RAMSTEIN, Germany – The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and its associated Carrier Strike Group (CSG) are contributing to air patrols with Allies over NATO's Eastern Flank, as part of its current CLEMENCEAU 22 deployment in the Mediterranean.
The Charles de Gaulle and the CSG began its long operational deployment February 1, and will run until April. The entire CSG was re-tasked recently to further support NATO Allies in the currently dynamic environment on the Alliance's eastern borders. Various aircraft are part of the French CSG, including Rafale M fighters, critical to NATO's enhanced Air Policing and Vigilance missions. The French fighters are conducting patrols in the skies of NATO Allies, Romania and Bulgaria.
French Navy E-2C Hawkeye preparing for launch, the airborne early warning aircraft is providing situational awareness over NATO's Eastern Flank. Photo courtesy of French Navy.
A pair of French Navy Rafale M fighters patrol over Eastern Europe as part of the NATO's enhanced vigilance posture along the Black Sea coast. Photo courtesy of French Navy.
The French CSG is deployed in a complex strategic environment, whose airpower contributions are important for enhancing the defensive posture of the Alliance. The CSG has integrated with various NATO allies while on its deployment, such as the U.S. Navy's USS Harry S. Truman CSG. The main purpose of these integrations are to maintain and enhance interoperability and collective cohesion with NATO Allies and their assets.
Over the past week the French CSG have launched Rafale and E-2C Hawkeye flights as part of NATO's enhanced Vigilance mission, contributing to NATO airpower's deterrent and defensive posture on the Eastern Flank of the Alliance. All 20 French Rafale M fighters in the CSG's are in their latest standard known as "F3R" – a first for the French navy.
NATO currently has over 130 aircraft on alert actively defending Allied airspace, maintaining 24/7 patrols in the skies along NATO's Eastern borders.