Defence budget 2010
GDP 2009
Land area
Life expectancy
Population growth rate
65 million
Euros 32.1 billion (US$39.8 billion)
Euros 1,920 billion (US$2,342 billion)
674,843 sq kms (260,558 sq miles)
Paris (Population 2.2 million)
80 years
0.55 per cent
Total Armed Forces  
Air Force
Medical Service
Central Staff



Army reserves consist of about 18,000 personnel, with a number of personnel in 100 x company sized (120 personnel) formed units ready for immediate recall. Both the Air Force and the Navy each have about 6,000 reserve personnel available for recall.

Strategic Nuclear Strike Force (Force De Frappe)
: This consists of a submarine based element with submarine launched ballistic missiles and an air launched element with aircraft carrying the nuclear armed missile ASMP/ASMP-A.

EU Battlegroups

France is a participant in 3 x EU Battlegroups. The first is a completely French Battlegroup, the second is a Battlegroup with French, German, Belgian, Spanish and Luxembourg contingents and the third a French – Belgian Battlegroup.





Contact Details



Ministry of Defence
14 Rue St Dominique
F-75997 Paris Armées




Army Strength: 112,800 (plus 18,000 ready reserves)

Outline Army Structure

1 x Land Forces HQ
4 x Task Force HQs (Divisional Size)
5 x Regional HQ

Under the command of the following are:

2 x Light Armoured Brigades
1 x Heavy Armoured Brigade
2 x Mechanised Brigades
1 x Airborne Brigade
1 x Reconnaissance Brigade
1 x Engineer Brigade
1 x Communications Brigade
1 x Artillery Brigade
1 x Aviation Brigade
1 x Intelligence/Surveillance Brigade

The following diagram shows the current outline structure of French Army deployable formations:


French Army outline structure

(1) Expect brigades to have their integral artillery, engineer, logistic, maintenance and medical support. There are other independent units providing combat support and logistic support.
(2) Expect the Artillery, Engineer, and Intelligence/Surveillance Brigades to provide appropriate support to the combat formations. The majority of these units are under the direct command of 2 CFT. The Airmobile Brigade was disbanded in 2010 and aviation units dispersed to the deployable formations.
(3) There are 5 x Regional Headquarters located at Bordeaux; Lyon; Metz; Rennes; Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Each of these Regional Headquarters has units that provide administrative and logistic support.

Special Operations Command (COS)

The formation is built around a core group of about 2,500 personnel as follows:

Army 1st Parachute Regiment (SAS type unit)
13th Regiment of Dragoons (Parachute capable reconnaissance unit)
Aviation detachment
Navy 5 x Marine Commando Units
Counter terrorist unit
Air Force Transport Operations Group (C-130 and C-160)
Rotary Group
Air Parachute Commandos

There are other units of the armed forces in direct support and in reserve.

Rapid Reaction Corps HQ (Lille)

This is a French Army Headquarters with about 450 personnel (or 750 following mobilisation) that has been established to act as a Corps Headquarters (2 x divisions plus) for a multinational formation under either French or European Union command. Personnel from other European nations serve with the headquarters on a permanent basis.

French Foreign Legion

Consists of about 7,600 personnel in 9 x Regiments located as follows:

Mainland France 6 regiments
Corsica 1 regiment
Djibouti 1 regiment
French Guyana 1 regiment and 1 detachment

About 25 per cent of the personnel are believed to be French with the rest being foreigners.

French Mechanised Brigade

The following diagram illustrates the possible composition of a French Mechanised Brigade with about 5,500 personnel.

French Mechanised Brigade Structure


Other specialist units would be allocated depending upon the operational requirement.





Main Battle Tanks 400 x Leclerc (over 100 in store)
  200 x AMX-30 (majority in store - possibly 20 being used for training)
Reconnaissance (Recce) 300 x VBL M-11(Wheeled) (estimate)
  200 x AMX-10RC (Wheeled - over 100 more in store)
  180 x ERC-90 (Wheeled)
Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle 630 x VBCI (Wheeled)
  500 x AMX-10P (Tracked)

Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC)

2,000 x VAB (possibly 2,000 more in store)

  25 x VAB NBC (Wheeled)
Self Propelled Artillery 72 x 155 mm AU-F-1 (being replaced by Caesar)
  30 x 155 mm CAESAR (42 more on order)
Towed Artillery 80 x 155 mm TR-F-1
Multiple Rocket Launchers 40 x 227 mm MLRS (possibly 20 more in store)
Mortars (Mor) 300 x 120 mm
Anti-Tank (Atk) 99 x VAB with HOT (SP ATGW)
  100 x VAB with Milan (SP ATGW)
  175 x VAB with Eryx (SP ATGW)
  1,500 x 84 mm AT-4(RL)
  500 x Milan ATGW
Low Level Air Defence (LLAD) 20 x I-Hawk MiM-23B (Towed)
  882 x Mistral (MANPAD)
Army Aviation (Helicopters) 80 x Tiger (Attack)
  250 x SA-342M Gazelle (Attack - many in store)
  35 x NH-90 (Support)
  8 x EC 725 (Support)
  24 x AS-532 Cougar (Recce and Utility)
  126 x SA-330 Puma (Support)
Unmanned Air Vehicle 30 x CL-289
  15 x Sperwer





Navy Strength: 42,000

Principal Units

4 x Strategic (Ballistic Missile Submarines)
  6 x Attack Submarines
  2 x Aircraft Carriers
11 x Destroyers
20 x Frigates

Outline Navy Structure

French Navy Outline Structure

(1) The French naval element of the Strategic Nuclear Force (FOST) is based at Ile Longue near Brest. FOST consists of 4 x Le Triomphant submarines each with 16 x M-45 SLBM (submarine launched ballistic missiles). Each missile has 6 x warheads. At least one submarine is at sea at any one time and the permission to launch can only be given by the President of the Republic.
(2) In mainland France naval units are stationed at: Cherbourg, Brest, Ile Longue, Lorient, Bayonne and Toulon. Naval bases overseas are at Fort de France, Degrad des Cannes; Dakar, Djibouti, Abu Dhabi, Port des Galets, Nouméa, Papeete.
(3) French Naval Aviation (AVIA) consists of approximately 150 aircraft and some 6,800 pilots of whom about 400 are pilots. Naval Air Bases are at Nimes, Landivsiau, Lann-Bihoue, Hyeres, Tontouta and Lanveoc-Poulmic. The aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle is a major AVIA element.
(4) The Naval Amphibious & Special Forces Group (FORFUSCO) consist of 8 x amphibious and support vessels. There are about 1,800 Marines organised in 2 x battalions (Toulon and Brest) plus 7 x units of company plus size varying from 100 – 150 personnel. About 600 Commandos are organised into specialist elements such as assault, reconnaissance, raiding, combat divers and support. The Commandos are assigned to the French Special Forces Command.
(5) The Maritime Gendarmerie consists of about 1,000 personnel operating about 30 small vessels. There are 3 x commands (Atlantic, Channel and Mediterranean) and a small unit in Paris operating on the River Seine.




Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBN) 4 x Le Triomphant submarines each with 16 x m_45 SLBM (submarine launched ballistic missiles)

Submarines (Tactical)

6 x Rubis (6 x Barracuda class ordered - first in 2010)

Aircraft Carriers (CV) 1 x Charles de Gaulle (CVN - nuclear powered)
  1 x Jeanne d'Arc (CVH - helicopters)
Frigates (FF) 2 x Horizon Class
  2 x Cassard Class
  7 x Georges Leygues Class
  2 x Tourville Class
  4 x La Fayette Class
  6 x Floreal Class
  9 x D'Estienne d'Orves Class
  11 x Aquitaine Class on order (First for delivery in 2010 - final in 2022)
Mine Warfare (MW) 11 x Eridan (MHC)
  1 x Loire (MCM)
  4 x Vulcain (MCD)
  3 x Antares (MCV)
Amphibious (Amphib) 2 x Foudre (LPD)
  2 x Mistral (LPD) (one more on order)
  15 x Assorted LCt/LCM/LST
Patrol and Coastal Combat ants (PCC) 1 x Albatross Class
  1 x Laperouse Class

9 x L’Audacieuse Class

  3 x Flammant Class
  1 x Grebe Class
  2 x Athos Class
Miscellaneous 3 x Laperouse Class (Hydrographic Survey)
  4 x Durancce Class (Oilers)
  1 x Dupuy (Intelligence)
Shipborne Aircraft 28 x Rafale M F3 (Ftr) (possibly 9 x M F1 in store)
  40 x Super Etendard 11F/17F (Attack)
  Note: Both types of the above aircraft are capable of launching the nuclear armed ASMP/ASMP-A
Maritime Patrol (MP) 22 x Atlantique
Reconnaissance (Recce) 4 x Falcon 200
  4 x Falcon 50
Airborne Early Warning (AEW) 3 x E-2C Hawkeye
Support & Training 9 x SA 365 Dauphin (SAR)
  8 x SA 321 Super Frelon (SAR)
  6 x Falcon 200 (Support)
  11 x Embracer Xingu (Support)
  9 x MS88 Rallye (Trg)
  9 x CAP 10 (Trg)
Missiles (Msls) ASMP (ASM)
  AM-39 Exocet (ASM)
  AS 30 (AAM)
Helicopters 25 x HAS 2 Lynx (ASW)
  16 x AS 565 Panther (Attack)
  10 x AS 365 Dauphin (SAR)
  8 x SA 321 Super Frelon (SAR)
  24 x Alouette III (Support)




French Air Force (Armee de l’ Air) Strength: approximately 57,000 (reducing) with about 800 aircraft and approximately 5,000 ready reserves.

Forces Available:
Strike 3 x Squadrons
Recce 2 x Squadrons
Air Defence 4 x Squadrons
Fighter Ground Attack 3 x Squadrons
Electronic Warfare 1 x Squadron
Multi-role 2 x Air Defence Squadrons
Airborne Early Warning 1 x Squadron
Transport 7 x Transport Squadrons
Utility 7 x Utility Squadrons
Rotary 5 x Helicopter Squadrons
Air Defence (SAM) 6 x SAM Squadrons
Air Defence (Radar) 5 x Control Centres


French Air Force Outline Organisation

(1) CFAS commands the Air Force element of the French Strategic Nuclear Force. In general terms this force consists of 3 x squadrons of Mirage M-2000N aircraft armed with ASMP/ASMP-A nuclear capable missiles. Approximately 60 x M-2000N are available and they are supported by about 14 x air to air refuelling tankers (possibly 3 x KC-135 and 11 x C-135FR).
(2) Airbases are established on a regional command network as follows: Northern Region 16 airbases and the Southern Region which has 50 airbases. There are airbases and detachments overseas at Abu Dhabi, Dakar, Djibouti, Reunion, Martinique, Guyana, N’djamena and New Caledonia.
(3) Airbase security is provided by 30 x security groups and there are 3 x Air Force Commando units (Special Forces).





Strike 60 x Mirage M-2000N with ASMP/ASMP-A nuclear capable missiles.
Multi-role 30 x Rafale F2B/C
  28 x Rafale F3B/C (total of 120 x Rafale F3B/C on order)
Fighters (FTR) 20 x Mirage M-2000-5
  48 x Mirage M-2000C
Fighter Ground Attack (FGA) 21 x Mirage F-1CT
  61 x Mirage M-2000D
Reconnaissance (Recce) 32 x Mirage F-1CR
Electronic Warfare (EW) 2 x C-160G Gabriel
Airborne Early Warning (AEW) 4 x E-3F Sentry
Transport (Tpt) 5 x C-130H
  40 x C-160 Transall
  3 x A-310-300
  2 x A-340-200
  2 x A-319
  3 x Falcon 50; 2 x Falcon 900
  5 x DHC-6
Air to Air Refuelling (AAR) 3 x KC-135
  11 x C-135FR
  15 x Transall C-160
Training (Trg) 85 x Alpha Jet
  15 x Grob G120
  25 x Tucano
  21 x Xingu EMB-121
  5 x CAP-10
Helicopters (Hel) 6 x AS-332 Super Puma (Support)
  24 x SA-330 Puma (Support)
  2 x AS-532 Cougar (Utility)
  40 x AS-555 Fennec
  6 x EC 725 (SAR)
Low Level Air Defence (LLAD) 36 x Crotale/Crotale NG launchers (estimate in service|)
  Some Mistral MANPAD
  Some 20 mm (AAA)
Air launched missiles (ALM)  Mica (AAM)
  R-550 Magic 2 (ASM)
  Apache (ASM)
  AS30L (ASM)



Gendarmerie Strength: Approximately 101,000 with about 25,000 ready reserves.

Under the operation budget of the French Home Office the Gendarmerie is an armed force that provides units that are the operational control of the armed forces. In addition, the Gendarmerie is responsible for providing a police response in areas outside of the main cities – covering about 50 per cent of the population. The Gendarmerie is also responsible for police duties in French overseas territories.

In support of the armed forces the Gendarmerie deploys about 28 x VBC-90 (Lt Tanks); 150 x VBRG-170 (Wheeled APC); 4 x Patrol Craft; 30 x motor launches; 20 x EC 135 and 10 x EC 145 helicopters.

(over platoon strength – 30 personnel. These are approximate figures)

NATO (ISAF) Afghanistan    




Central African Republic


Chad 1,200
Cote D’ Ivorie 800
Djibouti 1,500
French Guyana 1,400
French Polynesia 1,500
Gabon 700
Germany 2,800
New Caledonia 1,500
NATO (KFOR) Kosovo 1,300
Reunion 1,400
Senegal 850
Tajikistan 150
UAE 200 (estimate)
UNIFIL II – Lebanon 1,500