Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday that French arms sales increased by 42 per cent or €6.7 billion in 2013 compared to 2012 and are expected to exceed seven billion Euros this year. Lodrian was speaking during the opening of the Eurosatory 2014 arms fair in the Paris suburb of Villepinte.
France recorded a strong comeback in the Middle East market, said Lodrian. The region is responsible for generating 40 per cent of France's total exports and it has also increased its presence in the Asia and Latin America markets.
In 2013, France's biggest contract was an agreement to renew the Saudi Arabian navy's fleet of ships, worth €500 million; a contract to sell a communication satellite to Brazil is worth €300 million.
The minister pointed out that French exports of munitions for use by armoured vehicles grew by 5 per cent in 2013. He noted that the Scorpion programme to update light weapons will soon be launched at the cost of five billion Euros over ten years.
"This means that future equipment will include more than 2,500 armoured vehicles connected to each other by sophisticated electronic systems," said Lodrian. "The Scorpion programme will allow the Leclerc tank to be in use until 2040."
Eurosatory 2014 will enable French industrialists "to improve their exports", the minister added. Nearly 1,500 exhibitors from 58 countries are taking part in the arms fair, which lasts until Friday.