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Saturday, 26 January 2013 09:52
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Naval Forces News - France
 
 
 
French Navy Dixmude LHD sails off with a full load of reinforcement for Serval operation in Mali
 
Monday, January 21, 2013, French Navy Dixumde LHD (Mistral class) sailed off on alert from Toulon naval base. With a record (for the class) load of French Army troops, vehicles and equipment belonging to a battalion task force (JTF-battle group) the amphibious vessel contributes to the strengthening of the French military deployed in Operation Serval.
     
Monday, January 21, 2013, French Navy Dixmude LHD (Mistral class) sailed off on alert from Toulon naval base. With a record (for the class) load of French Army troops, vehicles and equipment belonging to a battalion task force (JTF-battle group) the amphibious vessel contributes to the strengthening of the French military deployed in Operation Serval.
French Navy Dixmude LHD on its way to the Western African Coasts, note the L-CAT / EDA-R landing craft sailing past Dixmude with a full load of vehicles onboard.
(picture: French Navy)
     

The amphibious operations expert onboard the ship defined a loading plan, to embark and spread over all levels of the ship vehicles and equipment belonging to the various units of the joint task force. According to this plan, the crew took turns Sunday, all day and night to load vehicles, equipment and containers. It was assisted in this task by software that helps monitor in real time the load and weight repartition and its impact on the vessel stability. Vehicles include VBCI Infantry Fighting Vehicles, AMX10RC Anti-tank reconnaissance armoured vehicle, VAB armoured personnel carrier and ambulances, VBL armored vehicles as well as tactical trucks and refueler trucks for logistic duties. According to the Dixmude commanding officer, if all the vehicles were strung together one after another they would stretch for 6 kilometers (3.7 miles). Total weight of the cargo for this operation is approximately 2,000 tons (5,000 cubic meters).

The crew of the amphibious vessel is increased for this special deployment. It is the first time that the French Navy uses one of its Mistral class vessels for such power projection at full capacity: All three bridge levels, as well as the well-deck and the flight deck of the Dixmude are loaded with French Army vehicles.

As for the Army troops, the actual number has not been mentioned but a Mistral class vessel may accomodate up to 450 soldiers for long cruises, or 700 troops for shorter journeys, with more basic levels of comfort. The French Navy explains that Dixmude (as all Mistral class LHDs) offers top of the line facilities for Army personnel onboard:
» While underway, the commanding officers of the joint task force will use the dedicated command, control and communication area (850 square meters) onboard to stay in touch with the headquarter and prepare future missions.
» Soldiers have access to a sports room to stay fit ahead of their deployment.
» The vehicles and equipment can still be maintened in the cargo area and checked one last time before their long route to the front lines.

This operation will no doubt demonstrate once again the flexibility of the Mistral class vessels often dubbed "the swiss army knife" of the French navy. For the record, the class already proved its worth in 2006 to evacuate 1,376 civilians from Lebanon during Operation Baliste. Recently, the class also proved its offensive capabilities during Operation Harmattan off the Lybian coasts and its amphibious capabilities in the Corsican Lion exercise with the Royal Navy.

About Dixmude:
Dixmude is the third ship of the Mistral class. Designed by DCNS, Mistral BPC (Bâtiment de Projection et de Commandment) LHD is a multi-mission 21,500t amphibious assault, command and power projection ship. Mistral class vessels are capable to accommodate and deploy 16 transport or attack helicopters, four landing crafts, up to 70 vehicles or 13 main battle tanks. They have accommodations for 450 to 700 troops.

Link to Mistral class technical datasheet

Story partially based on a French Navy press release.

     

Pictures: French Navy
 
Monday, January 21, 2013, French Navy Dixmude LHD (Mistral class) sailed off on alert from Toulon naval base. With a record (for the class) load of French Army troops, vehicles and equipment belonging to a battalion task force (JTF-battle group) the amphibious vessel contributes to the strengthening of the French military deployed in Operation Serval.
 
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NAVAIR awarded a $3.643 billion multi-year procurement contract to Northrop Grumman Corp. on June 30 for 25 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft. NAVAIR awarded a $3.643 billion multi-year procurement contract to Northrop Grumman Corp. on June 30 for 25 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft.
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