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​France Promised Drones for Ukraine, Now Considers Using Them, Too

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DT46 kamikaze drone from Delair, February 2024 / Photo credit: Sébastien Lecornu
DT46 kamikaze drone from Delair, February 2024 / Photo credit: Sébastien Lecornu

Ukraine's war has changed how French military is looking at UAVs and their role and value on the battlefield

The following sequence of decisions from the French establishment sounds a bit paradoxical but here it is: first, France became one of Ukraine's suppliers of unmanned aerial systems, and now its military is working on a doctrine for drone usage on the battlefield.

The explanation is simple though: the priority set by Paris was to create the equipment first and then choose among the available variants, how exactly they want to use it in battle.

Read more: ​France is Preparing Aster 30 Missiles and VAB Vehicles for Transfer to Ukraine
Sébastien Lecornu Minister of Armed Forces of France holds a wing of a UAV, February 2024 / Defense Express / France Promised Drones for Ukraine, Now Considers Using Them, Too
Sébastien Lecornu Minister of Armed Forces of France holds a wing of a UAV, February 2024 / Photo credit: Sébastien Lecornu

Let's run down the history of the issue. In March 2023, the Ministry of Armed Forces of France commissioned a development of kamikaze drones from its defense consortia. As a result, among other participants, Delair offered a variety of UAVs.

Almost a year later, in February 2024, French media published reports about a hundred drones for Ukraine ordered from the very same Delair. Then in March, Minister of Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, officially announced a new package of military aid to Ukraine featuring unspecified aerial drones, besides the Aster 30 missiles and VAB vehicles.

DT26 kamikaze drone from Delair / Defense Express / France Promised Drones for Ukraine, Now Considers Using Them, Too
DT26 kamikaze drone from Delair / Open-source image

Now, as Opex360 reports, the French army decided to show its vision of drones' application on the battlefield, for the first time.

The starting point is the Military planning law [Loi de programmation militaire] for 2024–2030, according to which France is expecting to receive 1,800 suicide drones for own needs. This shows that the French military, in terms of how much drone activity they want to see on the battlefield, have agreed upon the minimum, now they need to decide on the maximum as well.

DX11 kamikaze drone from Delair / Defense Express / France Promised Drones for Ukraine, Now Considers Using Them, Too
DX11 kamikaze drone from Delair / Open-source image

Another interesting aspect is that the team working on the drone doctrine included a group of officers — students at the EMSST, or Higher Military Scientific and Technical Education military school who presented their ideas to the officers of the French General Staff.

The only detail known about the document is that it describes eight ways to use kamikaze drones on battlegrounds. Still, the fact France first developed and ramped up its production of attack drones and then started evaluating the tactics of using them is an interesting case and shows how much European military have taken from the experience of the ongoing largest war on the continent since World War II.

Read more: Ukrainian Warriors Destroy One of the Most Expensive russian Forpost UAVs Over the Black Sea