Joe Biden stares intently at a worker assembling the dreaded Javelin. This Tuesday, May 3, the President of the United States visits the Lockheed Martin factory in Troy (Alabama), which manufactures this anti-tank missile launcher which has become the symbol of Ukrainian resistance to the Russian army. At the platform where he delivered his speech, panels praising the “made in America” stand next to inscriptions proclaiming “Standing with Ukraine” (“alongside Ukraine”). Can you imagine Emmanuel Macron going to Bourges (Cher), to the gun manufacturer Nexter or the European missile manufacturer MBDA?
France, worried about a possible military escalation, is much more measured in its aid to the Ukrainians. The Head of State ended up admitting, on April 22, in an interview with West Francethat the country was delivering to kyiv 155 millimeter Caesar guns, capable of firing six rounds per minute up to 40 kilometers, Milan anti-tank missiles and, according to the Elysée,“other weapons”. A far cry from the hundreds of American M777 155 millimeter towed guns sent by Washington with the hundreds of thousands of shells to feed them.
The delivery of only 6 to 12 Caesar guns also illustrates the constraint weighing on the French defense industry. These parts will, in fact, be taken from the 76 Caesars in service in the army, which plans to have 109 in ten years (new or modernized). The Bourges factory, which produces the gun mounted in Roanne (Loire) on an Arquus vehicle, must also respond to foreign orders from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Morocco and, more recently, Belgium, which is strengthening its cooperation with the French forces.
“Manufacturers can step up”
For the time being, there is no increase in production linked to Ukraine, say the industrialists. Laurent Monzauge, head of the Nexter establishment in Bourges, specifies that “the current production of 150 to 200 guns per year could increase to 300”. Not without difficulty. It takes eighteen months to manufacture a complete Caesar in normal times and more than two years today, due to the difficulties in supplying metals and electronic components. “Until now, we had a relative certainty of delivery of materials”adds another Nexter executive, pointing out that “Material and component suppliers require a very fast response” in a context of soaring prices.
Identical observation of the CEO of MBDA, the world’s second largest missile manufacturer (behind the American Raytheon Technologies), made up of Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo. “We will see during  if there will be consequencessays Eric Béranger. The industry will adapt according to what is asked of it. » As for the mobilization times of the industrial tool, “they depend on the means that we put into it”.
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