France looks to replace flagship nuclear aircraft carrier

France looks to replace flagship nuclear aircraft carrier
The new carrier will replace the nuclear strike carrier Charles de Gaulle
The new carrier will replace the nuclear strike carrier Charles de Gaulle
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The new carrier will replace the nuclear strike carrier Charles de Gaulle
The new carrier will replace the nuclear strike carrier Charles de Gaulle

The French Navy has announced that it will replace the nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle when it reaches the end of its service life in the 2030s. At the Euronaval Exhibition in Paris, the Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, stated that the government has ordered an 18-month study to determine the architecture of one or more new carriers that will take the place of the French flagship.

The Charles de Gaulle is France's only strike carrier. It has recently completed sea trials after a major 18-month refit and is scheduled to return to service in 2019. It was originally launched on May 7, 1994, but sea trials soon revealed problems with the two 150 MW K15 pressurized water reactors and one of its propellers broke, resulting in an embarrassing tow back to port.

However, despite ongoing reactor and other problems, the de Gaulle entered active service in 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 attack in New York. It supported Coalition operations in Afghanistan from the Indian Ocean. It then went on to provide combat air patrols with the US Navy during the 2002 India-Pakistan Crisis, participated in various NATO operations, helped enforced the no-fly zone over Libya, and was in action against ISIS in 2015.

Though the de Gaulle just finished its midlife refit in September, the French government have already made the decision to replace it because it will take well over a decade to complete design and construction. At the moment, Parly stresses that nothing has been decided aside from the need to find a replacement. How many ships will be needed and whether they will have nuclear propulsion or opt for the conventional plant used by the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth Class has yet to be determined.

"The first step, which is being launched today, is the study phase, in which we get together to determine what we want and how we want it for our future aircraft carriers," says Parly.

The Euronaval exhibition runs from October 23 to 26.


Only one aircraft carrier? Well, that's twelve smarter than the US. Obsolete technology are aircraft carriers. One guided cruise missile and their toast.
America should offer to build a carrier for France at cost. We can use the work and France can benefit from having a ship designed and built by the most experienced carrier builders the world knows.
No doubt they'll get access to the Brit's Queen Elizabeth class carriers if the present subsuming of the UK forces into the EU's military continues, despite Brexit!
Jose Gros-Aymerich
Aircraft carriers look easy to destroy with any small size nuclear device, that can be brought under hull by an automat, swimming like a fish, the US Navy taught dolphins carring a mine on their back to attach to a hull, when the bomb automatically detonated. So, in the impossible case of a conflict with a power having eanough weaponry, Aircraft carriers are an obsolte weapon. Will the US government send an aircraft carrier to places such as Somalia, for fighting pirates, or to Colombia, to eliminate drug smuggler's airplanes? No way to justify the enormous expenses in a useless ship; if they want to keep the industry alive, they can donate them money as a 'charity'. Fools!
Yes, it's so fashionable these days to declare that these huge, seemingly lumbering mammoth behemoths can be so easily destroyed and thus so passe. Yet we still have armies going around with rifles, eating from tin cans.
An aircraft carrier is a line in the sand, which in this case, is covered with ocean. Each aircraft carrier is merely a symbol of its country's industrial/economic/military prowess and willingness to use it. Sink me at your own risk, is what each aircraft carrier powerfully declares.
Originally France joined the UK to build one 'QE2' class conventional carrier but quickly bailed out of thar deal. A 3-ship run would have reduced much of the cost but the RN 2-ship production increased it.