Julian Moxon/PARIS

FRANCE'S DEFENCE minister Charles Millon has revealed plans for a massive shake-up of the DGA (direction generale de l'armament) arms-procurement agency as part of the overall restructuring of the nation's defence industry.

The minister says that the costs and development time for new weapons must be cut by 30% over the next six years, and the workforce reduced. Negotiations on job losses are under way.

The DGA was created in 1961 by Charles de Gaulle and it employs 49,000 people in 50 locations and is responsible for 80% of the French defence budget - around Fr70 billion ($13.8 billion). With no reforms having been imposed since its birth, it has been identified by Millon as in need of major change to lower costs and become more focused on European defence issues.

The strategy outlined by Millon, to the Government on 11 September, calls for a reorganisation along the lines of that now taking place in the European defence industry - with fusion of major departments and a re-alignment of priorities to better reflect the need for a more competitive procurement process.

DGA chief Jean-Yves Helmer, previously president of PSA Peugeot-Citroen, says that the restructuring must lead to programmes managed along the lines of the civil sector, with more focus on integrating roles between departments and introducing concurrent engineering practices to save time and reduce costs. Research centres and test sites will also be rationalised, a further aim, being to develop more weapons able to satisfy common requirements among the armed forces.

Millon also wants the DGA to focus more on the export performance of France's defence industry. Recommendations, which are likely to include fusing the Sofma and Ofema export offices, are expected to be made by the end of the year.

Source: Flight International