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FRANCE'S NEWEST AIR CRAFT CARRIER - CHARLES DE GAULLE

France's Front line Sailors

11/10/2016

Meet the floating piece of France, projecting the country's military power around the world.

The French carrier the Charles De Gaulle is currently in the eastern Mediterranean supporting operations against the so-called Islamic State.

Her 24 Rafale fighter jets are flying sorties day and night over Iraq and Syria in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

For the past 15 years, De Gaulle has been involved in nearly every major international conflict, from Afghanistan and Libya, to the current war on Islamic State.

With a crew of 2,000, this is the only nuclear powered carrier outside the US Navy.

The De Gaulle is accompanied by a carrier battlegroup of six other naval vessels. These include a number of frigates, a supply ship and a submarine.

During previous missions to the Gulf and Mediterranean, some of these ships have come from other coalition nations including Germany, Australia, the US and UK.

Below deck, the De Gaulle has two giant hangars that cover an area the size of a football pitch.

Inside, De Gaulle’s 500 engineers maintain and repair her five squadrons of aircraft - from £70 million Rafale jets, to E-2C Hawkeyes and helicopters.

But at the heart of the De Gaulle is her steam catapult. It's controlled from a room deep inside the carrier and, powered by the ship’s nuclear reactor, it can send a Rafale from zero to 160 miles an hour in two seconds.

The jet's computer systems manage the take-off, and then the pilot takes control once the plane is airborne.

Forces TV also had the chance to speak to French Canadian Brigadier General Alain Pelletier, the director of the Combined Air Operations Center on the ship.

Describing the role played by France's aircraft in the campaign against IS, he said:

"We're there to actually support the Iraqi forces, taking over [for example, Mosul] itself. We try to be as responsive as possible to the requirements of the ground forces based on their scheme of manoeuvre".

He also said that air power under his command is extremely versatile, and fluid enough to react to situations in the battlefield in less than 15 minutes.

Below deck, the ship has everything the crew need to stay at sea for months on end - there's even a fully-equipped dental surgery and hospital, where they can perform minor and emergency surgery.

Meals, meanwhile, are also a vital part of daily life aboard the ship.

In her three kitchens prepare six tonnes of food is prepared every day, and on board there's enough ingredients to feed the crew for weeks.

This includes a supply of classic French cheeses, a patisserie where desserts are made, and a bakery which produces 1,400 baguettes a day.

But what is not brought over from home is the normal working day. This is a 24-hour ship with bombing missions going on day and night.

The crew, for its part, will continue to work hard round the clock to help defeat IS.
 

FRANCE'S NEWEST AIR CRAFT CARRIER - CHARLES DE GAULLE






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