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French Defense Minister: France to supply Ukraine with newest kamikaze drones in coming weeks

France will supply Ukraine with latest-model suicide drones in coming weeks, the French defense minister revealed, detailing feedback improving domestic arms programs.
France's Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu
Awarding France’s Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu with the Order of Merit. September 2023. Photo: Office of the President
French Defense Minister: France to supply Ukraine with newest kamikaze drones in coming weeks

France will provide Ukraine with its newest suicide drones in the “coming weeks,” French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecorneau told Journal du Dimanche.

Drones are crucial in the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war. In December, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised that Ukraine would manufacture one million suicide drones in 2024. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Digital Transformation Minister claimed Ukraine now has around ten private companies producing drones that can reach Moscow and St. Petersburg, and these will produce thousands of such long-range drones in 2024.

‘This [kamikaze drone] project, which I launched as soon as I was appointed, is now in the experimental phase. Ukraine will be among the first to benefit from these drones in the coming weeks. This also represents an opportunity to combat-test this new generation of equipment. Here again, our interests converge,” Lecornu said.

The French Defense Minister said that the current challenge is to ensure that Ukraine retains its defensive and counter-offensive capabilities, which is “precisely the aim of the agreement that President Zelensky has just signed in Paris with President Macron.”

Lecornu also noted that France is among the European countries training the most Ukrainian soldiers:

“[W]e have already trained 10,000 since the start of the war, and we will train between 7,000 and 9,000 more by 2024, in both general and specialist fields. This support is crucial, as the Ukrainian army is suffering heavy losses,” he said.

The minister also noted that aiding Ukraine brings “a direct benefit and return for French industry and its jobs,” because the equipment donated from the French military stockpiles is “then purchased from an industrial company to make up for the shortfall.”

Also, France donates older but still operational equipment such as AMX-10 RC light tank and VAB armored vehicles that “we would soon have taken out of service, and which we are replacing with a new generation.” According to Lecornu, the same logic applies to the missiles that “would have been lost due to their “expiration date” if we hadn’t used them,” the minister said, not specifying if he meant the Anglo-French Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missiles or the missiles for the Crotale air defense system.

“We are also learning lessons from the war in Ukraine for our own defense industry and for certain weapons programs that will benefit the French army in the future,” Lecornu said.

Among France’s “notable successes” to be seen in 2024, Lecornu mentioned the development of the French suicide drones and the integration of artificial intelligence on Caesar self-propelled guns to acquire targets faster.

“So, for the past two years, we’ve been getting feedback on our own equipment. Both in terms of quantity, with increased production thanks to the war economy, and quality, with innovations in new generations of equipment,” the French Defense Minister noted.

Asked what France’s involvement in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is, Lecornu said:

‘We are not at war with Russia. And helping Ukraine, an aggressed state, to defend itself is not the same as being cobelligerent.”

However, he noted that Putin’s Russia is becoming increasingly aggressive towards France:

“In 2023, we recorded around a hundred aggressive incidents, ranging from simple threatening communications to attempts to control French patrols in open international air and sea space. This level of aggressiveness has never been seen before. This is a deliberate strategy on the part of the Kremlin regime,” Lecornu said, adding that “The Kremlin regime is playing with thresholds and multiplying threats.”

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