Many voices are being raised to denounce the inadequacies of the French defense effort in the face of the rise of international threats, while the ink of the Military Programming Law 2024-2030, passed last July, is at hand. barely dry .
Between the specter of an overpowering China, the rebirth of Russian military-industrial power, the pessimistic outlook regarding the war in Ukraine, tensions in the Middle East and the possible return of Donald Trump to the White House, more than ever Since the end of the Euromissile crisis, the role of the French armies, to guarantee the security of the country, but also of its allies, is today crucial.
The LPM 2024-2030, by taking up the format of the armies designed in 2013 by a White Paper structured around an asymmetric threat, and by only targeting the investment floor set by NATO of 2% of GDP, does not respond neither in volume, nor in its timetable, to the challenges which are accumulating facing the French armies.
However, the arguments put forward to explain this lack of ambition and resources appear reasonable, with a chronic public deficit failing to fall below 3%, a sovereign debt approaching 120% of GDP, and a still shaky economy with limited growth and persistent unemployment, all of which limits the State's investment capacity.
So, is it illusory to want to bring the French defense effort to the level required to effectively respond to security challenges? As we will see in this article, it all depends on how the problem is posed.
A 2024-2030 LPM at 2% GDP is objectively insufficient to meet future security challenges
If the LPM 2024-2030 boasts an unprecedented increase in defense spending over its duration, with an army budget which will increase from €43.9 billion in 2023 to €67 billion in 2030, the defense effort, that is to say the ratio between these expenditures and the country's gross domestic product, will remain relatively stable, around 2%.
In fact, in many aspects, this announced increase in credits will be a sham, especially since it will be partly eroded by the effects of inflation, as was also the case during the previous LPM.
In a previous article , we showed that it would be necessary for France to produce a defense effort greater than or equal to 2.65% GDP to meet the challenges of the moment. Since its writing, several factors have worsened the threats, therefore the timetable of needs for the armies, and with them, the investment needs.
Meet the need for recapitalization of the French armies
First, with an effort of 2.65% as recommended, the recapitalization of the French armies, after 20 years of critical underinvestment, was intended to be relatively progressive. Indeed, the peak of threats then assessed was between 2035 and 2040, which left around fifteen years for the defense effort to fill the gaps noted, and replace the most obsolete equipment such as Gazelle helicopters, Patrollers Offshore, and many others.
However, the tempo has increased considerably in recent months, under the combined effect of a China increasingly self-confident in the Pacific, of a Russia, in full confidence, which has reconnected with a military power -industrial of the first order, of a de facto axis which has formed between these two countries, Iran and North Korea, and the now very perceptible threat of the return of Donald Trump to the White House occasion of the 2024 US presidential elections.
In other words, where a period of 15 years to recapitalize the French armies could be considered reasonable a few months ago, it is now necessary to make the same modernization and transformation effort, on a noticeably shorter time frame, with the peak threat potentially beginning as early as 2028, or even before that, according to the most pessimistic forecasts.
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