Saturday, March 2, 2024

HIMARS for the Army, a symptom of a lack of industrial management in France?

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The French Army could turn to the American HIMARS for its long-range strike needs. However, for many years, specialists on the subject have been calling on the French authorities to develop a similar system.

Like many other areas, long-range artillery, represented by only 13 Unitary Rocket Launchers (8 of which are actually operational) within the French Army, was largely reduced during the 2000s. and 2010, under the cover of a majority perception according to which the threat of so-called high-intensity engagements was over, and that the air force was, on its own, capable of providing these deep strike capabilities.

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In this area, the lessons emanating from the first eight months of the war in Ukraine showed that this capability proved decisive , while a large part of the air force was neutralized by the omnipresence of ground-air defense capabilities on both sides. and other.

And the arrival of the first HIMARS systems handed over by the United States to the Ukrainian forces in June, alongside other modern artillery systems such as the American M777, the German Pzh2000 and the French CAESAR, marked a clear shift in the offensive balance of power in favor of Ukraine.

In fact, for several months, long-range artillery systems, whether large caliber self-propelled systems reaching 50 km today, and more than 70 km tomorrow, and rocket launcher systems precision devices such as the American HIMARS or the South Korean K239, carrying between 80 and 300 km, have experienced an extraordinary resurgence of interest within Western armies.

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Poland alone announced an order for 300 K239 Chunmoo from Seoul , and 200 additional HIMARS from Washington, constituting, with some 624 South Korean 155 mm K9 self-propelled guns, the most formidable artillery capacity in Western Europe, and one of the most powerful on the entire planet.

In France too, the problem is topical, and is also one of the main areas of progress identified as part of the preparation of the next Military Programming Law 2023-2029 currently being prepared .

The South Korean K239 Chunmoo is an alternative to the American HIMARS
Poland formalized the order for 300 South Korean K239 Chunmoo systems

It must be said that the 13 French LRUs are not only considerably insufficient to cover the needs of the Army in the event of high-intensity engagement, but they will also reach the end of their life by 2030.

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Unfortunately, although this type of need was indeed most predictable, in the opinion of the Army General Staff for many years, no national or even European solution is currently possible for replace the French LRUs and to provide the Army with the necessary equipment in this area in the near future.

It is for this reason that as part of the preparation of the future LPM, the French currently have no other option than to turn to an imported off-the-shelf solution, very probably the famous American HIMARS, like this was also the case regarding the acquisition of LRMs in the mid-1980s.

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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