The Israeli Navy has participated in joint naval exercises with the French Navy for the first time in over 50 years.
On June 21, two Israeli missile boats – the Sa’ar 5-class INS Eilat and the Sa’ar 4.5-class INS Kidon – docked in the port of Toulon for the exercise, which was completed on Sunday.
The Israeli ships, along with troops and vessels from the French Navy, conducted several drills which included a large number of scenarios. These included joint training with helicopters, naval gunnery target practice, practicing defense from missile attacks on the ships, as well as treating mass casualties and evacuating the wounded.
During the visit to France, the commander of the Israeli navy, Vice Admiral Eli Sharvit, met with his French counterpart, Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Christophe Prazuck.
“In the current age, in which there are many revolutions and changes, the view of the Israeli Navy needs to be global,” Sharvit said during the meeting. “Therefore, the joint exercise with the French fleet, which gave both sides knowledge and new, meaningful capabilities, represents another turning point in strengthening the navy from the standpoint of its international activities,” he added.
On Sunday, two French battleships – Mistral-class amphibious assault ship Dixmude and the La Fayette-class frigate FS Surcouf – arrived in Haifa as part of the French navy’s five-month-long Jeanne d’Arc mission. The ships are set to participate in several joint activities with the Israel Navy and Air Force next week.
“The situation in the Middle East brings foreign fleets here, and we coordinate with during both times of routine and times of war," said Col. Ronen Hajaj, the head of the Israeli navy's training command. “The French have been here for a long time and see us as partners in the region,” he added.