LPM 2023: The French Navy facing the Indo-Pacific challenge

Questioned on July 27 by the deputies of the Defense Committee of the National Assembly, Admiral Pierre repeated what he has not stopped saying since his appointment as Chief of Staff of the National Navy in September 2020. "The massive rearmament observed in the world will make the sea a conflict zone in the years to come". Indeed, in just a few years, the French Navy has gone from a posture of peace, certain that the best defense available to its ships was the flag they fly, to an active preparation for commitments of high or even very high intensity. The fact is, the naval strategic context has evolved considerably in two decades, with on the one hand an increased dependence of states on maritime transport against a backdrop of galloping globalization, and on the other hand the joint emergence of major naval powers such as China. , Russia, India, Japan or South Korea, as well as the dissemination of many critical technologies such as submarines, missile-armed frigates and even aircraft carriers, within navies which, until then, were limited to coastguard functions. In this context, what could be the arbitrations carried out by the next Military Programming Law, while budgetary constraints remain very strong in the country?

The Navy today

If the National Navy and its format are the subject of great attention, and of many expectations, it is clear that of the 3 French armies, it is she who, today, has known how to best protect herself against the budgetary ravages of the last 20 years. She did lose an aircraft carrier with her only Charles de Gaulle class ship against two Clemenceau class ships in the 80s, but the ship is much more efficient, with a modern and highly efficient airborne group. for all missions, which was not the case with Foch or Clemenceau. However, it kept its 3 large assault ships, very advantageously replacing the TCD Orage and Ouragan as well as the helicopter carrier Jeanne d'Arc, by 3 assault helicopter carriers of the Mistral class.

french mistral class assault ship Military alliances | Defense Analysis | Fighter jets
The Mistral class PHAs offer increased operational capabilities compared to the ships they have replaced

She also managed to preserve her fleet of 6 nuclear attack submarines, the 6 Rubis to be replaced by 6 Suffren during the decade, while her fleet of first rank frigates was also maintained, with 2 frigates Horizon air defense frigates and 2 FREMM Alsace anti-aircraft frigates to replace the 2 Suffren class destroyers and the 2 Cassard frigates on the one hand, as well as 11 anti-submarine warfare frigates, 6 FREMM Aquitaine frigates and 5 FDI ​​Amiral Ronarc 'h, to replace the 3 F67 Tourville class and the 7 F70 Georges Leygues. And if the 17 A69 avisons will only be replaced by 9 High Seas Patrollers, there would be a question of an order for 3 additional FDI being announced to replace the 5 Lafayette stealth Light Frigates, these having also replaced the 8 A69 withdrawn from service to be sold for export in the early 90s. as well as the mine warfare fleet, which will only receive 80 new Mine Warfare Buildings against 40 Eridan minehunters, have suffered blows comparable to those suffered by the Army or the Army of the Air, but also other navies like the Royal Navy which will have lost half of its frigates and destroyers between 38 and 18.

The French Navy's Forbin air defense frigate from the Franco-Italian Horizon program Military alliances | Defense Analysis | Fighter jets
the two air defense frigates Forbin and Chevalier Paul are today the most powerfully armed combat surface ships of the French Navy with 48 Aster anti-aircraft missiles

At the same time, and beyond the technological progress themselves, the new ships and aircraft that the French Navy has and will have at its disposal offer it significant capacity gains, as is the case with the FREMM Aquitaine and the SSN Suffren, all two armed with MdCN cruise missiles making it possible to strike land targets over 1200 km away, or all the frigates which are now equipped with Aster anti-aircraft missiles, and in particular the Aster 30 with a range of more of 100 km, capable of developing an access denial strategy of which only the 4 specifically anti-aircraft ships of the previous generation were capable, in proportion to the technological capabilities of the moment. Likewise, the Mistral PHAs offer a much wider range of operational capabilities than those available to the preceding TCDs, both for carrying out an amphibious and airborne assault, or for supporting a fleet or an expeditionary force in combat. Naval aeronautics, finally, is now lining up planes Rafale capable of competing against the best enemy aircraft, including those based on land, but also of carrying out anti-ship missions or strikes towards land at great distances, well beyond what the Super Etendard and F8 Crusader pairing could previously offer to on-board hunting.

A format inherited from the Cold War but dated

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