Rafale, a second aircraft carrier (PA2), and FREMM multimission frigates are on the chopping block as a result of the firthcoming French Defense White Paper. The only remaining question is whether French President Sarkozy will intervene and pardon any of the projects, sparing them from drastic cuts.
(Is the sun setting on Rafale? credit: Sirpa air)
In the run up to next month’s release of the planning document – which will underpin long-term strategy and the 2009-2013 defense spending law to be formulated this year – details have started to leak about where things may be headed.
The Rafale fighter, for instance, could see procurement numbers slashed, with some suggestions it could be a dramatic cutback to as few around 200 aircraft from the 294 jets planned today. Annual production rates also would be curtailed.
The FREMM program may be shrunk to 12 ships from 17, while the number of fighting vehicles to be procured would also be trimmed.
France, like many other countries, faces a big defense modernization bow wave, and Sarkozy’s government has said for some time that painful choices will have to be made to rein in spending. A base closing process also is ahead.