France to make decision on replacement of flagship aircraft carrier by 2020

        France will make a decision on the replacement of its flagship aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, at the start of 2020, the armed forces minister said on Tuesday.<em> &ldquo;The Charles de Gaulle will need a successor,&rdquo;</em> Florence Parly said at a defense exhibition in Paris. The carrier has been in service since 2001 but Paris is looking to build a vessel that would take into consideration expected technological advances post-2030 and be capable of carrying a planned new Franco-German fighter jet, Reuters reported. <em>&ldquo;The first step, which starts today, is the study phase to determine what and how we want our future aircraft carrier to be. We have given ourselves 18 months,&rdquo;</em> Parly said. Three other Western aircraft carriers have been built since the Charles de Gaulle was first deployed. The US Navy&rsquo;s Gerald R. Ford and America, and the British Royal Navy&rsquo;s Queen Elizabeth, which cost about $4.03 billion.