While France’s decision to replace its existing nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, with a next-generation carrier will mitigate the obsolesce of its fleet, this will also mean that the project will account for about 20% of the country’s naval vessels procurement spend in the next ten years, according to data and analytics company GlobalData.
Sourabh Banik, Defense Analyst at GlobalData, commented: “France has joined an exclusive club of countries investing in modern aircraft carriers this decade. Other members include the US, China, India, South Korea and likely Russia. Aircraft carriers serve as a major power projection tool for countries that are looking to enforce influence beyond their territorial waters.
“France’s choice for nuclear propulsion for its next-generation aircraft carriers further cements its intent to retain and perhaps augment its blue-water operational capabilities, as the vessel’s refuelling needs will be rare and allows it to have a theoretically unlimited endurance at sea.”
Aircraft carriers significantly enhance blue-water operational capabilities of their host naval force by acting as a floating airbase, which can be parked very close to a conflict zone. Deployment of aircraft carriers at the backyard of an adversary nation allows the host navy to put pressure on the rival by enforcing air superiority and area denial tactics.
The unveiling of this aircraft carrier procurement program clearly indicates that the French Government intends to not compromise the country’s present position as a formidable naval power for several decades to come.
Banik continues: “Aircraft carriers will account for 11% of the worldwide investment on acquisitions of naval vessels over the next ten years, while registering a growth of 81% by value in 2030 as compared to the current year’s spending, according to GlobalData estimations. The global compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of this segment has increased to 6.11% between 2020 and 2030, in terms of value, as against the previous estimation of 5.04%.”
When it comes to spending on aircraft carriers, Europe will remain in the third spot behind North America and the Asia-Pacific region. With the completion of the UK’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier program, Russia is the only other country in the European region – apart from France – that is likely to invest in development of an aircraft carrier before 2030.
The US Navy’s Gerald R. Ford-class program will single-handedly account for more than half of the global investment in the segment over the next ten years while the Asia-Pacific region will follow with about a third of the global investment in the segment during the same period.