PARIS — France plans to boost the 2019 defense budget by €1.7 billion to €35.9 billion (by U.S. $2 billion to $42.2 billion), up 5 percent from the present year, the Armed Forces Ministry said.
That spending increase excluded pensions and will represent 1.82 percent of gross domestic product, part of a French bid to hit a target of 2 percent of GDP by 2025, the ministry said Sept. 25. Next year will be the first year of the 2019-2025 military budget law.
“This is a major financial effort desired by the president, being adopted in the first year of the military budget law,” the ministry said.
The increased spending was expected, as the government has formally adopted the multiyear budget law, which seeks to meet the NATO target for military spending.
Of that total budget, €850 million has been earmarked for overseas deployment, up €200 million from 2018. The budget is expected to rise to €1.1 billion in 2020. Previously, the Armed Forces Ministry shared some of that cost with other ministries, but it must now fund its foreign operations on its own.
Among the weapons to be ordered next year are a Barracuda nuclear-powered attack submarine, three fleet auxiliary tankers and two aircraft fitted for gathering electronic intelligence. The tanker ships will be bought in cooperation with Italy.
Other orders include upgrades for 10 Mirage 2000D fighters; 125 firing posts for the MMP anti-tank missile; 60 Meteor long-range air-to-air missiles; and six patrol boats for overseas deployment.
Some €758 million will be set aside on research and development studies, a step toward a pledge to spend €1 billion on R&D annually. Some €4.2 billion will be spent on service support, mostly dedicated to aircraft maintenance.
A six-strong batch of Reaper drones is due to be delivered next year.