French De­fence bud­get in­creased

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - World Aviation & Defence News -

The French Loi de Pro­gram­ma­tion Mil­i­taire (LPM or Mil­i­tary Planning Act), cov­er­ing the pe­riod 2019-2025 has been pre­sented to the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters for con­sid­er­a­tion and in­cludes the pro­posal for a ma­jor in­crease in de­fence spend­ing. To­tal ex­pen­di­ture over the pe­riod is sched­uled to be €295bn, of which €198bn has been bud­geted for dur­ing the present five-year gov­ern­ment term be­tween 2019 and 2023. The LPM pro­vides for the de­liv­ery of 28 new-build Rafales to the Ar­mée de l’Air (French Air Force) be­tween 2022 and 2024, while 30 more of the type will be or­dered in 2023 for de­liv­ery by 2030. Ef­forts to fur­ther im­prove the Rafale’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties will in­clude de­vel­op­ing the F4 stan­dard, work on which is to be launched this year. A mid-life up­grade of the ASMPA mis­sile will also be car­ried out. Ad­di­tion­ally, the air force will ben­e­fit from the de­liv­ery of 55 re­fur­bished and up­graded Mi­rage 2000Ds. Hand over of A330 MRTT air­craft will be ac­cel­er­ated, com­pared with pre­vi­ous planning, with 12 due to ar­rive by 2023 and a fur­ther three ex­pected to be or­dered, tak­ing the to­tal MRTT fleet to 15 by 2025.

The tac­ti­cal trans­port fleet re­newal will con­tinue, with 11 A400Ms due to be ac­cepted dur­ing the pe­riod, along with the fi­nal two C-130Js in 2019. All 14 ex­ist­ing C-130Hs will un­dergo mod­erni­sa­tion, although a pro­gramme to re­place them will be ini­ti­ated by 2030. An avion­ics retro­fit and mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the four E-3F AWACS air­craft will en­sure full in­ter­op­er­abil­ity with NATO forces, even as the search for re­place­ments will be­gin by 2035.

The LPM will also con­sider a Sys­téme de Com­bat Aérien Fu­tur (SCAF, Fu­ture Air Com­bat Sys­tem), which will be a co-op­er­a­tive pro­gramme , with de­vel­op­ment of cer­tain el­e­ments be­gun dur­ing this time pe­riod. The SCAF will com­prise in­ter­con­nected plat­forms and ar­ma­ment, cen­tred on a multi-role com­bat air­craft cov­er­ing the en­tire spec­trum of op­er­a­tions, tar­geted for ser­vice en­try by 2040. As for UCAVs, joint stud­ies with Ger­many, Spain and Italy will con­tinue with a view to launch­ing a Euro­pean MALE (Medium-Al­ti­tude Long-En­durance) UAV pro­gramme next year and de­liv­ery of the first sys­tem in 2025. It is planned to have eight MALE UAV sys­tems in op­er­a­tion by 2030. The first three Pa­troller tac­ti­cal UAV sys­tems will be handed over and it is in­tended to have up to five in the French Army in­ven­tory by 2030. In ad­di­tion, 15 UAV sys­tems will be or­dered for the French Navy, with en­try into ser­vice planned for 2028. Light tac­ti­cal UAVs, with multi-sen­sor in­tel­li­gence ca­pa­bil­i­ties and a weapons op­tion, will be ac­quired for the spe­cial forces in 2019. The French Navy’s 18 At­lan­tique 2s will be up­graded even as a pro­gramme will be­gin to search for a re­place­ment. Un­der the Charge Uni­verselle de Guerre Élec­tron­ique (CUGE) pro­gramme, three Das­sault Fal­con ded­i­cated elec­tronic war­fare air­craft will be ac­quired to re­place the two age­ing C-160G Gabriele air­craft cur­rently em­ployed in the role.

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