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France's next aircraft carrier to be nuclear-powered, Macron confirms

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By Euronews with AP
French President Emmanuel Macron, delivers his speech during a visit at Framatome nuclear reactor production site in Le Creusot on December 8, 2020.
French President Emmanuel Macron, delivers his speech during a visit at Framatome nuclear reactor production site in Le Creusot on December 8, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani
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France's next-generation aircraft carrier will be nuclear-powered to maintain the country's strategic independence, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

The new aircraft carrier is scheduled to come online when the country's flagship warship, the Charles De Gaulle, will be retired in 2038.

Macron said that the new vessel will be nuclear-powered like its predecessor because "our strategic future, our status as a great power, lies with the nuclear industry."

He said the decision ensured that the country retains its "technical, technological and industrial" nuclear know-how over the long-term and emphasised that nuclear energy is "decarbonised".

Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly also stressed that nuclear propulsion means the carrier does not need to be refuelled which allows for "excellent" availability.

The new vessel will measure 300 metres — 40 metres more than the Charles de Gaulle — and transport 30 jet fighters and 2,000 sailors. Weighing 75,000 tonnes, it will travel at a top speed of 50 km/h.

Only about a dozen countries worldwide have aircraft carriers. France and the US — which has the largest fleet — are the only two to have nuclear-powered carriers.

The government has not revealed how much its new warship will cost although French media estimate the final price tag at around €7 billion.