France: Euronaval 2012
BY OLIVIA ST-JEAN
© 2012 FrontLine Defence (Vol 9, No 5)

Welcoming over 100 countries as exhibitors and guests, approximately 400 exhibitors ‘strutted their stuff’ at Le Bourget, Paris, in October. Attracting over 34,000 visitors, the event was bigger than ever and offering a full spectrum coverage of the maritime industry, Euronaval reached beyond its usual niche, tackling issues related to not only the defence sector but also the environment, security and maritime surveillance. Visitors were treated to the latest in ­technological innovations, naval equipment and services, and of course, shipbuilding.

During a Pre-Euronaval Press tour, GICAN (Groupement des industries de construction et activités navales) president Jean-Marie Poimboeuf stressed the importance of innovation to deal with increasing security challenges around the world, particularly on the ocean commons.

Currently facing an exponential growth in the use of maritime waterways, additional precautions are required to ensure operational smooth sailing around the globe. Now, more than ever, defence, security, food and transportation industries fill the waterways, increasing pollution and, by consequence, a need for smarter technology. The transportation of people and cargo is at risk due to the lure of piracy. As a result of all of these factors, measures must be taken, he said, to raise awareness, increase security, research renewable energy and environmentally friendly technology – all the while finding ways to do so in a financially feasible manner. As Poimboeuf predicted, these concerns became a main focus of Euronaval 2012 – showcasing naval services, especially in preparing, training and educating today’s youth for tomorrow’s challenges.

A second focus of the press tour, was to raise awareness within the maritime community that French industry is now open to cooperation, not only with the European community but with worldwide partners – something that could prove itself to be quite attractive. “France possesses all the capabilities necessary to not only present itself in most maritime niches but also to master such complex a product as the sub-surface ballistic nuclear [submarine]” explained Poimboeuf.

Elaborating on the mention of maritime threats, Vice Admiral Jean-Louis Vichot described France as “Europe’s ambassador in the Maritime industry”. As the world plunges deeper into a maritime-resources-led reality, VAdm Vichot noted that “the naval conflict remains today, and will continue to be, an increasing threat”. He believes ideological, lucrative and/or sovereignty oriented threats “can only be counteracted and defended by properly equiping ourselves.” He suggests that properly equipping the military, and adhering to France’s new Strategy of National Security, explains why the French Navy has been able to serve and protect its population so well.

Discussing the importance of national security, the third speaker, Mr. Laurent ­Sellier (Ingénieur Général de l’Armament), focused on two major programs of the DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armament).

The first pertained to the acquisition of 11 multi-mission frigates (9 anti-submarine versions and 2 anti-aircraft versions) being built by French shipbuilder DCNS. All of them will be equipped to carry the MdCN (Missile de Croisière Naval) naval cruise missile. Journalists were told the delivery date of the first FREMM Frigate Aquitaine, will be November 2012, in accordance with the preliminary schedule.


French L-CAT amphibous landing craft.

As for the second major project, three submarines have been ordered from DCNS. As per the multi-mission frigates, the SSN Barracuda submarine will also be carrying MdCNs; the exception being in horizontal tubes.

Additionally, Sellier confirmed that the DGA had ordered four L-CAT amphibous landing crafts; three of which have already been received, and delivery of the fourth is expected before the end of 2012.

GICAN Director General Jean-Marie Carnet has been very pleased with the efforts undertaken by French companies and visitor response at Euronaval 2012.

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Olivia St-Jean is a staff writer at FrontLine Defence Magazine.
© FrontLine Defence 2012

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