French Airborne Air Group Takes Part in Formidable Shield 23

From May 3 to 17, 2023, a detachment of the embarked air group (GAé) composed of the 12F Fighter Flotilla and the 4F Air Watch Flotilla was deployed to Scotland at the Lossiemouth base as part of Exercise FORMIDABLE SHIELD 23.

A large-scale exercise organized by NATO in the Atlantic and the North Sea, FORMIDABLE SHIELD 23 brought together 10 allied nations with more than 20 ships, 35 aircraft, 4000 soldiers and a wide range of ground units including radars, ground systems /air, and mobile artillery. Beyond the 12F and 4F detachments, two first-tier Navy units were also deployed there: the multi-mission frigate (FREMM) Bretagne and the air defense frigate (FDA) Chevalier Paul .

The main missions of the 12F, in cooperation with the units of other allied nations, were essentially dedicated to firing air-to-ground munitions, attacking ground-to-air systems, flying at very low altitude, attacking naval force, air defense missions and close air combat in Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) against British EF2000 Typhoons.

The 4F, for its part, carried out hunting control, anti-ship and C2 missions [1] thanks to its various sensors. E-2C Hawkeye crews also contributed to counter-supersonic threat training. This deployment made it possible to qualify a new head of mission (CICO) and a new aircraft commander (CDA).

In addition, a liaison officer seconded from the Gaé Center of Expertise (CENTEX) was deployed to Strike For NATO (SFN), a NATO headquarters (EM) based in Lisbon, Portugal. This HQ is responsible for organizing and conducting the FORMIDABLE SHIELD 23 exercise. It is indeed specialized in anti-missile defense (BMD / IAMD) but also action from sea to land. The presence of a CENTEX liaison officer as an adviser to the staff facilitated the integration of air assets, including those of naval aeronautics.

Detachment of importance for the units of the GAé, this exercise is part of the pursuit of an ambitious training of the flotillas during the IEI period [2] of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle . The participation of the 12F and 4F flotillas in FORMIDABLE SHIELD 23 has made it possible to guarantee the maintenance of our interoperability and to preserve the skills of the GAé in terms of coordination with the NATO allied forces.