France Military

France is a European country located in Western Europe. With a population of around 66,991,000 people, it is one of the most populous countries in the region. France is a semi-presidential republic and its military consists of four branches: the French Army, Navy, Air Force and National Gendarmerie. The French Armed Forces are responsible for defending the country’s borders and sovereignty, as well as providing security to its citizens. In terms of defense spending, France spends approximately $45 billion annually on its military, making it one of the highest defense spending nations in Europe. The country also participates in several NATO-led peacekeeping missions such as those in Afghanistan and Libya. France is also a member of both the European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN), and has close ties with other EU members such as Germany and Italy. See naturegnosis to learn more about the country of France.


France is a member of NATO and is a nuclear power. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that FRA stands for France. In 1966, France formally suspended its involvement in NATO’s military structure. There is, however, extensive and growing cooperation with NATO. In 1989, a permanent secretariat was established in Paris and a joint brigade was set up in Germany. During the post-war period, an army corps (50,000 men) was stationed in Germany and a brigade (2,700 men) in Berlin. These units left Germany in 1994.

France Army

In 1996, it was decided that France would again participate in NATO’s military committee and defense ministerial meetings. At the same time, France announced its decision to reorganize its defenses until 2002 so that public service obligations were replaced by voluntary, enlisted troops. France intended to participate fully in NATO’s rapid response forces.

A discussion was held in 2003 within the EU on a common European defense and security policy in the formulation of the new EU constitution. Germany, France and others states stated that the transatlantic ties are of strategic importance to NATO and thus to Europe’s defense. However, the question of a common European defense is still open. Many states, including the United Kingdom, strongly oppose such a defense. Developments in Afghanistan and conclusions of the conflict between the Russian Federation and Georgia (2008) have raised the question of the trade-off between traditional, territorial defense and non-territorial interventions, such as in Afghanistan, at its peak.

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In 2008, France stated in its White Paper its focus on defense. It stated that France would be fully integrated with NATO’s command structure, maintain its nuclear capability, gather strength for national defense and significantly reduce the numerical; 54,000 people would be gone. At the same time, there is planning for defense equipment pointing in a different direction. The final decision basis is not yet available and will be affected by the current economic crisis.

The defense comprises 352,000 men (2009). The reserves amount to 70,000 people. The strategic combat forces include 4,000 men distributed on sea and airborne weapons carriers with the emphasis on 4 submarine weapons. The ground combat forces are organized with 4 mobile operative staffs with 8 brigades, one of which is airborne. The Foreign Legion comprises 7,700 men and the Navy corps 18,000 men. All in all, 600 tanks and 288 combat helicopters are used. See for France tour plan.

The French navy comprises 46,000 men with 9 submarines, 32 larger surface combat vessels, of which 2 hangars, 20 patrol boats, a navy corps of 2,500 men with 8 landing craft and a naval aircraft of 6,400 men with about 90 fighter aircraft.

The Air Force comprises 57,000 men with about 260 fighter aircraft, of which 74 fighter jets and 88 attack aircraft type Mirage of different models. 24 Super-Étandard aircraft can carry nuclear weapons. 106 heavy transport aircraft of type A310 and C-130 are held together in a qualified air transport brigade.

Space control is exercised by a specially organized brigade with satellites, aircraft and air defense systems. Semi-military security forces, gendarmerie, amount to 100,000 men with 40,000 in reserve.

France’s defense industry is very comprehensive and highly export-oriented. The material is modern and often of domestic origin.

Defense costs decreased in 1985-2007 from 3.9% to 2.4% of GDP and will decrease further.

In addition to the 2,500-person Joint Brigade in France, France is involved in several UN peacekeeping operations, namely Afghanistan (ISAF), Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR), Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, French Guiana, French Polynesia, French Caribbean, Gabon, Indian Ocean, Lebanon (UNIFIL), New Caledonia, Senegal, Serbia (KFOR) and Tajikistan (ISAF). Belgium, Germany and Singapore have small military units in French territory.

France has abolished public service, and since 2001 has been a professional defense. The total strength is 203 900 active personnel, with a reserve of 36 300 personnel. In addition, there are 103,400 personnel in semi-military forces, with a reserve of 40,000 personnel (2018, IISS). France has strategic nuclear forces that include four submarines with ballistic missiles and 20 air-to-ground missiles.

France is a member of NATO. The country withdrew from the NATO Military Committee and Defense Ministerial Meetings in 1966 because the country wanted full control of its own nuclear weapons, but resumed its place in the Military Committee in 1996. In the period 1966-95, the country was represented by the commander of the French military mission at the Military Committee.

A new defense reform was adopted in 2013 and involves an increased focus on instability in Africa and Africa’s strategic importance, as well as continuing to fight terrorism at home and abroad. In addition, the importance of French strategic autonomy and security policy cooperation in Europe was emphasized.


The army, the Armée de Terre, has 114 450 active personnel. Among the heavier materials, the army includes 200 Leclerc tanks, 1516 clearing wagons, 627 storm tanks and 2338 armored personnel vehicles. In addition, the army including 13 light transport aircraft, 272 helicopters, including 70 combat helicopters of the type EC665 Tiger, and 23 medium-heavy drones.

Air Force

The Air Force, Armée de l’Air, has a workforce of 40,800 active personnel. Material comprising 41 fighters central Mirage 2000, 167 combat aircraft (67 Mirage 2000D and 100 Rafale), two ELINT aircraft, four E-3 Sentry AEW & C-plane, 84 trainers and light attack aircraft of the type Alpha Jet, 130 transport, 73 helicopters 48 training aircraft.

The Air Force’s strategic nuclear forces have 20 fighter aircraft of the type 20 (Rafale), eleven C-135 tanker and transport aircraft, and three KC-135 Stratotanker tankers.

The Navy

Navy, Marine National, has a personnel strength of 35 300. The fleet includes four strategic submarines equipped with ballistic missiles, six formation submarines, one nuclear powered aircraft carrier of Charles de Gaulle class, three amfibiekrigsskip of Mistral class, 12 destroyers, 11 frigates, 20 patrol vessels, 17 minesweepers, 38 landings, and 34 logistics and auxiliary vessels.

The Navy has its own air force, which has a staff strength of 6500. Material includes 42 Rafale fighter aircraft, three E-2C Hawkeye AEW & C aircraft, 12 patrol aircraft, four rescue aircraft, 26 transport aircraft, 38 anti-submarine helicopters, 45 multi-use helicopters and seven training aircraft.


The gendarmerie has a staff force of 103,400 active personnel, in addition to a reserve of 40,000. Materials included 153 armored personnel vehicles, 38 patrol boats and 60 light helicopters.

France’s international relations

France is a member of the UN and UN special organizations, including World Bank; otherwise by i.e. The European Union, NATO, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the World Trade Organization and the OECD. The country is linked to its former colonies and other French-speaking countries through a number of agreements (see also French Community).

France is represented in Norway at its embassy in Oslo and consulates in a number of cities, while Norway is represented in France at its embassy in Paris and consulates in 22 cities in France and overseas.