World News

In the context of increased global defence spending following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, France reported on Wednesday that its arms exports last year reached a record high, helped by sales of Rafale aircraft.

According to the ministry’s annual report to parliament, French weapons exports reached a total of 27 billion euros ($30 billion) in 2022, up from 11.7 billion euros the year before.

After the United States and Russia, France is the third-largest exporter of weapons worldwide.

More than 16 billion euros of the total for France came from a deal for 80 Rafale combat aircraft with the United Arab Emirates.

In addition to Greece, Indonesia also placed a definitive order for six Rafales, solidifying the fighter’s success on a worldwide scale.

Following the delivery of 36 Rafales to its air force, India signed a memorandum of understanding for the purchase of 26 Rafales for its navy. Additionally, three French defence and intervention frigates were ordered by Greece last year, along with maintenance and related weapons contracts. Polish officials decided to purchase two French observation satellites in December.

Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu was quoted in the report as saying, “The appreciation of French weaponry goes beyond the Rafale.” In a wide capacity range, including missiles, frigates, submarines, artillery, helicopters, radars, and observation satellites, it has established itself as a global standard.

The record-breaking French arms exports coincide with the highest level of military spending worldwide in the last three decades.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimates that global military spending in 2022—the year that Russia invaded Ukraine—was $2.24 trillion, or 2.2 percent of global GDP.

French exports of weapons comprised over two thirds of those to the Middle East, 23% of those to Europe, and 8% of those to Asia and Oceania.

Between 2013 and 2022, the UAE, Egypt, Qatar, India, Saudi Arabia, and Greece were France’s top arms customers.

NGOs frequently condemn France for allegedly providing authoritarian countries with weapons, but the defence ministry claimed in the report that France always complied with its “international commitments” and that export restrictions and “very strict rules” applied to the shipment of weapons.

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