A lot has been said and written about the French delivery of the "Mistral" war ships to Russia. People often point out the lack of morality of the French authorities who in fear of a loss of income provide the ships to Russia, without taking into account the demand of the free world to stop the deal.
For the moment, let's not focus on the moral side of the Mistral deal, but rather look into its negative consequences for the French arms industry instead.
Firstly, the French defend their decision by claiming that breaking the contract would undermine their credibility as a business partner, especially in the context of a $15 - $20 billion still not signed contract of supplying 126 Rafale fighter aircrafts to the Indian Air Force. Yes, the French armament industry can easily lose other lucrative contracts of far greater value than the Russian one. For example military equipment for Poland which is intensively upgrading its defensive abilities. The Polish government plans to spend almost 140 billion zł ($ 45 billion) for the modernization of its armed forces by 2022, of which a large part will be bought to foreign countries.
Moreover, French equipment was seen as one of the favourites in several areas, including the tender for medium-range anti-aircraft missiles. The choice is to be made between the French "Aster-30" (Eurosam) or a new version of the American "Patriot" (an approximate value: 5 billion euros). The French "EC725 Caracal" has a good chance in the tender for 70 new helicopters (approximate value: 2.5 billion euros). There is also the urgent need of about 30 attack helicopters, among which the Franco-German EC-665 "Tiger" is considered. (Minimum value: 600 million euros)
The French can also win the modernization of the Polish Navy, which has to order 6 new corvettes soon. The favourites so far are French project "Gowind" (built by DCNS who also builds the Mistrals) and Dutch "Sigma". (Minimum value: 1.3 billion euros) According to experts, the choice of the tender for 3 large submarines will be between the French "Scorpene" and German ships U212/U214. (Approximate value: 1.9 billion euros)
More ironical is the fact that the French shipyards are also the most serious candidates for the construction of a new amphibious assault ship for the Polish Navy. One of the first tenders is for building a smaller version of the "Mistral" - project BPC-140 (French and Russian ships are BPC-210).
It is no secret that the conclusion of a significant contract for the supply of weapons is always a political decision. On the one hand, the supplier will take its decision according to the politics of its allies while, on the other hand, the recipient often will order as a form of reward for a political partnership.
Hence the question: Should a NATO country that is neighbor to Russia buy equipment from France? France who is arming potential enemies? Political logic suggests that it should not. France is trying at all costs to finalize a 1.1 billion euros contract with Russia, but it may lose much bigger businesses in favour of competitors.
All military programs that Poland started planning in 2012 have been strongly accelerated as a result of Russian aggression in Ukraine, and the choice of suppliers in most cases will occur in 2014 or early 2015.
Polish reinforcement and modernisation of the army is most spectacular but the current trend also applies to other countries: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Romania. In the near future, modernization of the army will also be a necessity for Ukraine. It is doubtful that the Eastern Europe will look favourably on the offer of the French armaments industry if the latter turns out to be an unreliable ally preferring to work with imperial Russia over the loyalty to NATO and the European Union.
So, Mr Hollande, what do you prefer: €1.2 billion or €11.3 billion?
Edited by Laura Davidel