The French government on Tuesday approved a key budget bill presented as the country’s biggest military spending spree in more than 50 years, underscoring the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The bill foresees 413 billion euros ($450 billion) in military spending or the period covering 2024-2030 - up by more than a third relative to the previous timeframe.
Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said bill’s political, budgetary, military and technological drive is comparable to the huge push in the 1960s that saw France develop nuclear weapons, making the country one of the world’s major military powers.
Championed by French President Emmanuel Macron, the bill would notably modernize France’s nuclear arsenal, boost intelligence spending by 60%, double the number of military reservists, reinforce cyberdefense and develop more remote-controlled weapons.
It would also boost the arms industry’s production capacity in order to provide assistance to Ukraine and adequately supply the French military.
“An issue we unfortunately rediscovered with the war in Ukraine is the issue of the ammunition stocks … We will need a ten-year period of time to upgrade all infrastructures and equipment of our military,” Lecornu said.
Lecornu also pointed to the need for anti-drone technology and equipment as being at the heart of the government’s concerns ahead of the Paris Olympics next year and other major events. He warned against a “terrorist threat” but also the potential “misuse” of small, civilian drones.
The budget bill will be debated in parliament in May-June with the aim of entering into force by mid-July, Lecornu said.
Macron’s centrist alliance doesn’t have a majority in either house of parliament, but military officers have long lamented shrinking armed forces spending, while conservative and far-right parties tend to support investment in defense.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS