France sets out defense plans for 2019-2025
The military estimates bill was presented at the Council of Ministers’ meeting today, and Parliament is due to adopt it this summer. Covering the period 2019-2025, it includes an increased budget, breaking with previous trends in defense spending.
The bill confirms the French President’s commitment to increase the defense budget to 2% of GDP by 2025. It provides for a financial outlay of €198 billion over the period 2019-2023 and plans for a total of €295 billion over the period 2019-2025. This represents an average budget of €39.6 billion per year over the next five years (the 2018 budget is €34.2 billion, having already benefited from a €1.8-billion increase).
It also addresses the challenges set out by the strategic review presented in October 2017: in an unstable and uncertain strategic environment, and in an age of significant unrest marked by the persistent terrorist threat, more assertive power strategies, harsher conflicts, better-equipped adversaries and the emergence of new and in particular digital challenges, what armed forces model does France need in order to be equal to its ambitions?
So this military estimates bill proposes a model of full and balanced armed forces, capable of fulfilling their missions sustainably and over the long term, through a twofold ambition:
What is essential today: to restore to our armed forces now, and especially to the men and women who keep them alive and active, the means to fulfil their missions in the long term.
What is necessary tomorrow: to prepare the future of France’s defense up to 2030 and help build defense Europe.
This means four major priorities have been built into the military estimates bill:
1 - A staff-oriented bill
The bill is “staff-oriented”, focusing especially on the soldiers, sailors, airmen and women and civilian personnel serving in our armed forces and their families: training, operational preparation, small items of equipment, kit, practice and local support.
- 100% of the service personnel deployed on external operations will be equipped with the new fireproof battle uniforms by 2020 (with the first 23,000 delivered this year). All forces will have them by 2025;
- 55,000 of the latest bulletproof vests, 25,000 of them delivered next year, with 100% of National Guard soldiers equipped in 2019;
- 32,000 CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) suits delivered in 2020 and nearly 165,000 suits delivered over the whole period 2019-2025;
- Nearly 43,000 new helmets delivered over the period 2019-2025;
- €530 million devoted to the Family Plan over the period 2019-2025.
2 - Updating operational capabilities
The bill provides for our operational capabilities to be updated, to make up for past shortcomings and prepare for the future.
- Army: as part of the acceleration of the Scorpion programme, 50% of new medium-weight armoured vehicles (Griffons, Jaguars and Light VBMRs) will be delivered by 2025;
- Navy: the first four Barracuda-class nuclear-powered attack submarines, the last three FREMMs (European Multi-Mission Frigates) and the first two FTIs (Medium-Size Frigates) will be delivered. Three (Lafayette-class) light stealth frigates will also be updated;
- Air force: six armed Reaper UAVs, the first European MALE UAV, fighter planes (28 new Rafales and 55 updated M2000Ds) and 12 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) aircraft will be delivered by 2023;
- The bill also provides for an update of the nuclear deterrent’s two components, marine and airborne.
3 - Guaranteeing our strategic autonomy and supporting the emergence of European strategic autonomy
The military estimates bill is a commitment to our strategic autonomy with increased resources for intelligence and the battle in cyberspace. It is geared to cooperation and Europe.
- Cyberspace: €1.6 billion allocated to the battle in cyberspace and 1,000 extra cyber warriors by 2025;
- Intelligence: 1,500 new jobs and €4.6 billion of investment for its equipment (satellites, UAVs, electronic-warfare aircraft etc.);
- Space: deliveries of new surveillance and telecommunications assets (two observation satellites, two telecommunications satellites, one SIGINT satellite);
- International cooperation: increasing the number of servicemen and women from partner armed forces trained by the French armed forces in host countries from 20,000 to 30,000, and proposing to European partners that they participate in these training activities, to act collectively before potential crises break out.
4 - Innovating to tackle future challenges
This military estimates bill paves the way for decidedly modern, innovative armed forces, with more money for research, innovation and the renewal and acceleration of our key armament programmes. It also provides for a major programme to transform and modernize the Ministry, in order to guarantee that every euro is invested as efficiently as possible to benefit our armed forces.
- R&D: the budget allocated to studies and innovation will increase from today’s €730 million to €1 billion from 2022;
- An average of €1.8 billion will be allocated every year to preparing future armament programmes (design studies for the Future Combat Air System, future battle tank and successor to the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier);
- Ministry modernization: 14 projects to modernize the Ministry focusing inter alia on the management of equipment programmes, operational maintenance, innovation, digitization, central and regional organization of the Ministry, and services.