Is there a pilot for the French defense industrial strategy?

With the return of war in Europe and the rapid deterioration of tensions between major military powers in Asia and the Middle East, the French defense industry found itself, in a few months, a major center of interest both for media than for a number of political personalities who seem to discover the state of disrepair of the stocks of ammunition and spare parts of the armies, or the manufacturing delays of certain equipment such as the Caesar cannon. Not a week now goes by without an announcement concerning the defense industry, the armies or the next military programming law, as well as the resulting comments, finding its way to television sets or the front page. major national media. It was time, we will say, knowing how these subjects lacked public visibility until then.

French military programming, between regained serenity and persistent concerns

It is clear that things have evolved considerably, generally in a positive way, during the previous Military Programming Law 2019-2025, which made it possible to reverse the decreasing curve of funding for the armies and, consequently, for French defense manufacturers, by increasing the annual credits of the armies by more than 30% between 2016 and 2023. And we can never say enough to what extent this reversal of trend has made it possible to avoid an imminent capacity collapse of the French armies , without which they would undoubtedly have encountered the same difficulties as those of the Bundeswehr today. At the same time, the recovery in world demand for military equipment allowed French manufacturers to regain some room for manoeuvre, in particular thanks to certain major export successes such as the Rafale combat aircraft from Dassault Aviation or Nexter's Caesar gun, but also through many other new critical contracts such as the sale of FDI frigates to Greece and NH90 and Caracal helicopters by Airbus Helicopters, which logically led to an increase in orders from equipment manufacturers such as Safran , MBDA and Thales.

The Caesar NG will be heavier, better armored, more modern and much better motorized than the original Caesar

La new Military Programming Law 2024-2030 being finalized will see, for its part, the credits devoted to the armed forces grow again by 30% in 7 years, to reach a defense effort of 2,25% of GDP in 2030. Many new major programs will be delivered during this period, such as the Rafale F4 standard to the Air and Space Force, H160M Cheetah helicopters to the 3 armies, FDI frigates and Suffren submarines to the French Navy, and Scorpion armored vehicles and new Caesars NG to the Army. At the same time, several development programs will be launched, such as the new generation nuclear aircraft carrier, the new F5 standard for the Rafale, or even the 3rd generation nuclear ballistic missile submarines. Finally, targeted efforts will make it possible to close certain critical shortcomings, such as in the case of ammunition, drone systems or intelligence. However, and despite a situation that will undoubtedly be much calmer than it was for the armed forces and for defense manufacturers only a few years ago, there is a very palpable, although often half-spoken, feeling of concern and even exasperation on the part of the latter about military programming. And it is not so much a lack of credits as a lack of strategic management of the French Defense Industrial and Technological Base, or BITD, which would be in question.

An omnipresent state that holds all the decision-making levers

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