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Europe warned to boost its weapons' spending


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Europe is at risk of falling severely behind the US in weapons technologies unless it increases spending on military equipment and research by as much as €45bn a year, a panel appointed by Michele Alliot-Marie, the French defence minister, will warn this week.

According to people who have read the panel's report, which will be presented at a symposium attended by Ms Alliot-Marie on Wednesday, it found that spending on military hardware in the European Union is equal to only a third of the Pentagon's equipment budget, and research spending Europe-wide totals only a fifth of US outlays.

While the panel found that Europe's defence industry continues to be competitive in several sectors - fighter aircraft, military helicopters and defence electronics - it warns that heavy US spending on high-technology networks that can link weapons together could leave Europe's capabilities in so-called "systems of systems" far behind.

It calls for the establishment of a ministry working group, the College Operationnel des Systemes de Systems, to plot French strategy in the area.

The report was compiled by the Defence Economy Council, a panel set up by Ms Alliot-Marie after taking over the ministry three years ago to assess the health of France and Europe's defence industries and to give a higher profile to defence spending.

The nine-member council is chaired by Philippe Esper, a long-time government and defence industry official, and includes General Henri Bentegeat, chief of the French defence staff, and François Lureau, head of the defence procurement agency.

People who have read the report said that it finds France and Britain have accounted for nearly half of all spending on military equipment in Europe over the past three years and more than two-thirds of all EU defence research budgets.

France and Britain are also two of only four European countries that spend 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence (the US spends more than 3 per cent), and the report says an EU-wide budget of 2 per cent of GDP would increase military spending by €45bn, which would help preserve Europe's defence base.

Although the study includes several recommendations for European co-operation in defence spending, it is also said to include a call for increased transatlantic partnerships, urging French industry and officials to overcome past difficulties to work more closely with the US.

It notes that Britain's BAE Systems remains the only European defence company with a big US presence, and provides encouragement to French and European groups to achieve a similar standing.

Indeed, people who have seen the report said it cites the UK as a model for several defence spending initiatives, particularly its recent push to outsource Ministry of Defence activities - including some front-line missions, such as air-to-air refuelling tankers - to the private sector.

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  • Blackleaf


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.....and? They expecting the US to invade or something? .... actually with Bush as President that is a possibility huh.gif

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I am usually catching heck for being a Weapons carrying, Military minded American. Actually I am one of the few peace nicks from the 60's who didn't cop out for more money. But its interesting to see that other countrys have their own War Mongering Hawks.

With the U.S. now shutting down military bases to save money, we will have to ask the French to help us out( as in decades past) and let them be the BAD Guys for a while. thumbsup.gif

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