Second Aircraft Carrier - Background
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. The use of two aircraft carriers guarantees a permanence presence in a zone of conflict withough interfering with rotations or training.
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 was not available for active duty (approximately 35% of the time). With the "Charles de Gaulle" alone, France has such a capacity 65% of time, a situation which would have to be taken into account by the political and operational decision makers.
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. The transits for the changings as well as the activity of drive can also be carried out without limiting the operational capacities.
In 2015, the Charles-de-Gaulle would be taken out of service for an extensive maintenance overhaul. By beginning the construction of a second carrier in 2005/6, the French had hoped to take delivery by 2014, meaning the new ship was likely to be operational by the time the older vessel goes off line for repairs.
The new aero-naval group, scheduled for 2015, would be composed solely of the "Rafale" aircraft, equiped with fighting capabilities far superior to ones previously available. These aircraft require an aircraft carrier adapted to not only to them but also the the eventual mutations in embarked aviation capabilities in the foreseable future for the horizon 2050, specifically as far as the use of UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles) are concerned.
Although sometimes described a a sister ship to the "Charles de Gaulle", the second aircraft carrier would in fact be considerably larger, with a larger landing deck and hangar. It would 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. This results in a fully loaded displacement of 59,000 tons, versus 40,600 tons for the CDG.
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