France will deploy the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier and its battle group from January to April to support French military operations in the Middle East, French President Emmanuel Macron said.
“The aircraft carrier will support Chammal operations (in the Middle East) from January to April 2020 before deploying to the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea,” Macron said at a New Year speech to the French military, Reuters reported.
The deployment comes amid growing tensions between Iran and the United States, and French concerns that the fight against Islamic State militants may be weakened within that context.
Charles de Gaulle is the flagship of the French Navy (Marine Nationale). The ship is the tenth French aircraft carrier, the first French nuclear-powered surface vessel, and the only nuclear-powered carrier completed outside of the United States Navy. It’s named after French Statesman and General Charles de Gaulle.
The ship carries a complement of Dassault Rafale M and E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, EC725 Caracal and AS532 Cougar helicopters for combat search and rescue, as well as modern electronics and Aster missile.
It is a CATOBAR-type carrier that uses two 75 m C13‑3 steam catapults of a shorter version of the catapult system installed on the U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, one catapult at the bow and one across the front of the landing area.
As of May 2019, Charles de Gaulle is the only non-American carrier-vessel that has a catapult launch system, which has allowed for operation of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and C-2 Greyhounds of the U.S. Navy.