4 arguments for increasing defense industrial investments in France

When, in spring 2023, the contours of the future French Military Programming Law, for the period 2024-2030, were made public, a large majority of specialist observers considered, rightly, that it was an ambitious bill, responding to the challenges of the future.

Thus, in the field of defense industrial investments, the annual budget would gradually increase from €8 billion per year, for Research and Development, as well as for acquisitions of Major Effect Programs, to €12 billion per year. later, with the objective of reaching €18 to 20 billion per year, at the end of the law. Since then, the context surrounding these areas has evolved considerably, over a particularly short period of time.

Between the increase in tensions with Russia, the threats made by Donald Trump on American protection of Europe, and the recent announcements of increased defense budgets by the major European industrial nations, which seemed, there are just 12 month, as an exemplary ambition, now risks becoming a handicap, even a threat, for the French defense industry, and all the elements that result from it.

It is therefore relevant to question the opportunity, the consequences, as well as the sustainability, of a further increase in credits devoted to the defense industry in France, whether on the international, European and national scene.

Is the LPM 2024-2030 already obsolete in the face of changes in security, industrial and technological contexts?

Although this is certainly not pleasant, especially concerning an LPM with ambitions out of all proportion to those which had preceded it so far, the French authorities must, today, question its relevance, or on the contrary, its possible obsolescence, given the changes in security, industrial and technological contexts observed over the last twelve months.

The postulates of the LPM 2024-2030 during its design

Indeed, when it was developed, the Russian armies seemed very weakened. Most experts estimated, then, that it would take many years for Moscow to reform a military force that could eventually defeat Ukraine and represent, once again, a potential conventional threat to Europe.

Defense industrial investments will have more than doubled at the end of the 2024-2030 LPM
Defense industrial investments will have more than doubled at the end of the 2024-2030 LPM

At the same time, the major European defense industrial nations, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain and even Sweden, had not announced any reform, nor any intention of major reform, in this area. . European military programming remained, in fact, close to what it was two years previously, apart from certain emergency acquisition initiatives, such as the German Zeitenwende.

Finally, the number of new major defense equipment programs remained relatively stable compared to previous years. It is true that to respond to the emergency, European chancelleries had largely favored the acquisition of imported equipment, especially from the United States, South Korea and Israel, rather than engaging in developments clean.

The upheaval of the security, industrial and technological context, since July 2023

We therefore understand the feeling of satisfaction which surrounded the publication, then the vote, of the LPM 2024-2030, which appeared, at that time, particularly ambitious in Europe. Since then, however, most of these assumptions have been shattered. Thus, Russia is today in a strong position in Ukraine, and alerts ignored at the start of 2023, concerning the defense industrial rebound in the country, have largely come to fruition.

The great European industrial nations have also evolved their paradigms. Great Britain has thus committed to a defense effort of 2,5%, 20% higher than that of France in 2030. Since then, London has multiplied the announcements concerning new developments of defense equipment, including , sometimes, in contradiction with multinational programs in which the country is nevertheless engaged.

hypersonic missile UK
London has announced the development of a national hypersonic missile, which could duplicate the Franco-British FMC/FMAN program, which has made little progress for many years.

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  1. There is still political room. All the political (and non-military) signatories of the LPM recognized during the vote that it was a minimum and not a maximum. The debates very clearly revealed the doubts of senators and deputies. I don't think the situation is blocked at all. And the prospect of tensions and battles to come electrifies the electorate. No one wants to be caught off guard.


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