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A New Professional Army for France

A New Professional Army for France

Projection of power (Part 8)

"Projection is the priority for classic forces"... : Jacques Chirac, 23rd February 1996.

The engagement of our forces will mainly take place abroad and far from our national territory ; there are two reasons for this :

  • for the first time in French history, there is no longer any direct military threat on our frontiers,
  • our security and our defence are to take place on foreign stages, either in Europe or throughout the world, where our international responsibilities require our presence.

In which case: Neither the place, the type, nor the moment of our action can be foreseen:

  • our action may be situated either within a national, a European, a NATO, or a United Nations framework with a variety of partners,
  • our forces must be immediately available,
  • anticipation and immediate control of complex situations must be possible,
  • action will require the projection of sophisticated armaments and equipment upon which our superiority will depend.

This imperative entails the deployment of versatile forces capable of giving rise to combined groups adapted to the ever-changing type of operation to be carried out.

As far as projection is concerned :

The Army will be deployed around:

  • 4 Forces each comprising about 15 000 men :
  • 1 Tank Force
  • 1 Mechanised Force
  • 1 Rapid Intervention Tank Force
  • 1 Storming Infantry Force

The main equipment used by these forces will either be very recent or still under development, such as the Leclerc tank, the future armoured infantry combat vehicle (VBCI), the Tigre helicopter, the new anti-tank missiles (the latter three weapon systems being jointly developed with Germany), the Horizon helicopter-borne radar, the multiple rocket launcher, etc.

The Navy will dispose of a naval air group and an amphibian force deployable on demand around the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier equipped with the Rafale aircraft, with landing-craft barges (TCD) and with airborne radars (Hawkeye). Its escort will comprise the new, European developed anti-aircraft frigates (Horizon) and antisubmarine frigates.

Furthermore, the Navy will also be able to deploy the new nuclear assault submarines which can be projected several thousand kilometres away.

The Air Force will be capable of projecting about one hundred fighter, air defence, reconnaissance or attack electronic war aircraft. The multi-purpose Rafale aircraft should progressively be the main element of this force ; it will be equipped with modem air to air missiles (MICA) and cruiser missiles of the Apache type. Airspace control will be ensured by the mobile elements of the future air operation command and conduct system (SCCOA) and by airborne detection systems. In-flight refuelling will be a decisive factor in terms of projection.

Transport capacity will be maintained at the present level in spite of overall reductions in the size of the Armed Forces.

Projection also implies the deployment of projectable combined forces command and control systems (PCIAT) and modem satellite signal communication systems (SYRACUSE II), which are inter-operable with those of our allies, enabling permanent, independent assessment of our national situation along with our contribution to the command of the multinational forces within which we may be engaged.

Sources: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence

French Embassies in London and Washington.

For more information, go to French National Defense.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).