Against the backdrop of geostrategic tensions and the war in Ukraine, President Macron announced at Eurosatory that we are “entering a war economy.” But where does the French and European defense industry stand? Here is an overview in five episodes.
The European defense industry faces the future (5/5)
By Procopius of Caesarea*
The future of the military defense industry is dictated by the US-China competition (including in all non-military fields). This competition, on the technological level, is led, for the time being, by the USA and China is making a constant and determined effort to ‘follow’ with the assurance of its ultimate industrial superiority. We are living through an industrial revolution (known as the 5ᵉ generation) from which Europe is not only absent, but excluded. This revolution is based on a dozen technological sectors, known as ‘mother technologies’. It would take a book to detail and demonstrate this statement, but it is a fact.
Who will dominate the space, will dominate the Earth
We simply point out the space fact, because it is critical in terms of global power: whoever dominates space will dominate the earth. The military interest has always been known in the so-called ‘high point’, but it is only from space that we can control cyberspace.
Example: within 3 years now, we should see the StarShip of SpaceX operational. This machine, usable as an airplane, will allow to build economically orbital factories of several tens of thousands of tons. These factories will benefit from 2 qualities that cannot be found on our earth: weightlessness and vacuum. These two qualities allow access to industrial manufacturing of new materials (called meta-materials) with exceptional performances and consequently to manufacture objects with performances inaccessible to terrestrial manufacturing. Industrially speaking, there will be those who have access to these materials and those who will not have access to them… and who will only be able to manufacture objects of a medieval type. To be very clear: an airplane engine made with these materials will have performances inaccessible to those who will not have access to them. And to reassure Macron, there will be no question of talking about ‘public good’.
If in 2025, the StarShip, which represents a colossal work for humanity, is operational, within 10 years (2035) the industrial level of France will be typically reduced to that of an African country. That’s all there is to it. The technological gap cannot be closed.
In this matter that is space, I can assure (because I participate very modestly) that Northern Europe (Germany included) has well understood the stake and has also well understood that a space Europe under French influence would lead to an ineluctable ruin. The 2 European companies which will be involved in the launch of small payloads, have taken SpaceX as a model, and have a motto: no European cooperation (and this requires courage, because it means: no European credits) because, with the French in the loop (ArianeSpace or Airbus), it is not even worth hoping for.
Macron can no more imagine the ‘anti-French’ feeling that arises in Northern Europe (in this kind of industry), than he could imagine yesterday the feeling of rejection towards him of a majority of French people (fact verified, as usual, to the great displeasure of the BFM forecasters who assured us of an absolute majority – Mr. Ségala in the lead on Friday, June 17).
The future belongs to technology. We cannot make real innovation with the “thirty-five happiness” dear to France. Elon Musk says it and he is qualified to say it: he is not an enarque, but an engineer, and he has already produced more real innovations than the whole of France has been able to do for more than thirty years.
Making a rocket, like any other innovation, is (according to Elon) ‘1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration’. Anyone can have the one percent of inspiration, but the rest is out of reach of the Europe of Brussels and even less of France. End of the debate.
Conclusion: there can be no sovereign European defense industry
Note: I only need a few minutes to destroy contradictory ‘opinions’ that I don’t care about, because my school of thought admits only one judge: History, and it has not been unfavorable to us for 30 years now… We could write a book on the history of Atos (with Bull as its ancestor), this flagship whose results have always been nothing but… nothing at all… and we can still find Macronists singing about its future performance in quantum computing, supercomputers, etc., all of which are proclaimed without the slightest proof. What is sure is that the President of this company assured me (in 2005) of the construction of an ‘exaflop’ supercomputer, thus world champion (France was going to be the world leader) and by far (when he was talking) and it ended with a ’23 petaflop supercomputer recently put into service, that is to say, less than 3% of the expected performance… the exaflop does exist: it is in service in the USA.
In the essential field of supercomputing, France is no longer even listed in the top 100, which moves every day (4 new installations per month in China…). Reality.
But Macron has the ‘next move’ with quantum: the current analysis of ‘quantum’ companies (it’s ‘heavy’ to hear them) shows one thing for sure: we don’t see anything tangible (by the way, I made one of the leading companies – located in Saclay – spill the beans about quantum dots… impeccable on the theoretical level, but whose practical realization depends on an isotopic purity of carbon that is not accessible on earth and hop, we can sleep easy… I advised the founder to go and see Elon Musk and he answered: of course! But…)
Other note: June 18, 2022, Intel investments in Europe :
Germany Magdeburg “advanced semiconductor manufacturing mega-site” for €17 billion – by 2027. Intel will receive €6.8 billion in funding from the European Chip Act (funding amount confirmed in the federal budget statement).
Intel: Ireland: €17 billion investment in Ireland extended to €30 billion.
Intel: smaller investments for France, Italy, Poland and Spain.
In France, an R&D center on the Saclay plateau
Europe: agreement with Intel for Intel 4 processing technology.
Currently, EU semiconductor production represents about 9% of the world total. The EU Chips Act is based on the US Chips Act subsidy scheme ($52 billion). It serves the same purpose, namely to localize important high-tech inputs and secure critical supply chains.
Conclusion: we are witnessing a real American colonization of Europe in this field. And it’s not badly financed by Brussels. And we’re only talking about Intel (for the time being, the other three major players have declined the European offers).
Analysis: Intel is avoiding France in terms of industrial location, despite offers that Macron thought could not be refused… The consolation prize is an R&D center in Saclay where Intel will be able to quietly plunder the pool of engineers on the plateau (it will only get the best of course). Intel does not dream of a future with a location in this wonderful place described by Macron as ‘California without the sea’.
The NATO Pipeline System (NPS) was established during the Cold War to supply Alliance forces with fuel, and it continues to meet fuel requirements with the flexibility required in today’s security environment.
The NPS consists of ten separate petroleum storage and distribution networks.
- It is approximately 10,000 km long, traversing twelve NATO countries and offering 4.1 million cubic meters of storage capacity.
- The NPS connects storage depots, military airbases, civilian airports, pumping stations, rail and road loading stations, refineries and entry/draw-off points.
- Bulk distribution utilizes facilities integrated with the jointly funded NATO Security Investment Program (NSIP).
- The networks are under the control of national agencies, with the exception of the Central European Pipeline System (CEPS), which is a multinational system managed by the CEPS Program Office, which is part of the NATO Support and Acquisition Agency (NSA).
*Procopius of Caesarea (6ᵉ century A.D. is a Byzantine rhetorician and historian whose work is devoted to the reign of the emperor Justinian). This is of course a pseudonym. The one of a person very well informed about the technological, political and geostrategic issues of our time.