Toulon: France`s flagship and only
aircraft carrier was to set sail today on a four-month mission
to fight piracy and terrorism in the Indian Ocean and support
NATO troops in Afghanistan.
The nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle and its escort
group, two frigates, an attack submarine and a refuelling
tanker, was to set sail from its home port of Toulon after a
refit lasting several months, officers said.
In all, the battle group carries 3,000 sailors and 27
aircraft -- ten Rafale F3 fighters, 12 Super Etendard attack
jets, two Hawkeye early warning planes and three helicopters.
Rear Admiral Jean-Louis Kerignard, commander of the
group, said the force would help allied navies fight piracy
off the coast of Somalia and send jets to support NATO in the
skies above Afghanistan.
The ships will also train alongside allies from Saudi
Arabia, India, Italy, Greece and the United Arab Emirates and
make two stopovers at the French base in Djibouti before
returning to France in February 2011.