France’s first carrier entered service in the interwar period, but for a very long time the French navy trailed behind international counterparts in naval aviation.
This changed in the Cold War, however, and today France operates the world’s most advanced carrier outside of the U.S. Navy.
After nearly forty years of hard service, the two ships were decommissioned in favor of France’s next carrier, the nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle.
However, the cancellation of the second ship violates a cardinal rule of carrier acquisition, as France is effectively without a significant proportion of its naval power every time CDG enters refit.
France’s experience with CdG demonstrates that for a country in France’s position, one aircraft carrier can be made to work.