Significant drop in French Defense sales in 2017

According to a report from the ministry of the armed forces, order intake for French defense equipment exports experienced a clear slowdown in 2017, falling from €14 billion in 2016 to less than €7 billion in 2017.

Several technical factors partly explain this fall, notably the influence of the presidential elections which will have broken the dynamic established by JY Le Drian during previous years, such as the relative weakness of crude oil prices while clients from the Middle East represent a significant share of French exports, or even a catch-up phenomenon after 2 exceptional years in 2015 and 2016.

But are these the only reasons to explain this decline?

To be convinced of this is to ignore several other key factors, which also play a significant role in this decline:

  • The loss of important customers, first and foremost Saudi Arabia, whose orders have melted like snow in the sun for several years,
  • The consultation of several large industrialists on European projects, such as the FCAS or the Naval Group-Fincantieri merger, leaving other more opportunistic players to position themselves with confidence, such as Damen.
  • The decline in the French competitive offer on defense markets, linked to 15 years of domestic underinvestment, often compensated by European programs, 

The upcoming arrival of new armored vehicles from the intermediate segment such as the Griffon or the Jaguar, new missiles such as the MMP, or an FTI frigate with dimensions more easily exportable than the FREMM to France's traditional customers, will partly resolve this problem. issue. But the fact remains that, in several areas, France finds itself without any offer, whether that of light fighters, UCAVs, anti-missile self-defense systems, or heavy tracked armored vehicles.

However, the LPM does not provide any solution in these segments, concentrating its action on strengthening the needs deemed immediate by the armies: intermediate armored vehicles, patrol boats, refueling vessels, etc.

It should also be noted that French industries are struggling more and more to establish themselves in Europe, although they are supposedly their preferred terrain. However, it is precisely in these countries that this type of need is most marked. 

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