French 'Invasion' In Gosport

The French navy will this weekend be practising a major invasion on the British mainland.

A group of 200 soldiers, backed by 43 vehicles, four helicopters, two landing craft and a new landing catamaran, will be taking part in the exercise at Browndown in Gosport.

The amphibious landing follows the arrival of the French landing helicopter dock (LHD) Tonnerre and anti-submarine warfare destroyer (ASWD) Georges Leygues at Portsmouth Naval Base today.

A French navy spokeswoman said: ''Once the vehicles and soldiers disembark, using the landing craft and helicopters, the troops will continue with instruction activities, driver training, live fire exercises and assault course on Browndown.

''This kind of manoeuvre is a unique chance for the 134 midshipmen of the French Naval Academy 2010-class embarked onboard the Tonnerre and the Georges Leygues to discover both amphibious and joint operations.''

The French amphibious group left Brest, France, earlier this week for a five-month deployment which will carry on from the UK to territories including the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.

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