France is planning to build a new 300 metre long, 75,000 tonne nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

The new nuclear powered aircraft carrier will be able to carry over 30 aircraft and will be in service by 2038.

French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly said:

“The Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier should be withdrawn from service in 2038. Its successor will be operational that same year. And from a strategic and industrial point of view? Building nuclear propulsion for our next aircraft carrier is crucial for France to maintain the unique skills of its nuclear industry.

Image

We are acting in the long term: over the next few years we will build the nuclear propulsion systems for our SSBNs and SSNs. If our engineers did not design on-board nuclear boilers for decades, we would weaken this know-how and our sovereignty. What are its characteristics? Around 75,000 tonnes, around 300m long, a speed of 27 knots (around 50 km/h), two K22 boiler rooms, electromagnetic catapults, around thirty SCAF fighters and 2,000 sailors.”

5 3 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
171 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andy P

I shall say this… only once……

2000 matelots…. seems a bit of a big crew compared to the QE’s, even if they are nuc’s.

Jonathan

Yes that’s a lot more crew than a QE. Cost cost cost.

Mr Bell

I thought 2000 was reasonably low. Nuclear propulsion and emals adds to crew requirements. QE class tops out at 1650 with full air complement onboard so not significantly more for French carrier.
Big question is are they going to get 2? I guess if they are getting an all singing and dancing nuclear carrier at 75,000 tons that they will only have 1 in service. Duplicating availability and resilience issues they have had with CharlesDe Gaulle

Andy P

Hadn’t heard the 1650 figure, I’d seen a lot less (think it was 11-1200) but that might not have been a maximum right enough. I ‘get’ the nuc and cats & traps idea and I wouldn’t have been broken hearted if the UK had gone down that route although it would have seriously limited the places they could have visited/stored at (and therefore decreased the jollies for the boys (and girls)). I have to say though, you have to ask, if you’re building 65/75k ton carriers like us and the French, why not go that extra 25k and get something… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Andy P
Spyinthesky

Well we couldn’t due to the limits of the shipyard and more so the river. French might not have such limitations. On another point from above I read about their proposals some months back with a similar design shown but nuclear power had not been fixed as it now seems to be, but only one was ever mentioned so assume it will be a single ship class. I wonder, being bigger if it will no longer be limited to a Rafale size aircraft which might free up their Franco German next gen fighter somewhat and avoid that particular area of… Read more »

Andy P

The UK carriers were assembled in the ‘big’ dock at Rosyth, Rosyth used to have a nuclear licence until (I think) 31Mar 2003 so could jump through the hoops again to get one if it was going to be financially viable. The only barrier then (unless the hull depth was seriously deeper) would be the same issue of de-stepping the masts to get it under the Forth Bridge. None of this stuff is impossible, it potentially wouldn’t have to have been built in Rosyth, just saying I (personally) wouldn’t have been against a nuclear powered version. I totally get that… Read more »

Darren

The Hull depth is around the same as the US carriers and ultimate draft is a little under 40′, which will put them at around 82,000 tons.

TrevorH

Even if 75000, then claiming for 30 planes seems low. And the claimed size is virtually the same as the QE. And they would be developing nuclear power plants for Subs anyway.

Pete

30 is the volume of fast jets. They will also have 3 x hawkeye early warning fixed wing and several anti sub helo’s etc. At least 40 + aircraft probably.

Hermes

Build to operate at the size of the wing of the current CDG
Max: 32 Rafales (Curent max viewed on the CDG) + 2 Hawkeye + 5 Heli (Caïman && HIL)

Why 30kt bigger ?
Because the NGF is going to be more like 30t (where the Rafale => 24t), and because they want to give more space to the crew.

Delabatte

I will add that the CDG was more built for 24 A/C in “normal” condition with durable support. I guess with the PANG the number of 32 will be with sustainable support.. and nobody talk about the maximum aircraft the ship will be able to store. It’s not decided for now maybe

Mr Bell

Steel is cheap. By selecting a larger hull there are huge technical advantages. 1) battle damage resilience. Having a larger hull means the percentage of hull damaged or breached is reduced for single or double battle damage. 2) wide margin, this is a naval architecture term meaning the hull has 10-15% additional top weight capacity to allow future upgrades in terms of weaponry and sensors 3) crew comfort and habitation standards. More and more to retain skilled marines you need to provide comfortable berths, ideally single berths with enough “heads” so toileting and showering facilities are not shared by hundreds… Read more »

Supportive Bloke

Also more space gives much more efficiency to the choreography on deck and in the hangar.

You don’t have to move multiple birds to get one bird on the lift.

So force generation rates improve.

Mr Bell

Andy our 2x QE class carriers cost a combined 7 billion. For 2 ships . A single Ford Class carrier cost $15 billion. Staggeringly expensive, albeit for first in class with new EMALS catapults and lifts.
I think for their price the QE carriers are an exceptionally cost effective “large” carrier design.
I think the new French carrier will cost something approaching €8-10 billion Euros, similar cost to both QEs.
At that price I can only see France getting a single carrier and repeating the same issues with persistence and resilience as CDG.

RichardB

As usual the French are again going for the prestige rather than than the pragmatic option. At one point c.2004 there was serious consideration that the two QE hulls (plus a third for the French Navy) would be built in France because they could do that so much cheaper than all the UK build options. The French are throwing away that industrial and economic advantage for the gloire of [possibly] having the largest and only nuclear powered aircraft carrier outside the USN in 20 years time.

Jonathan

Hi Mr Bell

i think the 1650 is total accommodation including 250 marines. The crew is only around 650-700 and I assume around the same for the air wing.

Pacman27

I have read somewhere the standing crew is close to 900 now and an air wing of 600-800+ dependent upon load.

so the 1600-1800 figure is probably realistic for a single QEC

Rudeboy1

Correct.
If we put a full 36 F-35B and associated Merlin onboard QE we’d be around 1800 personnel, add in the additional personnel for EMALS and AAG and you get to c2000.

Mr Bell

Yes agree QE is listed by RN and detailed in year book as well as Warships IFR to have total habitation capacity around 1650. With a full airwing, marines detachment and command staff for a taskforce. The French carrier will have the same requirements.

Lordtemplar

The question of whether 2 will be built will be addresses at a later date. We will have to wait for next LPM in 2025 to find out. (Loi de Programmation Militaire). Historically France has had a 2 carrier policy which was ignored during the post cold war optimism and financial crisis (similar to UK not replacing its carriers for a decade) However the geopolitcial situation has changed significantly since the 90s. Many key French politicians and military officials are pushing for 2. We will just have to wait and see.

Levi Goldsteinberg

With all the financial strain on the French military budget already necessitating huge capability gaps it seems hard to imagine that in the near future the budget will be so large that it can accommodate two large carrier builds, at least not without making even larger cuts elsewhere in the military

Rudeboy1

Looking at the probable OSD for the Triomphant Class I think it would be reasonable to say the chance of a 2nd carrier of this class is close to zero.

4thwatch

You will need a navy 33% larger than at present. Good luck.
Maybe we can lend you the Name FS Hood.

Sean

More crew ➡️ Larger OPEX cost
More automation ➡️ Larger CAPEX cost

As any organisation will tell you, you want to minimise the OPEX as they eat into your budget, year after year after year. CAPEX is a one off hit.

Sounds like the only innovation on this carrier is the electromagnetic catapults. I wonder if they’re hoping the Americans will share the technology.

Noth

Yes they’ll be buying the EMALS+AAG systems, which apparently means the budget spent is already at 3B € with the rest of the deck gear and the Hawkeyes in the E-2D variant.

Rudeboy1

EMALS and AAG is around $750m up front. The cost for the UK included rebuild costs for PoW which were colossal due to the state of the build. E-2D is not in this budget as its being ordered for CdG. Only 3 though…with 2 routinely embarked. That doesn’t come close to 24-7 coverage, the USN deploys 5 per carrier.

expat

Yep, if only more people understood that basic OPEX/CAPEX analysis.

Mr Bell

The Americans have already stated to NATO and other partners (India) that they would share their EMALS system. Probably in the hope of reducing unit price down. The big problem with EMALS currently is that it is not yet modular. Any tinkering needed involves shutting entire system down to allow maintenace/ fixing meaning it cannot be used. Once fixed, resetting and calibrating takes apparently 6 to 7 hours for a skilled crew. This is a big worry for the USN and why Ford class is a huge vessel with 3 launchers allowing some redundancy. The proposed French design might struggle… Read more »

Sean

The catapults are a real Achilles heel of a conventional carrier. If they go down, the carrier group loses its air-cover.
with the QE class, even if the ramp is destroyed, the F35Bs can still launch vertically but with a reduced weapons load.

Even if the catapults haven’t failed due to technical issues or enemy action, the weather can render them inoperable. During the Falklands before the sinking of Belgrano, the Argentinian carrier couldn’t launch its aircraft due to the weather and sea state. Whereas Harriers could still take off and land from the British ski-jump carriers.

Supportive Bloke

Agreed and this is always lost in the cat’n’traps arguments that VSTOL can operate in much higher sea states than catapult.

Jonathan

and in a worst case if it’s sustained damage or is not able to make way its still able to recover aircraft.

lee1

I agree, VSTOL also gives a higher rate of launch and recovery so a higher rate of operations can be sustained. I would have liked the carriers to have also had cats for support aircraft though and to enable a different mix of aircraft. Even if the cat capability was built in but without the actual hardware it would have been good, as it could then be added at a later date. But hey, we have what we have and they are still great assets to have and have large advantages even if there are a few areas where they… Read more »

Watcherzero

The big US carriers have a crew of 6,000!

Andy P

A very valid point Watcherzero, while I guess most of the extra numbers are WAFU’s rather than Stokers, its a lot of extra bodies so extra wages. Can’t argue with you.

Ian M.

1500 chefs…………………………….

Mr Bell

Funny! I had to check. Nimitz class has 138-150 catering crew. That’s a lot!

Rudeboy1

If you add on the deck crew necessary to run EMALS and AAG 24/7 you’ll get around 150 crew straight away. Add that on to the QE’s true crew figure which is more like 1800 with 30+ aircraft onboard and you get around c2000 crew.

The Big Man

The difference in crew size will also be down to the use of cats and traps. Pretty labour intensive.

Jonathan

I’m pretty sure the USN has traditionally gone down the road of resisting The level of automation to reduce crewing that you see in European warships. They can afford to over crew compared to European navies due to both funding and a larger population to recruit from. They like it this way mainly in regards to the added damage control capability, automated systems can’t hammer wooden plugs into random holes.

Andrew

Single island…. nuclear powered….. she’s going to be expensive…..
so to be in service in 2038, when will construction need to start?

Mr Bell

Now. It’s already begun. Chortle. Just joking. Remember took 15+ years from laying down to finally getting CDG into service.

Spyinthesky

Yeah they took some years reworking it to get it within acceptable radiation levels that had changed during building. I did read the details can’t rennet how many years late it was but not far short of a decade I think in the end either the various problems they encountered. No wonder they don’t want to lose the skills in light of all that.

Mr Bell

After they’d built CDG they realised fight deck wasnt long enough so had to cut into her hull and add length to the hull. Delayed commissioning by at least 6 months and added €1 billion to her build cost. Hopefully France wont repeat that issue.

Lordtemplar

That is absolutely false. The reason the landing part of the deck needed a 4.5 meter extension was because France later decided to buy the Hawkeye E2 plane which was not originally planned. Modifications had to be made for this late decision.
The cost was 5m Francs (about £500k) or about 0.025% of the total cost of the ship

TrevorH

I think it’s been announced now and early because there is a presidential election coming!!

Noth

There’s another 17 months before that comes up. The decision has been pushed back by 3 presidents, Macron really couldn’t delay any further without risking the CDG being unoperable and no new carrier available. It’s been a political football for far too long in presidential campaigns.

John Clark

Indeed, hence all of Macrons Brexit hand wringing machinations, god save us from political posturing!

There’s a good reason he’s the loudest voice in Europe re Brexit, (apart from the slight Napoleon complex) the Germans are sat in the middle, trying to broker a deal with their industry leaning hard on them and keeping up the pressure!

lee1

Its not like the UK is not doing its own large scale political posturing…

4th watch

I reckon its under powered. Emals and future laser weaponry will suck up huge amounts. The US carriers have twice the power..

Lordtemplar

Lol the K22 is expected to deliver 220MW to 250 MW. There will be 2 reactors minimum so 440MW to 500MW total. The French Navy has included a margin to allow future upgrades such as laser weapon upgrades etc… and has been in close contact with General Atomics with regards to EMALS, so fully aware of power requirements. By your reasonning The QE class which produces about 200 MW total must be shockingly underpowered, (that is even less than the current CDG which has 2xK15 reactors producing a total of 300 MW)

4thwatch

You must check your facts. if the K22 develops 250MW I’ll eat cake.
The QE has already been logged over 30kn and the POW a touch quicker still.

Leigh

Good for them, always like the French and their recent and current attitude to overseas operations, and taking it to the scum bags around the world. Good allies militarily, pain in the ass politically. However I see our fishing fleet may need to upgrade……

Mr Bell

Hms Thunderchild. Ramming boats as well as X craft. Heavily armed trawlers with guns and NSM

whlgrubber

hmm.
any of our OPVs got net cutting gear?

John Clark

hmm.
any of our OPVs got net cutting gear? …. Very good!

I’ve some very good carpet Scissors the RN can buy off me under UOR, I will even paint them grey!

lee1

Unless you are an MP or Friend of an MP you are not going to be getting any contract I am afraid… 😉

Jonathan

France wants what France wants, but you have to think maybe vanity has overcome common sense and learning around the failings of present french carrier capability. They are only going for one, even though they have suffered really big capability gaps. cats and traps, they have really struggled keeping their air wing carrier qualified, having to beg slots on American carriers when their golden egg is in refit. This also limits the total size of their air wing, they can’t and never will be able to surge capability. when you look at the difference with the U.K. programme it’s chalk… Read more »

Challenger

Well said and i completely agree! Some of it may be inadvertent but we’re going to end up with a very potent spectrum of capabilities, lower running costs and a lot more flexibility in terms of support and training than France manages with the CDG.

If 138 F35 is a frivolous pipe-dream lets just hope we don’t fall at the final hurdle by not at least getting 70 into service and keeping the manpower pool healthy to give us sufficient military muscle if/when it’s called for!

Mr Bell

Agree 48 frontline ordered now but an additional 36-48 needed to maintain ability to operate both carriers and provide a RAF vstol capability. If we get a 48+ 36/48 more then any spare funding could provide the RAF with what they want= the F35A variant.

John Clark

Absolutely Jonathan, well said, our 2 QE class will offer flexibility and availability far in excess of a single operational French CTOL carrier when they are fully funded and equipped. This is going to be an extremely expensive understanding and I hope they manage to pull it off, looks rather like an expensive what if though…. CdG hasn’t been a great success, so let’s hope lessons are learnt with the new design. It will certainly mean France and the UK will have tremendous operational Carrier capability between them and perhaps mean a deployed two carrier European battle ground in a… Read more »

Lordtemplar

Why was CDG not a success? The only problem was the propellor issue during sea trials. The delays were all due to political reasons in a post cold war and financial crisis environment.
The CDG has delivered as promissed and continues to do so. The only complaint is that there is only 1. Hopefully with recent geopolitical context 2 PANG will be built, but we will have to wait for next LPM in 2025 to find out.

John Clark

I believe ongoing technical issues, her smaller than ideal displacement, driven by the decision to go Nuclear and the only option being their SSBN power plants.

The biggest issue is the fact she is a class of 1, looks like that same mistake is about to be made again, unless we make our Franco / UK Carrier availability alliance work of course…

Lordtemplar

FYI each K15 reactor produces 150 MW. There are 2 K15 reactors so 300 MW on CDG. The new K22 is estimated at 220 MW to 250 MW each for the PANG. The QE class does not even produce that many MW, closer to 200 MW
And the decision of a second carrier has not been decided yet. It will be the subject of the next LPM in 2025.

4th watch

I cant see you are right. They are saying 27kn and the CDG is 26kn.

John Clark

We don’t need to get the same wind over the decks as the CdG though, so not as critical for our two substantially larger carriers.

It will be very interesting to see if it happens, the artists impressions look like an impressive ship.

I wouldn’t hod my breath if I were you though …

Lordtemplar

Lol the decision whether or not 2 carriers will be built will be decided in the next LPM in 2025. FYI France has had a policy of 2 carriers which was ignored during the post cold war optimism about peace in the world and the financial crisis. Since then things have changed dramatically on the geopolitical scene (pacific, eastern med, ukraine etc..). Many key politicians from both parties are pushing for 2 carriers, as well as the military. The jury is still out. Funny you talk about huge capability gap, when the UK had 0 carriers for a decade! And… Read more »

John Clark

Well the UK has a more rounded Navy, suited to worldwide Blue Water operations (cuts have damaged this no doubt) and the French Navy is generally Mediterranean focused, in its ethos and warship design.

Royal Navy ships are specifically designed to take on the fury of the wild North Atlantic, our SSN’s are considerably larger and more capable …..

Re the French proposed Carrier design, it’s hard to see it happening in this guide, it’s simply going to be too expensive.

That said, it’s not a race, together as allies, we make a formidable team with complimentary capabilities.

Lordtemplar

Lol France has many territrories across the globe and is a blue water navy and operates around the globe. The PANG is happening, already 1 billion euro have been committed in current LPM (Loi de Programmation Militaire) the gov has provisioned an annual budget 225m Euro for next 20 years on PANG. The decision to build a second is due to be taken in the next LPM in 2025. The UK still does not have a fully operational carrier (no awacs, handful of F35, limited resupply with only RFA Victoria etc…) The Astute is no more capable than the brand… Read more »

John Clark

We are allies, it’s not a competition!

Like I said, complimentary capabilities.

I would disagree re Astute, it’s an excellent boat, it’s got a potentially far higher weapons load out, due to it’s greater size too.

The main operating theatre for France is still the Mediterranean and it’s equipment is generally designed for this more permissive environment, it’s one of the reasons we left Horizon to build T45.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Clark
4th watch

If you are French why call yourself Lordtemplar. No offence intended.

Lordtemplar

Templars were a french catholic/military order.

lee1

The first Astute was launched in 2007! There were definitely smartphones available at that time…

Delabatte

Hi John
I don’t think you can tell that french navy is focused on mediterranean area.. in fact their main naval base is in front of this sea (although most of sub are from Brest) but they are very very (very) active in Atlantic and Indian ocean (Pacific less but still present).. with this way of thinking we can say that the RN is focused on the Northern sea.. the MN and the RN are both Blue Water Navy quiet similar even with some differents capabilities

John Clark

Fair point … We do make a powerful combined force, that’s for sure.

I would love to see an Anglo/French Carrier battle group sail one day, with two powerful carriers at its heart, wouldn’t that be something….👍

Paul T

Id certainly Second that – mutually beneficial to Both Countries.

Delabatte

I hope to see a common exercise of the 2 CSG in 2021!!

Mr Bell

Agree Jonathon. I think this proposed design will easily cost more than both QE class carriers and will likely come out around €10 billion.

Delabatte

Obviously it will be more costly to build the PANG. I guess they learned many lessons about designs with the CDG. And maybe they took a safe way with the K22 which seems to be relatively simple to produce from the K15 (but I m not nuclear expert 😀 )

McZ

It’s quite easy to calculate. When the Barracuda-class was conceived in 1998, the estimates where €3.9bn. When they ordered the boats, cost had risen to €7.9bn. Adjusted cost are now at €9.9bn, and counting.

Challenger

A case of anything you can do we can do better!

30 SCAF on such a large vessel seems a bit light too, although sure that’ll be the standard compliment rather than the maximum air-group.

Watcherzero

The press release did specify these 30 aircraft would be larger than the Rafale. The Rafale currently sits midway between the F18 and the F16. Which suggests (and also taking the concept images into account) the FCAS would be sized something akin to a modern Blenheim. With the Tempest being similarly large we seem to be seeing a move away from the fighter-bomber or multirole aircraft of the jet age and a return of the light bomber/heavy fighter of WW2 and before.

Daveyb

There are two fundamental reasons why aircraft are getting larger. The first, to maintain radar stealth you need to carry weapons internally. Clearly this takes up volume, like how big and deep to make the bays to accommodate not only the current weapons but also those planned for the future? Therefore the aircraft has to have a much larger fuselage. The second reason is fuel or more specifically fuel load. There is a drive to reduce the amount of fuel required from air to air tanking. This is because with a reduced fuel load the tanker has to operate closer… Read more »

Lordtemplar

Around 30 NGF (which will be much bigger than 10 ton Rafale, current estimates are around 20 tons), but also accompanying drones which are part of the SCAF program. Drones are a major reason for EMALS choice over steam, since drone’s structure are typically more fragile.

Mr Bell

Will be interesting to see what elements of Frances involvement in QE design are taken over to new carrier design. Potentially a large amount of uk intellectual property and ideas taken over to new French carrier

SD67

I wonder if this announcement is as much about the design phase of the SCAF project as about the carrier itself.
French rep : “The aircraft must be carrier capable!”
German rep : “ But you don’t actually have a carrier they could fit on”
French rep : “give me five minutes will I fire up photoshop…”

McZ

I hear, there’s a lot of infighting about specs in the background of SCAF. Not easy to mold a low flying two-seat fighter bomber requirement with a naval multi role fighter and an air dominance platform, I guess?

dan

Looks like a smaller version of the USN Ford class CVN.

Paul T

Indeed – my thoughts were a sort of ‘Beautified’ version of the Ford Class.

Paul42

Not sure about ‘beautified, but there is a very striking resemblance to the GRF. Bearing in mind that she is the very latest in carrier design, that not surprising.

George Royce

If we invest more in nuclear salt reactors, we could not only make nuclear power cheaper and safer, but we could use it in our own ships too. The French went their own way when it came to nuclear, so they can do this. We should ditch trident when it expires and be ready to field our own nuclear arsenal, stations and ships.

Spyinthesky

Haven’t you heard we are producing our first commercial fusion reactor by 2040. Our next carriers will be fusion powered, now that will be oneupmanship. Seriously though, as I and more importantly the naval experts are having doubts about the viability of Carriers during this decade what sort of viability will they have by 2040? Even the US is having to rethink how it uses its carriers right now with the threat of ballistic hypersonic missiles and is equally exploring the unsinkable island carrier concept again as an alternative or at least an addition to floating ones, swings and roundabouts… Read more »

Andy P

The ‘hypersonic missile’ is the next round of the war between offence and defence. I guess if you can have ‘hypersonic offence’ then you’ll end up with ‘hypersonic defence’. There’s no absolutes in this, same as all the arms races that have gone before.

Saying that, are there any working ones yet ??? All the countries bullshit about how ‘ace’ their gear is anyway.

George Royce

I think Perseus is a hypersonic missile program betweek UK and FR

ETH

Perseus was a design concept. The program itself is called ‘Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon’ (FC/ASW). It is yet to be decided what the requirements are for that missile, though the rumour is the UK wants something stealthy and subsonic whereas France wants something fast.

John Clark

It’s one thing aiming a hypersonic missile at at a large static target Andy, but the viability of actually hitting a moving ship in a large Ocean remains to be seen..

A tiny nav error at these speeds will likely mean a rather large miss….

The means of lobbing a hypersonic missile in the general direction is here in respect of new propulsion technology, but I doubt pin point accuracy is at these insane speeds. Unless they intend them to be a ‘near enough’ nuclear sledge hammer of course!

Mr Bell

Hypersonics will be defeated by laser technology, ECM/ Jamming and false radar returns as well as rail guns. As you state any advance in offensive power is matched by improved defensive systems

George Royce

True but the salt reactor technology has already shown to work and can be scaled. It’s also very safe compared to water cooled. We should be looking into a complany like Moltex. And 2040 is too far away, China and Russia are doing things that will come of age before then. Carriers are indeed under threat from Hypersonics. This is something I have thought about. Maybe we should make a hunter-killer surface fleet, equipped with hypersonics and land-attack cruisemissiles to replace carriers? Maybe the old battleship formations will need to come back in a more modern way. Could be nice… Read more »

Julian

Yes George. I’m really excited by the potential of Molten Salt reactors. So elegant and compact if they live up to the design promises and with the Moltex design at least modularity is a core design feature so the power capacity can be scaled up/down depending on how many modules a plant has. You probably know already that Moltex Energy has now signed the memorandum of understanding with NB Power to build its first reactor in New Brunswick Canada so if all goes well we they are entering the next phase of development with their design – build it to… Read more »

George Royce

I really hope it’s not 10 years for the first reactor to show dividends. Everything that has potential moves slowly, but this technology is really from the 60s. It’s already shown to work with a salt reactor running for many weeks. I think the UK GOV should be funding this more. We have the opportunity to be fully energy self-reliant.
I agree with everything you wrote.

Daveyb

The unsinkable carrier is also bit of an “easy target”. For starters its island location is fixed and its airfields will be well documented from overflying surveillance satellites. All recent conflicts have shown how vulnerable airfields and especially hangared aircraft are to attack. The Chinese DF21 can quite easily target a static airfield as much as it can a ship. The carrier at least makes your opponent work for a living trying to track it down! It may be a case that the F35B will be the most usable aircraft come a conflict, as it could operate from a dispersed… Read more »

Steve Martin

I was a bit taken aback by the fusion reactor announcement the other day. They asked for bids from local communities to have it located in their town/city. Bit of a weird way of going about it. If we can lick it, we’re sorted, I just can’t see it being viable anytime soon 🙁

geoff

Morning. My wife monopolises the desktop in the evening so by the time I get here you guys have said most of what needs saying 🙂
To echo some of your thoughts-magnificent concept and the one island design makes for, in my opinion, a really good looking ship, but it is still only one which means France could have a vital capability gap just when she desperately needs it. Also,they HAD to make it slightly bigger than Perfidious Albion’s QE Class. btw I still don’t know whether the QE is 65 000 or 7 2000-I have seen both quoted.

Daniel

Good morning. Agree regarding the downsides of a single-ship class, but it would certainly be a capable ship, at least by today’s standards. For the QE Class, my understanding is that it displaces 65,000 metric tonnes or the equivalent of 72,000 US imperial tons or 64,000 real imperial tons. Being French, the above press release is naturally in metric tonnes.

geoff

Thanks for the clarification Daniel.

Mr Bell

Yes but we have 2= 130,000 tons whereas I cant see France being able to afford 2 of these vessels which will in all likelihood cost more than €10 billion each.

Daniel

Oh yes of course Mr Bell, I would rather we have 2 QE class than a single one of these CdG replacements, or even 3 if your projected cost becomes reality. Really I don’t think the benefits of nuclear power begin to outweigh the drawbacks for surface vessels until the budget and political will exists to buid them in large numbers (i.e. 10). Even then I think there are plenty of arguments to be had over whether a larger number of conventionally powered vessels would be preferable.

Captain P Wash

Projected Cost ? The thing that bugs me about Nuclear Power is the costs involved, not just in the build but through life and Decommissioning. As mentioned previously, we currently have a whole bunch of N boats tied up waiting for safe disposal, including the four Polaris Boats. The Cost’s are enormous and on going, not to mention the constant worry of possible contamination. I’d like to see the difference in whole life costs between Nuclear and conventional powered Carriers.

Ian

The implication seems to be that the French don’t (or shortly won’t) have a sufficient ‘drum beat’ of nuclear boat production to maintain the required industrial base. Building a nuclear powered carrier will presumably go some way to alleviating that- in which case they may be accepting higher through-life costs for that reason alone.

Delabatte

That’s correct. The main factor is that the futur sub programm is still far away so in order to maintain nuclears engeenering skills the French have to plan a nuclear aircraft carrier. But by the way, with an CATOBAR/EMALS the nuclear choice is not a bad choice. It is really a different concept that the QEC

Rudeboy1

UK MoD ran the figures and came out at Nuclear Power being at least 80%+ more expensive over conventional in lifetime costs, and that was with a very conservative view on future costs for both.
Decommissioning is easier now as modern nuc’s are designed to be removed, the first generation put little thought into it. But you can’t escape the other costs.

Captain P Wash

Yes, exactly. i believe we went in the right direction in more ways than one.

Supportive Bloke

I agree.

We have two functioning large carriers that any navy should be proud of.

Let us be thankful for that.

If they had been nuclear and EMALS the costs would have blown out and they would probably never have been ordered.

Lordtemplar

FYI the K22 nuclear reactors will be the same as the next gen SSBN to replace Triomphant class and in development for launch in mid 2030s. France also uses civilian grade nuclear fuel for its carrier and subs. It also has an extensive park of nuclear power plants and associated infrastructre. So nuclear choice needs to be taken in context.

Daveyb

I freely admit, I’m no ship designer. But can someone answer this question: Why does the ship have what looks like so much wasted deck space, when compared to the QE class? For example, on the French design abaft the island, why doesn’t the edge run straight all the way back to the stern. Or on the port side, why is there a narrow point right next to the angled deck? I get that the two sides need to be balanced about the centre line. But when you look at the QE class these is so much more usable deck… Read more »

julian1

It’s french, it’s all about style and look!

geoff

The Island looks like a cross between a Turban and a Wedding cake!

Paul T

To me the Stern Looks very Strange, at the Waterline Similar to a Luxury Yacht.

Ron5

The QE’s have only one ski jump so by your logic they would have an even lower sortie rate 😀

DaveyB

No, the sortie rates much higher, as there’s less faffing about hooking up. The jets just line up near the stern and go for it, with a few seconds gap between each aircraft.

Earlier in the year they did a scramble with 6 jets. But they didn’t release the time to height or the length of time it took to get all six jets off the deck.

Ron5

I wasn’t being serious but now i am, two cats on the French carrier won’t gate their sortie rate. That’s just a bad guess on your part.

Andy

I actually wonder if the French will actually ever build it .
The French defence budget is under huge pressure and the French naval logistics are in a complete shambles due to lack of funds .
The CDG has spent more time in port than on patrol and the costs of running it drains the defence budget.
3 Presidents before Macon have said versions of what he has just announced and stil no concrete plans have emerged.

Levi Goldsteinberg

I wouldn’t bet on it, or if they do it’ll be shared across the EU as a multinational ship. Even if it is built, it’ll be the Marine Nationale’s golden goose that has piss poor availability and does nothing to improve France’s power projection capability given the awful state of their naval logistics

Delabatte

Their current carrier have a availability of 57% which is standard for nuclear carrier.. see for the US! And reading the list of operations the ship was part I’m not sure at all the CdG didn’t serve well. Ok they are french but you have to be fairplay 😉

Mr Bell

I actually agree. I think when in service the CDG does do a good job as a light strike carrier. She doesnt have the sheer firepower of a Nimitz or Ford class but does provide an interesting and useful capability. I think when CDG goes into refit or maintenance periods it is easily noticed as she is a single ship and as a result carrier capability not available. Hence why any move to place into deep reserve or sell off a QE class has to be resisted. We’ve bought the ships now lets enjoy the capability and use them for… Read more »

Delabatte

Exactly.
The RN and the MN have differrents experiences and developped differents way of work. Obviously the Falkland campaign oriented the RN to F35B and QEC and will bring lot of flexibility. The MN have now the best experience of CATOBAR after the USN so the PANG is logical for them (1 or 2 we don’t now yet).

Hermes

1. The defense budget is increased every year since 3 years. And actually the replacement of the nuclear detterrence is the most costly (SSN, SSBN, Nuclear Cruise Missile, new warhead for the M51)
2. “The CDG has spent more time in port than on patrol and the costs of running it drains the defence budget.”
Like all CVN.
3. The last program was about the “PA2” (CV2) to operate WITH the CDG.
The current program is the replacement of the CDG, it’s pretty different.

Lordtemplar

FYI it is happening. It is already budgetted for in current LPM (Loi de Programmation Militaire). The fate of a second carrier will decided in next LPM in 2025. French defense budget is not in shambles and has seen steady rise in last few years and is planned to do so for next few years. The CDG has averaged around 60% operational rate which is better than Nimitz carriers at 50%. French logistics are fine and no one has ever complained of any lack. The CDG does not need to resupplied as often with nuclear reactors. France currently has Durance… Read more »

Mr Bell

CDG rarely leaves the Med. Hence close to home ports and logistic support only needed is 1 ship of 20,000 tons to keep her on station. She gets replenished. Logistic ship returns to a port restocks and comes back out to replenish again. That concept works for the Med but not for a longer deployment. Hence why France needs American support for longer range deployments and why they are courting Australia for support of a planned deployment to Pacific and Indian oceans. I think this is fine and why we have allies but at least as and when UK gets… Read more »

Lordtemplar

What utter nonesense. Since extensive mid life refit finished in Sept 2018, it has been regularly outside the Med.
CDG in 2019 was deployed from march to july 2019 during Mission Clemenceau in Singapour, Bengal sea on exercise with Australia, India, Japan and US during “La Perousse” exercises
In early 2020 during Mission Foch, the CDG was in the Atlantic and North Sea for “Frisian Resilience” exercise

Lordtemplar

FYI France has several Durance class resupply ships and 4 new Vulcano class resupply ships are currently being built, the first will be launched in 2022.

Levi Goldsteinberg

There are three Durance class. They are old, slow and very very small, meaning low capacity. That is not sufficient to sustain operations at even moderate distances.

The Vulcanos will trade Durance out like for like and then add one extra hull. It’s still far from enough.

Delabatte

Mr Bell, Lord Templar and Levi Hopefully a vessel doesn’t need to reach its homebase to resupply. For food, fuel and other stuff they use friendly shipyards. So: The French Durance class was able to resupply French Task Forces very well. They are really (really) old today by the way and not so big so the ship has to resupply the task force more often than a big one. Indeed the Vulcano design will improve that (a lot). People send carrier where they need to. With Lybia and Syria (and now Turkey) obviously the MN send its best in the… Read more »

Levi Goldsteinberg

Rather than splashing the cash on a great big boondoogle, a pragmatic country would invest in more than one carrier to have round the calendar carrier coverage and would invest substantially in logistics for the accompanying battlegroup which are in awful shape in the Marine Nationale. Truly logistically impotent.

This is clearly a vanity project

Delabatte

Officialy, nobody in the French Gov said that there will be just one carrier. For now it is just a start for the (long) project. A second one could occur 3-4 years after this first

Mr Bell

Agree I think they might get 2 but it is going to be a big push at a cost of at least €10 billion each. The difficulty will be what does France sacrifice to build and operate 2 nuclear powered carriers?
Lack of logistics and also air defence destroyers for screening is an issue for France.
Although soon they will have 2 Horizon class and 2 air defence FREMM versions so not terrible.

Lordtemplar

Where did you get 10 billion per ship? Current estimates are 4.5 billion euro for the first PANG. In fact it is budgetted at 225m euro annually for next 20 years according to latest French LPM (loi de Programmation Militaire). Maybe there will be cost overuns (quite normal tbh) but 10 billion is just made up figure at this stage. I think you confuse with Ford class carrier. Or maybe you have a source? What lack of logistics? It is nuclear powered and does not need as many resupply missions as conventional powered ships. Secondly there are 3 Durance class… Read more »

Mr Bell

Lord Templar. I have several friends and colleagues who are naval architects. They all have said with the size of ship and complexity of the programme, meaning lean manning, nuclear propulsion and EMALS the construction cost will hit around €10 billion Euros.
If France can get it done for the proposed budget I will be seriously impressed.

Lordtemplar

So your answer is you know a guy. Lol
The fact is that the estimate is 4.5 billion euro and that is according to the French government and its suppliers. I expect delays and cost increases, but you are way off and so are your “friends”

Mr Bell

We shall see Lord . I think my ” friends” are likely to be more accurate then you think. I’m sticking to the estimate of €10 billion per ship. Lets revisit this conversation in 2038 when the new ship is in service and see who was right. A team of British naval architects or you.

Lordtemplar

Let’s get the facts straight, it is not me saying €4.5 billion it is the french government and Naval Group! No question they know more about this than your “friends”

Mr Bell

Lord Templar. My point is well made. The French government and Naval Group release the initial projected cost for PANG just like HMG did for the 2 QE class carriers (initially both estimated to cost £3.5 billions: 1.75 billion each)
I think the initial estimate is pie in the sky thinking, as do a team of naval architects. If PANG comes in on budget I will be impressed but a degree of realism is needed. A ship of that specification is likely to cost around €10 billion.

Julian

Yes. Obviously 2 big CATOBAR nuclear carriers would be great (issues of getting into some ports not withstanding) but given the choice of 2 x QEC carriers vs 1 x bigger & more expensive carrier I definitely think the UK’s 2x option was/is the way to go to avoid the total loss of fixed wing carrier capability during refit. It will be interesting to see if France does go for 2. If it doesn’t then it perpetuates the CdG issues but if it does then what sort of sacrifices would need to be made elsewhere in the defence budget to… Read more »

Delabatte

That will be probably detailed in the next Defense Programmation (I guess in 2023 for them)

Hermes

QE (STOVL) vs PANG (CATOBAR)

You are clearly not in the same category in operation. Especially with the current 12 F35 on a QE…

Captain P Wash

5 RAF F35’s.

Ron5

so how many Rafales does the CdeG routinely carry?

Lordtemplar

24 to 30 Rafale usually, a couple of Hawkeye and a mix of NH90, Dauphin, Panthere and sometimes Caracal helis.

Ron5

I asked what the routine load was. Not the maximum.

Delabatte

24 so

Lordtemplar

No need to be snarky, max loadout is 36 Rafale. As i said it is routinely between 24 and 30 Rafale.

McZ

The QE class is built, active and underway, while PANG is still pie in the sky, and will come into service in 2038 at best; so, yes, another category. If we want to be brutally honest… the French nuclear industry has not delivered a civilian reactor in France for 20 years, when and if Flamanville ever becomes operational. Having their single new build costing €19.1bn according to latest news, of which two-thirds are capital cost, is a dire glimpse of reality. There are – to my knowledge – over 30 civilian reactors to be phased out until 2030. The rest… Read more »

Mr Bell

Naval News has just broadcast further details on youtube of the design.
Definetly 2 EMALS launchers, but also strenuous reiteration of the design being bigger than the UK QE class carriers.

Supportive Bloke

Naturally it “assss to be biiiiigggggerrrr than a QEC for the diiniiitteee of France”

You have to read that in the voice of Charles de Gaulle to get the full effect.

Plain silly really going down the one upmanship route as the QEC is perfectly big enough for any conceivable usage. The hangar, flat top and lifts are huge.

PTattersall

We’ve got 2 new carriers

PTattersall

A few changes in French government in the next 10 years will down scale this project to nothing like .

Darren

France is neither Soveriegn or even Independent. Even if it does take no notice of and circumnavigates many of these eu empire rules.

Geoff

2038 ? Riiight…..
And whats that on the deck ? Navalised SCAF ?

SD67

How much more would it really cost to upgrade this to Ford class size? Length of “around 300 metres” vs 337 metres for a Ford. If France are going to go down the Nuclear route for political and strategic reasons the cost is already bedded in.