The Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship HMS Bulwark can be viewed across the Solent for the next two days – alongside a number of other naval vessels – as Exercise Griffin Strike gets underway, which has involved helicopters circling the skies above the Isle of Wight.
The amphibious assault ship is working alongside HMS Ocean, HMS Sutherland and also her French counterparts including the assault helicopter carrier FS Dixmude. Last night (Monday) helicopters flew across many parts of the Island leading to readers getting in touch about the unusual level of night time activity in the skies.
The aim of Ex Griffin Strike is to test the working partnership between the two countries and test the Ango-French Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, or CJEF. The exercise will show how UK and French maritime, land and air forces can be deployed rapidly together for a wide range of bilateral operations and, if called upon, work together as part of a NATO, EU or UN coalition operation.
Visitors to Browndown Beach in Gosport will witness Royal Marines storming the beach as they attack via sea and air, working with helicopters and aircraft from all three Armed Forces. Once ashore they will then link up with a considerable number of UK and French land forces as they continue the exercise on land. The vessels can be seen moored up from Ryde.
“Griffin Strike is an excellent training opportunity and will build on our existing strong links with our French allies. Bulwark and Dixmude exercised together only last October and such close cooperation in realistic scenarios is hugely beneficial in maximising our respective military capabilities.”
The exercise is the culmination of many years of UK-French military and naval cooperation. It is also a key component of the commitment towards joint working made by both nations at the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement in 2010.
Standing Joint Force Commander Major General Skeates CBE said:
“Exercise Griffin Strike marks a key milestone in the development of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, the embodiment of our military relationship with France.
“The next two weeks will see French and British servicemen and women training side by side on the sea, on land and in the air. Together with Admiral Laurent Isnard, my French counterpart, we are anxious to demonstrate that our military partnership is now on a new level and show how the combined UK-France Combined Joint Task Force in the most testing of circumstances, stands shoulder to shoulder. This is an immensely exciting prospect and one which will put our sailors, soldiers and airmen through their paces.”
Simultaneously, over 3,400 more NATO troops will exercise by land, sea and air during the two weeks of Exercise Joint Warrior.
During Joint Warrior, much of which will take place off the coast of Scotland, 22 ships, four submarines and more than 40 aircraft from 12 NATO nations and three partner nations will take part. Around 1,500 personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force will participate. Other countries taking part include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the US.