What types of weapons does France provide to Ukraine?

It all began quietly. France, which condemns Russian aggression, had remained silent about its arms deliveries to the Ukrainians at the start of the conflict, primarily to maintain contact with the Kremlin’s leader, Vladimir Putin. Even though France is advancing on a ridge line, the announcements of armament for Ukraine, demanded loudly by the Ukrainian power, are the subject of an assumed communication a year later.

In a daily interview in West France in April 2022, the French President, who once aspired to play a mediating role, admitted that France was delivering Milan anti-tank missiles and twelve Caesar guns (an acronym for “truck equipped with an artillery system”) to Kyiv. It was a matter of responding to the repeated calls for military assistance issued by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was eager to receive heavy weapons to bolster his country’s resistance to the Russian invader.

Since then, Paris has been distilling announcements: at the end of Volodymyr Zelensky’s mini-European tour, Emmanuel Macron declared on February 10 that Ukrainian fighter planes would “never” be “delivered in the coming weeks,” ensuring that weapons that are “more useful” and “faster” are preferred.
What exactly do the military materials consist of? Could France send more weapons without exposing itself? The world demonstrates the point.

What materials were delivered in detail?

The President of the Republic and the government claimed to have limited themselves to “defensive equipment and fuel support” at the start of March 2022. However, according to MondeParis, Kyiv has been supplied with Milan anti-tank missiles since the beginning of the war, in addition to protective equipment. On the final day of the presidential campaign, April 22, Emmanuel Macron finally announced that France had delivered twelve Caesar guns in an interview with West France. In November, Russian prowler ammunition damaged one of the guns supplied to Ukraine. Finally, eighteen Caesar guns were taken from the French army’s stockpile of seventy-six. Nexter, a French arms manufacturer, is producing them to replenish stock, with the first delivery scheduled for the end of the year. Furthermore, the army, which is strengthening in the field of long-range artillery, will have 189 Caesar guns by 2025.

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The Caesar is a truck-mounted 155mm gun with a range of 40 kilometres and a rate of fire of six rounds per minute. Its high mobility (more than 80 km/h on the road) is an undeniable tactical advantage. After firing, the machine can immediately restart, avoiding an aftershock.

Other equipment delivered to Ukraine included fifteen 155 mm TRF1 towed guns. It is the forerunner of the Caesar, which, unlike the latter, does not come with a truck. Nexter also manufactured these howitzers, which are no longer used by the French army. Their conventional projectile range is 24 kilometres, and their reactive active projectile range is 30 kilometres. They can fire six rounds per minute and travel eight kilometres per hour.

In addition to guns, France provides Bonus shells and “intelligent” 155 mm projectiles designed to destroy armoured vehicles manufactured by French Nexter and Swedish BAE Systems Bofors. They can be fired at will by French Caesars or American M777s.

Finally, in a November interview with a Sunday newspaper, Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of the Armed Forces, announced the delivery of two LRUs (M270 MLRS, multiple rocket launchers), which will equip the 1is artillery regiment of Bourogne (Territory of Belfort).

Emmanuel Macron announced the delivery of AMX-10 RC on January 4, hoping other countries would supply tanks to Kyiv. These wheeled armoured reconnaissance vehicles with a 105 mm gun and a range of 2,000 meters are helpful for reconnaissance and support missions. Bastion armoured personnel carriers must accompany the delivery. However, unlike Germany, the United States, or the United Kingdom, which have announced combat tank deliveries, France has not promised deliveries of Leclerc tanks, the French army combat tank.

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According to a diplomatic source, a few dozen “Milan anti-tank missiles were delivered to Ukrainian fighters at the start of the conflict. The Milan is a precise and powerful weapon that can be used against tanks, armoured vehicles, and buildings. It is a light ground-to-ground missile that can be fired anytime, day or night, thanks to an infrared system.

In the spring, France and Italy will deliver a medium-range SAMP/T-Mamba ground-to-air defence system. This system can counter a wide range of airborne threats, including short-range ballistic missiles, fighter jets, helicopters, drones, and even salvos of cruise missiles with multiple shots, thanks to its radar and launchers armed with eight Aster missiles with a range of approximately 100 kilometres. Sébastien Lecornu announced the delivery of two batteries of Crotales NG missiles in November.

France has also promised a Ground Master 200 (GM200) radar manufactured by Thales in France. This medium-range radar can detect an enemy aircraft from 250 kilometres away and fight it from 100 kilometres away, whether flying at low speed and altitude like drones or high altitude like combat planes.

Furthermore, the French army provided the Ukrainian forces with around sixty armoured forward vehicles, transport vehicles, but also personal equipment (helmets, bullet-proof vests, night vision binoculars, combat rations, protective clothing in a nuclear, bacteriological, and chemical risk environment, medical equipment), ammunition “of all calibres,” or fuel, according to a list provided to the Monde by the Elysée Palace in October.

Could France, accused of not doing enough, send more arms?

Emmanuel Macron has been accused of not doing enough since the beginning of the war. According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German organization that tracks military aid promises to Ukraine, France ranks tenth with 472 million euros in military aid from January 24 to November 20, 2022, trailing the United States (22.8 billion euros), the United Kingdom (4.1 billion euros), Germany (2.34 billion euros), and Poland (1.8 billion euros).

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When contacted by the BBC in October about the French war effort’s weakness, the Ministry of the Armed Forces defended itself by stating that military aid is measured by the quality of the equipment provided rather than the amount. According to French authorities, some countries deliver large quantities of obsolete equipment. Furthermore, it is still being determined whether France can offer much more to Ukrainians without endangering itself.

Some are also concerned about the French army’s assistance to Kyiv. “And [de matériels] are sent to Ukraine, it is a military capability that is amputated (…), the right balance would be not to give away too much of our equipment,” warned General Pierre Schill, Chief of Staff of the Army, during a National Assembly hearing on July 20.

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