The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) sent a notification to Congress on December 21 that the U.S. State Department has cleared a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to France of an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG). The request involves one EMALS (two-launcher configuration) and one AAG (three-engine configuration). The total estimated cost of the FMS proposal is $1.321 billion (EUR1.17 billion).
U.S. State Dept has approved the sale to #France of Electromagnetic catapult (#EMALS) and advanced arrestor gear for use on its future aircraft carrier in a deal valued at $1.321 billion. https://t.co/onzdPGdysi pic.twitter.com/neKXarjsII
— Tony Osborne (@Rotorfocus) December 21, 2021
The systems are designed and built by General Atomics-Electromagnetics Systems Group. They are intended to outfit the French Navy’s future aircraft carrier – referred to as Porte Avions de Nouvelle Génération (PA-NG, or PANG) – which will be nuclear-powered.
The next-generation carrier will serve as a successor to the French Navy’s current nuclear-powered carrier, Charles de Gaulle. The French defense procurement agency, DGA, and the French Navy began working on a review toward definition studies for the next carrier in October 2018.
On October 19, 2020, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly announced the intention of the government to fund development and launch of a new carrier to replace the Charles de Gaulle by 2038.
Regarding the details of the PANG carrier, it will have a displacement of 70,000-75,000 tons, a length of 984 feet, a speed of 26-27 knots, and fighter complement accommodations for up to 32 combat aircraft and two or three maritime patrol aircraft, plus remote carriers/unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).
As with the Charles de Gaulle, the catapults will be imported from the U.S., thus the FMS proposal. The EMALS and AAG in question are currently utilized on the U.S. Navy’s first-in-class carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), and will be fitted on next-in-line carriers USS John F. Kennedy and USS Enterprise.
Naval Group and Chantiers de l’Atlantique have formed a joint venture (MO Porte Avions) to manage the aircraft carrier program. The DGA awarded a contract for preliminary design work on the PA-NG carrier to Naval Group, Chantiers de l’Atlantique, and TechnicAtome on March 19, 2021. The contract covers two years of work and will be followed by more detailed plans before moving to the development phase (expected to be completed by year-end 2025).