France vs Britain by numbers

France vs Britain: Military Top Trumps

France vs Britain by numbers

Brexit has not impacted the relationship with France, the Chief Of the Air Staff has said.

Asked whether he was concerned about working with European countries after the UK leaves the European Union, Sir Hillier said:

"Clearly, there are a whole range of issues associated with Brexit, but the reality is that defence and security is something which is a shared and common agenda, where we work together we are at our strongest.

The Chief of the Air Staff was holding a presentation with the head of the French Air Force to mark RAF 100 and celebrate a century of Anglo-French cooperation.

How do the French stack up against us Brits?

According to a report from the French government in 2016, France spends around £37.4bn on defence (2% of GDP), whereas Britain spends £48bn (2.2% of GDP).

This puts Britain one above France in the world ranking of military expenditure.

French Mil Around the World

French Army (Armée de terre)

The latest figures show the French Army has around 109,444 regular servicemen; compared with the British Army’s 78,407 full-time and fully-trained troops - nearly 4,000 short of the government's target of 82,000

:: Combat tanks – Britain can call upon 249 combat tanks whereas France has 406.

:: Service rifles – Britain has been using the SA80 L85 weapon system since 1985. The French currently use the FAMAS but are changing to the HK416F over the next ten years. It will be the first French standard-issue rifle bought from abroad.

FAMAS and L85A2

French Navy (Marine nationale)

The Royal Navy is made up of 32,450 regular, trained personnel (including Royal Marines); compared with the French Navy’s 35,000.

:: Combat and Support Ships – 69 French (excluding training vessels and tugs) vs 73 British.

:: Nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarines – 4 each.

The French have one aircraft carrier – the Charles de Gaulle – but it is currently inactive due to maintenance works and a mid-life modernisation.

Both of the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers are planned to be operational in 2020.

Charles de Gaulle

French Air Force (Armée de l'Air)

32,880 servicemen are in the RAF, and the French Air Force has 41,160 personnel (2017).

:: Combat Aircraft – The main firepower for the Armée de l'Air comes from the Rafale and Mirage 2000 variants, of which they have a combined 212 jets.

The RAF uses the Typhoon and Tornado, of which it has a combined total of 218 aircraft. However, these numbers will change when the F35s enter active service.

138 of the next generation jets have been ordered for the RAF and Royal Navy.

France and Germany recently announced plans to develop a replacement aircraft for France's Rafale jets.

Typhoon and Rafale

Join Our Newsletter


How is Estonia dealing with heightened Russian threat to its security?

RAF airman John Nichol's life-saving decision to eject from burning Tornado jet

Tough three-day course BEFORE starting Royal Marine Commando training