The head of the French Navy discusses cooperation with the U.S. Navy, the PA-Ng future aircraft carrier program and the war in Ukraine...
Xavier Vavasseur, Naval News: You have just completed a trip to the United States during which you visited several U.S. Navy sites and units. What was the purpose of this trip?
Admiral Vandier: In fact, I was invited by my counterpart for in-depth discussions on future operations, deployment and interoperability. We work a lot with the U.S. Navy, we train with them and a number of operations have been conducted jointly in recent years, and are currently being conducted in the Atlantic.
So asking the question of operability for the 2030 horizon is extremely necessary considering the technological acceleration linked to the global naval rearmament.
Xavier Vavasseur, Naval News: You had the opportunity to visit the USS Gerald R. Ford, the new generation American aircraft carrier. In France we have the PA-Ng program for new generation aircraft carrier. Do you think that synergies are possible between the two programs?
Admiral Vandier: So the choice made by France is to have a superiority aircraft carrier in order to deploy conventional aircraft and therefore a carrier equipped with catapults. France had not developed its own catapult know-how, as a consequence the Charles de Gaulle is today equipped with American catapults. An American officer is present among the crew of the aircraft carrier to ensure the maintenance interfaces.
For the future aircraft carrier it was also decided to go for American equipment which will be electromagnetic catapults and electromagnetic arresting gear. Therefore we will have similar cooperations with Lakehurst and the U.S. Navy in order to support the ramp-up in operational power and to ensure the maintenance of these catapults.
Xavier Vavasseur, Naval News: Very well, Admiral, one last current issue; the conflict in Ukraine continues with a significant development on the naval side: The loss of the Moskva for the Russian Navy. Which first lessons do you draw from the conflict in Ukraine?
Admiral Vandier: There is an extremely important strategic dimension to the conflict in Ukraine which is the access to the sea, the privatization of the Black Sea, the closing of the Bosphorus by the Turks to avoid that additional belligerents enter it…
All this has resulted today in a Russian-Ukrainian confrontation in the Black Sea which prevents Ukraine to ship out its agricultural production and to fulfill its food and wheat contracts abroad. So today this is an extremely critical situation on the military level, the three months of conflict have allowed the display of many facets of naval warfare:
- The embargo, with more than a dozen commercial ships that were destroyed by the Russian Navy;
- The mining and thus the counter-mining;
- Firing from the sea whether from naval platforms or submarine platforms;
And of course the loss of the Moskva which shows that naval combat is fundamentally about violence and dazzling, so to be able to fight with naval forces at sea today requires very very solid training and state-of-the art equipment.