Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis meets with Florence Parly, France’s minister of defense, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Oct. 20, 2017. (DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr)

a significant development, the French government has decided to leave its defense budget unchanged despite the economy coming under pressure from coronavirus-induced lockdowns. France will maintain its 2021 defense budget.
The defense budget, planned before the onset of the pandemic, as part of the 2019-2025 military program law, represents “the third year in a row that we have followed the military program law to the letter: This is an unprecedented effort, with an additional €1.7 billion [U.S. $2 billion] or so every year,” said Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly.

She went on to add, since 2019 the armed forces have had €18 billion more to spend compared to 2017. She also noted that for the period of 2019 to 2023, a sum of €110 billion has been sanction for the defense investment budget, which is more than the €100 billion national recovery plan announced by the government last month.

Françoise Dumas, the president of the National Assembly’s National Defense and Armed Forces Committee, however has called for “defense to be at the heart of the future recovery plan.” Voicing similar concerns, Cédric Perrin, vice president of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces, argued “there is no specific component of this €100 billion plan for the defense industry.”

While the French government has allocated €49.7 billion in its defense budget for 2021, it includes payment appropriations to the tune of €39.2 billion – a planned expenditure detailed in the 2019-2025 military program law. Further, a record €22.3 billion has been earmarked from this towards upgrading defense installations and equipment; €12.3 billion has been allocated towards payment of wages and €4.6 billion towards operating costs. The department focused on veterans’ affairs is set to receive €2 billion from the defense budget while €8.5 billion has been allocated towards pensions.

From the defense budget, the Army is set to procure:
• 10 SDT tactical drones.
• 850 portable radios and place orders for 2,900 more. Receive 925 vehicle radios and place orders for 7,300 more.
• 12,000 HK416F assault rifles and place orders for 12,000.
• 5 Caiman helicopters and place orders for 21 light joint helicopters.
• 20 Jaguar armored vehicles; 157 Griffon armored vehicles; 80 renovated VBL light armored vehicles and place orders for 120 more;
• 1,000 VLTP light tactical multipurpose vehicles.
• 200 MMP medium-range missiles and 75 firing posts.

From the defense budget, the Navy is set to procure:
• FREMM multimission frigate and place order for an intervention and defense FDI frigate; upgrade light stealth frigate.
• A Caiman helicopter and place orders for 8 HIL light joint helicopters.
• 3 upgraded ATL2 patrol aircraft.
• Aster 30 missiles; F21 Artemis torpedoes; and 4 Exocet MM40 Block 3C anti-ship missiles and place orders for 45 Exocet kits.

From the defense budget, the Air Force is set to procure:
• 90 upgraded Scalp missiles.
• 14 Talios laser designation pods.
• 1 Atlas A400M transport aircraft; 3 A330 Phénix multirole tankers; 2 upgraded C-130H transport aircraft; and 14 upgraded Mirage M2000D fighter aircraft.
• Specifically for the space segment, a Musis/CSO satellite; 15 Syracuse IV ground stations; and one Ceres satellite system.
• Six SCCOA 4 radars.

The defense budget also factors in the ordering of 1 HIL light joint helicopter; 150 Mica NG training missiles; 367 MICA NG air-to-air missiles and 13 Syracuse IV ground stations.

Two major programs for the service are also scheduled for launch in 2021 including the future combat air system demonstrator and the Mentor training aircraft.