French marines patrol the area around the French navy ship, the FS Languedoc, in port in Djibouti.

The US Navy isn’t the only force trying to shoot Houthi missiles and drones out of the sky.The French navy is among other allied forces working to protect commercial ships in the Red Sea.Last week, a French frigate shot down at least three Houthi ballistic missiles.

Warships of the French navy are among other Western navies in the Red Sea working to protect commercial shipping vessels from Houthi attacks.

Last week, a French frigate shot down at least three Houthi anti-ship ballistic missiles in a combat engagement between Western forces and the Iran-backed militant group.

Operation Aspides
USS Bulkeley and the USS Gonzalez, both United States Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, and the FS Languedoc, the French Navy’s multipurpose frigate, depart Canadian Forces Base Halifax.

France’s Marine Nationale deployed two ships to the Red Sea — the FREMM guided-missile frigate Languedoc and the Alsace, a frigate with air defense capabilities.

The ships were deployed as part of the European Union’s larger naval mission called Operation Aspides helping to ensure maritime security in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, and the Persian Gulf.

Multipurpose frigates
French Navy Frigate FS Languedoc transits alongside USS Harry S. Truman during an air and sea power demonstration.

The Languedoc and the Alsace are both multipurpose frigates part of the FREMM family of warships.

Under the FREMM initiative, or “European multi-purpose frigate” project, the ships were developed by France and Italy. This led to the new generation of surface-combatant ships known in France as the Aquitaine class and in Italy as the Bergamini class.

Initially, 27 FREMM frigates — 17 for France and 10 for Italy — were planned for development with three proposed variants: an anti-submarine variant, a general-purpose variant, and a land-attack variant.

However, due to budget cuts and building requirements, the French Navy cut the proposed fleet down to less than 10 ships, and the land-attack version of the frigate was canceled.

There are currently eight Aquitaine-class frigates in the French navy. These include the lead ship FS Aquitaine, as well as FS Provence, FS Languedoc, FS Auvergne, FS Bretagne, FS Normandie, FS Alsace, and FS Lorraine.

Air defense
An ASTER 30 missile fired aboard the Aquitaine-class French frigate Bretagne.

French FREMM frigates feature vertical launch system (VLS) cells capable of launching surface-to-air missiles.

In the above photo, the Aquitaine-class French frigate Bretagne is seen firing an ASTER 30 missile, an all-weather, vertical-launch surface-to-air weapon.

FS Languedoc
The French navy ship, the FS Languedoc (D653), was seen in port in Djibouti.

The FS Languedoc is one of the two confirmed French warships operating in the Red Sea.

Designed for anti-submarine warfare but capable of conducting other missions, the warship has been stationed in the Red Sea since late last year, taking down a number of drones and missiles launched by Houthi rebels.

The Languedoc was launched in July 2014 and commissioned three years later in 2017. Propelled by a gas turbine and four diesel generators, the 466-foot ship has a surface speed of 27 knots (about 31 mph) and an operational range of 7,000 miles.

The Languedoc features a 76mm rapid-fire naval gun, 16-cell vertical launch system for surface-to-air missiles, another 16-cell VLS for cruise missiles, four torpedo tubes, and four heavy machine guns.

The French warship is also capable of deploying with rotary-wing aircraft like NHIndustries’ NH90 military helicopters.

FS Alsace
French Navy frigate FNS Alsace is seen in the background as a CH-148 Cyclone Maritime Helicopter conducts a hoist exercise with Royal Norwegian Navy Submarine HNoMS Utvaer in the Norwegian Sea.

The Alsace joined the Languedoc in the Red Sea earlier this year as the second French frigate in the area.

Commissioned in April 2021, the Alsace is the first anti-air warfare variant of the FREMM frigates, which include FS Lorraine.

As an Aquitaine-class frigate, the Alsace can also reach speeds of up to 27 knots and has an operational range of 6,000 nautical miles. The Alsace is powered by a gas turbine and four diesel generators.

Like the Languedoc, the Alsace has two 16-cell vertical launch systems, a 76mm gun, the ability to carry as many as eight surface-to-surface missiles, and two Eurotorp MU90 torpedos. It also has a landing pad and a hangar to accommodate military aircraft.

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