By Wang Ke
On July 12, France launched its first Barracuda-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, the Suffren. On July 13, France announced that it would create a Joint Space Command (JSC). On July 14, it held a two-hour long National Day Military Parade.
Thus, the constant signals sent before French National Day and the sophisticated weapons on display at the parade demonstrated France’s determination to upgrade its military’s combat capability.
France is scrambling to secure a leading position in Europe
A commentary published on Nouvelles d'Europe (oushinet.com) said that the French government expressed its wish to possess a powerful military to win future wars and race to secure a leading position in Europe by repeatedly showing its strength over three days. It is reported that France will increase investment in military innovation fields in the coming six years, and its annual budget in the field is expected to reach 1 billion euros by 2022.
Meanwhile, France realizes it’s unlikely to play a significant role in the world based on its own power. Therefore, it seeks military integration and cooperation with other EU members.
According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), along with French military personnel, the troops and equipment from nine other countries from the European Intervention Initiative also took part in the military parade. In addition, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and other politicians from different countries joined French President Emmanuel Macron at the military parade.
France lacks the strength and technological accumulation
Despite the French government’s full confidence, France lacks enough strength. According to oushinet.com, France’s economic situation makes it impossible to invest large amounts of funds on military spending. Le Figaro, a French daily morning newspaper, reported that although the Suffren is France’s latest nuclear-powered attack submarine, it is among the cheapest ones in the world.
Moreover, although the French president announced the creation of a JSC, it remains unclear where the funding for the new force will come from.
Former military general Dominique Trinquand, who once led the French military mission at the UN, said that given the huge demand for financial and human resources, French domestic public opinion generally doubts whether the plan can be achieved on schedule.
More importantly, France lacks the necessary technological and infrastructure accumulation. It is reported that when Macron announced the creation of the Space Force, the Galileo satellite navigation system by which EU tries to break free from its dependence on the US GPS system broke down.
Le Figaro reported that there is little optimism for the French space force when there are major problems with the most fundamental positioning system.
The newspaper also pointed out that French military technology is not as advanced as it is thought; otherwise the Suffren would have been launched much earlier.
The construction of the submarine began as early as 2007, and it was planned to be launched and tested in 2017. But instead, it took 13 years for construction, raising doubt about the technological and development capacities of France.
(The article was published on the China Defense Newspaper on 19 July，2019. It is translated from Chinese into English and edited by China Military Online.)