French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will have nuclear-powered successor

Joris van Boven

The President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron unveiled France’s upcoming nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is to be commissioned in 2038. 

The new vessel should be larger than the current flagship of the French Navy. It will measure over 300 meters in length and weigh 75,000 tonnes ‒ against 261 meters and 42,500 tonnes for the Charles de Gaulle. The price of the PANG (Porte-Avions de Nouvelle Génération, New Generation Aircraft Carrier) program is estimated at around €7 billion.

The successor of Charles de Gaulle will present several innovations for the French Navy, such as an oblique runway and two catapults that will allow launching and recovering planes at the same time. The CATOBAR system will use General Atomics electromagnetic catapults, against steam for its predecessor. The two nuclear steam generators will be much more powerful than those of Charles de Gaulle, with a total power of 450 Mw, instead of the current two reactors of 150 Mw each.

Additionally, to the increase in capabilities, the size is also justified by the operation of the New Generation Fighter, currently developed in partnership with Germany and Spain, whose mass will be around 30 tonnes against 20 tonnes for the current Rafale Marine.

The question remains whether a second new vessel should also be built. Alone, the Charles de Gaulle can only provide 63% of availability. During the planning phase in 1975, then-President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing who passed on December 2, 2020, had advocated for the commission of two vessels. A fitting name for the successor?


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