France’s Naval Group has completed mid-life refit of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, the only nuclear powered carrier outside the United States, in a record 8 months and handed it back to the French Navy last week.
This mid-life refit included unprecedented renovations and a density of work that gave the project a level of complexity unseen until now, a Naval Group release said.
The in-depth renovation was performed to ensure the vessel’s operational performance levels for the next 25 years. Firstly, the refit focused on modernization of the tactical system, the brain that manages the sensors and weapons, the installation of new digital networks, the complete replacement of the Control Room, the renovation of the telecommunications systems, the replacement of the air search and navigation radars.
Secondly, the modernisation of the aviation installations covered all the necessary modifications to switch to an “all-Rafale” setup: modification and renovation of the aviation spaces, renovation or replacement of deck-landing systems.
Thirdly, the renovation of the platform - modernization of the vessel control PLCs, the renovation of the automatic stabilization and steering control system, the replacement of two units of the vessel’s cooling system, but also the refit of the control simulator and of one galley.
The mid-life refit included inspection of the two nuclear reactors and the replacement of their fuel elements, the maintenance of the electrical power plant, the maintenance of the propulsion system, the inspection of the catapults, shaft lines and stabilizing fins, and the painting of the underwater hull and topsides.
Work highlights: 8 months of work (as a comparison: 4 years for a comparable nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier) and a budget of €1.3 billion (as a comparison: €4.7 billion for a US aircraft carrier).