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French defence minister details budget strategy

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly updated the defence committee of the chamber of deputies, the lower house of France’s parliament, on the Loi de Programmation Militaire 2019–2025 military funding programme on 4 May. Among the priorities she identified were medical evacuation by helicopters, tactical aircraft, and the A330 Phénix Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT); chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defence; offensive and defensive cyber warfare; and artificial intelligence for intelligence purposes (through France’s Artemis programme).

Parly said France would acquire unmanned underwater vehicles, which the French Navy has already tested, especially for the protection of underwater communications networks. In addition, there will be a lessons learned exercise on mule unmanned vehicles currently used in operations in Africa to guide France’s future equipment plan, according to Parly.

She identified an urgent operational requirement for counter-unmanned aerial vehicle systems, in addition to medium-term programmes, for the permanent protection of a dozen sites.

Another requirement is encryption, with the planned purchase of 1,300 tactical radio encryption devices and the launch of a next generation developed in France. Renseignement d’origine électromagnétique (electromagnetic intelligence, ROEM) will also be a priority, with a single joint programme for vehicles, ships, and aircraft.

The pre-design study will begin soon for the Véhicule Blindé d’Aide à l’Engagement (VBAE) light reconnaissance and support vehicle to replace the Véhicule Blindé Léger (VBL) 4×4 light scout vehicle, with European funding.

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