French arms exports more than doubled in 2021

French arms exports more than doubled in 2021, reaching 11.7 billion euros, driven by sales of Rafale fighter jets, according to an annual report to Parliament unveiled by Challenges and which AFP was able to consult extracts.

“With 11.7 billion euros in order intake in 2021, France recorded its third highest level in terms of arms exports. It is already certain that the year 2022 will also be marked by significant results”, writes the Minister of the Armed Forces S├ębastien Lecornu in the introduction to this report.

The latter must be presented by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Economy and the Armed Forces during a hearing behind closed doors at the National Assembly on September 27. Another hearing is also to be held in the Senate. This result confirms France as the world’s third largest exporter of military equipment, behind the United States and Russia.

30 Rafale sold to Egypt

It comes after a year of decline in 2020 (4.9 billion euros) due to constraints linked to the health crisis and exceeds the volume of order intake in 2019 (8.3 billion). It was only in 2015 and 2016 that French arms companies presented a better balance sheet with respectively 16.9 and 13.9 billion euros in sales thanks to the sales of Gust.

In 2021, it is again contracts for Dassault’s combat aircraft that are behind the rebound. France sold six new aircraft and twelve second-hand to Greece, twelve second-hand to Croatia and 30 additional new Rafales to Egypt. In total, aeronautics accounted for nearly 70% of order intake, against the usual 30%.

Other major contracts include the sale of 52 Caesar guns to the Czech Republic as well as ten H145M helicopters, radar and surface-to-air systems to Serbia, according to the report. The base of small contracts (less than 200 million euros) reached 4.1 billion euros.

The year 2022 promises to be promising

According to Challenges, theEgypt was Paris’ top customer with 4.5 billion orders, ahead of Greece, Croatia, India and Saudi Arabia. Exports to Europe, towards which France is seeking to redirect its activity, represented 38% of order intake in 2021.

The year 2022 should also be buoyant for French exports. These include the 80 Rafale mega-contract for the Emirates as well as the sale of six additional aircraft and three frigates to Greece.

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