- France is about to begin the development of a new aircraft carrier, provisionally known as PANG.
- The new ship will be larger than the existing ship Charles de Gaulle but carry less crew.
- PANG will transport the next generation of combat aircraft and unmanned combat drones to France.
French President Emmanuel Macron is ready to authorize the development of his country’s new generation aircraft carrier. The carrier, known as PANG, will replace Charles de Gaulle as well as serve as a platform for the future French air combat aircraft.
In the late 1980s, France began construction of the first of what was to be two aircraft carriers, replacing the aircraft carriers then in service. Foch and Clemenceau. It started a 14 year old odyssey development which was sometimes slowed down due to the lack of funds, defective propellers, an insufficiently long cockpit and insufficient radiation shielding for the nuclear reactor. Although delivered to the fleet in 2000, the ship did not reach its full potential before a refit in 2007. Meanwhile, a second nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, known as PA2, was canceled due to lack of funds.
Charles de Gaulle is the only French aircraft carrier. de Gaulle is nuclear powered, 856 feet long and displaces 38,000 tonnes. Carrier is less than half the size of the U.S. Navy Nimitz and Ford– class carriers but can still transport up to 30 to 40 aircraft. The main strike power of the aircraft carrier is provided by the Rafale-M multifunction fighter. A feature that places the de Gaulle in front of Chinese and even British aircraft carriers, it is possible to fly E-2C Hawkeye early warning and control airplanes. E-2C greatly increases the usefulness of de Gaullefighters, detecting enemies, then guiding the Rafales to intercept them beyond the surface radar range.
France wants the new carrier to be ready to take over by 2038, when CDG will be 40 years old. The PANG will be a 70,000-ton vessel, almost twice the size of the oldest carrier by weight. Selon Naval News it will also likely use nuclear propulsion. France has territories and interests around the world and a nuclear powered ship could go to crisis without stopping to refuel. A nuclear reactor could also allow France to install on-board laser weapons and other high-energy weapons, either as part of the initial weapons package, or en route during a future upgrade .
Key technology on board CDG is likely to be manufactured in the United States. France would be very interested in the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) used on the aircraft carrier USS Ford. EMALS has had more than its share of problems, but the French note that the system seems to be working much better now. The carrier can have three EMALS systems at Fordfour, allowing it to launch up to three devices in no time. As the main ally of the United States and close collaborator of the American navy in the field of aviation, France will probably obtain this system and all that it wants from the United States.
Naval News estimates that PANG will generally carry around 32 NGF fighters – France’s next generation fighter – and 2-3 Hawkeyes E-2D. A joint Spanish-German-French project, New generation hunter (NGF) is expected to replace the 1980s Rafale-M fighter on PANG. It will almost certainly be accompanied by on-board drones capable of reconnaissance, attack or in-flight refueling missions.
Source: Naval News
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