The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), the nation’s defence procurement agency, in conjunction with the Atomic Energy Commission, has placed an order for long lead items for the nuclear propulsion of the Navy’s future Porte-Avions Nouvelle Génération (PANG) aircraft carrier.

Under a €600m ($640m) contract, the French Navy will derive from a vast network of industrial suppliers and subcontractors in the nuclear sector.

This order makes it possible to anticipate the manufacturing of these elements before the launch milestone for the construction of the entire aircraft carrier.

French defence prime, Naval Group, is in charge of the industrialisation and production of the main components of nuclear boiler rooms, particularly through its teams on the Cherbourg and Nantes-Indret sites.

Chantiers de l’Atlantique will oversee the adaptation of its industrial facilities for the construction phase in Saint-Nazaire.

TechnicAtome, prime contractor for nuclear boiler rooms based in Aix-en-Provence, is in charge of their design and industrial monitoring of their construction.

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PANG aircraft carrier

PANG is a next-generation nuclear-powered aircraft carrier under development for the French Navy. 

It is due to replace the Charles de Gaulle, the first French nuclear-powered vesse that GlobalData intelligence says was acquired in 1994.

PANG will be bigger and more powerful than its predecessor. Construction on the aircraft carrier is expected to commence in 2025, while its commissioning is scheduled for 2038. The preliminary design phase of the vessel was launched in March 2021 and the first sea trials are expected to take place in 2036.

The primary manufacturing contract has been awarded to Naval Group and Chantiers de l’Atlantique, who will assemble the hull in blocks between 2031 and 2034, followed by vessel outfitting in 2034–36. TechnicAtome has been contracted to build the nuclear propulsion system, including two K22 nuclear reactors similar to those in the SNLE 3G. 

Nuclear powered aircraft carrier

The aircraft carrier will be powered by a nuclear propulsion system, which will provide a maximum speed of 27kt and increased autonomy at sea.

The vessel’s nuclear propulsion system is expected to include two K22 nuclear reactors, capable of generating 200MW of energy. The K22 boiler rooms are designed by TechnicAtome, while the associated equipment will be produced by the French nuclear power company Framatome at its Le Creusot industrial facility.

The latest contract will source long lead supplies for the nuclear propulsion of the ship, namely the boiler rooms, containment enclosures and steam energy conversion.

This launch of services with long lead times follows the preliminary studies launched in 2018, then the summary preliminary project work launched in 2021, and finally the detailed preliminary project work, started in April 2023.