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French aircraft carrier undergoes mid-life upgrade
Charles de Gaulle carrier entering drydock. © Marine nationale

French aircraft carrier undergoes mid-life upgrade

After 15 years of operational service — including three deployments in support of operations against Islamic State [LINK] over the past two years — the French Navy’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier has entered drydock for a comprehensive mid-life upgrade.

The work is scheduled to last for around 18 months, after which Navy says the ship will be ready to operate “on a par with the best-equipped allied forces” for at least another 20 years.

The upgrade will include modernisation of the ship’s combat systems (sensors and communication systems), preparation for future deployment with an all-Rafale complement of aircraft (replacement of landing and guidance systems) and upgrading of navigation systems.

The carrier will also undergo standard maintenance operations, including an overhaul of the nuclear reactor and loading of fresh fuel into the reactor core.

The 42,000t flagship, which underwent an initial major overhaul in 2007, has sailed the equivalent of 30 times around the world and performed 41,000 catapult launches since it was commissioned in 2001.

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