French aircraft carrier Foch (R99)

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Foch aircraft carrier
Name: Foch
Ordered: 1955
Laid down: 15 November 1957
Launched: 23 July 1960
Commissioned: 15 July 1963
Decommissioned: 15 November 2000
Identification: R99
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
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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 × Sadral launchers for 6 Mistral missiles each (added in 1994).
Aircraft carried:

Foch was the second Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier of the French Navy. She was the second warship named in honour of Marshal Ferdinand Foch. Serving with the French Navy from 1963 to 2000, the vessel was sold to Brazil and renamed São Paulo.

Foch was laid down 15 November 1957 and launched 23 July 1960. The aircraft carrier was commissioned 15 July 1963 with the ship identification number R 99.

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 Foch, now renamed and reflagged as São Paulo, is the last surviving member, are of conventional CATOBAR design. The landing area is 165.5 metres (543 ft) long by 29.5 metres (97 ft) wide; it is angled at 8 degrees off of the ship's axis. The flight deck is 265 metres (869 ft) 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 52 metres (171 ft) catapults is at the bow to port, the aft catapult is on the forward area of angled landing deck. The hangar deck dimensions are 152 by 22–24 metres (499 by 72–79 ft) with 7 metres (23 ft) overhead.[2]


The draft statute prepared by the Naval General Staff in 1949 asked for 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 proposed a six aircraft carrier fleet. On 15 July 1952, the French Navy still wanted two to five for the French Union (not available to the NATO). According to RCM 12, the final document of the Lisbon Conference of 1952, France should make available to NATO an aircraft carrier on D-day, two on day 30, three on day 180. However, 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 Clemenceau, Foch underwent a modernization and refit, replacing four of her eight 100-millimetre (3.9 in) guns with two Crotale air-defense systems. Unlike Clemenceau, Foch also received in 1997 two Sadral launchers (for 6 Mistral missiles each);[3] those launchers were purchased by France in 1994.[4]

The Dassault Rafale was test flown from 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 Charles de Gaulle (R 91).

Combat history

In 1977 F-8 Crusaders from 14.F squadron from 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.

File:Super Étendard launching from Foch (R99) off Lebanon 1983.JPEG
Super Étendard ready to be launched from Foch during the ship's 1983 deployment to Lebanon

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-Étendards, three Étendard 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. On 22 September 1983, French Navy Super Étendards operating from Foch bombed and destroyed Syrian forces positions after a few artillery rounds were fired at the French peace keepers.[7] On November 10, a Super Étendard escaped from being hit by a Syrian SA-7 MANPADS near Bourj el-Barajneh while flying over Druze positions.[8] On 17 November 1983, the same airplanes attacked and destroyed an Islamic Amal training camp in Baalbeck after a terrorist attack on French paratroopers in Beirut.[9]

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

File:F-14 Tomcat VF-14.jpg
F-14 Tomcats overfly Foch in 1990 during an exercise.

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. She also was part of NATO's Allied Force operations with Super Étendards flying strike missions over Serbia in 1999. She was forced to withdraw early four months into her deployment, the longest in her service history, due to problems with her catapult system and other issues.[10]

In 2000, Foch made her last deployment by leading Task Force 473 on a four-month around-the-world tour.[11]

In fiction

Foch is featured 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 on board a U.S. carrier.[12]

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 anti-ship missiles and sunk.[citation needed]

Foch appears as a playable unit in the RTS game Wargame: Red Dragon in the 'Second Korean War' DLC.



  1. Quotations. "Marshal Ferdinand Foch quotes". Retrieved 2013-12-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. John Pike. "Clemenceau Aircraft Carrier". Retrieved 2013-12-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. (2000-11-15). "Porte-avions Foch". Retrieved 20 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Friedman, Norman (2006). The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems (5 ed.). Naval Institute Press. p. 575. ISBN 1557502625. Retrieved 20 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Bishop, Chris; Chant, Chris (2004). Aircraft Carriers. Leicester: Zenith Press. pp. 82–3. ISBN 0760320055.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Foch Archived September 17, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Jackson 1986, p.66.
  8. Acig, archived from the original on October 7, 2013<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Koven, Ronald (18 November 1983). "France: Shiites Planned More Strikes". Boston Globe.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Foch Adriatic problems cast long shadow". Sea Power. 1 August 1999. Retrieved 14 August 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "British Task Force to Gulf; last voyage for the Foch". Sea Power. 1 April 2000. Retrieved 15 August 2015 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Suid, Lawrence (2002). Guts & Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film (2 ed.). University Press of Kentucky. p. 748. ISBN 978-0-8131-9018-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

  • CV Foch Aircraft Carrier Foch on Alabordache (French)

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