The difficult equation of renewing French Navy buildings

Once again, the French Navy is forced to have to juggle and extend the operational life of its buildings, while awaiting the delivery of buildings that are supposed to replace them. This time, it is the turn of the nuclear attack submarine “Casabianca” to have to play overtime, to maintain a sufficient number of submersibles while awaiting the delivery of the “Duguai-Troin”, the second submarine of the class. barracuda, expected in 2021.

If this latest jolt is linked to industrial delays on the barracuda program, we cannot ignore that this situation tends to repeat itself often in recent years. Thus, the anti-aircraft frigates Cassard and Jean Bart, launched respectively in 1985 and 1988, are also playing overtime while awaiting the delivery of the frigates Alsace and Lorraine, scheduled for 2021 and 2022. Likewise, and to respect the format of 15 frigates called “from 1errank", namely capable of escorting a major vessel (aircraft carrier, BPC, etc.), the French Navy was forced to transfuse 3 of its LaFayette class light stealth frigates, with the status of 2ndrank at status 1erRank, via the addition of a bow sonar, and the replacement of the Crotale Naval system with a SADRAL system, and the modernization of the SENIT combat system. Even so equipped, the FLF have a very limited capacity for action, having for example no anti-submarine torpedoes apart from those which could equip the on-board helicopter.

The situation is no better regarding the Var, Marne and Somme supply tankers, launched respectively in 1983, 1987 and 1990, and whose simple hull design would prohibit them from civil navigation. The LPM provides for their replacement by modern buildings whose design was acquired in Italy, but they will only enter service from 2023. 

Finally, concerning corvettes and patrol boats, the minimum replacement has finally begun, via the Batsimar program. But the replacements for the A69 avionics, which in their time formed the backbone of the French surface fleet with 17 units, will only be made at a minimum by a few Patrouilleurs Hauturiers, and the 5 A69s still in service, launched between 1982 and 1984 , will still have to wait to retire.

The postponement of the disarmament of the “Casabianca” is therefore not to be blamed on the industrial Naval Group. Even though it has encountered proven difficulties in the Barracuda program, causing delivery delays, it is indeed all of the National Navy's fleet renewal programs that are under great tension. The systematic postponement of programs, as for the FREMM or BaTSIMAR program, the repeated reductions in formats, the systematic budgetary shifts to meet Bercy's requirements, have taken the edge off a large part of the resilience capabilities of the French Navy today. today. And it will take many years for France's oldest army to reconstitute its optimum operational potential.

It is all the more regrettable since the unfavorable decisions which have generated these situations are based on a manifest incomprehension of the economic effects of the State's investment in the Defense Industry, an investment which generates 27 jobs per million employees. Euro invested, and generates €1,45 million in budgetary returns for the State. 

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