The images of France’s new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier will astound you

The new model will replace the country’s Charles de Gaulle ship.
Loukia Papadopoulos
France's PANG
France's PANG

Naval Group/Twitter 

Partially state-owned French shipbuilder Naval Group has released fresh renderings on Twitter of France’s future nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, designed to replace the country’s Charles de Gaulle ship.

A new generation aircraft carrier

The new images of what is presently known as the porte-avions de nouvelle génération (PANG), called a New Generation Aircraft Carrier in English, were showcased around the EuroNaval 2022 conference in Paris on Tuesday.

The new ship will weigh 75,000 tonne (82,673 tons) and will be 310m (1,017 ft) long and 85m (279 feet) at the widest point of the carrier deck.

It will boast two nuclear reactors, provided by TechnicAtome that will generate enough electricity for three shaft drives. This makes it almost the same size as larger US aircraft carriers that have four shaft drives.

The Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives, France’s atomic energy commission, will oversee the implementation and use of the reactors. These are extremely efficient and will only need to be refueled once every 10 years, allowing the ship to travel for long periods of time.

The new ship will have the capacity to carry about 32 new generation fighters, up to three E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes and several other unmanned aircraft. Its engineering and building will see Naval Group and the Chantiers de l’Atlantique join forces to create a new entity called MO Porte Avions.

The only issue that remains now is where to park the large ship. The current Naval Group dry dock used for the Charles de Gaulle is too small, as the PANG is bigger than the old ship by 159 feet in length and 68 feet in width.

Rumors have been circulating that the Chantiers de l’Atlantique has a dry dock in Saint Nazaire, on the west coast of France, which could comfortably house the PANG.

A better ship

The decision to replace the Charles de Gaulle with a newer, more advanced and perhaps more agile nuclear-powered ship was taken by French President Emmanuel Macron in December 2020.

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However, current designs of the PANG showcased may be further changed between now and 2025, when the design will be cemented, Olivier de Saint Julien, the director of MO Porte Avions, told Breaking Defense.

“The first sea trials are expected to take place in 2036, the ship delivered to the Navy in 2037 and operational in 2038 at which point the Charles de Gaulle can retire,” he said.

He added that the ship may require further adjustments once delivered to the Navy. “It’s going to be designed in such a way that it can be modernized incrementally and the combat system can evolve. We don’t know today what kind of technology will be available in 15 years time so we need to allow for new technology to be able to be easily fitted,” he added.

Among the crew of 2,000 that will be on board the PANG, there will also be some aircraft engineers “as the Navy wants to be able to undertake the sorts of repairs on-board that normally would be done by the manufacturer.”

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