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French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle off Libya

The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91) is operating off the Libyan coast as part of the Nato operation in support of UNSCR 1973. BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale got exclusive access on board the pride of the French navy:

It is the aircraft carrier Britain no longer has.

The Charles de Gaulle is not just the French Navy's flagship. It is a projection of the nation's power that can be deployed almost anywhere in the world.

We joined the nuclear powered carrier off Libya's coast. This is where the Charles de Gaulle has been conducting military operations for the past two months.

Launching an endless stream of warplanes loaded with bombs by day and by night. A giant floating runway within easy reach of Colonel Gaddafi's forces.

Her location always shifting according to the weather and the targets. The ship can move as much as 1,000km over a 24 hour period.

On board, the first thing that hits you is the noise.

The sudden roar of jet engines is followed by the thud of a steam catapult as planes are propelled from zero to 250 kilometres an hour in a few seconds. ...

Royal Air Force

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