France aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in Djibouti

The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle makes a port call in Djibouti after crossing the Suez Canal, says the French MoD on January 10, 2023.

Charles de Gaulle routeingly make annually port calls in Djibouti; the carrier had earlier visited Djibouti in February 2022, and the same month in 2021.

France and its former colony Djibouti signed defence accords in 1977, again in 2011 and are now renegotiating them.

Under the pact, France provides Djibouti with air protection and in return for $40 million (33 million euros) in annual rent gets its biggest foreign military base — a springboard for 1,500 French troops, warplanes and ships here.

Djibouti offers significant strategic value which cannot be overlooked. The country of one million people is located halfway between Europe and Asia and overlooks the narrow strait between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden — a chokepoint for world shipping.

Charles de Gaulle is the flagship of the French Navy. The ship, commissioned in 2001, is the tenth French aircraft carrier, the first French nuclear-powered surface vessel, and the only nuclear-powered carrier completed outside of the United States Navy. She is named after French president and general Charles de Gaulle.

She is a medium-sized aircraft carrier, smaller than those of the U.S. Navy, but significantly larger than the Cavour (Italy), Spanish, and Indian aircraft carriers.

French forces continues to carry out training in Djibouti. In April last year, U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to Task Force Red Dragon, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), and members of the 5th RIAOM, French Forces in Djibouti (FFDJ), conducted a joint artillery live-fire exercise in Djibouti.

Likewise, in November 2021, two US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers from the 9th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, flew a Bomber Task Force mission alongside two French Mirages, as well as two UK and two US F-35s from UK Carrier Strike Group’s HMS Queen Elizabeth over Camp Lemonnier, Dijbouti, on 11 November.

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