After Brussels and Athens, Bucharest is showing France the way for European Defense cooperation

In an interview given to local media, Romanian Defense Minister Vasile Dîncu revealed that Romania and France had signed a letter of intent to acquire French-designed Scorpene submarines and helicopters for the country's armies. The French authorities, as is often the case now, remained discreet on the subject, as did the manufacturers concerned, contenting themselves with confirming that advanced discussions were taking place with Bucharest within the framework of an extended military and industrial cooperation. These discussions, which take place in a long-standing political and military cooperation between the two countries, in particular with the order of 4 locally built Gowind 2500 corvettes in 2019. However, this announcement is also part of a geopolitical and security context marked by the deployment of French forces, the equivalent of an 800-man Joint Battle Group, and an anti-aircraft defense battery SAMP / T Mamba in Romania as part of the reassurance strategy of the NATO countries forming the western border of the Alliance vis-à-vis Russia.

However, this particular context, which will undoubtedly have favored the rapprochement between Paris and Bucharest on these issues, is reminiscent of that which preceded the similar rapprochement between France and Greece, and which resulted in the order of 24 Rafale aircraft and 3 FDI frigates by Athens, as well as the signing of a bilateral defense agreement between the two countries, so as to dissuade Turkey and its president RT Erdogan from any unfortunate initiative in the Aegean Sea and Cyprus. France had indeed deployed, in the summer of 2020, Rafale aircraft and several naval units of the French Navy in the Aegean Sea to contain Turkish naval and air deployments around the mining exploration vessel Orus Reis.

The first Greek Rafale planes were operational less than 12 months after Athens signed the first order

Two years earlier, in 2018, Belgium turned to France for the CaMo program, aimed at bringing the land forces of the two countries closer together both in the operational field and from the point of view of equipment, and which gave rise to the a order for 382 VBMR Griffon armored vehicles and 60 EBRC Jaguar light tanks. More recently, the Belgian Army also commanded 28 mounted guns of 155mm CAESAR NG, the same ones that will equip the French Army, so that the two armed forces are so close that they will be interchangeable within a deployment, including on the scale of a GTIA or an SGTIA. Brussels and Amsterdam also entrusted the French Naval Group and the Belgian ECA with the design and manufacture of its new fleet of mine warfare vessels, a €2bn contract for 12 vessels, 6 per country.

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