France’s president Emmanuel Macron has officially announced the launch of the country’s next-generation aircraft carrier program during his visit to the nuclear power specialist Framatome on December 8.
Dubbed PANG (Porte Avion Nouvelle Generation – next-generation aircraft carrier in English), the program will see a completely new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier designed and built by 2038, when the FS Charles de Gaulle expected to decommission.
According to first official information, PANG will be almost twice as big as its predecessor, in terms of displacement. For comparison, the current fleet flagship measures 261 meters in length and displaces over 42,000 tons at full load. The next-generation carrier will measure 300 meters in length (just 32 meters shy of the US Nimitz-class) and displace 75,000 tons. The UK’s recently-built Queen Elizabeth-class conventionally-powered aircraft carriers are 280 meters long and displace 65,000 tons.
It is interesting to note that just like the new generation of Ford-class carriers that are being built for the US Navy, PANG will feature an electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS), as opposed to the steam catapults found on the FS Charles de Gaulle.
During his speech at the Framatome plant, Emanuel Macron said that portions of the new carrier’s nuclear power plant would be manufactured at the site.
France’s main shipbuilder Naval Group welcomed the launch of studies for the replacement of the Charles de Gaulle noting that it would work with Chantiers de l’Atlantique, TechnicAtome and Dassault Aviation on the project.
“We are delighted with the announcement by the President of the French Republic, which will enable France to maintain its position in the very restricted circle of major powers holding a nuclear aircraft carrier,” Pierre Eric Pommellet, Chairman and CEO of Naval Group said.
Naval Group and its industrial partners will now be in charge of carrying out a two-year preliminary design study, which will be followed by detailed design studies that will finally precede the development and construction of the aircraft carrier. First steel for the ship is expected to be cut sometime in 2025, with sea trials tentatively set for 2036.
The new aircraft carrier will be the largest warship ever built in France.