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US approves EMALS, AAG, sale to France

EMALS is entering service on the USN's new Ford-class carriers, starting with lead ship USS Gerald R Ford . (Janes/Michael Fabey)

The US government has approved the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of aircraft launch and recovery systems intended to equip France's next-generation aircraft carrier.

In a 21 December notification to Congress, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the US State Department had approved the sale of the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) to France for the future Porte-Avions Nouvelle Génération (PANG) carrier programme. The proposed sales agreement, valued at up to USD1.321 billion, also covers land-based testing, integration support, training, and other services.

The PANG programme projects the construction of a 75,000-tonne nuclear-powered carrier to replace the French Navy's current carrier, Charles de Gaulle , from 2038. A joint venture of Naval Group and Chantiers de l'Atlantique will take responsibility for platform design and build, while Technicatome will take responsibility for the nuclear steam raising plant for PANG: the ship itself is to be assembled at the Chantiers de l'Atlantique yard in Saint-Nazaire on the west coast of France.

The requirement for compatibility with the existing Rafale M combat aircraft, and a future carrier-capable Next Generation Fighter, has conditioned a requirement for the integration of assisted launch and arrested recovery systems on board PANG. According to the DSCA, France is seeking to buy a twin launcher EMALS and a three-engine configuration AAG.

The FMS case also includes land-based testing and test spares; shipboard installation support; testing and certification support; shipboard spares; support equipment; government furnished equipment; a multi-purpose reconfigurable training system; operator and maintainer training; integrated electronic technical manuals; drawings and interface control documents; technical assistance; contractor engineering technical services; and other logistical and programme support.

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