Can France respond to changes in defense industrial strategies around the world?

It would have escaped no one's notice that German manufacturers in the Defense market, such as Rheinmetall, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Diehl and Hensoldt, are very fond of the prefix Euro when it comes to designing equipment in partnership. It began with the Euromissile family between the German MBB and the French Aérospatiale, which gave birth in the 70s to some of the most efficient and most exported missiles of the moment, the Milan and HOT anti-tank missiles, as well as the anti-aircraft missile. Roland.

It is also this prefix which was initially chosen for the merger between MBB and Aérospatiale in the field of helicopters to give birth to Eurocoptere which subsequently became Airbus Hélicoptères, and in the field of combat aircraft with the Eurofighter consortium which designed the Typhoon.

Since the beginning of the 2000s, however, German manufacturers have switched from their purely European alliance approach to partnerships with players outside the European Union, so as to give them access to the European market by "Europeanizing" their equipment. .

This is how EuroSpike appeared in 2004, a joint venture between Rheinmetall Electronics, Diehl Defense, and the Israeli Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, initially aiming to sell the Israeli Spike anti-tank missile to the Bundeswehr (in main illustration) , then exported it, with great success, to European armies.

In fact, today, 12 European armies use this family of missiles, then in direct competition with Euromissile's Milan and HOT, left in disuse by Berlin for the occasion.

marder1A5 Milan Defense Industrial Fabric BITD | Germany | Defense Analysis
A Bundeswehr Marder A5 IFV firing a Milan anti-tank missile

Since then, a veritable bulimia ofEuro-X has swept across the Rhine and beyond, ranging from the EuroTrophy for the Hard-Kill Trophy active protection systems from the Israeli Rafael, to the EuroArrow for the acquisition of the anti-ballistic system from IAI and Boeing. The strategy, without the prefix (for now), is also applied in the field of long-range artillery systems.

Therefore, a partnership was recently signed between Rheinmetall and Lockheed Martin for the development of an evolution of the HIMARS system, while at the same time, KMW and the Israeli Elbit undertook to jointly develop a version of the Israeli PULS system for the same market, the choice of the Bundeswehr acting as judge of peace in this competition, but also a reference for the European armies which could turn to this offer.

Fundamentally, the approach of German manufacturers is very reasonable and perfectly effective. Indeed, by following this strategy, they remain at the center of the European market and defense industrial production in Europe, while significantly reducing investment needs in R&D.

Above all, this strategy offers them great responsiveness, allowing them to produce technological solutions adapted to the European market in a short time, by drawing on the exogenous Western offer.

Furthermore, the German case is far from unique. The US armies do not hesitate, in this respect, to use similar practices, as was, for example, the case to develop the Constellation frigate, derived from the Italian FREMM built by Fincantieri, or the UH-72 Lakota helicopters. of the US Army, designed by Airbus Hélicoptères.

FFG 62 Consteallation updated in water scaled Defense industrial fabric BITD | Germany | Defense Analysis
The future US Navy Constellation-class frigates are derived from the Italian FREMM frigates designed by Fincantieri

The same strategy is used in Great Britain, for example, with the Boxer armored vehicle and the inglorious Ajax armored vehicle, by Italy which wants to acquire off the shelf with local production a new combat tank and a new combat vehicle of infantry, or even by Spain in many areas.

Poland, for its part, has made it the pillar of its industrial strategy, with promising partnerships with South Korea in the field of armored vehicles and combat aircraft, with the United States in the field of long-range and helicopters, and Great Britain in the field of anti-aircraft systems, and still the European market in perspective.

On the other hand, France has never used such an approach. Traditionally, if it happens (rarely) that Paris accepts certain imports of non-European military equipment, as is the case of the E-2D Hawkeye of the French Navy, the country strictly favors two strategies: national production and production in European partnership.

Even direct acquisitions from certain European neighbors are rare for the French armies, apart from certain contracts as symbolic as they are sharply criticized, as is the case today with German HK416 assault rifles to replace aging Famas.

In fact, the French approach is not devoid of interests, far from it. By preserving as much as possible, sometimes even beyond certain great powers like the United States and China, the national dimension of the equipment used by the French armies, France simultaneously maintains almost complete autonomy of use and decision as well as great control of its logistics and maintenance chains.

In addition, the budgetary return for public finances from investments to equip the armies is optimal, probably one of the best in the world due to the very low exposure of French defense manufacturers to imports, as well as the rates of social and tax levies. very high in the country.

Rheinmetall and Lockheed Martin to offer GMARS for the European market 02 Defense Industrial Fabric BITD | Germany | Defense Analysis
Rheinmetall and Lockheed-Martin will co-develop a heavy version of the HIMARS system capable of implementing more rockets than the standard model

Finally, France most often fully controls its supply of exports of its defense equipment, and again benefits almost entirely from the tax and social revenues linked to these same exports, contributing greatly to the sustainability of the defense effort. French.


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