Friday, June 06, 2008

Le Grande Armée

French Army Falling Apart, Documents Show
Most of France's tanks, helicopters and jet fighters are unusable and its defence apparatus is on the verge of "falling apart", it has emerged.

From the UK Telegraph:

According to confidential defence documents leaked to the French press, less than half of France's Leclerc tanks – 142 out of 346 – are operational and even these regularly break down.

Less than half of its Puma helicopters, 37 per cent of its Lynx choppers and 33 per cent of its Super Frelon models – built 40 years ago – are in a fit state to fly, according to documents seen by Le Parisien newspaper.

Two thirds of France's Mirage F1 reconnaissance jets are unusable at present.

In 2006, France's total military forces were comprised of 254,900 personnel. In this respect they rank behind:
#1 China (2,255,000
#2 USA (1,474,000)
#3 India (1,325,000)
#4 North Korea (1,106,000)
#5 Russia (1,037,000)
#6 South Korea (687,700)
#7 Pakistan (619,000)
#8 Turkey (514,850)
#9 Vietnam (484,000)
#10 Iran (420,000)
#11 Germany (284,500)

(Source: Based primarily on material in the IISS Military Balance 2005-2006, London, Routledge, 2005 plus data drawn from USPACOM sources and US experts. Some data estimated or corrected by the authors.)

The disclosure comes just ten days before President Nicolas Sarkozy announces a major reform of the armed forces, with a defence white paper outlining France's military priorities for the next 15 years.

He is expected to argue that the situation can only improve by reducing the number of France's operational troops from 50,000 to 30,000, and its fighter aircraft, as well as closing military bases.

Instead of fixing busted tanks and fighter jets, the French want to reduce the number of men who need them. France's 2008 defense budget will drop to about 2% of GNP; the US is about 4%.

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