From 8 to 10 November, the amphibious helicopter carrier (PHA) Tonnerre and its detachments took part in a sequence in cooperation with the Cypriot Armed Forces in the south of the island. This joint sequence has made it possible to strengthen the interoperability of the forces involved, in an uncertain regional context.
After a first underwater reconnaissance action carried out by the clearance divers during the night, the group of marines intervened to reconnoiter and storm a landing zone located on a Cypriot naval base. These forward forces were supported from the air by an S100 drone and helicopters from the Airmobile Sub-Group (SGAM).
The major phase of the operation then began with the landing of the GTE vehicles on the Cypriot coast. The first units were tasked with securing and then developing the terrain before the bulk of the troops landed and acted jointly with the Cypriot Armed Forces. At the same time, air movements were initiated from the Tonnerre flight deck in order to provide support to the troops on the ground thanks to the assistance of the helicopters on board.
Over the course of 24 hours, the units engaged in numerous tactical maneuvers involving both explosive ordnance disposal teams and dog teams. In conjunction with the medical units, the SGAM helicopters and two Cypriot Gazelle helicopters also conducted drills to evacuate casualties to the PHA before completing the exercise with the re-embarkation maneuvers of the GTE.
The entire exercise was commanded from the Joint Staff embarked on the PHA Tonnerre. In particular, two liaison officers of the Cypriot Navy have been inserted into the General Staff in order to ensure the coordination of the air forces and the dismounted forces. While the onshore maneuver were being conducted, the PHA sailors had to contend at sea with three Cypriot coastal patrol vessels, Ammochostos, Tsomakis and Georgios.
At the end of the exercise, Tonnerre and its men continued their mission in the eastern Mediterranean in order to contribute to the autonomous assessment of France’s situation in the region.
In the context of current tensions, France has strengthened its military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. The amphibious helicopter carrier (PHA) Tonnerre set sail from Toulon on October 25, 2023 for the eastern Mediterranean. Task Force 471 is currently composed of the PHA Tonnerre and its GTE, the multi-mission frigate (FREMM) Alsace and an Atlantic 2 maritime patrol aircraft (ATL2). This force allows France to have an independent capacity to assess the situation and to be ready to face any developments in the situation in the area.