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French Navy orders placed for next generation aircraft carrier.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by Sebastien Lecornu on April 26, 2024, the initial orders for a new generation of aircraft carriers have been placed. Naval Group, Chantiers de l’Atlantique, and Technicatome have received notifications to begin long-term services, including the development of nuclear propulsion systems.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Model of the future next generation aircraft carrier, PANG, at Euronaval 2022. (Picture source: Navy Recognition)

France is set to begin the construction of a new-generation aircraft carrier, aimed at replacing the aging Charles de Gaulle carrier. Preliminary studies for this ambitious project, known as the Porte-Avions de Nouvelle Génération (PANG), commenced in October 2018. As of 2024, the project has reached the detailed pre-project phase, with a launch and implementation dossier expected to be completed by the end of 2025.

This initiative follows the retirement of the carrier Foch, which was sold to the Brazilian Navy in the early 2000s, leaving Charles de Gaulle as France's sole aircraft carrier. The Charles de Gaulle undergoes extensive maintenance every ten years, which includes dry-docking for up to one and a half years for major structural repairs and nuclear fuel replenishment.

This periodic downtime significantly reduces France’s naval projection capabilities, prompting the need for a second carrier to ensure continuous availability of an aeronaval group.

On December 8, 2020, President Emmanuel Macron, during a visit to the Framatome site in Le Creusot, officially launched the PANG program and confirmed the choice of nuclear propulsion for the new carrier. This decision aligns with the recommendations of the French Navy's general staff, given the significantly larger tonnage of the new ship compared to Charles de Gaulle, which demands greater power for operations.

The propulsion system will feature a new model of nuclear reactors, K-22, developed by Framatome Défense in collaboration with TechnicAtome, designed to deliver 220 to 230 megawatts, enabling the carrier to reach speeds of 30 knots and to operate advanced systems like electromagnetic catapults (EMALS) and directed energy weapons.

The new carrier is expected to implement the CATOBAR system (Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery), which has been a standard in French carriers since the 1960s.

The integration of electromagnetic catapults, which are significantly lighter than traditional steam catapults, will enhance operational flexibility and enable the launch of a wide range of aircraft, from drones to the new generation fighter jets.

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