EXCLUSIVE – On board French aircraft carrier the Charles de Gaulle



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It has a crew of nearly 2,000 people, is 262 metres long and has a flight deck bigger than a football pitch: welcome on board the Charles de Gaulle! The French aircraft carrier is now on her way home. Since December, it has been operating in the Persian Gulf as part of the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. Life on board an aircraft carrier at war is intense. For five days, our reporters got a close-up look at daily life on board the pride of the French Navy.
As soon as the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier arrived in the Persian Gulf on December 19, 2015, France took command of the naval operations of the coalition against the Islamic State group. The French handed command over to the Americans two months later. “This is a first, which is the fruit of long cooperation with the United States”, explains Admiral René-Jean Crignola.
The aircraft carrier is a floating city, with 2,000 people on board. Among them, the fighter jet pilots are trained like athletes, and are pampered and privileged. They must not lose concentration during their operations. Each mission can last up to six hours. Life on the runway is organised around them to ensure a safe take-off and landing. This feels like a feat every time, as the catapult – the device that launches the planes – is just 75 metres in length. Since December, nearly 400 sorties have been carried out, either bombing terrorist targets or on intelligence missions in Syria or Iraq.
►►On France24.com, also watch our report: “On board a French frigate in the Persian Gulf”.
On the bridge, the ship’s navigation is geared towards the aircraft, which have to take off against the wind. The ship must constantly seek that position. At the workshop, nearly 500 technicians and mechanics are busy 24 hours a day. They need to repair each fighter jet, each technical glitch.
The crew set sail just after the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris. When they leave on a mission, they never know how long it will last. Nor their next destination.

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29 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE – On board French aircraft carrier the Charles de Gaulle

  1. Soon INDIA will acquire 36 Dassault Rafale!!!
    And I hope India will Select Rafale for Indian Air Force 114 Fighter Jet deal, which will be Signed before December of this Year and also Indian Navy Is also Looking for 57 Rafale or F/A-18 Super hornet Deal which will be Executed by the end of this year!!!!
    In Total 171 Dassault Rafale can be Selected by the end of This year!!🇫🇷
    🇮🇳🇮🇳💪🏻

  2. Impressive, although taking on small underdeveloped Islamic countries and pathetic Jihadi rascals is not the real deal. Bigger challenge for the American-lead coalition is of course a rapidly militarizing China minus Russia (don't expect the Russians to willingly fight the west alongside the Chinese). Therefore, it is critical that the coalition has two dozen fully-fit aircraft carrier battle-groups across the vast expanses of Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The French and the British should contribute at least 4 carrier groups (2 each), adding to hopefully 16 American, 3 Indian, 3 Japanese and 1 Italian flotillas, for a strong build up in about 5-10 years.

  3. Germany are there just as a decoy, as they are conducting military exercises together with China claiming its for Humanitarian disasters. US concerningly played this down as what seemed self defence training is not a necessity. LoL

  4. I find the statement "since the French have arrived in the area, attack missions have increased 3 fold" insulting! As if the U.S. carrier Truman already there was slacking off!?!? The Americans carry most of the weight in ANY coalition military operation! Don't forget that!

  5. France is the only country besides the united states that has a nuclear carrier. Plus only other super carrier aswell. All of the usa 11 carriers are super carriers and are all nuclear. Just one of the huge differences. What will france do when the charles de Gaulle is decommissioned?

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