LPM 2023: 5 capability opportunities to prepare the French armies for High Intensity

The series of articles devoted to the 2023 Military Programming Law is coming to an end. We have so far addressed many subjects, whether strategic, such as the future of the global army format inherited from General de Gaulle, or purely technical subjects, such as the advisability of providing the French Navy with sub- conventionally powered sailors alongside its SSNs. If these articles made it possible to present in a relatively exhaustive way the stakes but also the constraints which will apply to this LPM, the last two articles which will conclude this series, treat, for their part, of potential Quickwin, capacities on the one hand, technological on the other hand, likely to provide the armies with significant operational benefits in terms of high-intensity engagement, for costs significantly lower than those to which they are subject to develop similar capabilities, and with timeframes compatible with the execution of the Programming Law.

This first article deals with Quickwins abilities, forgive the anglicism, but there is hardly a term in the French language likely to write this notion of quick wins and with limited effort, which can be characterized by compliance with 3 strict criteria, namely a capacity gain of more than 20% compared to the existing one, a cost of less than 35% of the standard price, and implementation times of less than 7 years, thus allowing a capacity gain before 2030. This non-exhaustive article has identified 5 of these Quickwins, relating to the Air Force's fighter fleet, the French Navy's surface and maritime patrol fleet, as well as the the Army's fleet of tanks and combat helicopters, all of which are strongly affected by the evolution of the high-intensity engagement threat.

1- Bring the Army's Leclerc tank fleet to 270 units

The 2019-2025 Military Programming Law, taking up the format enacted by the 2014 White Paper, plans, to date, to modernize only 200 Leclerc tanks to constitute the strike force of French land units until at least 2035 and the arrival of the first armored vehicles from the MGCS program. However, this number will force the Army to reduce the staffing of its 4 tank regiments arming the 2 French divisions, namely the 1st hunter regiment of Thierville-sur-Meuse in Lorraine, the 501st tank regiment of Mourmelon- le-Grand, the 12th Cuirassier Regiment of Olivet, and the 5th Dragoon Regiment of Mailly-le-Camp, as well as to remove the allocation of 15 Leclercs to the 5th Cuirassier Regiment positioned in the United Arab Emirates. In order to equip these 4 regiments with the 60 Leclerc tanks they need, and to preserve the endowment of the 5th Cuirassier regiment on the one hand, and of the 1st African Chasseurs de Canjuers regiment which trains the crews, the Army would need not 200 tanks, but 270 modernized Leclercs. However, this need could be easily satisfied, and at a lower cost.

Leclerc AZUR Military alliances | Defense Analysis | Australia
The Leclerc remains a very mobile and effective combat tank, including against the most modern tanks.

Indeed, the Army still aligned at the beginning of the 2010s, 356 Leclerc tanks. Apart from the 220 copies still in service, the 136 copies have been mothballed. As often in this case, they were used for a lot of stock of spare parts, especially since the 2010s were marked by starving budgets and far from negligible operational pressure. However, to date, about fifty of these tanks could actually be taken out of their reserve and, subject to technical reorganization and MLU modernization, could very well come to complete the inventory of French tank regiments. In total, the 50 tanks preserved, as well as the 20 units still in service, would represent a capacity gain of 35% for the Army in this key area for high intensity. The investments necessary for such an upgrade should represent, for their part, between 3 and 4 m€ per armored vehicle, i.e. 35% of the price of a modernized Leclerc, if indeed this notion makes sense since it is impossible to France to produce new Leclerc for many years and the dismantling of the production line. Finally, the necessary work could without great difficulty be carried out during the upcoming LPM, ie before 2030, thus respecting the definition initially given to Quickwin.

2- Acquire the Emirati Mirage 2000-9 for the Air and Space Force

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