The Marine Nationale (French Navy) Charles de Gaulle and the US Navy USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carriers began combined operations in the Arabian Sea on April 13, 2021. Since March 31, 2021, the Marine Nationale has been in command of the US Naval Forces Central Command’s (NAVCENT) Task Force 50.
“The IKE [nickname of the US aircraft carrier – ed. note] and Charles de Gaulle share a special place in history – both namesakes worked together to fight for liberty and as leaders of their respective countries both worked to ensure peace and stability,” said Rear Admiral Scott F. Robertson, commander of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2. “Our combined forces provide security and stability but also highlight that we are stronger when we work together to promote a safe maritime environment.”
The collaboration between the two warships is more than just symbolic. Already in March 2020, as part of an exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, F/A-18E Super Hornet fighters from Strike Fighter Squadron 83 landed aboard the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle before being catapulted, and Rafale Marine jets did the same aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“Our cooperation is deeply rooted in a common history and especially in decades of mutual training, being the only two navies to sail nuclear-powered aircraft carriers with catapult assisted take-off and arrested recovery,” said Rear Admiral Marc Aussedat, commanding officer of the Charles de Gaulle carrier battle group. “Thus our CSGs are ready to work together, as currently within TF 50 in the fight against Daesh and tomorrow, where our common interests will require it.”
The Charles de Gaulle nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is the flagship of the French Navy. It is capable of projecting up to 40 fighter jets, notably the Dassault Rafale in its Marine (M) variant. In December 2020, French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed France would commission a new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier by 2038 to replace the Charles de Gaulle.