France expects to end dependency upon the United States for fighter jet- launched heavy bombs following the setting up of a factory to manufacture various types of bombs.
The plant of a local bomb-making firm, Paris Rafaut, near Valenciennes was inaugurated earlier this week by defence minister Florence Parly. "Until Now, the heavy bomb bodies have always been imported from the United States," the minister said during the event.
“Rafaut has invested more than 20 million Euros devoted to the construction and development of this new production site. It is in this factory that Rafaut will manufacture among others quality aviation bombs" the minister was quoted as saying by LaTribune.
France has used a lot of ammunition in recent years in the Levant (Syria) to participate in the military defeat of Daesh, the minister said, adding that the new factory would manufacture bombs of various weight categories- from 250 kilograms to nearly a ton, some of which must meet the constraints of French platforms such as the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and Rafale fighter jets.
The French Directorate-General for Armaments had notified in December 2017 a contract for the development and industrialization of MK 83 (500 kg) and MK 84 (1 tonne) heavy bomb bodies which France imports from the US.
Mk 83 and Mk 84 are part of the Mark 80 series of general-purpose bombs. They are used as a warhead for a variety of precision-guided weapons including the GBU-16 Paveway laser-guided bombs, the GBU-32 JDAM and Quickstrike sea mines.
In the recent years, France has contracted the US for Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) Unitary Rocket Pods worth $90 million (2016), Hellfire missiles for $60 million (2015 and 2016), and Javelin anti-tank guided missiles for $69 million.