French army lacks ammunition for high intensity

According to a report by the Defense Commission of the National Assembly, published on Friday, stocks would be at the lowest and would not allow to hold beyond a few weeks in the event of “hard” conflict.


The alert is not new but the war in Ukraine gives it weight. According to a report by the National Defense Commission and the Armed Forces of the National Assembly, published on Friday, February 17, the French army no longer has enough ammunition (shells, missiles, torpedoes, etc.) to support a commitment high intensity. “The overall degradation of French stocks of ammunition since the end of the Cold War seems to be untenable, both in terms of the current strategic context and the military ambitions of France”, write deputies Vincent Bru (Modem) and Julien Rancoule (RN) , the two editors of the report.

With the end of the Cold War, the French arsenals were recalibrated to respond to expeditionary commitments and the ammunition has become “a variable of budget adjustment”, regret parliamentarians. Since 2011, six in twenty ammunition deposits have been closed on the national territory. If the exact level of stocks is classified, these would be at the lowest and would not allow to hold beyond a few weeks in the event of “hard” conflict. “It is to be feared that some of our opponents will be able to exhaust us,” already alerted the Directorate of Military Intelligence, in another parliamentary report, on the preparation of the army with high intensity, published a year ago.

Besides that it reduces the commitment capacities of the forces, this decrease in stocks has serious consequences on the performance of the troops. “The shooting of complex ammunition has become rare in training,” regrets deputies. Admittedly, the armies use training ammunition and simulators to maintain their capacities, but these do not allow “to reproduce the complexity of the environment”. “A pilot who has never drawn a meteor missile in training or a frigate crew not having drawn 30 in optimal conditions cannot be considered properly trained,” warns the report.

more sophisticated ammunition

Beyond the lack of credits, stocks also suffer from the growing technological complexity of certain ammunition, especially those propelled, such as missiles and torpedoes. This sophistication increases the cost of projectiles and therefore decreases the volume of their orders, so as not to exceed a constrained budgetary framework. “Since 2003, programmatic targets have fallen by 40 %, while the threat has continued to increase with the return in force of the interstate competition, in particular since the annexation of Crimea in 2014”, points Léo Péria -Peigné, researcher at the French Institute of International Relations, in a report published in January and taken up by parliamentarians.

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/Media reports cited above.