Wiltshire

New Anglo-French rapid deployment force put through paces

Tank on Salisbury Plain Image copyright Crown Copyright
Image caption The Army's 3(UK) Division and French 7th Mechanised Brigade took part in the exercise on Salisbury Plain

A new Anglo-French rapid deployment force has been put through its paces during a major exercise in Wiltshire.

An armoured land assault took place on Salisbury Plain, as part of the Combined UK and French Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF).

The force will be used in conflict zones and for peace keeping, disaster relief and humanitarian work.

Exercise Griffin Strike was part of a wider UK operation involving the army, navy and air force.

The Ministry of Defence said the exercise was a "significant milestone" in the development of the joint force, which was planned in 2010.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption More than 5,000 UK and French troops took part in Exercise Griffin Strike at locations across the UK

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and his French counterpart, Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, witnessed the exercise which involved more than 5,000 troops.

Mr Fallon said the the force "will enable us to deploy rapidly with our French allies, helping to keep Britain safe while contributing to security in the world."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Paratroopers, armoured units and infantrymen took part in the operation on Salisbury Plain, which involved an armoured land assault with helicopter and jet support
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The French 7th Mechanised Brigade took part in the armoured land attack exercise on Salisbury Plain

The two-week exercise is based at RAF St Mawgan in Newquay and involves Typhoon and Rafale jets from RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire, while UK ships HMS Ocean, Bulwark and Duncan will work off the south and west coast of England with three of their French counterparts.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The exercise on Salisbury involved the army, navy and air force in the first training operation of the Combined UK and French Joint Expeditionary Force

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