Arms exports 2018: France achieves its third best performance in 20 years

The export arms orders won by France in 2018 have increased by more than 30%, representing between 9.1 and 9.2 billion euros, against 6.9 billion in 2017. But two of the very great Contracts signed in 2018 and accounted for by the Ministry of the Armed Forces were not put in force last year by the industrialists concerned because of a deposit paid.

On the record of arms exports in 2018, there is debate. According to the entourage of the Minister of Armies, export orders won by France in 2018 grew by more than 30%, representing between “9.1 and 9.2 billion euros”, against 6.9 billion in 2017. “This is 30% more than the previous year and is the third best performance of France in 20 years,” says one in the entourage of the minister. In 2015 and 2016, France had achieved two exceptional years of order intake, reaching respectively € 16.9 billion and € 13.9 billion.

At the Ministry of the Armed Forces, we clearly want to show that the 2018 arms export figures are on a very good dynamic for France after a year of transition. Especially as “2017 has been a year of electoral transition during which it is complicated for foreign countries to buy military equipment when France changes the President of the Republic,” says one in the entourage of the Minister.

Implementation in question
Why is there debate? Because two of the very large contracts signed in 2018 were counted by the Ministry of the Armed Forces whereas they were not put in force last year by the industrialists concerned because of a deposit paid: it is the case of the contract signed with Belgium for the sale of more than 400 armored vehicles (60 Jaquar and 382 Griffon) under the Belgian CaMo program (Motorized capacity) for an amount of 1.6 billion euros (Nexter) and the 23 NH90 helicopters with Spain for a total amount of 1.5 billion euros, including 550 million for the French part (Airbus Helicopters). That is an amount of more than two billion euros, two orders that do not appear in the backlog of the two manufacturers in 2018. For the CaMo contract to come into force, the French Parliament must still ratify the agreement between France and Belgium on their cooperation in the field of land mobility. In contrast, the NH90 contract came into force a few weeks ago in 2019.

In the department, we fully assume that choice. “It was considered that from the moment the contract with Belgium was a state-to-state contract and the signature of the Belgian State for CAMO, it was worth putting into effect”, is justified in the entourage of the minister. For the NH90, the ministry considered that the contract signed at the end of December was also worth putting into effect. Why not … but in this case, the twelve Rafale in Qatar (1.1 billion euros) could have been recorded in 2017. This contract was signed in December 2017 but came into force in March 2018. And therefore accounted for in the figures 2018.

These two contracts signed with Belgium and Spain are nevertheless two beautiful orders from France in Europe. This is rare for French manufacturers, who often prefer the very large export and leave this area to Germany. “We are looking forward to more European cooperation and a more balanced geographical balance in our orders.This is concretely verified in 2018”, is welcomed in the entourage of the minister.

A beautiful year 2018 and why not in 2019
In 2018, Airbus Helicopters finalized three major orders (Qatar, Hungary and Spain). But only the contract signed in Qatar on the sale of 28 NH90 and 16 Squirrel (H125) has been put into effect. The total amount of this order amounts to more than 3 billion euros, of which a little over 1.5 billion goes to Airbus Helicopters. Qatar has therefore put into force the purchase of 12 Rafale from Dassault Aviation (1.1 billion euros). In addition, Arquus (former Renault Trucks Defense) won a contract in Kuwait for the supply of 300 Sherpa armored vehicles for 270 million euros. And Naval Group was finally able to charge in 2018 the contract of the four offshore patrol boats purchased by the Argentine Navy (about 300 million euros) despite its late entry into force on 14 February.

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