PARIS — France and Kuwait will launch the sixth edition of their 12-day Pearl of the West military exercise, beginning Nov. 17 at the Al-Udaira shooting range, northwest of Kuwait City.

The first such bilateral exercise was held in 1996 and is jointly organized every four years or so, according to the framework of the two countries' defense cooperation agreement.

This year’s objective is to set up an operational bilateral command structure and improve interoperability between the French and Kuwaiti armed forces, a French Armed Forces Ministry statement said. The ministry said Pearl of the West will involve two segments: a command post exercise to train the operational commanders, and a live-fire exercise on the shooting range in which the three forces of both countries will take part.

Rafale fighter jets arrive in Kuwait for the 2018 Pearl of the West exercise. (French Armed Forces Ministry)
Rafale fighter jets arrive in Kuwait for the 2018 Pearl of the West exercise. (French Armed Forces Ministry)

About 500 Kuwaiti soldiers will be involved in this major exercise alongside 1,100 French military personnel. Among the French forces are 600 soldiers from France-based regiments as well as the 5th Regiment of Cuirassiers, based in the United Arab Emirates since 2016.

Materiel delivered from the UAE base includes five Caesar canons, 15 Leclerc tanks, 13 VBCI armored infantry fighting vehicles, 13 VBL light armored vehicles, as well as 16 other vehicles including VPC command post vehicles, VAB NRBC troop transport vehicles, and VLRA light reconnaissance and support vehicles.

Heavy materiel, including Leclerc battle tanks and armored vehicles, arrive in Kuwait for the 2018 Pearl of the West exercise. (French Armed Forces Ministry)
Heavy materiel, including Leclerc battle tanks and armored vehicles, arrive in Kuwait for the 2018 Pearl of the West exercise. (French Armed Forces Ministry)

The French Navy is bringing the Cassard anti-air frigate to the exercise, while the Air Force is deploying 50 personnel and three Rafale fighter jets from Air Base 104 in the UAE.

VIP days will be held Nov. 28 and 29, during which land, air and sea segments will be demonstrated.

French soldiers began travel for the exercise at the end of October.