The sole prime contractor for the entire mid-life refit of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, Naval Group, returned the vessel to the French Navy in November 2018 following an extensive mid-life refit.

Designed and built by Naval Group and entering service in 2001, the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle has been upgraded with 21st century technology.

The in-depth refit of Charles de Gaulle was performed to ensure the vessel’s operational performance levels for the next 25 years and ensure that she maintains her technological advantages in the service of her country.

The refit focused on three major challenges. Firstly, the modernisation of the combat system, in particular with the modernisation of the tactical system that manages the sensors and weapons, the installation of new digital networks, the complete replacement of the Control Room, the renovation of the telecommunications systems, the replacement of the air search and navigation radars.

Secondly, the modernisation of the aviation installations covered all the necessary modifications to switch to an ‘all-Rafale’ set-up: modification and renovation of the aviation spaces, renovation or replacement of deck-landing systems.

The third challenge was the modernisation of the vessel’s PLCs, renovation of the automatic stabilisation and steering control system, replacement of two units of the vessel’s cooling system, and also the refit of the control simulator and of one galley.

In addition to this renovation, the mid-life refit of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft also comprised through-life support work. This aspect of the project was for the maintenance of major installations: the inspection of the two nuclear reactors and the replacement of their fuel elements, the maintenance of the electrical power plant, the maintenance of the propulsion system, the inspection of the catapults, shaft lines and stabilizing fins, and the painting of the underwater hull and topsides.