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France orders first long-lead items for PA-NG carrier

An artist's impression of the French Navy's PA-NG next-generation carrier. (MO Porte Avions)

The French defence procurement agency (Direction Générale de l'Armement: DGA) has placed the first order for long-lead items for the country's future Porte-Avions Nouvelle Génération (PA-NG) next-generation nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (CVN), the French Ministry of the Armed Forces has confirmed.

In a 30 April announcement, the French defence ministry said the DGA had awarded a contract worth EUR600 million (USD642.7 million) to the PA-NG programme's industrial prime contractor MO Porte-Avions (a joint venture of Naval Group and Chantiers de l'Atlantique), and nuclear reactor developer TechnicAtome, covering the provision of long-lead elements related to the ship's nuclear propulsion, namely the K-22 nuclear reactors, their containment structures, and steam generation machinery.

The contract paves the way to start manufacturing these elements, with work expected to continue from 2024 to 2029 in advance of the start of construction of the aircraft carrier, the defence ministry said.

Naval Group is in charge of production of the main components of the nuclear reactors; to this end, its Cherbourg site will be responsible for construction of the containment enclosures, while its Nantes-Indret site will manufacture the reactor pressure vessels and steam generation machinery.

TechnicAtome, prime contractor for the nuclear reactors, is responsible for their design and overseeing their construction, and will host the first prototypes of boiler room equipment at the Cadarache site in southern France.

Chantiers de l'Atlantique, meanwhile, is responsible for upgrading its facilities in preparation for the construction phase of the aircraft carrier at its yard in Saint-Nazaire.

France's next-generation aircraft carrier is intended to replace the French Navy's current CVN, Charles de Gaulle , which will reach its end of service life in 2038.

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