The French Armies (also) need a €100 billion recapitalization plan

Just a few days after the start of the Russian offensive against Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz presented to the Bundestag, the German parliament, a plan aimed at investing an envelope of €100 billion intended to repair some of the most serious failures. criticism noted within the Bundeswehr, while engaging in a dynamic to bring the country's defense effort beyond the threshold of 2% of GDP required by NATO by 2025. Since then, the vast majority of countries Europeans, whether or not they are members of NATO, have announced a significant increase in their own defense efforts, all committing, at more or less immediate deadlines, to respect or exceed the threshold of 2% of GDP , which has become in some way the marker of a coherent defense effort in the face of the strategic recomposition underway in Europe, but also in the World.

The French authorities had remained particularly discreet in this area.. It is true that the country had undertaken, since 2017, an effort aimed at reversing the curve of investments in Defense, with a Strategic Review and a Military Programming Law (LPM) establishing a linear increase in the budget of the armies by 1,7, €2022 billion per year until 3, then €2023 billion per year in 2024 and 2022. In addition, defense issues were not part of the major campaign themes for the presidential election nor for the legislative elections that followed. , neither on the part of the outgoing president, nor on the part of the oppositions, forming an opaque cover around the subject over the entire period. On the occasion of the Eurosatory XNUMX exhibition last June, the newly re-elected President Macron, however, announced that an update of the LPM would be necessary to respond to new defense challenges, confirming that the country should increase its defense effort in the years to come. A week ago, it was the Minister of the Armed Forces, Sebastien Lecornu, who confirmed that the army budget would increase by €3 billion in 2023, thus responding to a recently published Cours de Compte report which warned against the budgetary sustainability of such an effort.

mzcron eurosatory Defense Analysis | Artillery | Fighter jets
During his opening speech at the Eurosatory 2022 exhibition, Emmanuel Macron announced the upcoming adaptation of the French defense effort to new security challenges in Europe and around the world.

During her General Policy speech to parliament, Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne clarified the outlines of this effort, indicating that President Macron would soon define the contours of a new Military Programming Law, without detailing the timetable or the outline. However, and even if the French Armies have a great need to see their budgetary capacities grow gradually so as to respond to security issues not that new, but ignored until now for fear of having to respond, they suffer, like the Bundeswehr, from certain critical capability deficits which should be treated separately and immediately, as Olaf did Scholz on February 27 in front of the Bundestag. In this article, we will study the opportunity for the French armies but also the national defense industry to rely on a similar investment plan of €100 billion, but also how to finance such an effort while respecting the constraints budget of the country.

Armies designed on a bygone doctrine

If the French armies suffer from many critical deficiencies, these are very often very different from those affecting the German armies. There where the Bundeswehr largely suffered from poorly designed and inappropriate political arbitrations, hampering its overall effectiveness, the French armies managed to maintain most of the capabilities they had at the end of the Cold War, but in a limited manner. The fact is, the French armies today respond to a doctrine defined by the White Paper of 2013, the main lines of which were maintained during the Strategic Review of 2017. They were thus able to maintain a global army format, and were forced to respond to a doctrine which, then, could make sense, namely to rely on dissuasion for the preservation and protection of the territory and strategic interests of the country, on a projectable expeditionary force for external operations, and on a limited but coherent force for coalition interventions. To maintain and bring to life all of its requirements with a budget of just over €32 billion per year (2016), the Armed Forces had to reduce the format of certain capabilities, with a fighter fleet gradually reduced to 185 aircraft for the Air Force (compared to more than 450 in 1995), and 40 aircraft for Naval Aeronautics (75 in 1995), which also lost its second aircraft carrier.

Rafale e Mirage 2000 D foto Air Force Analyzes Defense | Artillery | Fighter aircraft
The Air and Space Force is currently missing between 60 and 80 combat aircraft to respond to current operational realities.

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3 Comments

  1. […] Until the beginning of the Russian intervention in Ukraine, the French executive had one watchword and only one concerning the conduct of the defense effort: All the Military Programming Law 2019-2025, but that the LPM 2019-2025. Designed on the basis of the 2017 Strategic Review, itself strongly constrained by the 2013 White Paper, the 2019-2025 LPM aimed to repair the significant damage resulting from two decades of under-investment in the French armies, even though the operational pressure remained very high. It is clear that in 5 years, the situation of the armies has greatly improved, with an annual budget increased by €8,5 billion, i.e. more than 25%, several respected critical programs such as SCORPION for the Army, the renewal of frigates and submarines for the French Navy, or the arrival of A330M Phoenix tanker aircraft and A400M transport aircraft for the Air and Space Force. However, this LPM remained inspired by a doctrine based on the association of a two-component deterrence, an expeditionary force that can be deployed quickly for External Operations, and a reduced conventional power only capable of intervening in coalition. The war in Ukraine, but also the growing tensions in the Pacific, in Africa and in the Middle East, have now made this defensive approach, if not obsolete, at least unsuited to the challenges that the French armies will have to respond to in the months and years To…. […]

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