Is there a pilot for the French defense industrial strategy?

With the return of war in Europe and the rapid deterioration of tensions between major military powers in Asia and the Middle East, the French defense industry found itself, in a few months, a major center of interest both for media than for a number of political personalities who seem to discover the state of disrepair of the stocks of ammunition and spare parts of the armies, or the manufacturing delays of certain equipment such as the Caesar cannon. Not a week now goes by without an announcement concerning the defense industry, the armies or the next military programming law, as well as the resulting comments, finding its way to television sets or the front page. major national media. It was time, we will say, knowing how these subjects lacked public visibility until then.

French military programming, between regained serenity and persistent concerns

It is clear that things have evolved considerably, generally in a positive manner, during the previous Military Programming Law 2019-2025, which made it possible to reverse the decreasing curve of funding for the armies and, consequently, for French defense manufacturers, by increasing the annual credits of the armies by more than 30% between 2016 and 2023. And we can never say enough to what extent this reversal of trend makes it possible to avoid an imminent collapse in capabilities of the French armies , without which they would without the slightest doubt have encountered the same difficulties as those of the Bundeswehr today. At the same time, the resumption of global demand for military equipment allowed French manufacturers to regain certain room for maneuver, in particular thanks to certain major export successes such as the combat aircraft. Rafale from Dassault Aviation or the Caesar cannon from Nexter, but also through numerous other new critical contracts such as the sale of FDI frigates to Greece and NH90 and Caracal helicopters by Airbus helicopters, which logically led to an increase in orders equipment manufacturers like Safran, MBDA and Thales.

CAESAR NG e1672750529410 Analysis Defense | Artillery | Fighter jets
The Caesar NG will be heavier, better armored, more modern and much better motorized than the original Caesar

La new Military Programming Law 2024-2030 being finalized will see, for its part, the credits allocated to the armies increase again by 30% in 7 years, to reach a defense effort of 2,25% of GDP in 2030. Many new major programs will be delivered during this period, like the F4 standard of Rafale to the Air and Space Force, H160M cheetah helicopters to the 3 armies, FDI frigates and Suffren submarines to the French Navy, and Scorpion armored vehicles and the new Caesar NG to the French Army. Earth. At the same time, several development programs will be launched, such as the new generation nuclear aircraft carrier, the new F5 standard of the Rafale, or even 3rd generation nuclear ballistic missile submarines. Finally, targeted efforts will make it possible to address certain critical deficiencies, such as in the case of munitions, drone systems or intelligence. However, and despite a situation which will undoubtedly be much more serene than it was for the armies and for the defense industrialists only a few years ago, there is a very palpable feeling, although often expressed in half-words, of concern and even exasperation of the latter on the subject of military programming. And it is not so much a lack of credits as a lack of strategic management of the French Defense Industrial and Technological Base, or BITD, which would be to blame.

An omnipresent state that holds all the decision-making levers

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