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Video: First Operational Use of MdCN Naval Cruise Missile by French Navy FREMM Frigates

The French Navy (Marine Nationale) conducted the first ever operational strike involving the new MdCN (Missile de Croisiere Naval) naval cruise missile last night. The cruise missiles were launch against a chemical weapons production site of the Syrian regime in coordination with the United States and the United Kingdom.

First Operational Use of MdCN Naval Cruise Missile by French Navy FREMM Frigates One of the three FREMM Frigates launching MdCN naval cruise missiles against targets in Syria. Screenshot from French MoD video.

According to well connected French blog Le Mamouth, three French Navy FREMM Frigates took part in the cruise missile strikes: First ship of the class Aquitaine, as well as Provence and Languedoc. These three frigates, the latest and most advanced ones currently commissioned in the French Navy fleet, were supported by an air defense frigate, a anti-submarine frigate and a Durance-class command and replenishment ship (Bâtiment de commandement et ravitailleur or BCR). French forces strikes also came from air force Rafale fighters based in the region. The U.K. conducted air strikes as well.

According to USNI News, U.S. strikes came from guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser and U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers.

Update: French Forces launched 12 cruise missiles - 8 Scalp EG launched by the Air Force and 4 MdCN naval cruise missiles from the FREMM Frigates.

French MoD Video: Launch of MdCN naval cruise missiles from one of the FREMM frigates in the Mediterranean. Objective: a chemical weapons production site of the Syrian regime.

French President Emmanuel Macron said “We cannot tolerate the normalization of the use of chemical weapons,” adding that “the red line set by France in May 2017 has been crossed.”

President Donald J. Trump announced last night that the combined force launched precision strikes against the chemical weapons capabilities.

"This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime," Trump said during an announcement from the White House tonight. "The evil and despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead."

Chemical weapons have been banned since their widespread use during World War I. "The purpose of our action tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons," the president said. "Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States. The combined American, French and British response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power."

The president said the United States is prepared to sustain the response "until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents."

The Syrian regime is propped up by Russia and Iran. "To Iran and Russia I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with a mass murderer of innocent men, women and children?" the president said. "The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed in the long run, by supporting rogue states, brutal tyrants and murderous dictators."

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis called the chemical attack "beyond the pale" when he testified before the House Armed Services Committee yesterday. The attack, he said, was in "the worst interest of civilization itself."

The French Navy test launched an MBDA Naval Cruise Missile from FREMM Frigate Aquitaine for the first time in 2015. File Picture: L.Bernardin©Marine Nationale

About MdCN Naval Cruise missile:
Designed and produced by MBDA, the naval cruise missile (French designation Missile de Croisiere Naval or MdCN) provides deep strike capabilities within enemy territory. With a range of several hundred kilometres, the naval cruise missile is capable of destroying infrastructure targets of high strategic value. For more detail, read our in depth report from 2014 following our tour of the production facility.

First Operational Use of MdCN Naval Cruise Missile by French Navy FREMM Frigates 2 Two FREMM Frigates sailing in formation. French Navy picture.

About the Aquitaine-class FREMM frigate:
Future backbone of the French Navy, the FREMMs are heavily armed warships, carrying naval cruise missiles, Exocet MM40 anti-ship missiles, Aster anti-aircraft missiles and MU90 anti-submarine torpedoes. All the FREMMs can accommodate an NH90 NFH Caiman helicopter, as well as Special Forces and their equipment. Six FREMMs are set to be delivered before mid-2019.

With 5 frigates commissioned to date (Aquitaine, Provence, Languedoc, Auvergne and Bretagne), the fact that the French Navy deployed no less than three FREMM for this operation is significant.