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French aircraft carrier Foch (R99)
FS Foch Dragon Hammer &#039;92
Career (France) Ensign of France.svg
Name: Foch
Ordered: 1955
Laid down: 15 November 1957
Launched: 23 July 1960
Commissioned: 15 July 1963
Decommissioned: 15 November 2000
Fate: Sold to the Brazilian Navy, re-named São Paulo.
Notes: See NAe São Paulo for subsequent history
General characteristics
Class & type: Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier
Displacement: 24,200 t (23,818 long tons) standard
32,800 t (32,282 long tons) full load
Length: 265 m (869 ft 5 in)
Beam: 51.2 m (168 ft 0 in)
Draught: 8.6 m (28 ft 3 in)
Propulsion: 6 × Indret boilers
4 × steam turbines 126,000 hp (94 MW)
2 shafts
Speed: 32 knots (37 mph; 59 km/h)
Range: 7,500 nmi (13,900 km) at 18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h)
Complement: 1,338 men, including 64 officers (1,920 men including the air group. 984 men if only helicopters are carried.)
Sensors and
processing systems:
• 1 × DRBV-23B air search radar
• 1 × DRBV-50 low-altitude or surface search radar (later replaced by a DRBV-15)
• 1 × NRBA-50 approach radar
• 1 × DRBI-10 tri-dimensional air search radar
• Several DRBC-31 fire-control radar (later DRBC-32C)
• DRBN-34 navigation radars
Armament: • 8 × 100 mm turrets (originally) ; in the 90s, 4 are replaced by 2 × SACP Crotale EDIR systems, with 52 missiles
• 5 × 12.7 mm machine guns • 2 x Sadral launchers for 6 Mistral missiles each (added in 1994).
Aircraft carried: About 40 aircraft:
• 15 × Super Étendard
• 4 × Étendard IVP
• 10 × F-8E (FN) Crusader
• 6 × Alizé
• 2 × Dauphin Pedro helicopters
• 2 × Super Frelon helicopters

Foch (R 99) was the second Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier of the French Navy. She was the second warship named in honour of Marshal Ferdinand Foch, after a heavy cruiser commissioned in 1932, and scuttled in Toulon on 27 November 1942. Ironically Ferdinand Foch is famously quoted in 1911 saying "Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value"[1] although this was only eight years after the first powered human flight.


The Clemenceau class aircraft carriers, of which the Foch now renamed and reflagged as São Paulo is the last surviving member, are of conventional CATOBAR design. The landing area is 165.5m long by 29.5m wide; it is angled at 8 degrees off of the ship's axis. The flight deck is 265m long. The forward aircraft elevator is to starboard, and the rear elevator is positioned on the deck edge to save hangar space. The forward of two 52m catapults is at the bow to port, the aft catapult is on the forward area of angled landing deck. The hangar deck dimensions are 152m by 22-24m with 7m overhead.[2]


The draft statute prepared by the Naval General Staff in 1949 asked four aircraft carriers of 20,000 tons to be available in two phases. At its meeting of 22 August 1949, the Supreme Council of the Navy was even more ambitious where they asked six aircraft carrier fleet. On 15 July 1952, the French Navy still wanted two to five with the French Union (not available to the NATO ). According to the RCM 12, the final document of the Lisbon Conference of 1952, France should make available NATO aircraft carrier in the D-day, two on day 30, three on day 180. But by 1953, the Navy had to be satisfied with two aircraft carriers. The PA 54 Clemenceau, budgeted in 1953, was delayed until November 1955, the PA 55 Foch, budgeted for 1955, was delayed until February 1957. Between 1980 and 1981, she underwent a study to certify the platform before catapulting aircraft carrying missiles, bombs, AM-39 Exocet and tactical nuclear bombs. Like her sister ship the Clemenceau, the Foch underwent a modernization and refit, replacing 4 of her 8 100mm guns with 2 Crotale air-defense systems. Unlike the Clemenceau, the Foch in 1997 also received 2 Sadral launchers (for 6 Mistral missiles each);[3] those launchers were purchased by France in 1994.[4]

The Dassault Rafale was test flown from the Foch (but not Clemenceau) after deck modifications in 1992 and operated from this carrier after further 1995-6 deck modifications.[5]

After a 37-year career in the French Navy, on 15 November 2000, she was sold to the Brazilian Navy, and renamed NAe São Paulo. In the French Navy, she was succeeded by the Charles de Gaulle (R 91).

Combat historyEdit

In 1977 F-8 Crusaders from 14.F squadron on Foch participated in the Saphir missions over Djibouti. On 7 May 1977, two Crusaders went separately on patrol against what were supposedly French Air Force (4/11 Jura squadron) F-100 Super Sabres stationed at Djibouti. The leader intercepted two fighters and initiated a dogfight as part of the training exercise, but quickly called his wingman for help as he had actually engaged two Yemeni MiG-21 Fishbeds. The two French fighters switched their master armament to "on" but, ultimately, everyone returned to their bases. This was the only combat interception by French Crusaders.

In 1983–1984, the ship was sent to Lebanon for combat operations during the civil war with an air wing consisting of six F-8 Crusaders, fifteen Super-Etendards, three Etendard IVPs, five Br 1050 Alizés and six SA-321G Super-Frelons.[6] She would rotate with Clemenceau providing constant on station air support to French peacekeepers.

In October 1984, France sent Foch for operation Mirmillon off the coast of Libya, in response to tension in the Gulf of Sidra.[7]

She was involved in the Yugoslav Wars between July and August 1993, in February and March 1994, and in February and from May to July 1994 in support of UN operations.[7]

In fictionEdit

Foch features prominently in the 1995 film Crimson Tide as the setting for several television news reports about the ongoing conflict in Russia. Foch was used in this role after the U.S. Navy refused to assist in the film's production, thus removing the possibility of filming onboard a U.S. carrier.[8]

Foch also appears briefly in Tom Clancy's 1986 techno-thriller novel Red Storm Rising forming part of a NATO task force which also includes the aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS Saratoga. In an attack by Soviet Tu-22M bombers, Foch is hit by three antiship missiles and sunk.[citation needed]


See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

  • CV Foch Aircraft Carrier Foch on Alabordache (French)

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