Monday, 14 June, 2021

Renovated, the Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier is about to start its second life


Modernization of radars, improvement of the landing system, replacement of nuclear fuel: after more than 18 months of major work, the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, which entered service in 2001, is about to begin its second life.

The Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier

Modernization of radars, improvement of the landing system, replacement of nuclear fuel: after more than 18 months of major work, the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, which entered service in 2001, is about to begin its second life.

The announcement was formalized Thursday by the Ministry of the Armed Forces on the occasion of a visit by Minister Florence Parly on the ship: after some 4 million hours of work carried out on the Toulon naval base, for an invoice s ‘amounting to more than a billion euros, the renovation work on Charles-de-Gaulle, the only French nuclear aircraft carrier, has been completed. A renovation which should lead him until his withdrawal from active service “around 2038”.

“A phase of increasing power”

Without further ado, off the Mediterranean coast, the 42,000-ton mastodon (4 times the Eiffel Tower), which is due to travel from the first quarter of 2019 to the Indian Ocean, has started a training cycle after a first phase of test in the open sea of ​​its new tools.

“We are in a phase of ramping up and we have complete confidence in the ability of the crew to regain full operational status with this boat,” said Florence Parly, on Thursday, visiting the building a few days before the president. of the Republic Emmanuel Macron who is due to go there on November 14 and spend a night there.

In addition to upkeep and maintenance work, Charles-de-Gaulle has modernized its combat system through its surveillance and navigation radars as well as its infrared sensors, specifies the French Navy.

261.5 meters long, the French flagship, which can carry 40 aircraft, including 30 Rafale planes, has also reviewed its landing assistance facilities and improved its platform.

“Preserve our freedom of action”

It has acquired a new lens “twice as precise” which allows “to refine the landing” of its combat planes, which have the smallest surface in the world, equivalent to a tennis court, for land at 200 km / h, explains Commander Christophe Charpentier. An infrared camera also makes it possible to follow the Rafales more efficiently, details the pilot who resumed training on board the Charles de-Gaulle 48 hours ago. “It’s like playing the piano: we do our scales so that we can play a concerto at the end of the day,” continues the commander of the onboard air group.

The stakes are high for the aircraft carrier, which since 2001 has made more than 23 round-the-world tours and has been deployed during its last operations three times against the Islamic State group in the Mediterranean. “It is about preserving our freedom of action. Navigate across the globe wherever you want in a context of remilitarization of maritime spaces ”, explains the Chief of Staff of the Carrier Strike Group (GAN), Hugues recalling that“ 90% of world trade passes by sea ”.

“Everything is open”

“An aircraft carrier plays a particular role (…): it is a tool which allows France to have a projection capacity in autonomy”, underlined the Minister who announced on October 23 the launch of the program of his. successor whose study phase should last 18 months.

A period during which the future characteristics of the aircraft carrier will be discussed by opening a choice of options in particular on its mode of propulsion, its size, its type of catapulting – steam like on the Charles-de-Gaulle or electromagnetic – , said the minister on Thursday.

Asked about the launch of a second aircraft carrier as desired by the General Staff, the Minister replied that “the question will (it) be addressed when the studies are (have) finished”: “everything is open”, a- she assured.

(with AFP)

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