A second French NG nuclear aircraft carrier: why? And for how much?

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It is by an enthusiastic tweet that the Renaissance deputy for the second constituency of Finistère, Jean-Charles Larsonneur, announced yesterday evening the adoption by a transpartisan majority of an amendment to the Military Programming Law 2024-2030, so that an in-depth study can be carried out during the LPM, regarding the construction and implementation of a second new generation nuclear aircraft carrier, or PANG, while the first unit which must replace the PAN Charles de Gaulle in 2038.

Beyond the fact that Parliament played, in the design of this LPM, a much more visible and welcome role than in previous ones, the announcement of a formal study to give a clear vision of what could be done, but also what the construction and implementation of a second aircraft carrier would cost for France, is undoubtedly a notable advance on a subject which, since Jacques Chirac, has continued to be postponed by successive presidents to the “next mandate”.

How much would a second next-generation nuclear aircraft carrier cost?

Of course, an aircraft carrier, especially a nuclear one, is expensive. Thus, the budget for the design and construction of the successor to the Charles de Gaulle PAN is officially set at around €5 to €6 billion, with some reports even reporting €8 billion. In addition, beyond the construction and equipment of the ship itself, it must be given an experienced crew, which moreover integrates a nuclear unit, as well as an effective escort and an air group sized to support it. exploit the potential.

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Thus, to implement the Charles de Gaulle, the French Navy has a crew of almost 2000 sailors, petty officers and officers on the ship, to which are added some 500 soldiers on board its escort made up of a sub nuclear attack marine, an anti-aircraft frigate, two anti-submarine frigates as well as a Fleet Replenishment Building (or BRF) in a classic deployment.

The air group consists of 2 of the 3 E-2C Hawkeye air surveillance planes, from 16 to 20 Rafale M out of the 40 in service within the 3 naval aeronautics flotillas, a few helicopters as well as the support of an Atlantic 2 maritime patrol aircraft, out of the twenty in service today. In total, therefore, the Naval Air Group is made up of 6 ships, 25 aircraft and 3500 soldiers, the equivalent of 3 Army regiments.

aircraft carrier charles de gaulle FREMM Military planning and plans | Defense Analysis | Fighter jets
The PAN Charles de Gaulle is generally accompanied by an anti-aircraft frigate, two anti-submarine frigates, a logistics building as well as a nuclear attack submarine and a patrol aircraft maritime

In fact, the announcement of the study which will be carried out during the next LPM has left many observers perplexed: will France have the means to finance the construction of the ship and its escort? Will the French Navy be able to equip the new ships and flotillas with the required personnel? Wouldn't there be better things to do with this amount than to create a second Naval Air Group?

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What advantages would a second nuclear aircraft carrier bring?

As is often the case, the questions, like the answers put forward, depend on the point of view taken by the person asking them, while the options are numerous, both from the budgetary and HR perspective, to answer them in the years to come, depending on the ambitions. displayed.

First of all, it is essential to clarify the interest, for France, of acquiring a second aircraft carrier. We will not return to the recurring dispute between experts for several years, and even decades, about the supposed new vulnerability of aircraft carriers to now hypersonic missiles.

As we have already shown, this vulnerability is neither new nor even greater than in past decades, even though aircraft carriers have played a decisive role in controlling the oceans and conflicts. since the Second World War.

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LOGO meta defense 70 Military planning and plans | Defense Analysis | Fighter aircraft

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