France has dispatched a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) to the Indian Ocean. The deployment of FS Charles de Gaulle and escorts had been planned for some months and is not as a direct consequence of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sailed from Toulon in company with the destroyer Chevalier Paul and replenishment tanker Meuse, and was later joined by the Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Kent in the Red Sea. The group is being shadowed by a Rubis class nuclear-powered attack submarine. Officially, the purpose of the deployment is for exercises with Indian forces, no doubt to help progress stalled negotiations over the sale of 126 Rafale fighters and of additional submarines to the sub-continent.

However, in the light of recent events, they are likely to sail to the Persian Gulf in support of ongoing military operations against Islamic State forces in Iraq. As in 2014, during its last deployment to the region, the French CSG will operate under US operational control to co-ordinate air strikes and intelligence-gathering.

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