Paris: France will likely reach a final decision on whether to go ahead with the construction of a second aircraft carrier by early 2008, defense minister, Herve Morin, said July 11. It hopes to produce these costly naval platforms in conjunction with Britain, which too is looking forward to refurbish its naval fleet.
With both countries looking at inducting new ships in the period 2012 and 2015 the two sides have been trying to explore ways to combine their efforts. In an interview with France Info radio and La Chaine Parlementaire television, Morin said there was no sign Britain was abandoning the project, and that he would meet his British counterpart on July 14 and discuss if the project was still feasible.
"It will enable us to check that the industrial cooperation we have launched on this programme is still topical," he said.
In a separate interview with Valeurs Actuelles magazine, Morin said it would be a concern if the project were stopped.
"It would be an additional worry because this programme of 2.5 billion euros (US$3.44 billion) can be reduced by a few hundred million through industrial cooperation with the British," he told the magazine.
French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, had said during this year's election campaign that he wanted France to have a second aircraft carrier, though prime minister, Francois Fillon, raised doubts about the project last week in a speech to the lower house of parliament. He said that a review of defense spending would involve tough choices, such as whether, and when, France needed a second aircraft carrier.
Morin presented a different sentiment in his interviews asserting "a definitive decision will be taken, based on all the analyses, between the end of this year and the start of next year."