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French White Paper sets equipment course for 2025

France plans to allocate a total of €364 billion ($479 billion) to its defence budget between 2014 and 2025, with the sum and a broad equipment breakdown having been outlined in a new White Paper published by Paris on 29 April.

Initiated by President François Hollande in July 2012, the Livre Blanc process represents the first strategic defence review to have been conducted by the nation since 2008.

Of the planned total spend, some €179 billion will be allocated for the 2014-2019 period to be covered by France's next law on military planning. Firm details of this should emerge "during the autumn", according to the publication. By comparison, France's defence spending for 2013 is valued at €31.4 billion.

The planned force structure outlined in the Livre Blanc calls for the French air force and navy to operate a combined fleet of 225 combat aircraft, including those operating from the latter's lone aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle. The air force should also have a fleet of 50 tactical transports by the end of the budget period, along with seven surveillance aircraft and 12 Airbus Military A330 multirole tanker transports, to be acquired from 2014. Its unmanned air system inventory should also total 12 theatre surveillance drones.

French army aviation assets should comprise 140 reconnaissance and attack helicopters, 115 utility helicopters and around 30 tactical unmanned air vehicles, the report says.

While firm details will not emerge until the next law on military planning has been finalised, other projects to be pursued will include upgrading the navy's Dassault ATL-2 Atlantique maritime patrol aircraft, acquiring a replacement for MBDA's Mica air-to-air missile and completing the development of the MBDA FASGW/ANL helicopter-launched anti-ship missile with the UK. Paris also plans to continue work leading to the introduction of unmanned combat air vehicles post-2020.

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