Belgian helicopter and crew to aid French aircraft carrier missions

Belgian helicopter and crew to aid French aircraft carrier missions
Credit: Belga

A Belgian NH-90 NFH helicopter from the Coxyde military base will be deployed at the beginning of February on a frigate of the carrier battle group flanking the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, leaving for the Mediterranean with an eye on the Black Sea.

Stationed aboard the air defence frigate Forbin, the Belgian detachment of 13 sailors will manage one of the three helicopters of the new mission of the Charles de Gaulle, set to last from February to April.

Named "Clemenceau 22", the mission will be concentrated in the Mediterranean with a three-week excursion to the Black Sea for one of the escort ships and Rafale flights, according to French media. The Black Sea is currently a scene of rising military tension owing to the Russian threat to Ukraine. Exercises with the Romanian Air Force are also planned.

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This is the fourth time since 2015 that Belgium has participated in a mission alongside French naval forces. This mission will take place "in a complex strategic environment, marked by the hardening of regional tensions," said the French Ministry of the Armed Forces.

The helicopter will be involved in a number of activities, including "the fight against the Islamic State", enforcing the arms embargo on Libya, and stabilisation operations around Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to the Belgian Defense, the four NH-90 NFH helicopters that remain at the Coxyde base will only be deployed to aid navy support missions onboard frigates. Search and rescue operations will be taken over by lighter helicopters.

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