France remains one of the world’s leading defense exporters, with its place among the top three nations secured following a jump in sales last year amounting to 31 percent year-on-year from 2017. The other leading arms-exporting countries are the United States and Russia.
The rise from EUR6.9 billion in sales during 2017 to EUR9.1 billion ($10.24 billion) in 2018 reflects the peak-through-valley stretch of French exports over a four-year period. During 2015, French exports reached a record high of EUR16.9 billion before slipping to EUR13.9 billion in 2016, then further down by 50 percent in 2017.
At least a quarter of France’s arms exports during 2018 went to European nations, a significant rise from the prior 10 percent average. The largest single recipient of French hardware by value was Qatar, with some $2.7 billion in purchases related to Rafale combat aircraft and NH-90 helicopters. Other major purchasers were Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Spain, India, Thailand and Egypt.