Maritime security in the Red Sea is under a constant threat. The latest series of events indicates the severity of the situation, with international forces having to intercept numerous illicit activities.
US Centcom reports that the USS Mason intercepted both a drone and an anti-ship ballistic missile, launched from territories controlled by the Houthi forces in Yemen. Alarmingly, this is the 22nd attempted attack on international maritime traffic in the Red Sea since October 19th.
It's not just US vessels that act in defense. Other navies, including those from Europe, play an active role in maintaining maritime security. For instance, the British ‘destroyer', HMS Diamond, successfully intercepted a Houthi-launched drone using the Sea Viper anti-air missile system on December 16. This marked a significant achievement for the Royal Navy, as it was the first aircraft they've destroyed since the Gulf War back in 1991.
The French Languedoc, a multi-mission frigate (FREMM), has also been involved in defense activities in the Red Sea. It successfully downed two kamikaze drones targeting it. Within 48 hours of this event, the Languedoc responded to another threat, this time against a Norwegian oil tanker, Strinda. Each of these threats, originating from Yemen, was neutralized by an Aster 15 surface-to-air missile.
The FREMM is equipped with 16 Aster 15 missiles, stored in SYLVER A-43 silos. They are linked to the Herakles multifunction radar system, capable of detecting and tracking up to 400 naval and aerial targets. The missile system can engage any aircraft posing a threat within a radius of 30 km and at an altitude of 13 km.
The Office of the Chief of Defence Staff (EMA) confirmed the presence of the FREMM Languedoc in the Red Sea. They released a video highlighting the vessel's role in combating ‘illicit activities' and terrorism. The EMA's efforts in preserving maritime security were greatly stressed.
The EMA video featured two separate sequences showing the destruction of a drone by an Aster 15 missile. However, the exact details of these incidents were not made clear. The degraded quality of the images made it impossible to identify the intercepted devices.
The Red Sea is a strategic maritime passage, with over 20,000 ships passing through the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb each year. This accounts for a significant 12% of global maritime commerce.
Amid the rising tensions, it was suggested that France might join the ‘Guardians of Prosperity' operation. This initiative, launched by the United States on December 18, aims to ensure security in the Red Sea. Despite these discussions, the FREMM Languedoc remains under national command.