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Porte Avions

The history of the Navy's aircraft carriers coincides with the rise of naval aeronautics in the early 20th century. The first French aircraft carrier returned to operation in 1928 with the commissioning of the Béarn. However, as early as 1911, France acquired its first aircraft embarked with the transformation of the cruiser La Foudre into a seaplane carrier.

The first take-off of an offshore plane (a Curtiss biplane piloted by Eugene Ely) took place on an experimental basis in 1910 aboard the American cruiser Birmingham. In August 1912, the auxiliary cruiser Foudre was transformed into a seaplane carrier. At the beginning of the First World War, he used seaplanes used for reconnaissance. They were not really armed but could participate in the settings of the large artillery firing of the battleships.

It is the Second World War that demonstrated the tactical and strategic importance of the carrier. Until then, the naval flagship was the battleship. During the Battle of Midway in June 1942 (Pacific), the Americans, in a bad position from Pearl Harbor, succeeded in breaking the Japanese offensive with their 3 aircraft carriers (Enterprise, Yorktown and Hornet) sent four Japanese carriers to the bottom. It was the first major allied victory that marked the beginning of the Japanese ebb. From then on, the carrier became the centerpiece of the great navies. Naval aeronautics, that is to say the use of aircraft in support of boats, has proved its effectiveness.

In 1928, France acquires its first aircraft carrier Béarn. It has so far had 8 aircraft carriers. . Only the last three of them were made in France and designed from the outset as aircraft carriers.

French aircraft carriers:

  1. Bearn, 1928-1939. Battleship of 25,000 tons built in 1914 and converted into aircraft carriers in 1928, capable of accommodating 30 aircraft.
  2. Dixmude, 1947-1949. Ex British aircraft carrier Biter, aircraft carrier of 13,000 tons able to accommodate 16 aircraft.
  3. Lafayette, 1951-1962. Ex US aircraft carrier USS Langley built in 1943, building 11,000 tons loaned to France by the United States, accommodating 26 aircraft.
  4. Bois-Belleau, 1953-1959. Ex USS Bellau Wood aircraft carrier built in 1943, 11,000 ton building loaned to France by the United States, accommodating 26 aircraft.
  5. Arromanches, 1946-1978. Ex British building HMS Colossus built in 1944. Aircraft carrier of 14,000 tons capable of accommodating 26 aircraft ceded to France by the British.
  6. Clemenceau, 1961-1997. Aircraft carrier of 24,000 tons, capable of accommodating 36 aircraft. The first real aircraft carrier built in France (Brest).
  7. Foch, 1963-2000. Aircraft carrier of 24,000 tons capable of accommodating 36 aircraft, built in Saint Nazaire.
  8. Charles de Gaulle, 2001. Aircraft carrier of 37,000 tons (42,000 tons at full load) capable of accommodating 40 aircraft built in Brest.

The aircraft carrier and its carrier group respond perfectly to the increased need for projection emerging from the various post-Cold War crises. The threat is no longer in Central Europe but in more or less remote areas where our major interests or fundamental principles of international law are at stake. More than in engagements on the high seas, navies are now involved in operations Coastal areas from the sea , to support ground operations. The prospect of such operations is not marginal in a world where 80% of the world's population lives within 400 km of the coast.

The aircraft carrier and its carrier group are tools for both power projection and force projection. The aircraft carrier, thanks to its on-board aviation able to strike in the depth of the earth with a very high precision, is this tool of projection of power . It is an instrument that is all the more flexible in that it operates from the high seas and can free itself from certain diplomatic constraints.

The carrier group also contributes to the support of force projection operations . The aircraft carrier's aviation provides the air superiority necessary for the success of an amphibious operation, Then the support and air protection of the deployed forces. Landing craft transports are capable of transporting large quantities of heavy equipment and men for ground handling to a port or, thanks to their inundated shipping and transport helicopters, and Combat, to an opposing beach.

More than in the past, military action is "the continuation of politics by other means", that is to say, where air strikes and action on the ground are a phase of a diplomatic process that frames the conflict, after the failure of negotiations or the non-implementation of UN resolutions. During the military phase, the political authorities strictly control the means employed, decide on the intensification of strikes and even, as in Kosovo, the type of targets that can be struck, depending on the phases of the intervention.

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Page last modified: 09-04-2017 16:01:37 ZULU