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Watch France’s New Aircraft Aircraft Carrier Hit the Simulated High Seas

A screenshot depicting France's new aircraft carrier design. Image Credit: Video screenshot.

France has big navy plans: Last month, the French Marine Nationale (Navy) released a three-and-a-half-minute-long video that highlighted some of the planned features of its still-in-development future aircraft carrier.

“From 2038, it will succeed Charles de Gaulle. Larger, more powerful, equipped with nuclear propulsion, it will allow the (French Navy) to retain its ability to project air-sea power by adapting to future challenges. Journey into the future to discover the PA-NG,” the official @MarineNationale account announced on Twitter. The accompanying video has been seen nearly 725,000 times since it was first posted on April 12.

At this point, it has been speculated that the Porte Avion Nouvelle Generation (PANG) carrier would be far larger and more powerful than the French Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. According to the details shared in the video, the future warship will be 305 meters long with a displacement of 75,000 tonnes. Previous reports had suggested the PANG would be of similar size to the Charles de Gaulle, which displaces 42,500 tonnes (full load).

The future PANG carrier will be equipped with two K22 nuclear reactors, anti-missile systems, surveillance radar and an electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS). It was last December that the U.S. State Department approved a possible foreign military sale of EMALS, advanced arresting gear (AAG), and related equipment to France for use on the future carrier.

While larger in size, the PANG’s airwing will reportedly consist of 30 new generation fighter (NGF) jets – which wouldn’t actually be an increase from the fighter airwing of the Charles de Gaulle. However, it is unclear what other aircraft the future carrier could have embarked with its airwing.

Replacing Charles de Gaulle

The French Navy’s current flagship aircraft carrier will remain in service until 2040, yet the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) initiated the next-generation aircraft carrier program was initiated in 2018, when the French defense ministry launched a study phase to look into its replacement.

The French Navy’s only currently active aircraft carrier, named for France’s former President Charles de Gaulle, has been in service since May 2001. Two decades may not be considered especially long for carriers, but Charles de Gaulle has had more than its fair share of problems during its time in service—much like its political namesake—including a troubled fifteen-year construction period, which began in 1989.

It was meant to be the first of two carriers – to replace the aging Foch and Clemenceau – but the project was delayed by the economic recession of the early 1990s and work was suspended a total of four times over the next decade. When the carrier was finally commissioned in the spring of 2001, it was five years behind schedule.

However, despite its setbacks, it has been seen as a highly capable warship that France clearly wants. It is also the only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to serve outside the U.S. Navy and is the only carrier in the world outside of the U.S. Navy to use catapults to launch aircraft and consequently carries conventional CATOBAR-capable jets including as the Dassault Rafale and the E-2C Hawkeye.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.