French defence minister casts doubt on new aircraft carrier

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Budget constraints may mean no second aircraft carrier for France.

21 April 2008

PARIS - French Defence Minister Herve Morin Sunday cast doubt over plans for a second aircraft carrier announced by President Nicolas Sarkozy, citing a cash crunch, and said a decision would be taken soon.

"It is clear that the budgetary situation concerning the equipment of our forces makes the construction of a second aircraft carrier difficult," the minister told Europe 1 radio and the TV5 Monde television channel.

"It's a decision that we will have to take in the coming weeks," he said, adding: "The president of the republic will decide."

Sarkozy had mooted the building of a second French aircraft carrier as early as February 2007 when he was campaigning for the presidency.

It could be built with British cooperation and is likely to coast EUR 3.5 billion euros, according to recent French parliamentary estimate.

The Charles de Gaulle is the only serving French aircraft carrier and the first French nuclear-powered surface vessel.

[AFP / Expatica]

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