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France launches future carrier studies
Charles de Gaulle carrier entering drydock. © Marine nationale

France launches future carrier studies

French armed forces minister Florence Parly announced at the Euronaval Show that France is launching initial studies for an aircraft carrier to follow on from the Charles-de-Gaulle.

French armed forces minister Florence Parly announced at the Euronaval Show that France is launching initial studies for a next-generation aircraft carrier to follow on from the Charles-de-Gaulle.

The French carrier is currently completing a major maintenance and refurbishment visit before resuming operational service in the first quarter of 2019. Though the French Navy flagship is due to remain in service beyond 2030, provision has been made in the next LPM multi-year defence spending bill to fund initial studies of the Charles-de-Gaulle's successor.

The 18-month study phase, Parly indicated, will be “realistic but ambitious”, focusing on three main aspects:

  • Definition of threats and missions, which will be used to determine operational constraints, combat system requirements and the interface with the rest of the carrier battle group.

  • Definition of the future carrier's characteristics, based on the state of the art in 2030 and taking account of technology breakthroughs such as electromagnetic catapult systems. Parly underlined that the carrier would have to be fully compatible with the Franco-German FCAS/SCAF future combat aircraft. A choice will also need to be made between conventional and nuclear propulsion systems. Beyond the ship itself, Parly noted that the studies would also cover cooperation required to ensure that the future carrier is able to accommodate aircraft operated by European allies.

  • Innovation — not rebuilding a new copy of the existing carrier, but looking for the most practical and effective solutions, making the ship a showcase for French innovation.

Parly said the studies would also lay the groundwork for determining the total number of carriers needed by France and Europe in the longer term.

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