During the Defense Council of September 23, 1980, President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing decided to provide the French Navy with two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers to enable it to replace the Foch and the Clemenceau in the early 1990s, at most late. Also, the construction of the first had to begin without delay.
But it was without counting on the political and economic risks… Because, finally, the order to start building the future “Charles de Gaulle” was signed in 1986 by President Mitterrand, who postponed the construction of the second to better days . Which did not come since his successor, Jacques Chirac, took the decision to cancel it… to put on track a project for a second aircraft carrier [PA2] with conventional propulsion, in the framework of cooperation with the United Kingdom. Project which was confirmed by Nicolas Sarkozy when he was a candidate for the presidency of the Republic… but which fell by the wayside when the White Paper on Defense and National Security was written [LBDSN] of 2008.
Result: as the Court of Auditors denounced in its 2014 annual report, the 214 million euros spent on preliminary studies for this PA2 were mainly used by the British to develop and build their two “Queen Elizabeth” type aircraft carriers. .
Be that as it may, the idea of returning to a format of two aircraft carriers has since been the subject of recurring debate. [comme d’ailleurs, sur certains bancs de l’Assemblée nationale, celle de l’utilité du porte-avions…]. In recent years, and as the next-generation aircraft carrier project [PANG] was launched, several parliamentary reports have gone in this direction, such as the one issued last October by the deputy Yannick Chenevard [Renaissance], rapporteur for opinion on Navy credits. In addition, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, did not rule it out.
“On the second aircraft carrier, […] it’s really one of the big pieces of an upcoming military programming law. So, yes, there will be a reflection [sur ce sujet]. And yes, it will be held with Parliament,” he said last July during a hearing at the National Assembly. And to add: This posts “the question of the carrier battle group as a whole and therefore it also reconnects with the timetable for the advancement of our Barracuda class for nuclear attack submarines. In short, it is a global whole, knowing that the principle of always having an aircraft carrier is recorded”.
However, the draft LPM 2024-30 currently examined by the deputies does not provide for the construction of a second new generation aircraft carrier… However, four amendments have been proposed in order to launch studies to “enlighten” a decision to this topic by 2028.
Submitted by MP Anna Pic [Socialistes et apparentés/Nupes]l’amendment no. 1367 first recalled that the French Navy was able to have, at one time, three aircraft carriers [le Foch, le Clemenceau et l’Arromanches, qui servait surtout à l’entraînement, avant d’être désarmé en 1974]. He also asked for studies on the “cost of a second PA-NG”, in order to achieve “economies of scale” and “really confirm France as a regional maritime power [sic] “. Only, it was not adopted during the meeting of May 25, Mr. Lecornu having asked for its withdrawal.
On the other hand, three other amendments [les n°1174, 1680 et 1685]tabled respectively by the deputies Jean-Charles Larsonneur [Horizon]Anne Genetet [Renaissance] and Fabien Laine [Modem] were adopted… even though they shared the same objective as that submitted by Ms. Pic.
“This amendment [le n°1174] aims to initiate studies with a view to accompanying the successor to the Charles de Gaulle with a sister ship. […] Several of the members of the Defense Committee are convinced of the usefulness of this power projection tool that is the aircraft carrier […]. For my part, I am convinced that, around 2040, […] we will need to ensure permanence at sea. It is important now to consider the means and the studies that should be devoted to it in order to give us the choice before 2028”, thus pleaded Mr. Larsonneur.
For Mrs. Genetet, the “question of the construction of a second aircraft carrier, which should be studied as long as research on the first aircraft carrier is at a stage allowing us to reduce costs, will necessarily arise. It would make sense, but it requires a large budget”. Also, she warned, it will be necessary to see “if the nation can bear the weight”.
Finally, Mr. Lainé considered that the “aircraft carrier is a fabulous power projection tool which we must be able to have at our disposal at all times”. Hence, according to him, the need to launch studies to obtain a second “before 2028, the deadline if we want to ensure our permanence at sea by 2040”.
The rapporteur for the LPM 2024-30 project, Jean-Michel Jacques, supported these three identical amendments, especially since he had also proposed a sub-amendment [n°1807] going in their direction.
#DirectAn #LPM Another nice collective victory for the ambition of our @MarineNationale : not only is the relevance of the PA-NG reaffirmed, but the studies are voted for the construction of a “sister-ship”! My amendment is adopted unanimously minus one vote. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/9YUgtYUmBN
— Jean-Charles Larsonneur (@JCLarsonneur) May 25, 2023
As for Mr. Lecornu, he gave a “favorable opinion on sub-amendment No. 1807 and identical amendments Nos. 1174, 1680 and 1685 thus subamended because they are the result of a commitment by [sa] part, requested by the majority in particular: that is to say, to be able to clarify future decisions”.
It remains to be seen what the senators will say about it… But it is likely that they will not reconsider these amendments… given that, in 2020, the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense had approved a report arguing in favor of the construction of two new aircraft carriers.
“The decision to build a second new generation aircraft carrier does not have to be taken within the framework of the current LPM but it should be for the following LPM [post-2025]. This decision would obviously have a cost, but it would make it possible to benefit from economies of scale on the cost of studies. These economies of scale are probably quite significant. They could be around 30% to 40% of the total cost [à confirmer par les études réalisées] “Had indeed explained the senators Olivier Cigolotti and Gilbert Roger.
If you want some motivation, then here is your way: Frases Positivas