lezo and Portuguese Corte Real) .

The Chevalier Paul , who played Air control unit (ACU), provided protection around the aircraft carrier using a coordinated manner all means of Task Force 473, whether detection capabilities (E2C-Hawkeye type air watch aircraft or radars) or interception (GAé marine Rafale fighters, radars from surface vessels, tactical data links, or anti-aircraft missiles). On board the ACU, at the central operation, three naval air-control officers (OLAA-FN) have stood up to coordinate response means and prepare the best tactical devices (positioning of buildings and planes) for protect the aircraft carrier and allow it to maintain its power projection capacity.

To order the missions to the planes responsible for the protection of the carrier strike group, the ACU relies on experts in the planning and conduct of operations in the 3rd dimension (OPC3D). They are tactical advisers for the use of fighter planes in air defense systems. During the clashes, the latter guided the Marine Rafales by providing them with radio and tactical data links, the composition of the enemy formations approaching the Task Force . Indispensable links between the Chevalier Paul’s OLAA-FN and the pilots, their indications allow the latter to increase the power and efficiency of the on-board hunting in its role of protecting a force at sea. The lieutenant Clement, Chevalier Paul , underlines the relevance of the Frisian Resilience exercise : “ One of NATO’s great tactical gains is the uniqueness of the procedures in the conduct of combat. A French OPC3D can thus control a Dutch F16 as effectively as a Marine Rafale. The great interest of these exercises is therefore to practice the tactics and procedures between means of the countries of the Atlantic Alliance in order to maintain a high level of interoperability, without notice. ”

As part of the Foch mission , these five days of exercises made it possible to test the tactical and reaction capacities of each of the forces by training to deal with varied, realistic scenarios of technical and tactical complexity. every day more intense.

EV1 David, Rafale Marine pilot in Flotilla 11F underlines the importance of these exchanges “ This type of cooperation is always positive and brings us a lot from a tactical and technical point of view. We see that we have a lot in common, be it our training or our procedures. But it is interesting to note that our approach to scenarios and techniques is sometimes different, probably due to our cultures. This is the whole point of these cooperative trainings, which, in addition to increasing the level of interoperability, allow us to discuss our differences and improve our mutual understanding in order to achieve our common operational objectives ”.

Frisian Résilience enabled Rafale pilots, E2C-Hawkeye crews, as well as all tactical personnel from the airborne group and GAN buildings, to operate within a bilateral combat air force , thus helping to reinforce the high level of interoperability of the carrier strike group with its Dutch NATO allies, an essential capacity in securing European maritime approaches.

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