Building Tomorrow’s Industry and Land Armament
Industry and Land Armament
Speech by the
French Minister of Defence, Michèle Alliot-Marie, at the
Eurosatory opening ceremony. Paris, June 14th, 2004.
Source: DICoD, Paris.
It is for me a great honour and a great pleasure to open,
this year again, the renowned Eurosatory show.
Two years ago, I expounded for the first time the issues related to land
armaments and defence industry in front of you.
This took place in a context of serious difficulties.
After years of severe crisis, the decline has now been curbed.
The interest showed by many defence ministers from and outside Europe in favour
of Eurosatory, proves that we can be confident in the future and with the
prospect of cooperation.
I would like to welcome you all, and in particular the numerous foreign
The new dynamics and prospects are partly the result of France’s financial
effort addressed in the 2003-2008 Defence Program Law.
My ambition for France is a powerful and competitive industry, which must be
capable of setting up strong European partnerships. It is the requirement for
the emergence of a genuine European military industry and for our strategic
autonomy. France’s political influence on the international stage is also
related to them.
In two years, significant
progress has been achieved.
Regarding these initial
successes, we should now resolutely look towards the future.
It is our responsibility to build tomorrow’s land armament industry.
It relies on France’s financial
efforts, addressed in the Defence Program Law.
It relies on the restructuring plans which have been led for two years.
The severe maintenance crisis
which broke out in 1999-2000 is now behind us.
The significant budgetary efforts, which have been decided by the President of
the Republic and agreed by the Nation are now taking shape, even if the overall
recovery can only be gradually achieved.
The efforts helped to maintain 90% of the operational technical availability for
outside operations and above all, to launch a real recovery of this availability
in metropolitan France.
Such a recovery was achieved thanks to our collective mobilization.
We have to pursue the effort together.
I addressed the issue of the firms under the responsibility of my department,
such as GIAT Industries, or DCN, SNPE and SNECMA, with the same concern for
efficiency and competitiveness.
In summer 2002, the economical
situation of GIAT Industries required difficult but essential decisions.
The Government then displayed its ambition to maintain a national land armaments
It was also a choice for Europe.
In April 2003, breaking with the past, it thus was decided to launch GIAT’s
This program is hinged on an “industry contract”, concluded by the State as soon
as march 2004 for the period of the Defence Program Law (2003-2008), and beyond.
GIAT Industries’ change is now supported by a credible base of command and
It also offers GIAT employees a better future.
The Government decided to put the emphasis on the employees’ redeployment and
the restructuring of GIAT industrial sites, while also supporting social
dialogue within GIAT, which gives all the players greater responsibilities.
GIAT Industries broke with the past and is now a forward-looking group.
It is well-aware that it must get involved in French and European partnerships
as soon as possible.
Sharing financing and
risk-taking with manufacturers develops innovating financing procedures, which
boost the modernization of our equipment.
As you know, I expressed the will to implement these new tools as soon as we
started working on the draft of the Defence Program Law.
I drew up a first list of projects, which are progressing quickly:
Resources for the initial
training of helicopter pilots,
Management and maintenance of
Outsourcing of the management
of Gendarmerie’s real estate.
I also asked the study of other
issues relating to land armament.
The acquisition of the multi-role land carrier could thus be made through a
private-public financing process. The management of the Training Centre for
Urban Combats could also be outsourced.
Here, at Eurosatory, you will
have the opportunity to see the first prototype of the Véhicule Blindé de Combat
d’Infanterie (VBCI - Infantry Combat Armoured Vehicle).
This prototype shows that the overall program has been reorganized and that it
is now well-conducted.
I can also confirm the order of 72 CEASAR guns for the Army.
The business negotiations being completed, the contract should be signed by
As for the FELIN combat systems, a contract has already been signed.
It will provide our infantry soldiers with high-tech equipments by 2006.
France will be one of the first countries whose Army will be equipped with such
A demonstrator is going to be
built, in the field of the “air-land operational cocoon” (ALOC).
With the “ALOC” demonstrator new technological capacities, essential to future
land forces will be gained.
It will be a unifying program since it will associate industrial groups of the
land sector such as GIAT Industries with firms specialised in electronic systems
such as Thales, SAGEM and EADS.
To be sure, the project will be open to European cooperation, with reference to
the UCAV project, which is conducted by Dassault Aviation.
In the UAV sector, I decided to launch a Euromale demonstrator project, open to
a large European cooperation.
The initiative should enable us to cover an operational and strategic need.
In the future, it will allow to structure an autonomous European industrial
offer under EADS conduct.
EADS contributes to the project via the investment of its net assets, with the
partnership of Thales and Dassault for the development.
On this occasion, EADS and Dassault signed a founding agreement on UAVs MALE and
UCAV, which prefigures the European industry for military reconnaissance and
These projects add to the tactical UAVs programmes in which SAGEM already plays
a key-role in Europe.
European cooperation projects with prospective partners are already launched.
It is ineluctable and essential
to strengthen land armament in Europe, because of the risk of an industry
The strengthening must be activated soon.
Today the French industry can point out the numerous future plans supported by
the Ministry of Defence in order to structure itself and encourage its European
Thanks to its regained reliability, GIAT Industries can now initiate the
necessary discussions for developing future French and European partnerships.
The European industry will only be competitive if a better and long-term
coordination between national players is carried out.
The European Procurement Agency (EPA) mission is to act in real terms on these
It must serve a European armament market, for the benefit of our forces
I told my counterparts that I was favouring such an agency, which should be
officially established during the European Council on June 17th.
We have “moved defence into the right direction” for two years, not only because
defence is the “security asset” of French citizens, but also because it
generates jobs, technological and industrial progress.
The coming programmes in the field of land armament will allow us to buy the
appropriate equipment for crisis management in the context of present and future
France, like its partners, must be able to develop operational capabilities,
well-suited for both its worldwide responsibilities and the stakes of European
The future of European Defence, as you know, goes through co-operation as far as
armament is concerned.
It gives industrial companies an unprecedented opportunity and is necessary in
order to strengthen our industrial and technological basis.
I shall conclude by wishing great success to this new Eurosatory show, before I
begin the inaugural visit.