This Is Our First-Ever Look At France’s Huge New Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier


The Naval Group of France has revealed a scale model of the nuclear-powered, all-electric new-generation aircraft carrier that will replace the nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle in 2038.

The 75,000-ton ship, known for the time being as the PANG (for Porte Avion Nouvelle Génération), will be 310m (1,017 ft) long and 85m (279 feet) broad at the widest point of the carrier deck.

The two nuclear reactors supplied by TechnicAtome will power three shaft drives. The CEA (Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives) atomic energy commission will oversee the execution and coordination of the reactors, which will only need to be refueled once every ten years.

PANG will transport about 32 new generation fighters, up to three E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes, and various unmanned aircraft. It will be built by MO Porte Avions, a joint venture formed in March 2021 by Naval Group and the Chantiers de l’Atlantique (MO stands for Maîtrise d’Oeuvre, meaning execution and coordination).

The director, Olivier de Saint Julien, indicated during the Euronaval display on Tuesday in Le Bourget, Paris, that the Chantiers de l’Atlantique has a dry dock large enough on France’s west coast in Saint Nazaire to build the PANG.

According to Col. Philippe, the PANG program director for the DGA procurement agency, some design considerations were made to ensure that French and US aircraft carriers remain interoperable.

Philippe emphasized that France and the US are “the only two navies in the world operating nuclear aircraft carriers with catapults and arresters,” so interoperability is essential.

In December, 2020President Emmanuel Macron decided to replace the Charles de Gaulle with another nuclear-powered ship. Saint Julien explained that the design unveiled today may be altered between now and 2025 when it will be finalized.

“The ship is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2037 and operational in 2038, at which point the Charles de Gaulle can retire,” he stated.

The Navy won’t necessarily get everything they want on board the ship when it is delivered, at least not right away.

“It’s going to be designed so that it can be modernized incrementally, and the combat system can evolve,” Saint Julien said.

“We don’t know today what kind of technology will be available in 15 years, so we need to allow for new technology to be able to be easily fitted.”

A part of the 2,000-person crew of PANG will be aviation engineers because “the Navy wants to be able to do the types of maintenance that would ordinarily be done by the manufacturer on board.”


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