France is deploying its sole aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle and its battle group to the Middle East, to support French Military operations against ISIS in the region.
This was announced by French President Emmanuel Macron on January 16th.
“The aircraft carrier will support Chammal operations (in the Middle East) from January to April 2020 before deploying to the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea”, Macron said at a New Year speech to the French military.
It “will be at the heart of combined operations in several European countries,” he said in his speech, adding that “Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Greece will participate in the Charles de Gaulle escort during its mission.”
“This European force, like our Lynx deployment in the Baltic countries, will strengthen the transatlantic link and NATO, further proof that European defense and NATO are two pillars of the same building,” he stressed.
He further said that, despite the changing situation in the Middle East, France was set on countering ISIS.
“In the Near and Middle East, despite the changes in the region, our forces engaged in Operation Chammal are continuing operations to combat ISIS, the threat of which still hangs in another hidden, more insidious form “, he insisted.
He then made a veiled stab at Germany, Canada and other countries who reduced their contingent due to the escalation between Iran and the US in recent weeks.
“France, has remained from the beginning, with constancy and determination, with courage”, and “it is one of those who fight against the terrorist threat, one of those who stay in the region, and keep fighting are known,” he said.
The Charles de Gaule carrier strike group is comprised of F70AA-class air defense destroyer FS Forbin (D 620), and the Royal Danish Navy Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate HDMS Niels Juel.
The Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, is the flagship of the French Navy and its sole such warship. Overall, it is the tenth French aircraft carrier, the first French nuclear-powered surface vessel, and the only nuclear-powered carrier fully completed and deployed outside of the United States Navy.
It is a one-in-class unique carrier. With a displacement of 42,500 tons. It’s 261.5 meters long, its beam is 64.35 meters.
Its propulsion comes from 2 Areva K15 pressurised water reactors (PWR), 150 MWt each, as well as 2 Alstom steam turbines with a total 61 MW shaft power. It sails at a speed of 27 knots. It has an unlimited range, and can sail for approximately 20-25 years. It’s endurance is limited by its capacity of 45 days of food.
It has a ship company of 1,350 and an air wing of 600.
Its armament is as follows:
- 4 × 8 cell A-43 Sylver launchers carrying the MBDA Aster 15 surface-to-air missile.
- 2 × 6 cell Sadral launchers carrying Mistral short range missiles
- 8 × Giat 20F2 20 mm cannons.
It can carry between 28–40 aircraft including:
- Rafale M
- E-2C Hawkeye
- SA365 Dauphin
- EC725 Caracal
- AS532 Cougar
In the last few years, France has gradually increased its defense budget. In 2018, Macron announced his defense budget plan, which foresees spending approximately €300 billion by 2025. The military budget is set to rise by €1.7 billion annually until 2022, when Macron’s presidential term ends, and by €3 billion thereafter.
The government increased defense spending by 5.6%, to €34.2 billion, for 2018. The budget for 2019 was €35.9 billion, up 5%.
The budget for 2020 stands at €37.5 billion. The defense budget will benefit from 1.7 billion Euros of new resources in 2020, in line with the trajectory of the 2019-2025 military programming law.
In the last three years, the budget of the Ministry of the Armed Forces will have benefited from € 10 billion of cumulative additional expenditure.
In 2020, the provision for external operations and domestic missions will reach its normalized level of € 1.1 billion (compared to € 450 million in 2017).
One of the external operations that are to receive further funding includes Operation “Barkhane”, since 2014 France has been combating terrorist in the Sahel, and it has done such a good job that people in Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger have repeatedly protested against their futile efforts.
France’s anti-terrorist activities have so far led to a rise in ISIS and other groups’ activities in the Sahel that has never been seen before.
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