The upheaval caused by the war in Ukraine and global rearmament require a “sustainable” effort by the defense industry to produce more and more quickly, Emmanuel Macron warned on Thursday, April 11, as he laid the first stone of a defense factory. powder for shells in Bergerac, in Dordogne.

“We have left for the long term to settle into a geopolitical, geostrategic change where defense industries will have a growing role,” said the Head of State in the presence of defense industrialists, whom he urged to accelerate to move to a “war economy” in order to continue supporting Ukraine against Russia.

According to Emmanuel Macron, the “effort” to be made is “urgent, we must move quickly, hard”. “The world we are talking about, it will not stop if tomorrow the war ends, because there is a massive rearmament (…) of Russia and because you see everywhere in Europe military spending, orders increasing “, he insisted.

The first stone laid by the Head of State on the Eurenco site, the European leader in powders and explosives, should materialize with the opening in early 2025 of a new factory, capable of producing 1,200 tonnes of powder per year.

“Satisfied numbness” of the defense industry

The Bergerac site, which had been producing it since 1915, was dismantled in 2007 due to lack of sufficient orders. Demand had started to increase before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, but the conflict was a “growth accelerator” for the group, according to its chairman and CEO, Thierry Francou. Eurenco’s orders now extend until 2030 and represented 1.2 billion euros over the last six months.

For Emmanuel Macron, “the relocation of powders, which had in fact been abandoned, shows that there is no industrial inevitability.” Production of 250-kilo bomb bodies has also been relocated to France, according to the Elysée.

Accompanied in Bergerac by the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, and that of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, the Head of State was then due to meet leaders of the French arms industry on the subject of rearmament. Among them, MBDA bosses, Eric Béranger; by Thales, Patrice Caine; from KNDS France (ex-Nexter), Nicolas Chamussy; or even Bruno Durand, president of Aubert

During his greetings to the armies in January in Cherbourg (Manche), Emmanuel Macron castigated a “form of satisfied numbness” of the defense industry before the invasion of Ukraine. “We cannot let Russia think that it can win (…). A Russian victory is the end of European security,” he insisted.

Since the Head of State’s announcement of a transition to a war economy in June 2022, the industry has sought to ramp up to meet orders. France has placed orders worth 20 billion euros of military equipment in 2023, a third more than in previous years. Paris is notably awaiting the delivery of 1,500 MMP anti-tank missiles, 55,000 shells and, for anti-aircraft missiles, 300 Mistrals, 500 Mica-NGs and 220 Asters. To respond, manufacturers are striving to accelerate. KNDS France has seen its production of Caesar cannons triple, while MBDA must increase its rate of Aster missiles by 50% by 2026, an insufficient rate, according to the Minister of the Armed Forces.