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Second Aircraft Carrier / Deuxième Porte-Avions / DPA / PA2

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on 11 March 2019 endorsed some of the key European reform ideas put forward by her successor to the Christian Democratic Union leadership Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, including a joint EU aircraft carrier. Kramp-Karrenbauer, who succeeded Merkel as leader of the CDU in December 2018, etched out her vision in a response to French President Emmanuel Macron's proposals for European Union reform. Having spoken in favor of greater European defense cooperation, Merkel said that a joint aircraft carrier would be a good idea in future, even if it was not the bloc's first priority.

In an op-ed published in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Kramp-Karrenbauer noted that Germany and France were already working together on a future European combat aircraft and said that "the next step could be to start on the symbolic project of building a common European aircraft carrier to give shape to the role of the European Union as a global force for security and peace.” Merkel, who had previously spoken in favor of greater European defence cooperation, said that a joint aircraft carrier would be a good idea in the future, but added that the bloc does "have to do other things as a priority." "It's right and good that we have such equipment on the European side, and I'm happy to work on it," Merkel said.

“The 'European aircraft carrier' is such a ridiculous and meaningless proposal (don't get me wrong, I can imagine some French politicians having the same 'idea') that it does not even deserve a rebuke,” Bruno Tertrais, deputy director at the Paris-based Fondation pour la Recherce Strategique, wrote in an email to Defense News. Ulrike Franke, a London-based defense analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations, struck a similar chord in a Monday post on Twitter: “I am all for strengthening European capabilities, yes please. … But this appears … not particularly well thought through...?”

According to The UK Defence Journal, it was unclear whether the German leader meant a jointly operated ship or for a common class of vessels. However, the latter seemed the least likely variant, as it would be more expensive. The website Defense World suggested that a joint European vessel could be one of the proposals to replace the Charles de Gaulle.

France launched an 18-month study, at a total cost of $45 million, to find a replacement after 2030 for its current aircraft carrier the Charles de Gaulle. A decision on the future carrier, which is expected to serve beyond 2080, is to be made after 2025. France launched initial studies on a future aircraft carrier to replace the Charles de Gaulle after 2035. Announcing the launch of an 18-month, 40 million euro study phase for the new aircraft carrier on 23 October 2018 at the Euronaval trade show, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said that this will determine “what we want, and how we want, for our future aircraft carrier." While she did not make any reference to a second carrier, Parly had previously stated, in a Sept. 9 radio interview, that “it is now that we have to launch initial studies for a new carrier….but we will leave open the question of whether we will need one or two.... “The decision will be taken in the next defense program law, after 2025,” kicking the question into the next decade.

Speaking at the Salon Euronaval at Le Bourget, October 23, 2018 Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly said : "We must also prepare, resolutely, for the future of our carrier group. It is a strategic capability of our national defense and the Navy. An efficient and effective capacity. An ability that we must maintain and renew. Today, the Charles de Gaulle finishes up its repairs. From the first quarter of 2019, he will be able to leave on an operational mission with his entire air carrier group. I wanted to salute here all the state and industrial actors who took part in this exceptional project, one of the most important carried out in recent years in our country. Thanks to the work of all, the Charles de Gaulle still has beautiful years ahead of him, well beyond 2030.

"But, the Charles de Gaulle will need a successor. In a world where only the immediate counts, it was perhaps more comfortable to postpone this choice until later. It's not really my understanding of the role of policy makers. That's why I'm proud today, here at Le Bourget, at this Euronaval show, to officially launch the renewal program for our aircraft carrier. This stage one, which is launched today, is the study phase. It's about determining together what we want and how we want it for our future aircraft carrier.

"We give ourselves 18 months. 18 months to answer three questions.

"The first: what threats will he face? What missions for this future aircraft carrier? From these answers, we will be able to deduce the employment constraints, the needs in terms of combat systems and the necessary articulation with his escort.

"The second issue that we will discuss is the characteristics of our future aircraft carrier based on the state of the art in technology in 2030. We launched in cooperation with Germany, the aircraft of fight of the future, SCAF. The aircraft carrier will have to be able to accommodate it in all its capacities. The mode of propulsion, nuclear or conventional, will be examined. We will have to take into account, too, the future technological breakthroughs. I think, for example, of the revolution represented by electromagnetic catapults. In answering this question, we will always have to keep an eye on the cooperation we could carry out. Cooperation for the ship itself, perhaps, but also cooperation to allow the new generation aircraft carrier to accommodate aircraft from our European partners. This aircraft carrier can serve until the last decades of the 21st century, we can not afford to design it with a narrow horizon.

"The last question we will answer is that of innovation. Do not limit our horizon or our imagination. We must not repeat identically, but seek the most ingenious, useful and effective capabilities. Let's do this aircraft carrier, a true advanced base of our navy, spur of our innovation.

"We will have to be realistic but ambitious. And thanks to these in-depth, imaginative and rigorous studies, we will be able to establish the architecture of this future aircraft carrier and lay the foundations for the industrial organization needed to build it on time and at cost. Through these studies, we will be able to determine, as well, the number of units that France and Europe will eventually need. Do not put the cart before the horse, the time is up to design, not yet to determine how many ships are needed. We have 18 months in front of us. 18 exciting and exciting months. The studies will be completed in 2020, I will follow them with the greatest attention. And then, we will be able to propose choices to the President of the Republic."

In the white Paper published in October 2008, the air carrier component was reaffirmed - an aircraft carrier with its on-board air group, and a decision on a second aircraft carrier in 2011-2012. The "Defence and National Security" White Paper of 2013 made no mention of a second aircraft carrier.

As the Charles de Gaulle was immobilized for 18 months at Toulon for maintenance, some wondered whether France needed a second aircraft carrier?

Francois Fillon (LR), candidate of the right and center, was more categorical: "The carrier, accompanied by the carrier group, is an instrument of projection of forces and power", underlined the former Prime Minister in a Interview at Values ??Actuelles in November 2016. "However, we must be lucid: we can not afford to build a second one," he added. "On the other hand, we will have to launch studies in the early 2020s to build the successor of Charles-de-Gaulle, which will replace him from the years 2035."

Marine Le Pen (FN) announced in December 2016 that she would order a second aircraft carrier if elected president. She would even baptize it "Le Richelieu". "The order of a second aircraft carrier (a strategic necessity of first order) will be one of the first major projects that I will launch," she wrote on her blog.

In January 2017, LR Deputy of Val d'Oise, Axel Poniatowski, vice-chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly told L'Opinion why France needed a second aircraft carrier. "France should have a second aircraft carrier. For a long time, aircraft carriers were only a complement to land-based aviation. But today, political instability and the proliferation of terrorism weaken the ground deployment of our forces, hence the advantage of having a carrier group available 100% of the time. With only Charles-de-Gaulle, this is only 60%. In addition to the United States, all major powers have or are looking to acquire a second aircraft carrier (China, India, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, Japan). If the cost would be 400 to 500 million euros a year for ten years, it would also be a tremendous showcase for our defense industry."

Among the other candidates in the presidential election, only Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (Standing France) defended this idea. Arnaud Montebourg, one of the seven left primary candidates, proposed to raise the Defense budget to 2% of GDP by the end of the next legislature. And also, more original, for the acceleration of the program of the second aircraft carrier.

Less clear on the issue, Benoît Hamon (PS) did not rule out to build a second aircraft carrier if elected. At a press conference devoted to defense issues on 6 January 2017, Benoît Hamon said that Charles de Gaulle's putting the question into question put the question. "If there are not two carriers, there is no permanence at sea," the Socialist candidate suggested. "But it is indisputable that given the price of a second PA, this issue needs to be assessed in light of our budgetary efforts. I do not dismiss it, but I do not hold it either."

The question "is not absurd" and "may arise", estimated Minister of Defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, on 23 Feburary 2017. "Because it is clear that in terms of power, capacity for intervention and the maritime issue of the 21st century, this is a question that can be asked," the minister continued. "It is not part of the current military programming law. There will be another military programming law tomorrow and maybe the question will be asked at that time. It is not for me to answer now."





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