While supporting NATO’s enhanced Vigilance Activities (eVA) in Romanian and Bulgarian airspace, the French and US navies merged into a single carrier group constituted around the aircraft carriers Charles de Gaulle and USS Harry S. Truman.
“This dual carrier operation is a concrete illustration of the work carried out by the two navies to achieve this high level of interoperability, and of the mutual trust between the only two navies in the world operating nuclear aircraft carriers with catapults and arresters,” said the French Navy.
Alliés historiques et partenaires au sein de @NATO, la et les ont signé en décembre 2021 le Strategic Interoperability Framework (SIF) qui vise à approfondir les liens entre la Marine nationale et l’@USNavy dans les domaines opérationnels, tactiques et capacitaires. https://t.co/2HfDbqXseF pic.twitter.com/JYj7piBVHs— Marine nationale (@MarineNationale) March 11, 2022
The operation saw various aircraft of each nation land on their partner’s deck. “French and American deck officers exchanged positions on board the aircraft carriers to allow the cross-deployment of Rafale Marine, F-18 Super Hornet, French E-2C Hawkeye and American E-2D Hawkeye,” the French Navy explained.
The maiden visit of an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye command and control aircraft on the Charles de Gaulle was particularly symbolic given that France recently placed an order for three of the aircraft. They will replace the three E-2C Hawkeye currently in the French carrier wing.
The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye offers a technological leap compared to its predecessor. The APY-9 Radar fitted in the rotodome of the E-2D has an effective range of more than 500 kilometers (270 nautical miles) in which it can detect both air and sea surface targets simultaneously. Unlike its predecessor, it can be refueled mid-air, thus significantly increasing its operating range.
Interoperability between the French Navy and the US Navy has been successfully demonstrated on several occasions in the past few years. In March 2021, the Marine Nationale took command of the US Naval Forces Central Command’s (NAVCENT) Task Force 50, whose mission is to protect the free flow of vessels in the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Sea.
The Charles de Gaulle nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is the flagship of the French Navy. It can project up to 40 fighter jets, notably the Dassault Rafale in its Marine (M) variant. In February 2022, as it was cruising in the Eastern Mediterranean, the ship and its carrier strike group was shadowed by several Russian aircraft, including a Tupolev Tu-22M strategic bomber.