STUTTGART, Germany — The French ministry of defense is pouring billions of euros into critical technologies and new equipment in 2022, as it sets its sights on a future battlefield dominated by advanced platforms, cyber defenses and space-based capabilities.
The budget, released Sept. 22, includes €40.9 billion [$49 billion] and reflects the nation’s commitment to increase its defense funds by €1.7 billion [$2 billion] year over year since 2019. That yearly increase is a key component of the ministry’s 2019-2025 military program law; in 2021, the ministry allocated €39.2 billion to its military forces.
For the fourth year in a row, the French defense budget is in a “massive” upswing, and the 2022 budget represents a €9 billion increase over the 2017 budget, ministry spokesman Hervé Grandjean told reporters on Wednesday. The French government has invested a cumulative €26 billion on defense over the past five years, a number that comprises all of the yearly budget increases, he noted.
The goal of the next year’s funding is to focus on new areas of conflict — namely in space, cyber defense and intelligence — along with the operational units, Grandjean said. The French military is expected to count 273,000 personnel by 2022, including 208,000 troops and 65,000 civilians.
About €1 billion will be disbursed by the nation’s Defence Innovation Agency specifically to tackle next-generation priorities, such as quantum technologies, artificial intelligence systems, and directed-energy weapons.
A portion of that sum will also be allocated toward two major development programs: the Franco-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System (FCAS) — known in France as the système combat aérien du futur (SCAF) — and the next-generation tank known as the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) being co-developed by Paris and Berlin.
Grandjean did not disclose how much of the innovation agency funds would go toward these two projects. He noted that the FCAS collaborators intend to spend several billion euros between 2021 and 2027 on the program’s development stage. That phase includes a sixth-generation fighter jet powered by a brand new engine, “loyal wingman”-type unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to be deployed alongside it, a next-generation weapon system, assorted new sensors and stealth technology, and a combat cloud system to help connect all the parts.
Also in the emerging and disruptive technology realm, the French military plans to spend €646 million in the space domain, and €23 million in the counter-drone arena in 2022.
The Air and Space Force will receive a number of anti-drone jammer guns, and plans to deploy an experimental counter-UAS laser weapon aboard a navy ship at sea next year. The system, developed by the French company Cilas and co-funded by France’s military procurement agency, was already successfully demonstrated on land a few months ago in Biscarrosse, per the ministry.
About €231 million will go toward cyber systems, and by 2022, France will recruit an additional 2,000 “cyber fighters” to bring their manpower in that domain up to 5,000 strong. The nation also plans to spend about €11 million to develop a sovereign combat cloud capability.
Key service procurements and deliveries.
The ministry expects a number of major equipment orders in 2022. The Army plans to procure:
- 200 medium-range missiles;
- 396 armored vehicles, to include Griffon, Jaguar, and Serval vehicles;
- 50 upgraded Leclerc tanks, intended to extend the service life of the battle tanks and serve as a capability bridge until the MGCS comes online by 2035;
- 12,000 HK416 assault rifles.
The Navy plans to procure 11 satellite communication ground stations, while the Air and Space Force is buying four upgraded C-130H military transport aircraft, along with one SCCOA radar system.
Additionally, 2022 will see “very significant deliveries” across all the services, Grandjean shared. For the Army, they include:
- 245 armored vehicles, including Griffon, Jaguars and Servals;
- 200 medium-range missiles;
- eight NH90 Army-variant multirole helicopters;
- 2,075 radios.
The Navy expects to receive:
- four upgraded ATL2 patrol aircraft;
- the first air-defense variant of France’s multi-mission frigate (FREMM), l’Alsace (D656);
- the second Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine, le Duguay-Trouin;
- the first of four new “BRF” dual-hulled replenishment tanker vessels in the Jacques–Chevallier class, which will replace the navy’s aging single-hulled Durance-class tankers.
The Air and Space Force expect to receive:
- three A330 MRTT aerial refueling aircraft;
- two A400M military transport aircraft;
- two upgraded Mirage 2000D fighter aircraft.
Additionally, multiple satellites will be launched in 2022. The service’s first Ceres signals intelligence system will enter orbit, kicking off what will ultimately be a three-satellite constellation. A third CSO Earth observation satellite will be launched, completing that constellation, and the first Syracuse IV will be launched, to provide greater connectivity to all domains and a needed upgrade over the current Syracuse III satellite, Grandjean said.
“We need bandwidth, we need connectivity, and this is what our new Syracuse IV satellites will give us,” he said, noting these capabilities will be key to enabling the entire FCAS system of systems.
Maintenance and infrastructure.
French Minister of Defense Florence Parly has made it a priority to ensure the nation’s military equipment is better taken care of into the future, and therefore €300 million is allocated for maintenance, Grandjean said.
The ministry expects to spend about €2.4 billion on new equipment infrastructure. This will include the construction of France’s Space Command headquarters and the NATO military space center of excellence, both to be headquartered in Toulouse. The ministry also plans to build new infrastructure to house the air force’s A400M fleet, the army’s armored vehicles, and the navy’s Barracuda-class submarines.
About €1.6 billion is earmarked for “small equipment,” such as 70,000 new fire-proof, more breathable mesh clothing units, and 5,000 ergonomic bullet-proof vests.
Overall, the €40.9 billion total budget for 2022 includes €23.7 billion for equipment and modernization; €12.6 billion for salaries; and €4.6 billion for utilities and day-to-day operations.
Of the €1.7 billion increase over 2021′s budget, about €800 million is destined for armament programs and equipment maintenance, €600 million for smaller equipment expenditures, and improvements such as benefits and housing, and €300 million for salaries.
Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News.