French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle starts mid-life refit

Photo: French Navy

French Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle has entered dry dock in the Toulon navy base to start its mid life refit.

The undertaking will be led by DGA (French armament procurement agency), the French Navy’s Fleet Support Department and the aircraft carrier’s crew in collaboration with shipbuilder DCNS.

If all goes according to plans, the refit should be completed in 18 months, according to the French Navy.

FS Charles de Gaulle starts the overhaul after 41,000 performed sorties and sailing the equivalent of 30 trips around the world. The carrier also has three counter-Daesh deployments under its belt.

The ship will now be receiving a new combat system, improved IT networks and communications systems. Various changes to the sensors, early-warning radars, navigation radars, infrared sensors and optronic cameras are also on the list. The control room will also have to be refurbished to be able to house the SENIT combat management system.

FS Charles de Gaulle will also be adapted for the new carrier air wing, with a transition to “all-Rafale” operations after the modernised Super Etendard were withdrawn from service in March 2016. Deck-landing aid installations and target-motion systems will be replaced and upgraded in this process.

Other tasks will include nuclear reactors inspection and fuel replacement; shaft line inspections and catapult maintenance. The machinery will be inspected and the air conditioning systems and galley will be renovated.

According to the French Navy, more than 160 companies will participate in this undertaking, representing 4 million hours of work and nearly 200,000 scheduled tasks in nearly 100 trades. Work done on the carrier by its sailors will correspond to 25% of the overall works, the navy added.