Hampshire & Isle of Wight

French 'invasion force' lands at Gosport

French navy ships
Image caption The French Navy is practising a major invasion on the British mainland

A French "invasion force" landed on a Hampshire beach on Saturday.

The 200 soldiers, 43 vehicles, four helicopters, two landing craft and a catamaran, were taking part in a training exercise at Gosport.

The French landing helicopter dock Tonnerre and anti-submarine warfare destroyer Georges Leygues arrived at Portsmouth Naval Base on Friday.

A French navy spokeswoman described the first steps of "Mission Jeanne d'Arc" as "unique".

She said the navy was practising a major invasion on the British mainland to test both "amphibious and joint operations".

"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," she added.

The group left Brest, France, earlier in the week for the training at Browndown Battery.

A five-month deployment will follow, taking in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.

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