Budget Curtails French Spending, Retains Programs

By Amy Svitak
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

The French defense ministry says this gap was at risk of increasing considerably in budget forecasts for the coming years. However, “this white paper puts an end to the funding gap that had grown between the forecasts embedded in the previous LPM and current financial perspectives.”

The document appears to shelve plans for building a second aircraft carrier and to reduce purchases of Dassault Rafales over the life of the program. The defense strategy calls for a total of 225 fighters for both air and naval forces. France had previously targeted a purchase of 286 Rafale combat jets, in addition to its fleet of Mirage 2000s.

The strategy also pares back a planned buy of Airbus A330 Multirole Tanker Transport aircraft to 12 from 14, identifying aerial refueling as a capability where assets could be pooled among European governments. A plan to field 10 medium-range air defense systems also met the chopping block, reducing the number to eight.

On the drone front, the document provides some clarity, calling for the purchase of 12 UAVs for theater surveillance, along with an unstated number of light aircraft for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and a new generation of targeting pods.

France also expects to maintain 50 tactical transport and seven surveillance aircraft—including four AWACS (airborne warning and control system) and three E-2C Hawkeye maritime patrol aircraft.

Cyberdefense will be given a higher priority in the new road map than it saw under Sarkozy, and special forces will see additional resources to increase the size of the French joint special operations command.

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