Revamped aircraft carrier prepares for deployment
ABOARD CHARLES DE GAULLE: Dressed in a khaki uniform and helmet, a pilot jumps into a Rafale fighter jet under the watchful gaze of France’s armed forces minister, Florence Parly, as the deck of Charles de Gaulle prepares for its first activity in 18 months.
Europe’s only nuclearpowered aircraft carrier, the 260m vessel, which carries 1700 personnel and whose tonnage is equal to four Eiffel Towers, will be deployed in February in the Indian Ocean.
Its midlife upgrade, costing ¤1.3 billion ($NZ2.2 billion), largely focused on modernising facilities for landing and guiding aircraft.
Faced with the ‘‘profound change in the naval strategic panorama’’, including the expansionist aims of Beijing in the South China Sea, France considers the aircraft carrier of incomparable ‘‘tactical and political value’’, Admiral Christophe Prazuck, chief of staff of the French navy, said. — Reuters
Aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.