UKHMS Illustrious trains with French Navy

Roy­al Navy heli­copter car­ri­er HMS Illus­tri­ous has been under­tak­ing air war­fare train­ing along­side the French Navy in the Bay of Bis­cay.

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HMS Illus­tri­ous and French naval ves­sel FS Lieu­tenant de Vais­seau Laval­lée en route to La Coruna in Spain [Pic­ture: LA(Phot) Dean Nixon, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
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The Portsmouth-based war­ship spent 18 hours tak­ing part in ten exer­cis­es, prac­tis­ing a range of anti-sur­face oper­a­tions against French naval ves­sel FS Lieu­tenant de Vais­seau Laval­lée, an Exo­cet-armed corvette, and demon­strat­ing anti-air war­fare against Rafale and Super Etendard fight­er air­craft.

As well as the war-fight­ing the new NH90 Caiman heli­copter, which has only recent­ly entered ser­vice with the French Navy, land­ed on a British war­ship for the first time.

Cap­tain Mar­tin Con­nell, Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of HMS Illus­tri­ous, said:

“This short but very pro­duc­tive exer­cise proved once again that we can work togeth­er safe­ly and effec­tive­ly with our French coun­ter­parts at the high­est lev­el.

“All seri­als were per­formed to a very high lev­el of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and it was a fan­tas­tic oppor­tu­ni­ty to prove our com­bined capa­bil­i­ty.”

The exer­cise was planned by Lieu­tenant Nico­las Les­bats, a French fight­er con­troller on exchange from the French Navy cur­rent­ly work­ing on HMS Illus­tri­ous.

He joined the ship ear­li­er this year after serv­ing on HMS Liv­er­pool off the coast of Libya last year. He said:

“This was a fan­tas­tic oppor­tu­ni­ty for both the Roy­al Navy and French Navy. These seri­als pro­vid­ed a very high lev­el of train­ing for all con­cerned and I am pleased that I was able to organ­ise such an event.

“I am look­ing for­ward to being able to devel­op fur­ther the rela­tion­ships we have built with all the units that took part.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK