The French Navy plans to procure electromagnetic and directed-energy weapons as it seeks to expand its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
The news comes as the US, Russia, China, and the UK have sharply increased investment in these defense technologies.
During a press briefing in Paris, Rear Adm. Eric Malbruno said that France would adopt and deploy disruptive technologies, particularly off-the-shelf capabilities, by the end of this decade.
It would also rely on commercially-available directed-energy weapons for faster purchase and fielding.
Malbruno stated that the French military hopes to conduct its first live-fire test of a laser weapon system from a navy vessel next year.
The nation is also looking into the potential of electromagnetic weapons for various defense applications, including tactical and anti-air warfare.
“We need to go faster to keep up with the threats and to keep up with our competitors. We cannot wait until 2030 for some capabilities,” Malbruno told reporters.
Investing in Drones
France is also looking for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) ready for operational testing.
Malbruno admitted that Paris does not have enough “state-of-the-art” drones to protect its national security against modern threats.
“Unmanned vehicles at large … are one of the domains where we are not at state of the art, but we are recovering some experience on that,” he said.
To address evolving threats, France needs to purchase cutting-edge drones like the new mini-UAS recently delivered to the country by Survey Copter.
The delivery of 11 systems, comprising 22 unmanned aircraft, was part of a 2020 agreement worth 19.7 million euros ($19.73 million).