France’s lucrative arms deals, by Sébastien Fontanelle (Le Monde diplomatique – .

France’s lucrative arms deals, by Sébastien Fontanelle (Le Monde diplomatique – .

Good but expensive: a Rafale lands on the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, June 2021
Nicolas Tucat · AFP · Getty

umbrellato concern Over the past 50 years, France has sold weapons to some of the most brutally repressive governments in the world. In the 1970s, his client list included South Africa’s apartheid regime, the Argentine junta, Franco’s Spain, and Greek colonels. Today, his privileged clients are Saudi Arabia and Egypt of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

True, at times, and under pressure from friends, he showed integrity and renounced a lucrative deal in the name of (suddenly rediscovered) principles. In 2014, he decided at the last minute not to hand over two warships to Russia because of his actions in Ukraine. But this sudden access to morality soon gave way to even greater cynicism.

In 2011, towards the end of the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, the Russian Vladimir Poutine had ordered two French ships of “projection and command” (helicopter carriers of the Mistral class), baptized Sébastopol and Vladivostok, for a total of 1.2 billion euros. They were to be built at the Saint-Nazaire shipyard, for delivery in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

The agreement is timely for France, its arms industry having suffered some setbacks. According to a report by two French senators on the equipment of the armed forces, the very expensive Rafale program (named after the new fighter plane of the Dassault group) worried. At 2011 prices, it had already cost the government – and French taxpayers, without knowing it – 43.5 billion euros.

This investment was to be recouped through exports. France touted the Rafale’s exceptionally high performance, but foreign buyers found it too expensive and the French Air Force was forced to buy 17 planes much earlier than expected. These were initially to be delivered between 2015 and 2020. Additional cost for French taxpayers: € 1.1 billion.

“Press the pause button”

In these circumstances, the ordinance of Russia for the Sébastopol and Vladivostok was a godsend. But in March 2014, three years after signing the contract and (…)

Full article: 1 580 words.


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