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When a Navy helicopter destroys a Houthi drone in mid-flight

On March 20, a French army helicopter, embarked on a French Navy frigate, shot down a Houthi drone coming from Yemen.

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When a Navy helicopter destroys a Houthi drone in mid-flight

On March 20, a French army helicopter, embarked on a French Navy frigate, shot down a Houthi drone coming from Yemen. “(...) while carrying out close protection for Operation Aspides in the Red Sea, the helicopter on board a French destroyer shot down a Houthi drone threatening commercial navigation,” indicated on his Twitter account l European military operation in the area.

“The priority is to ensure freedom of navigation and maritime security from Suez to Hormuz,” added the French army on the social network, publishing the video of the intercepted drone.

Such destruction by a helicopter is unusual. Two drones had already been destroyed in the Red Sea in mid-February but by the French frigates themselves. On December 10, a French frigate also shot down two drones which were heading straight towards it with Aster 15 anti-aircraft missiles. Such a launch of surface-to-air missiles in self-defense was a first for the French Navy.

Also read: Were the Houthis able to “cut” submarine cables in the Red Sea?

Since the start of the war in the Gaza Strip, triggered by a Hamas attack on Israeli soil on October 7, Yemen's Houthi rebels have regularly fired in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden on ships they consider linked to to Israel, in “solidarity” with the Palestinians of Gaza.

Frequent Houthi fire against foreign ships contributes to slowing international trade, while around 12% of global maritime freight normally passes through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which controls access to the southern Red Sea. Since these attacks began, the number of containers has fallen by 70% in the area, according to maritime experts.

Faced with these attacks, the United States set up a multinational maritime protection force in the Red Sea in December, called “Prosperity Guardian”, while the European Union launched a similar mission in February.

France, for its part, strengthened its military presence in these seas from December. The army deployed the multi-mission frigate (FREMM) Alsace to the region on January 20, which joined the FREMM Languedoc which arrived on December 8, 2023. A supply boat, the Jacques Chevallier, is also on site.

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