Naval Air: February 16, 2004


France has confirmed that it will not build a second nuclear powered aircraft carrier, but will instead join with Britain to build a conventionally powered carrier. As the problems with France's nuclear powered carrier "Charles de Gaulle" piled up, it was rumored that France would not build a second ship of this class. Last year Britain announced that it was building two carriers, of roughly the same size and capabilities as the "Charles de Gaulle". Immediately there were rumors that France would dump its plans to build another "Charles de Gaulle" and instead join with Britain to build three carriers. That's what is being done. The three new carriers will not be identical, but the two British and one French ships will be very similar, and identical in many respects. Much of the machinery and electronic equipment will be identical. A French firm, Thales, has won the contract to design the new class of carriers. The two British carriers are expected to be in service by 2015. The French pitched the deal as an effort to build greater naval cooperation between the British and French fleets. The problems with the "Charles de Gaulle" were not mentioned. It was noted that 2004 marks the hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Entente Cordiale, a treaty of friendship between France and Britain that ended over a thousand years of hostility.


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