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France Made 500 Shells a Year in 2017, Today Aims For 100,000 and Promises 80% to Ukraine

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Illustrative photo: 155mm artillery ammunition production at Nexter, part of KNDS / Photo credit: KNDS
Illustrative photo: 155mm artillery ammunition production at Nexter, part of KNDS / Photo credit: KNDS

A few details about the French ways of cranking up the "war economy"

The French government has embraced the concept of a "war economy" speaking of the initiatives and decisions they make. In current conditions, it can only mean a focus on ramping up weapon production within existing capacities of the national defense industry, just as the traditional interpretation of this term implies.

Amid russia's all-out war against Ukraine, the French demand for weapons and ammunition, especially to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces, has surged. In response, all avenues to bolster production, including the political ones, appear justified.

Read more: ​Czech Ammunition Finally Reaches Ukraine, How Many are in the First Batch
CAESAR self-propelled artillery systems from the Wagram division during combat operations against ISIS militants in Iraq / Defense Express / France Made 500 Shells a Year in 2017, Today Aims For 100,000 and Promises 80% to Ukraine
CAESAR self-propelled artillery systems from the Wagram division during combat operations against ISIS militants in Iraq / Photo credit: Ministère des Armées

Moreover, as the Opex360 military website further details, in these conditions, the French defense industry plans to significantly increase production volumes, or even shorten the production cycle for critical items needed to aid Ukraine.

In 2024, France aims to manufacture 100,000 artillery projectiles in the 155mm caliber, with 80,000 earmarked for delivery to Ukraine. For comparison, between 2012 and 2017, France produced only 500 such shells annually.

Additionally, France plans to supply the Ukrainian army with 600 AASM Hammer precision-guided air bombs in 2024, with expectations to double this figure to 1,200 units by 2025. However, not all of these will be handed over as military aid, a portion may also replenish the French Air Force's stock of AASM Hammers concurrently with transfers to Ukraine.

Precision-guided air-to-surface munitions of the AASM family / Defense Express / France Made 500 Shells a Year in 2017, Today Aims For 100,000 and Promises 80% to Ukraine
Precision-guided air-to-surface munitions of the AASM family / Open-source illustrative photo

Of particular note is France's initiative to bolster its Navy's stockpile of the Aster family surface-to-air missiles and establish additional air defense units equipped with the SAMP/T anti-missile defense system, which adapts Aster for land-based launch. The manufacturer, MBDA corporation, has secured a EUR 900 million order for 200 Aster, with preparations underway for another 200 missiles.

Opex360 highlights that initial deliveries of Aster missiles, originally slated for 2026, are now scheduled for 2024. It means that France was successful in shortening the missile production cycle from 40 to 28 months, or possibly even faster.

France also plans to ramp up Rafale aircraft production to 36 per year and effectively revive the production of SCALP-EG air-launched cruise missiles. MBDA has received an order for 40 cruise missiles of this type, "including missiles which can be reconfigured."

Read more: ​Ukraine Will Be Able to Produce 155 mm Shells, Repair Caesar Howitzers Under KNDS License