Factbox: France’s military and defense contractors


The French government will publish a so-called “white paper” revealing the broad outlines of national security and defense strategy for the coming years, but without disclosing figures. An official budget is expected by the end of the year.

France’s military budget as a percentage of GDP has been on a steady decline over the past 50 years, and is currently at approximately 1.5 percent, compared to 5.44 percent in 1960.

Following are some key facts about the French military provided by the ministry of defense:
– France has 328,869 active military personnel. The army, with 137,248, represents 53.7 percent of manpower.
– 18,800 military personnel were deployed outside metropolitan France as of May 2012.
– France’s army, navy and air force included, as of December 31, 2011: 7,299 armored vehicles, 391 helicopters, 75 combat and support ships, 273 combat aircraft, 246 ground-to-air weapons systems.

The top seven defense contractors in France, with 2012 sales and principal defense activities:

SAFRAN 13.56 billion euros ($17.6 billion). Navigation systems, optronics, software for submarines, ships, aircraft and soldiers. Defense makes up 10 percent of sales.

THALES 14.16 billion euros. Radars, secure communications, drones, electronic missile systems.

DASSAULT AVIATION 3.94 billion euros. Aircraft, maker of the Rafale and Mirage fighter jets.

EADS 56.48 billion euros. Co-manufacturer of MBDA missile systems, NH90 helicopters for troop transfer and Tiger combat helicopters, Airbus A400M military transport planes, Harfang drones, Astrium anti missile defense system.

NEXTER 742 million euros. Leclerc tanks, VBCI armored vehicles, Caesar wheeled self-propelled guns, Aravis tanks, munitions.

DCNS 2.6 billion euros. Conventional and nuclear powered submarines, Fremm frigates, Mistral aircraft carrier.

MBDA 3.0 billion euros. Meteor air-to-air missiles, Storm shadow/Scalp cruise missile, Aster missile-based air defense capability, Milan anti-tank missile.