Will France really run out of ammunition in a few days in the event of a conflict?

Senators assert that French ammunition inventory will last only a few days in the event of a fierce conflict. The military ministry explains to us why this situation is unlikely to happen.

The conflict in Ukraine raises questions in all European countries about their ability to protect themselves in the event of an attack. In France, the problem of undersized French troops has been raised, centered on missiles, which are ball ammunition. How long will inventory last in the event of a fierce dispute?

For strategic reasons, the data on ammunition inventory is sensitive. But this risk is increasing with parliamentarians. On March 15th, at the RFI, Senate Foreign Affairs and Defense Commission Chairman Christian Cambon made a disturbing revelation.

According to Senator LR, France was unable to “support a long-term conflict” due to its lack of “thickness” in terms of ammunition. According to him, inventory will last at most “two weeks”.

“I’m not going to make a difference. I even think the information I’ve mentioned is still optimistic about reality, and unfortunately I’m thinking of special or traditional ammunition,” Christian Cambon said. say.

Ammunition expiration date

This issue is not new. In February, it was raised by two agents, Patricia Miller and Jean-Louis Terriot. Report About the preparation of the French army in the case of high-intensity involvement submitted to the Defense Commission and the armed forces.

This long document of about 60 pages not only emphasizes the shortage of inventory, but also the expiration date of the ammunition that makes up these reserves.

“Ammunition, especially fireworks, will expire. Therefore, unused ammunition will need to be destroyed or refurbished every 10 years, and it will take an average of 3 years to restock,” the agent says. ..

The Mirallès / Thériot report not only evokes stocks that do not allow them to face long conflicts, but also points out industrial difficulties. The purchasing process can take months or years from order request to delivery. According to one source, it takes a year for small caliber ammunition and at least two years for shells and missiles.

Nexter’s managing director was asked about this report, confirmed that it would take “two to three years” to manufacture the shell, “stocked ammunition, prepared spare parts (cannons) with long supply times, and pre-contracted. It is recommended to do. ..

Still, weapon makers rely on production lines designed just in time. To do more production, you need to create a new production line.

“According to the manufacturer, an emergency opening of a new line can take 18-36 months for most materials and equipment and up to 5-6 years for the most complex ones. Taking certain measures will save you time and money. You can save money, “says the report.

Nuclear deterrence and coalition

In the event of a conflict, could France lose the war due to lack of ammunition? The military ministry fully disagrees with this possibility. “It’s a mistake to say that this issue isn’t taken into account,” said Elbe Granjan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Armed Forces.

“We are currently reading something like’I have three days of ammunition’, but that doesn’t mean anything,” replies Colonel Ianni, a spokesman for the French Army Chief of Staff. “It depends on what you do, and how you do it will determine how you consume your ammo. If you line up all the planes to fire at the same time, you will consume all your ammo. And we won’t win. “

Colonel Ianni also recalls that “the French army can carry out its assigned mission.”

“But if France fought against large troops such as China and Russia, we would be part of a coalition (NATO’s, editor’s note). There may be certain difficulties, From a military point of view, to go if we are told, set the maneuver according to the logistics, which also applies to gasoline and the rest. “

A spokesman for the Ministry of Armed Forces, Herve Granjan, confirmed that in the event of a fierce conflict, France’s actions would take place within the framework of a coalition, but not the only one.

“France has nuclear deterrence, which is a way to avoid fierce conflicts in the land,” Hervé Grandjean pointed out, adding that the military programming law was updated in 2021.

“In terms of ammunition, there was an additional effect of € 110 million, which is about 10,000+ 120 mm mortars and 100 mm or 76 mm Marine corps ammunition.” Also exported by the large caliber ammunition industry sector. Following the difficulties faced for, this department has resumed. We cannot provide details of this sensitive information, “replied BFM Business Hervé Grandjean.

A public question posed by a statement by a member of parliament led a spokesperson for the military ministry to give more details about investing in French ammunition. In a long Twitter message, he describes the types of ammunition associated with the budget spent on these positions. Hervé Grandjean also recalls that “the rise in the power of our ammunition inventory is valued in the context of employment.”

Pascal Samama