Gaza: France strengthens its posture in the Eastern Mediterranean

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The amphibious helicopter carrier Tonnerre will be opposite Gaza in a few days for a humanitarian mission. It will have an escort already on site, the air defense frigate Alsace and the frigate Surcouf. A device ready for almost anything.

Hospital on board the helicopter carrier Tonnerre

The President of the Republic announced yesterday afternoon from Egypt the departure of the helicopter carrier Tonnerre from Toulon, effective at 4 p.m. For the first time abroad, it is its on-board hospital which will constitute the heart of the mission, as presented by Paris (a PHA had been called upon during covid-19, between Corsica and the continent for a medical evacuation of patients). Role 2 present on board has two surgical theaters and enough to accommodate around ten patients simultaneously. The capacity can be further extended by installing modules in the helicopter hangar. This medical capacity was tested beyond the usual level during the Orion 2 exercise last February, in high intensity mode. In addition to what has been placed on board in Toulon, additional humanitarian cargo could also be loaded on board in a foreign port, perhaps causing a stopover on the ship’s planned route to Gaza.

No details yet on the number of helicopters on board

Le Tonnerre also has an airmobile subgroup (SGAM) and an embarked tactical subgroup (SGTE) but the composition of these two units is not known. As was already the case during the Milex exercise in Spain, from which the ship returned on Sunday. But in three and a half days, he was able to modify its content. Off the coast of Spain, he had a Puma from the Air and Space Force, two Cougars and three Gazelles. A PHA can embark up to 16 helicopters, a capacity which has only been mobilized in operations at this level once, during operations in Libya in 2011. During Milex, it also embarked 350 personnel from the 9th infantry brigade. navy, mainly from the RICM, and an amphibious inland waterway.

The fighting is now taking place in Gaza

The Tonnerre’s mission promises to be delicate, since the fighting, started by Hamas in Israel, is now continuing in Gaza: where the Tonnerre will have to go and look for its patients, therefore, potentially under fire, and at the risk of being also attacked by fighting groups in Gaza. The procedure for collecting the wounded (then sending them back to shore, once treated) is not detailed at this stage, between the SGAM helicopters and the amphibious inland waterways.

John Walker Avatar