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French Army
Flag of France.svg

Army Light Aviation
Armoured Cavalry
Troupes de marine
French Foreign Legion
Chasseurs alpins
List of current regiments
Structure of the French Army
Chief of Staff of the French Army
Modern Equipment
History of the French Army
Timeline of the French Army
List of senior officers
Rank insignia
Croix de guerre
Médaille militaire
Légion d'honneur

The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre (English: Land Army), is the land-based component of the French Armed Forces and its largest. As of 2008, the army employs 133,947 regular soldiers and 24,000 civilians[1]. Giving it a total of 157,947 active troops. All soldiers are now considered professionals, following the suspension of conscription voted in parliament in 1997 and effective as of 2001. Just like the Armée de l'Air, the Marine Nationale and the Gendarmerie Nationale it is placed under the responsibility of the French government. The current Chief of Staff of the French Army (CEMAT) is general Elrick Irastorza.

During the professionalisation process, numbers dropped from the 1996 236,000 (132,000 conscripts) to around 140,000.[2] By June 1999, the Army's strength had dropped to 186,000, including around 70,000 conscripts. 38 of 129 regiments were planned to be stood down from 1997-99. The previous structure's nine 'small' divisions and sundry separate combat and combat support brigades were replaced by nine combat and four combat support brigades.

During the Cold War, the French Army, though not part of NATO's military command structure, actively planned for the defence of Western Europe.[3] II Corps (France) was stationed in South Germany, and effectively formed a reserve for NATO's Central Army Group. In the 1980s, III Corps headquarters was moved to Lille and planning started for its use in support of NATO's Northern Army Group. The Rapid Action Force of five light divisions was also intended as a NATO reinforcement force.



The army is divided into different Corps or armes. These units retain both symbolic and non symbolic and administrative values.

The operational organisation of the Army combines units from various Corps in 17 Brigades.


Infantry armour and combat system

Name Origin Type Notes
SPECTRA helmet  France Protection helmet Using SPECTRA fiber from Honeywell
FÉLIN  France Infantry combat system 31,455 units to be delivered.

Standard issue weapons

Standard Issue Weapons Origin Type Diameter Notes
PAMAS  Italy/ France Standard service pistol 9mm Modified version of the Beretta 92, also called Beretta 92F.
FAMAS F1  France Standard service rifle 5.56mm Older version of the FAMAS. The FAMAS can also fire rifle grenades such as the AC58 or the APAV40.
FAMAS G1  France Standard service rifle 5.56mm Enhanced version of the FAMAS F1.
FAMAS G2  France Standard service rifle 5.56mm Enhanced version of the FAMAS F1.
FAMAS FELIN  France Standard service rifle 5.56mm Version designed to be used with the FELIN.
PAPOP  France Future rifle 5.56mm To be deployed along with FELIN infantry, combines a rifle and a 35mm grenade launcher.
Colt Canada C7 rifle  Canada Special forces rifle 5.56mm Used by the French Special Forces.
Sniper rifles
FR F2  France Standard sniper rifle 7.62mm Most used sniper rifle by the French Army.
PGM Hecate II  France Heavy sniper rifle 12.7mm Largest sniper rifle of the French Army.
Infantry mortars
LLR 81mm  France Mortar 81mm Exists in different versions.
LGI Mle F1  France Mortar grenade launcher See note Can fire either 51mm explosive grenades, 51mm smoke grenades or 47mm flash grenades.
Infantry machine guns
FN Minimi  Belgium Machine gun 5.56mm Light machine gun.
Browning M2  United States Machine gun 12.7mm Heavy machine gun.
Vehicle machine guns
AA-52 machine gun  France Machine gun 7.5mm Vehicle mounted machine gun.
FN MAG  Belgium Machine gun 7.62mm Helicopter mounted machine gun.

Portable missiles

Name Origin Type Notes
Antitank missiles
FGM-148 Javelin  United States Heavy antitank missile France ordered 76 launchers and 380 missiles to complement its antitank missiles.
MILAN  France/ Germany Standard antitank missile Exists in different versions, can also be mounted on vehicles.
ERYX  France Short range antitank missile Has limited anti-helicopter capabilities.
AT4  Sweden Light antitank missile Light 84mm missiles, named "Anti Blindé Léger" in France.
Surface to air missiles
Mistral missile  France Surface to air missile Can be mounted on vehicles too.

Tracked armoured vehicles

Name Origin Type Number Notes
Main battle tanks
AMX-56 Leclerc  France Main Battle Tank 406 Different batches presently used, 82 early models could be retired.
AMX-30 B2  France Main battle tank 17 Now used to train recruits.
Recovery vehicles
Leclerc MARS  France Recovery vehicle 20 Recovery vehicle variant of the Leclerc MBT.
Infantry fighting vehicles
AMX-10P  France Infantry fighting vehicle 1,050 Tracked infantry fighting vehicle, to be replaced by the VBCI.
Bandvagn 206  Sweden Tracked articulated all-terrain carrier 150 Bought from Sweden to be used in Afghanistan, include a 12.7mm machine gun.

Wheeled armoured vehicles

Name Origin Type Number Notes
Tank destroyers
Engin blindé roues canon  France Wheeled tank destroyer  ??? To replace the AMX-10RC and the ERC-90 from 2015 onward.[4] See also the Vextra 105 prototype.
AMX 10 RC  France Wheeled tank destroyer 256 Replacement by the EBRC expected to start in 2015.
ERC 90 Sagaie  France Mobile wheeled armoured vehicle 192 Replacement by the EBRC expected to start in 2015.
Infantry fighting vehicles
Véhicule blindé de combat d'infanterie  France Wheeled infantry fighting vehicle 146 Also known as VBCI, will replace the AMX-10P. 298 have been ordered out of a requirement of 700 vehicles.
Transport vehicles
Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé  France Armoured personnal carrier 4,000 Most used personnal carrier of the French army.
Petit Véhicule Protégé  France Light personnal carrier 1,500 by 2015 Light 4 wheeled carrier.
Véhicule Blindé Léger  France 4x4 all terrain vehicle. 1,100 4x4 vehicle, will be replaced by the PVP.
Aravis  France Armoured carrier. 15 Armoured personnal carrier for engineering forces.
Sherpa 3  France Light tactical military truck 33 Successor to the Sherpa 2.
Mine protected vehicles
Buffalo (MPCV)  United States/ South Africa Mine protected vehicle 5 Bought for operations in Afghanistan.


Name Origin Type Number Notes
Self propelled howitzers
AMX 30 AuF1  France Tracked self-propelled artillery 174 Based on the AMX-30 chassis.
CAESAR  France Wheeled self propelled artillery 72 ordered Wheeled artillery.
Towed artillery
TRF1  France Towed artillery 84 Towed 155mm cannon.
RTF1  France Towed mortar 361 Towed 120mm mortar.
Multiple rocket launchers
M270 MLRS  United States Multiple rocket launcher 41 Some have been retired but 41 units are still operational.


Helicopter Origin Type Number Notes
Attack helicopters
Eurocopter Tiger  France/ Germany Attack helicopter 80 units ordered 40 Tiger HAP delivered, 18 Tiger HAD delivered late 2008.
Transport helicopters
NH-90  France/ Germany/ Italy/ Netherlands Transport helicopter 34 34 for the French Army Light Aviation, with an option for 34 more helicopters.
EC 725 Super Cougar  France Long range tactical transport helicopter 8 Used by the French Army Light Aviation.
AS 532 Cougar  France Multipurpose helicopter 28 Also exists in a Combat Search and Rescue version.
Puma  France Transport/utility helicopter 107 Exists in many different versions.
Light helicopters
Gazelle  France Light helicopter 278[5] Used in different variants.
Fennec  France Light helicopter 18 Training helicopter.


Name Origin Type Number Notes
SOCATA TBM 700  France Transport plane 12 Used by VIPs.
Pilatus PC-6  Switzerland Training plane 6 Used for training purpose.

Principles and values

French Military
Armoiries république française.svg

French Air Force
French Army
French Navy
Insigne général d'armée.png Ranks in the French Army
Ranks in the French Navy
History of the French Military
France Ancient.svg Military History of France
Grenadier Pied 1 1812 Revers.png La Grande Armée

The principles and values of the French Army are formulated in the Code of the French Soldier:

(...) Mastering his own strength, he respects his opponent and is careful to spare civilians. He obeys orders while respecting laws, customs of war and international conventions.(...) He is aware of global societies and respects their differences. (...) [6]

See also


  1. ^ "Armée française : structure et effectifs - Médias - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. 
  2. ^ Jane's Defence Weekly 31 July 1996 and 13 March 1996, IDR July 1998
  3. ^ Kamps, Armies of NATO's Central Front, Jane's Publishing Company, 1985
  4. ^ [1]"Projet de loi de finances pour 2005" includes information on the French military procurements".
  5. ^ [2] Link to the French senate
  6. ^ Original French : (...) Maître de sa force, il respecte l’adversaire et veille à épargner les populations. Il obéit aux ordres, dans le respect des lois, des coutumes de la guerre et des conventions internationales. (...) Il est ouvert sur le monde et la société, et en respecte les différences. (...)  : [3]

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