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France's next-generation aircraft carrier will be nuclear-powered, says Macron

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  • France's next-generation aircraft carrier will be nuclear-powered, says Macron

    France's next-generation aircraft carrier will be nuclear-powered, says Macron

    Tue, December 8, 2020, 11:49 AM EST
    PARIS (Reuters) - France's next-generation aircraft carrier will be nuclear-powered and replace the national fleet's flagship warship, the Charles de Gaulle, in 2038, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

    The 11th carrier-vessel in the French Navy's will be equipped with the new electromagnetic aircraft launch system developed by U.S. company General Atomics, French officials said.

    The carrier will be 300 metres (984 ft) long and have a deadweight of 75,000 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.

    France's military had initially lent towards a ship with conventional propulsion, but together with Macron later opted 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 during a visit to a nuclear sector components maker.

    France is continental Europe's only nuclear power. Britain is a nuclear power too, though its relationship with the European Union -- from trade to security -- once it leaves the EU's orbit on Jan. 1 remains uncertain.

    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 ($6.05 billion).

    Three other Western aircraft carriers have been built since the Charles de Gaulle was first deployed. The U.S. Navy's Gerald R. Ford and America, and the British Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth, which cost about 3.1 billion pounds ($4.03 billion).

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  • #2
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    French media hail this as the first piece - cast last week - to be forged for the new aircraft carrier. Mostly because it is being presented as that by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces.

    It's of course not a piece for the carrier that is only planned to be finished 15 years from now. The above piece is a demonstrator for a component of the nuclear boiler rooms, cast in order for the planned setup that only exists on paper to be physically tested. The nuclear reactors of PANG are planned to be a significantly larger full redesign, hence this part of the design process. For scale, that piece - a tank flange of sorts - weighs 270 tons.

    The first regular components for PANG are planned to start production in 2025, the hull will be laid down in 2029.

    Naval Group current illustration for PANG:

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    The aircraft on deck look kinda funny because there's no visualization for FCAS yet. Although one would hope that by the time FCAS rolls around in the mid-2040s the - in principle - then 80-year-old E-2 design for those Hawkeyes would have been replaced as well.


    • #3
      I am trying to the NGF supposed to be manned?
      “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
      Mark Twain


      • #4
        Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
        I am trying to the NGF supposed to be manned?
        Manned-Unmanned Teaming. A manned heavy strike platform escorted by unmanned loyal wingmen in the form of a modular swarm of mission-dependent socalled Remote Carriers in different sizes.

        Weight for FCAS was assumed to be F-35C-sized (30 tons) for calculations for the carrier. Remote Carrier mockups so far are in reality single-use missiles (swarm of up to 18 carried by strike aircraft envisioned so far) or small-fighter-sized UCAVs (deployed from ground/carrier or dropped multiple at a time into the air by A400M transports). Those large Remote Carriers are presumably what those mini-aircraft lined up next to the catapults in the picture are standing in for,
        Last edited by kato; 14 Jun 21,, 17:41.


        • #5
          Ahh...that makes sense.

          “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
          Mark Twain


          • #6

            Presentation video for "why France needs an aircraft carrier and why it needs a new one" basically from the French Military Procurement Agency DGA

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            SCAF/FCAS system early visualization, NGF and two remote carrier types. Note relative size. For scale the NGF at the top should be about 18m in length with a 14m wingspan.

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            Planned interoperability with allied carriers and their future aircraft : "CMV-22B Osprey", "MQ-25 Stingray", "F-35C Lockheed-Martin"


            • #7
              Perhaps interesting to some... France carried out a power projection exercise without using a carrier last week.

              The exercise is called HEIFARA, and trains a mission of deploying a combat force from metropolitan France over 17,000 km to support ALPACI in the overseas territory of French Polynesia (i.e. Tahiti).

              As part of it a combat flight of three Rafale F3R (one two-seater, two single-seaters) and a transport flight of two A400M Atlas and two A330MRTT Phenix were deployed. The transport flight included 30 tons of material carried. A third A400M moved in some people as a preparatory precursor mission, and a single RC-135FR spotted in Tahiti may have been involved in that as well.

              The target of the mission was to perform a raid on contested airspace by the two tactical transport Atlas carrying 30 tons of material, with the Rafales providing escort and performing a strike mission in support of the raid. The two Phenix performed air-to-air refueling during the flight, carried a company-sized expeditionary ground support element for the other aircraft and during the raid one of them provided a datalink relay for reachback to a command center in Lyon, France.

              Given that in previous test series that datalink was used to transmit live video (!) from ground forces relayed via a fighter on recce oversight, via a A330 via satcom to a command center you might see where that part isn't quite as unimportant as it may sound.

              After the initial raid the group landed and within 24 hours engaged in 40 high-intensity sorties over the next five days, with the Rafales mostly serving to conduct reconnaissance, escort both the A400M on their missions and to assist other blue forces (of the FAPF) such as helicopters of the French Navy. Couple ground attacks too. One of the A400M apparently also trained in a maritime SAR role (they have a procedure for that with the type, involving embarking observer teams, very-low-altitude loitering, and high-precision dropping of buoys, inflatable boats and such), and there were real logistics missions moving supplies and a engineer group to two nearby islands.

              Teaser video from the French Air and Space Force:

              Detailed videos, mostly from Tahiti, can be found here. While most may look a bit boring to some, there's some interesting stuff too. Mostly the cockpit shots.

              The flight to Tahiti was done in two legs btw. The first one took them nonstop about 10,000 km via Iceland, Greenland and Canada to Travis Air Base in California in 12 hours - a new record flight duration for the Rafale, using seven inflight refuelings. Some rest for crews was accomodated there before the second leg took them the remaining 7,000 km to Tahiti. Including the layover and the initial raid the mission took 39 hours 8 minutes.

              After completing their mission on Tahiti the group proceeded to fly to Hawaii for WAKEA, a second exercise in which the Rafales are going up against F-22 since this sunday. The A400M will tag along, one of the MRTT will go home separately. The group will stay in Hawaii until early next week before flying to Langley near Washington DC to represent France in memorial celebrations for the 1781 meetup of US and French troops at White Plains to engage in the final campaign that would result in the British capitulation three months later.

              PS: HEIFARA is a test mission. The real thing is planned for 2023, and will project 20 Rafale over 20,000 km in 48 hours supported by 10 (!) A330 MRTT.
              Last edited by kato; 29 Jun 21,, 01:24.


              • #8
                That is an impressive example of power projection!

                Thanks for posting it,
                “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                Mark Twain


                • #9
                  For completion - Similar advertisement video for second part of that deployment, mission WAKEA in Hawaii (mostly showing... well, the skies over Hawaii). With a couple Raptors.