On December 8th, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France’s next-generation aircraft carrier will be nuclear-powered and replace the national fleet’s flagship warship in 2038.
The 11th carrier-vessel in the French Navy’s history will be built by French defence contractor Naval Group and equipped with the new electromagnetic aircraft launch system developed by U.S. company General Atomics, according to French officials.
On Twitter, Florence Parly, France’s Minister for the Armed Forces, provided some detail about the planned specifications and capabilities of the PANG. The future aircraft carrier will be just over 984 feet long and displace approximately 75,000 metric tons.
The Charles de Gaulle is around 858 feet long and displaces just 42,500 metric tons.
It will be able to carry up to 30 Rafale fighter jets or the successor of the Dassault warplane currently being developed by France, Germany and Spain.
“Charles de Gaulle, as you know, will come to the end of its life in 2038. This is why I have decided that the future aircraft carrier that will equip our country and our navy will be nuclear-powered like the Charles de Gaulle,” Macron said. “Your plant in Le Creusot, which has been producing parts essential to our navy for a long time, will produce, among others, several major parts of the nuclear boiler [reactor] of the future aircraft carrier by forging and machining them right here. … By these choices, we confirm France’s desire to preserve its strategic autonomy.”
The French military had initially lent towards a ship with conventional propulsion, but later decided to go for a nuclear-powered vessel, despite heavier construction costs, for technical and strategic reasons.
“Out strategic future, our status as a great power, lies with the nuclear industry,” Macron said.
The French state will invest one billion euros during the first development phase that will end in 2025, the Ministry of Armed Forces said. Ministry officials declined to comment on media reports that the vessel could cost more than 5 billion euros.
“Naval Group is very proud to build the largest warship ever built in France”, the company CEO, Pierre Eric Pommelet, said in a statement.
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