Wednesday, May 25, 2011
British, French Prepare Helicopters for Libya Operation
On Monday the French defense minister, Gerard Longuet, announced publicly that both the French and the British were about to deploy attack helicopters into the fight against pro-Col. Gaddafi forces in Libya. That revelation was quickly denied by the British Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey, who said no such decision had been taken. France’s newspaper Le Figaro reported that 12 French Tiger attack helicopters with Gazelles had been deployed on the French ship Tonnarre, an amphibious assault carrier of the French Navy with a reported capability to carry up to 35 helicopters. In an exclusive interview with Rotor & Wing, a Ministry of Defence official confirmed today that the Royal Navy’s HMS Ocean helicopter carrier, which has around eight helicopters onboard (a mix of Apache AH-64Ds, Lynx Mk9 and Sea King Mk 4s), and other auxiliary ships, has joined an exercise code-named Cougar 11 which has been planned to demonstrate the capabilities of the newly formed Response Force Task Group.