File photo: France’s Rafale fighter loaded with nuclear missiles
France has taken a series of moves on military buildup recently. It has announced the progress on several arms orders, revealed its roadmap for UAV and space development, and released its plan for overseas military deployments and actions for the future period. This has caught close attention in the world.
According to military observer Du Wenlong, everything France is doing recently in the military domain is to meet its demand for becoming a major power in Europe.
Du noted that France is adjusting its national defense policy at a faster rate. President Macron even declared a state of “wartime economy”, wanting to adjust national defense production, weapon development, and equipment procurement.
France’s weapon and equipment procurement has a long lead time – 8 to 10 years for high-end weapons, which doesn’t meet its urgent need for military transformation. Now the country is simplifying the procurement process and actively upgrading the weapons and equipment, getting ready to play a so-called “important role” in Europe.
The French military is at a crossroads now. It may set up a space force or cyber force and pay more attention to the development of high-end and transitional weapons and equipment in order to cope with the possible chain reactions from the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
At the same time, the French military has tried hard to highlight its presence overseas. On the South Pacific, it assigned a naval fleet to Australia to participate in large military exercises such as the Exercise Pitch Black 2022 and Exercise Kakadu 2022; on the West Pacific, it dispatched a FALCON 2000 reconnaissance plane to carry out operations. The French Navy also plans to send a fleet to the Asia Pacific.
Du Wenlong held that the series of military deployments reflect France’s intention of following America’s steps to extend its antenna to the Asia Pacific and consequently enhance its influence in the region. At America’s command and incitation, Paris is now intensifying its military deployments in the Indo-Pacific. Its fleet has had joint exercises with America’s aircraft carrier combat group, and its warplanes have deployed and exercised at several locations in the Asia Pacific. Paris is looking to the east and making military deployments there amid NATO’s so-called shift to the Asia Pacific.
Despite seemingly ambitious military plans , France will have limited effects on the regional security situation due to its economic and military weakness and other factors.
According to Du, it will be very difficult for France to achieve something big no matter how much it yearns for a more important role in European affairs because its small economy is unable to sustain the huge military spending and overseas deployments. Besides, France also has many short links regarding the size of troops and the R&D of weapons and equipment, and it is unable to take expansionary actions, including military actions overseas, independent from the US.
Editor's note: Originally published on military.cnr.cn, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.