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World races for carrier power

world Updated: May 09, 2011 00:10 IST

Despite growing controversy about the cost and relevance of aircraft carriers, navies around the world are adding new ones to their inventories at a pace unseen since World War II.

The U.S. - with more carriers than all other nations combined - and established naval powers such as Britain, France and Russia are doing it. So are Brazil, India and China - which with Russia form the BRIC grouping of emerging economic giants.

"The whole idea is about being able to project power," said Rear Adm. Philippe Coindreau, commander of the French navy task force that has led the air strikes on Libya since March 22.

"An aircraft carrier is perfectly suited to these kinds of conflicts, and this ship demonstrates it every day," he said in an interview aboard the French carrier Charles de Gaulle, which has been launching daily raids against Moammar Gaddafi's forces since the international intervention in the Libyan conflict began March 22.

The 42,000-ton nuclear-powered carrier has been joined in this task by another smaller ship, Italy's 14,000-ton Giuseppe Garibaldi.