Launched in 2001, the Charles de Gaulle is the only French aircraft carrier. She is also the largest Western navy vessel and the only non US nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the world. It is worth mentioning the CDG is the only non US warship that can launch and recover FA-18 Hornets. She can embark up to 40 jets and has a crew of 1350 men including 600 personnel attached to its air wing.

The Charles de Gaulle was deployed facing Syria in September 2016 to engage ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The carrier has now made it back to France where it is being prepped for the second overhaul since it was first  launched, leaving the French Navy without an aircraft carrier for the next 18 months (Project PA2, was shelved in 2013)

Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle

The CDG is 14 years old. This is its mid-life overhaul. Both nuclear reactors are going to be refuelled (it needs to be done every 6 years or so). They’ll clean up the hull, swap its DRBJ11-B radar for a Thales Smart-S Mk2. All sensors will be replaced for more modern ones with the addition of Infra Red sensors and optronic systems.  The navigation and communication suites alongside the Fire Control System will also be replaced. Finally, Both steam catapults are going to be completely renovated.

As for its air wing, the last Super Etendard Modernisés (SEM) are about to be phased out for Rafale Marine.

Rafale M and SEM
Rafale M and SEM

It’s going to take up to 2000 people 18 months to complete the job. The aim is to maintain the Charles de Gaulle’s status as the most powerful naval vessel in Western Europe and keep it in service up until 2041.

Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle





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