Second Aircraft Carrier / Deuxième Porte-Avions / DPA / PA2
The draft budget for 2012 envisages the preparation of the next major stop of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. The second major technical stop the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, in 2016-2017, requires provision already long-term supply, hence the mention in the draft budget law for 2012, and which is found in the following years.
France has lacked the capacity to ensure long-distance air coverage during the Charles-de-Gaulle’s maintenance cycles or during other periods when the carrier is not available for active duty (approximately 35% of the time). The use of two aicraft carriers guarantees a permanence presence in a zone of conflict withough interfering with rotations or training. Two aircraft carriers are necessary to ensure the operational permanence of the air and sea group which makes it possible the political authority to have a capacity sovereign and always available of projection of power starting from the sea. With the "Charles de Gaulle", France has such a capacity during as well as possible 65% of time. For the periods of programmed maintenance or in the event of unavailability of the " Charles de Gaulle ", the second aircraft carrier ensures the permanence of the capacities of projection of power long distance starting from the sea and the control of the air-sea field. The placement of two aircraft carriers guarantees the permanence of the action on the zone of engagement.
Although sometimes described a a sister ship to the "Charles de Gaulle", the second aircraft carrier will in fact be considerably larger, with a larger landing deck and hangar. It will also incoporate ammunition stores and munition preparation areas adapted to the need for the operations being conducted, with heavily charged configurations, adpated fuel storage volumes, aeronautic workshops, and areas specifically tasked with the stockpiling of aeronautical materials in support of the vessel's aerial group.
In March 2006, the France and the United Kingdom made a decisive step in deciding to continue joint definition of their future aircraft carrier programs studies. Since then, the teams of French and British, as well State side than on the industrial side, worked actively to obtain the greatest commonality of design, while respecting the operational needs of both national navies. At the end of July 2006, a review of design to ensure the proper conduct of this work. By the end of 2006, the industry was to submit a proposal to the Ministry of defence technical and commercial engaging, to exploit the commonality of definition implementation by the France and Britain to opt for solutions the more interesting economically. The notification of the contract was to intervene before the end of the year 2007.
In April 2008 French Defence Minister Herve Morin cast doubt over plans for a second aircraft carrier, citing a cash crunch, and said a decision would be taken soon. Further doubts were cast on the project on 21 June 2008 when French President Nicholas Sarkozy decided to pull out of the Franco-British project. Sarkozy stated that a final decision on the future of French participation in the Project would be taken in 2011 or 2012. British plans for two aircraft carriers went ahead as planned despite the French withdrawal.
In June 2008 President Nicolas Sarkozy presented the "The French White Paper on Defence and National Security" intended to adapt the country's forces to evolving threats — the biggest review of France's defense posture in 14 years. The main operational and political value to France of an aircraft carrier lies in the freedom of action it gives to our armed forces, and in particular in the possibilities it affords the political authorities in the “asymmetric” conflicts that characterises the current period. The credibility of this capability also depends on its permanent availability. Yet the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle is currently available for service only 65% of the time, due to its heavy maintenance schedule which includes a major 18-month refit every seven years. This lengthy period under repair is one of the main factors that has prompted consideration of a possible second aircraft carrier to achieve 100% carrier group availability.
After due consideration, a decision was postponed for the following reasons: "The imbalance that such an option would bring to the overall configuration of priorities set out in the National Security strategy; the construction of a second aircraft carrier could jeopardise investment deemed essential, in fields such as force protection, intelligence, and preparing for the future; The high risk of such a programme crowding out other major programmes; Construction lead times, which already make it unlikely that a second aircraft carrier would be available by the time the Charles-de-Gaulle goes in for major overhaul in the middle of the next decade; The economic conditions which have altered since the 2003 decision in favour of a conventionally-powered aircraft carrier; further studies are now required to assess the pros and cons of conventional versus nuclear propulsion.
In the period ahead, and without prejudice to the decision to be taken around 2011-2012, the emphasis will be placed in the first instance on the European aeronaval co-operation initiative, based on the Franco-British co-operation programme launched in 2008 and open to other partners. In the second instance, new emphasis will be placed on means of striking from a safe distance using shipborne cruise missiles, which will be developed and purchased. Lastly, France will seek agreement from its partners to French foreign bases serving as staging bases for our air force in the direction of and in potential theatres of operation."
As of 2009 it remained the case that the decision concerning the second aircraft carrier was to be made in 2011-2012. Studies of architecture, in particular on the propulsion, would continue until then. In parallel, the European naval interoperability initiative (l'initiative d'interopérabilité aéronavale européenne - IIAE) aims to increase the capacity of Europe's action in this area.
The "Declaration signed by the UK and France following the UK-France Summit 2010 in London on 2 November 2010" stated in part that "The UK has decided to install catapults and arresting gear to its future operational aircraft carrier. This will create opportunities for UK and French aircraft to operate off carriers from both countries. Building primarily on maritime task group co-operation around the French carrier Charles de Gaulle, the UK and France will aim to have, by the early 2020s, the ability to deploy a UK-French integrated carrier strike group incorporating assets owned by both countries. This will ensure that the Royal Navy and the French Navy will work in the closest co-ordination over the next generation."
The study commissioned in 2008 on a possible second aircraft carrier ended in autumn 2011. The British were, it seems, to give up their aircraft carriers Queen Elizabeth, currently being assembled at Rosyth. The question arose as to whether there were any synergies with the UK? In response to a question posed by parliamentarian Gilbert Le Bris of the the Committee on National Defence and the armed forces in the National Assembly, Admiral Guillaud, Chief of Defence Staff, stated on 21 October 2011 that a "second aircraft carrier would be welcome but the equation current budget does not allow it. Nous avons étudié la possibilité de recourir au Queen Elizabeth, assemblé en Écosse. We studied the possibility of using the Queen Elizabeth, assembled in Scotland. But it has two drawbacks: it was built in pieces by different shipyards, making its cost higher from 30 to 40% at the manufacturing site in French. In addition, it would require between one billion and one billion euros and a half to change, including adaptation of part of the hull to install catapults. Now the construction in France of an aircraft carrier full of the same model would cost between 3 and 3.5 billion euros. Leaving aside the question of its propulsion."
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