French forces are hosting an exercise named ‘ORCA’ in the Atlantic, off Brest.
The exercise emphasises anti-submarine warfare, say the French MoD. However, there is an element involving Rafale aircraft simulating attacks against a number of NATO surface ships.
According to a news release from the French Ministry of Defence:
“Many surface, submarine and air assets are involved. For the fight component above the surface, these are the multi-mission frigate Bretagne , the high seas patrol vessel Premier Maitre L’Her , a nuclear attack submarine, two Atlantique 2 and a helicopter in support of the anti-submarine warfare and a Hawkeye.
Eight surface ships integrated into the SNMG1 (standing NATO maritime group – permanent multinational naval force of NATO in the Atlantic), the Belgian frigates Leopold I , Canadian Toronto , Portuguese Corte Real , German Mecklenburg Vorpommern , British Northumberland, Polish General Kazimierz Pulaski and Spanish Mendez Nunez as well as a German submarine.
To simulate air attacks against surface units, several Rafale Marine fighters and aerial plastrons will be engaged.”
It should be noted that HMS Northumberland isn’t actually present, she’s in Faslane.
The French Ministry of Defence also say that the exercise will be conducted in two phases.
“The first will consist in basic exercises, without particular scenario, with the participating forces divided into two groups. The second will develop the exercises of the initial phase, within a tactical theme illustrative of a high intensity engagement.”