What armaments does France supply to Ukraine?

It all started quietly

What armaments does France supply to Ukraine?

It all started quietly. At the start of the conflict, France, which condemns Russian aggression, had nevertheless remained discreet about its arms deliveries to the Ukrainians, above all to preserve a channel of communication with the head of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin. A year later, the announcements of armament for Ukraine, demanded loudly by the Ukrainian power, are the subject of an assumed communication, even if France is advancing on a ridge line.

The French president, who for a time aspired to play a role of mediator, acknowledged, in April 2022, in an interview with the daily Ouest-France, that France was delivering Milan anti-tank missiles and twelve Caesar guns (acronym for " truck equipped with an artillery system"). It was a question of answering the calls for military aid launched relentlessly by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, anxious to receive heavy weapons in order to amplify the resistance of his country against the Russian invader.

Since then, Paris has been distilling announcements: at the end of Volodymyr Zelensky's mini-European tour, Emmanuel Macron declared, on February 10, that fighter planes claimed by Ukraine could "under no circumstances" be "delivered in the coming weeks", ensuring to favor "more useful" and "faster" weapons.

What exactly are the military materials provided? Could France send more weapons without making itself vulnerable? The World takes stock.

At the beginning of March 2022, the President of the Republic and the government claimed to have limited themselves to "defensive equipment and fuel support". However, according to information from Le Monde, Paris had provided Kiev, in addition to protective equipment, with Milan anti-tank missiles from the start of the war. On the last day of the presidential campaign, April 22, in an interview with Ouest-France, Emmanuel Macron finally announced that France had delivered twelve Caesar guns. In November, one of the guns supplied to Ukraine was damaged by prowling Russian ammunition. Eventually, eighteen Caesar guns were taken from the stocks of the French army, which had seventy-six. The French arms manufacturer Nexter is currently producing them to replenish the stock, with the first delivery expected by the end of the year. In addition, the army, which is strengthening in the field of long-range artillery, will have one hundred and nine Caesar guns in 2025.

The Caesar is a truck-mounted 155mm gun capable of firing six rounds per minute at a range of 40 kilometers. Its great mobility (more than 80 kilometers per hour on the road) is an undeniable tactical asset. After having fired, the machine can immediately set off again and thus avoid an aftershock.

Other equipment sent to Ukraine: about fifteen TRF1 155 mm towed guns. This is the predecessor of the Caesar which, unlike the latter, is not installed on a truck. These howitzers, which are no longer used in the French army, were also produced by Nexter. Their range is 24 kilometers with conventional projectiles and 30 kilometers with reactive active projectiles. Capable of firing six rounds per minute, they can travel at 8 kilometers per hour.

In addition to the guns, France supplies Ukraine with Bonus shells, "smart" 155 mm projectiles intended to destroy armored vehicles manufactured by the French Nexter and the Swedish BAE Systems Bofors. They can be indiscriminately fired by French Caesars or American M777s.

Finally, Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of the Armed Forces, announced in November, in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche, the delivery of two LRUs (M270 MLRS, multiple rocket launchers), machines that equip the 1st artillery regiment of Bourogne ( Territory of Belfort).

On January 4, in the hope that other countries would supply Kiev with tanks, Emmanuel Macron announced the delivery of AMX-10 RC. These wheeled armored reconnaissance vehicles, equipped with a 105 mm gun and capable of firing at 2,000 meters, are useful for reconnaissance missions but also for support missions. The delivery must be accompanied by the delivery of Bastion armored personnel carriers. But unlike Germany, the United States or the United Kingdom, which announce the supply of combat tanks, France has not promised deliveries of Leclerc tanks, the army combat tank French.

"A few dozen" Milan anti-tank missiles were delivered to Ukrainian fighters at the very beginning of the conflict, according to a diplomatic source. The Milan is a very precise and powerful weapon, suitable for fighting against tanks, armored vehicles and buildings. It is a light ground-to-ground missile very popular with infantry troops, which can be fired day or night thanks to an infrared system.

France and Italy will deliver a medium-range SAMP/T-Mamba surface-to-air defense system in the spring. This system, with its radar and launchers armed with eight Aster missiles with a range of approximately 100 kilometers, can counter a wide range of aerial threats: short-range ballistic missiles, fighter jets, helicopters, drones and even salvos. of cruise missiles with multiple shots. Sébastien Lecornu announced in November the delivery of two batteries of Crotales NG missiles.

France has also promised a Ground Master 200 (GM200) radar produced by the French Thales. This medium-range radar can detect an enemy aircraft at 250 kilometers and fight it at 100 kilometers, whether it flies at low speed and low altitude like drones, or at high altitude like fighter planes.

In addition, according to a list provided in October to Le Monde by the Elysée, the French army provided the Ukrainian forces with around sixty armored forward vehicles, transport vehicles, but also individual equipment (helmets, protective vests, -bullets, night vision goggles, combat rations, protective clothing in a nuclear, bacteriological and chemical risk environment, medical equipment), ammunition "of all calibers", or even fuel.

Since the start of the war, Emmanuel Macron has been regularly accused of not doing enough. According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German organization which lists promises of military support to Ukraine, over the period from January 24 to November 20, 2022, France comes in tenth position, with 472 million euros in military aid, far behind the United States - the largest contributors (22.8 billion euros) -, the United Kingdom (4.1 billion euros), Germany (2.34 billion euros) or Poland (1.8 billion euros).

Contacted in October by the BBC, which wondered about the weakness of the French war effort, the Ministry of the Armed Forces defended itself by asserting that military aid is measured by the quality of the equipment provided and not by the amount. Some countries, explain the French authorities, deliver large quantities of obsolete equipment. Moreover, it is not certain that France can offer much more to Ukrainians without risking making itself vulnerable.

Within the French army, some are also wondering about the aid granted to kyiv. "If [materials] are sent to Ukraine, it is a military capacity that is amputated (…), the right balance would be not to give up too much of our equipment", for example warned General Pierre Schill, chief of the Army Staff, during a hearing at the National Assembly, on July 20.