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Exercise aimed at crisis capabilities

BRUSSELS, March 18 (UPI) -- France is hosting a multinational helicopters exercise designed to address shortfalls in helicopter capabilities during crisis situations.

The 15-day European Defense Agency exercise, which concludes Friday, has brought together participants from 14 EU countries with aircraft and crews from Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Hungary and Spain. The exercise is taking place in Gap in the southeastern Alps of France, the European Defense Agency reported.

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A bilateral summit between British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy held in March 2008 resulted in calls to address potential shortfalls in the availability of helicopters and capabilities of EU countries during crisis management.

The multinational helicopters exercise, the result of the summit, is designed to improve the capabilities of EU helicopter deployments during a crisis and "to develop interoperability through mutual understanding," according to the EDA.

The exercise is also part of an EDA effort to develop a helicopter-tactics program for EU countries to participate in.

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