The French Navy's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier has entered drydock in Toulon, France, to undergo a major refit and modernisation programme.
The mid-life upgrade is scheduled to take 18 months to complete, and is expected increase the vessel’s operational serviceability by 20 years.
Refurbishment activities will entail a range of modifications to the vessel, as well as several standard maintenance operations such as scheduled technical installations and refuelling of the nuclear reactor.
The work is set to include modernisation of the combat system in order to maintain and enhance interoperability with allied navies, upgrading of the aircraft carrier capabilities via redevelopment of the ship’s platform, and transitioning to an all Rafale-class air wing by optimising the aviation installations.
Charles de Gaulle spent 15 years in operational service prior to the announced upgrade, and the vessel has been engaged in several major international conflicts, including in Afghanistan, Libya and the Levant.
The Fleet Support Service of the French Navy will ensure quality control throughout the refit project, in collaboration with the French Government’s Direction générale de l'armement (DGA) defence procurement and technology agency.
Overall management of the modernisation operations will be carried out by French naval defence and energy group DCNS, who will coordinate with Charles de Gaulle's crew to conduct the upgrade works.
Italy’s aircraft carrier Cavour will be the sole operational European aircraft carrier until Charles de Gaulle's renovation is complete late next year.
Image: French vessel Charles de Gaulle enters drydock to undergo mid-life upgrade. Photo: courtesy of French Navy.