An around-the-world journey by the Marine Nationale (French Navy) has allowed closer working ties to be forged with Royal Australian Air Force aviators.
CAPTION: Royal Australian Air Force aircraft conduct a flypast of the French Marine Nationale Frigate La Fayette. The flypast consisted of a No. 11 Squadron P-8A Poseidon and two No. 75 Squadron F-35A Lightnings during a maritime strike and anti-submarine warfare training mission. French navy photo by Vincent Idrac-Virebent from the amphibious helicopter dock Dixmude.
On April 5, the Marine Nationale’s Jeanne d’Arc 2023 group conducted training with RAAF’s P-8A Poseidon and F-35A Lightning II crews in the Timor Sea, north of Darwin.
The Jeanne d’Arc 2023 group consists of the frigate La Fayette and landing helicopter dock Dixmude, and is the first circumnavigation by this group since 2001.
During training in the Timor Sea, the crew of the La Fayette established communication with a RAAF 11SQN P-8A Poseidon crew, simulating a hunt for a subsurface threat.
Working together with the sonar capabilities of both the Poseidon and La Fayette, the two nations manoeuvred together to locate, track and engage a subsurface target.
Tactical coordinator on the Poseidon, Flight Lieutenant Hamish Parsons, said the integration during the training serial was smooth and that the two teams worked effectively together to ensure mission success.
“It was a great opportunity to put our skills to the test, prosecute a target, and demonstrate our ability to work together,” Flight Lieutenant Parsons said.
“These interactions increase our proficiency in conducting anti-submarine missions with our partner nations and ensure we’re able to operate around the globe.”
The two F-35As from 75 Squadron had a very different mission with French sailors.
The frigate La Fayette – whose superstructure is uniquely designed to minimise its radar cross-section – faced the challenge of tracking the stealthy F-35As over the Timor Sea.
Inside La Fayette’s combat information centre, the operations officer Lieutenant Fabrice oversaw the interoperability activity with the F-35As.
“The French Navy have little occasion to work with the F-35A platform. Their participation enabled our team to test their equipment and ability to detect fast jet aircraft,” Lieutenant Fabrice said.
“The training was very realistic with a lot of outcomes for all our operators and for our cadets who are learning how to operate safely during a complex activity within an international context.”
Following their training in the Timor Sea, the Jeanne d’Arc 2023 group made port in Townsville before heading to New Caledonia for the multinational exercise Croix Du Sud, which Australia will participate in.
“Our successful teamwork demonstrated the interoperability between our militaries and willingness to carry out multilateral training opportunities,” Lieutenant Fabrice said.
“Our countries share the same vision of maritime security, freedom of navigation and the Laws of the Sea being respected.”