Since the resurgence of the concept of European defense following the election of President Macron in 2017 and the start of active but ö how chaotic cooperation with Berlin, the progress recorded in the field has been mixed. At the European level, there is no longer any doubt that the Structured Permanent Cooperation, or PESCO, represents a powerful format to support this European cooperation, and the latest version of projects presented on November 16, 2021, marks in this respect a clear shift towards technological and industrial cooperation focused on operational objectives and shortened timetables, in accordance with the needs of the armed forces. In the area of major industrial programs, the results are much less flattering, since of the 6 major Franco-German cooperation programs announced in 2017, only 3 are still active (Euromale, SCAF and MGCS), the other 3 (MAWS, Tigre 3 and CIFS) having seen their outlook deteriorate significantly in recent months.
But it is in the field of operational cooperation and the stated objective of achieving European strategic autonomy, dear to the French President who has made him the Alpha and Omega of his defense policy, that the results were the most disappointing. Thus, the dynamic desired by Emmanuel Macron, based on a global drive from Europeans to assume their own defense as well as that of their strategic interests, without renouncing alliances but without depending on them, encountered strong opposition from all the leaders. Europeans, including Germany, which is sometimes even the most virulent in the face of French proposals, as was the case with the extension of French nuclear deterrence to some of its neighbors. Despite these stinging setbacks, the French executive has not changed course, and continues to preach, hoping for a very improbable awareness of Europeans themselves.
Franco-Belgian cooperation around the CaMo program
However, France has made significant progress in the field of military cooperation with two European countries in recent years. In the first place, it was Belgium which, after choosing to replace its F-16s with the American F-35A, thereby attracting the wrath of many French commentators often lacking objectivity on the subject, started technological cooperation. industrial and operational with France and the Army, as part of the CAMO program, for Motorized Capacities. Beyond an order for 382 Griffon Multi-Role Armored Vehicles and 60 Jaguar Reconnaissance and Combat Armored Vehicles, this program aims to share, with the Belgian land forces, the operational structure, but also the communication and control systems. command of SCORPION system, as well as doctrines and training with Army units, so as to achieve optimum interoperability between the two armed forces.
This cooperation, which began in 2019, will soon find its first operational application, since the Belgian Army plans to deploy in Mali alongside the French forces of Operation Barkhane, a complete inter-weapon tactical subgroup, the base unit employed by the Army, which brings together around a company, global engagement capabilities by aggregating operational capabilities provided by other units (engineers, transmission, artillery, etc.). To strengthen this operational symbiosis with the French armed forces, the Belgian authorities announced two weeks ago the acquisition of 9 CAESAR artillery systems, while the DGA for its part confirmed that the VBAE program, aimed at replacing the VBL light armored vehicles, will be jointly led by French and Belgian industry.
Franco-Greek cooperation vis-à-vis Turkey
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