By calling on the French defense industry to take more risks, Sébastien Lecornu is only going halfway.

Driven by the international context and some star equipment like le Rafale, Caesar and Scorpene, the French defense industry is today firmly positioned on the second step of the international podium of exporters of global defense equipment, with an order portfolio which has appreciated by €27 billion in 2022 alone.

But the emergence of new players, and the rapid reorganization of this global market, now threatens this industry, and through them, French strategic autonomy. To respond, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, called on the industrialists of the French BITD to return to risk-taking, without however the ministry itself having started its own metamorphosis to make this possible.

Large French groups have thus been able to establish themselves in several key markets, continuing to retain the loyalty of certain long-standing major partners such as Egypt, India, Greece and the United Arab Emirates, while distinguishing themselves during major competitions, in Indonesia, in Croatia or Poland.

However, over the same period of time, other players have experienced significant growth. In Europe, Germany, Italy and Great Britain have already announced record years in this area in 2022 and 2023. The major players, the United States and Russia, continue to vigorously hold their markets traditional and to prepare their return on others, while China progresses more and more quickly.

The emergence of a new threat for the future of the French defense industry

The main cause of concern for Paris, however, is neither Washington, nor Moscow nor Berlin, London or Beijing, but the meteoric progress recorded, in recent years, by three players who were still emerging just ago. five years, and which are now imposing themselves as far as Europe and NATO: South Korea, Turkey and Israel.

K2 South Korea
The South Korean K2 tank is today the most exported battle tank in 2022, and promises to prevail in numerous competitions in the years to come.

Not only have the defense industries of these countries managed to position themselves in certain niche markets on the international scene, but all three have engaged in a vast industrial effort largely supported by their respective States.

In fact, their catalogs continue to expand, now trampling on markets in which Europeans, Americans and Russians were traditionally hegemonic, such as fighter planes, attack helicopters, heavy tanks and even submarines.

Worse still, they are engaged in a much more sustained industrial and generational tempo than in Europe, allowing them to develop specific industrial skills on which Europeans, and even Americans and Russians, have been slow to intervene, as in the case of drones, lurking munitions or active protection systems.

There is therefore no doubt that the arrival of these new players, but also the American repositioning in certain markets, such as in the field of armored vehicles or frigates, the anticipated return of the Russian defense industry enriched with The Ukrainian experience, the rise of Chinese power, and the emergence of certain countries, such as Egypt, Brazil or India, will profoundly change the international arms market in the years to come.

Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu calls on manufacturers to take more risks

The subject is taken very seriously by the Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu. Let us recall, in this respect, that arms exports represent a more than notable component for French foreign trade.

Rafale Neuron
The LPM 2024-2030 launched several key programs for French exports in the years to come, such as the Rafale F5 and its combat drone.

Above all, these exports are essential to the balance within the Defense Industrial and Technological Base, or BITD, in order to enable it to develop and produce all the defense equipment required by the armies.


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