France unveiled a new national defense strategy April 29 that includes just two top-line figures for defense spending over the coming decade: a planned €364 billion ($474 billion) through 2014-25, including €179 billion to be proposed in a forthcoming multiyear spending plan known as the military program law (LPM) for the period 2014-19.
Although the proposal would keep defense spending relatively flat at around €31 billion per year, the news for France's armed forces is not all good. Over the coming year the French government foresees applying several billion in proceeds from the sale of French state-owned assets - mainly property. This one-time cash infusion will not be repeated, painting a slightly less rosy picture for French defense spending beyond 2014.
In addition, the white paper says from now on, defense planners will take into account the total cost of ownership of capital investments - a response to an unexpected 3 billion euro shortfall over the period 2009-12 due in part to the fact that previous equipment spending did not include the total life-cycle cost of material purchased.
The French MoD says this gap was at risk of increasing rapidly and considerably in budget forecasts for the coming years. However, "this white paper puts an end to the funding gap that had grown between the forecasts embedded in the previous LPM and current financial perspectives."