French admiral suggests sharing aircraft carrier with Britain

French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, March 24, 2011.

From Thomas Harding, the Telegraph:  Admiral Pierre-Francois Forissier also disclosed that the French navy was amazed by the swath of cuts last year that severely reduced the Royal Navy with the axing of aircraft carriers and Harrier jump jets alongside warships.

“From a French standpoint, I have to say that we were really stunned because the Royal Navy has always been a model for us and it is now faced with a very difficult situation,” he said.

He also highlighted the shortcomings of the weakened British fleet, suggesting that the Libya campaign could have been “more efficient” if there had been a second aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean. At present there is only the Charles de Gaulle. Its aircraft are responsible for more than a quarter of all attacks but soon it will need to dock for maintenance. . . .

“When you only have one carrier that means you don’t have permanent availability because of maintenance issues and, of course, it would be better to have two carriers. . . ."

While France only has one carrier, it is possible that the second of two 60,000-ton British carriers being built could be shared by the two countries to be used only for training in a move that would save millions for both nations. Speaking at the French navy’s headquarters in Paris, Adml Forissier said: “If we have the necessary budget it would be useful to each have a national carrier then have an extra carrier — not as expensive and for training uses — for UK and French use.

“It would be useful to have a carrier in Europe for training pilots, otherwise we would need two carriers on both sides and I do not think this is economically feasible.” (photo: Getty)

Image: getty%206%206%2011%20Charles%20de%20Gaulle%20carrier.jpg