Live fire drills with French Navy eyed

France keen on live fire drills with PH Navy

/ 11:57 PM May 31, 2024

French navy keen on live fire drills

Marie Fontanel, Ambassador of France to the Philippines, and Captain Gwenegan Le Bourhis, Commanding Officer of the destroyer Bretagne, during a quick tour of the French Navy’s Fregate Bretagne destroyer for a five-day port call on Friday, May 31, 2024 at South Harbor of the Port of Manila. (Noy Morcoso/


MANILA, Philippines — The captain of a French frigate, whose fellow ship class recently struck Houthi drones in the Red Sea, said they are ready to have live fire drills with the Philippine Navy.


Captain Gwenegan Le Bourhis, commanding officer of French frigate FS Bretagne (D655), however said the decision still lies with the Philippine Navy. 


 “To be honest, I am ready for it,” Le Bourhis said in a press conference aboard Bretagne when asked if live-fire drills are on the agenda.

“If I am authorized to, we are pleased to share our [firing capabilities] with the Philippine Navy,” he added.

FS Bretagne, part of the Aquitaine-class frigate of the French Navy, is on a five-day port visit in Manila until Tuesday.

The warship is equipped with Aster 15 missiles, a Franco-Italian family of vertical-launch surface-to-air missiles.

Its fellow class French frigate Languedoc (D653), which was patrolling in the Red Sea, destroyed two lethal drones using these surface to air missiles on Dec. 9 last year, according to a US Naval Institute News report in Dec. 13, 2023.


Le Bourhis said the navies of Manila and Paris are now organizing its bilateral drills, but the details like locations are still undetermined.

“To be honest I don’t know exactly where it would be, because we are still organizing it; we are still in the planning process this morning,” Le Bourhis said.

“[But] I think it will be quite close in your littorals,” he added.

For the first time, Paris participated in the four-day joint patrol in the West Philippine Sea during Manila and Washington’s annual Balikatan exercises.

“The participation to Balikatan exercise is already a really important first step for us,” said H. E. Marie Fontanel, Ambassador of France to the Philippines, in the same press conference.

This significant development in bilateral ties between Manila and Paris occurred even as the visiting forces agreement (VFA) between both countries are still in the works. 

The letter of intent for the VFA was signed in Manila last December 2023 by Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and French Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu.

The VFA enables a mechanism for shared military training and operations and larger joint exercises between two countries.

Fontaniel said Manila and Paris “take it one step at a time”, adding that a definite timeline for the activation of the agreement could not yet be determined.  

 “I don’t see any need to rush on the signature,” Fontanel said.

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“But as you see, it doesn’t prevent us from doing already a lot.”


TAGS: France, navy

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