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France

French aircraft carrier sets sail for Indian ocean

Photo: Marine Nationale
1 min

The French flagship Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier set sail on Wednesday on a four-month mission, codenamed Agapanthe 2010. The nuclear-powered vessel, France’s only serving aircraft, will help fight piracy in the Indian ocean and support Nato in Afghanistan.

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It is the Charles de Gaulle’s fifth deployment in the India ocean. It was joined by an escort group including the Forbin destroyer, the Tourville anti-submarine frigate, the Améthyste attack submarine and the Meuse refuelling tanker.

The battle group carries around 3,000 sailors and 27 aircraft: ten Rafale F3 fighters, 12 Super Etendard attacks jets, two Hawkeye early warning planes and three helicopters.

Commander of the group, Rear Admiral Jean-Louis Kerignard, said the force would help other navies in the fight against Somali pirates, and send aircraft to support Nato in Afghanistan.

There will also be training missions alongside forces from Saudi Arabia, India, Italy, Greece and the United Arab Emirates. Plus two stopovers at the French base in Djibouti.

A return to France is scheduled for February 2011.

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