09/08/2021 by Emmanuel Paquette
Photo © L. BARIOULET - D. BENOIT - E. FEFERBERG - T. SAMSON / AFP - L'EXPRESS
In order to keep its superiority, the institution is seeking to transform itself thanks to start-ups. A necessary change in a context of international tensions.
A legendary beast has been spotted on the Champs-Elysées. The Griffon - an eagle-headed animal with a lion's hindquarters, which named the new armoured vehicle of the French infantry - paraded down the most prestigious avenue in the world on Bastille Day. At first glance, nothing really differentiates this six-wheeler from its predecessor, the Vab. However, this vehicle is the first to be able to connect to all the other units present on the ground thanks to satellite networks and to be able to exchange information in real time: ammunition and fuel reserves, the situation regarding the enemy, etc., all directly linked to the command post. Data will thus be able to pass through a common information system, delivered last June by the IT services company Atos. A complex and secure network. This part of the digitisation of the French Armed Forces, part of the Scorpion programme, represents a major project for "collaborative combat", as Vincent Huver, a former naval aviator and co-founder of "Place Stratégique", an association supporting companies in the defence sector, points out. "Integrating technology has become a necessity with the acceleration of decision-making on the battlefield," he explains. Robotics, artificial intelligence, communication, smart weapons... the applications are numerous and must meet the needs of the military." In the event of enemy activity, the drones of tomorrow will be able to automatically send information to all the units present on the ground. Commanders will then be able to identify the nearest squadrons - some semi-autonomous - with robots capable of swooping down on the assaulters and stopping them short before they reach their goal.
This transformation comes as the threat evolves. Until now, the focus has been on tracking down terrorist groups, France's priority outside its borders. But "tomorrow, we will have to be ready to deploy high-intensity means of fighting in interstate conflicts, in order to be a dissuasive force and to make our enemies understand that they are not safe from retaliation if they attack us," François Lecointre, the former Chief of Defence Staff, said last year. The arms race of foreign powers such as China and Russia, and international tensions - in Ukraine and the China Sea - are forcing other countries to keep up. The Directorate General of Armaments and the Defence Innovation Agency have therefore decided to turn to start-ups to put themselves in a good position in this global race.
For the rest of the article in French: read on L'express