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E. Chiva: "The Directorate General for Armaments must shed light on the future".

Emmanuel Chiva, appointed Delegate General for Armaments this summer, gave his views on the major issues facing the sector in the current context at the IHEDN on 13 October. Recalling the origins and missions of the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), Emmanuel Chiva details the threats and challenges ahead. "We have to invest in multiple fields", he explains, citing the technological breakthroughs that are set to become geostrategic breakthroughs.

The DGA explained what was meant by the term "armament", i.e. the ability to meet all the needs of the armed forces: individual equipment (weapons, personal protection and ammunition), vehicles, communication systems, command tools, intelligence, but also the support associated with all this equipment, as well as operational readiness resources. The main challenge in armaments is to reconcile these different needs," says the DGA. It's a constant search for balance..

Mr Chiva went on to explain the missions assigned to the DGA: equipping our armed forces in a sovereign manner, preparing the future of defence systems, supporting exports, promoting European cooperation and developing the French and European defence technological and industrial base (DTIB). "More broadly, the DGA has a role to play in preparing for the future. Its role is not limited, as we often hear, to buying weapons," points out Emmanuel Chiva. Our institution must implement a global strategy to provide our armed forces with the best equipment. We owe them this performance".

Innovation for DNA

Last year, the DGA celebrated its 60th anniversary. "It was the nuclear adventure that gave birth to itsays Emmanuel Chiva; It is therefore the heir to this military history, closely linked to technology and innovation. And the history of technological innovation is not always linear: innovation is a question of timing, it is the product of an international context, and the latter can be a driving force as well as a brake. We saw this in the decades following the Cold War, with the decline in military spending ("the peace dividend", as we used to say in the 1990s), and in the current situation".

The current period represents a turning point, according to Mr Chiva: "the acceleration in the pace of innovation and the democratisation of access to new areas of technology (some of which fall within the remit of government) are transforming the way we approach the issues at stake".. Private operators now have investment capacities that can exceed those of governments: "The American company Amazon, for example, invests 28 billion dollars a year in research, far more than Israel's defence budget (17 billion dollars a year). This comparison gives an idea of how much the world we live in is changing. A transformation accompanied by a profound change in the areas of conflict".notes Emmanuel Chiva.

New areas of conflict

"Today we are witnessing a veritable 'weaponisation' of space. The seabed is also the scene of new activities".says Mr Chiva, citing as an example the recent sabotage of underwater infrastructure in the Baltic Sea. As we know, France has defined a new space strategy for 2019, and is committed to controlling the deep seabed. The DGA adds to these new areas of conflict "immaterial fields": cyberspace, information warfare and cognitive warfare.

In terms of cyber defence, the DGA is the Ministry of Defence's technical expert of reference: 20% of its technical staff work in cyber defence (i.e. around 800 people - the 2019-2025 military programming law plans to reach 1,100 people dedicated to this sector, i.e. 10% of the DGA's total staff).

Information warfare is the manipulation of information with the aim of destabilisation. Various means are used to this end: artificial intelligence, the media and deep-fake. "A technological arms race is underway to thwart these threats".says the DGA.

Cognitive warfare? It's the ability to act on an adversary's brain by destabilising emotions and creating gustatory, auditory or olfactory simulations. "We're going to see it in action in the near future".warns Emmanuel Chiva.

A dynamic and creative ecosystem

The war in Ukraine has also brought weapons to the forefront. low-tech or low-costlike drones. "I make the difference between low-cost and low-tech, there's no mistaking it: low-tech is confused with robustness. Robustness is a simple objective. You just have to meet the need.explains Mr Chiva. This has led to a change in methodology at the DGA, as illustrated by the order for "prowling munitions": rather than "over-specifying" the desired systems, with a voluminous set of specifications, the DGA sets the manufacturers the objective, the effects to be achieved. "We trust their creativity", explains this former entrepreneur, who wants to create a dynamic ecosystem comprising several thousand dual-use companies (both civilian and military): "We have set up a Defence Innovation Fund (FID) with a budget of €200 million, which I hope to increase to €400 million to invest in these companies, to enable them to diversify and increase their expertise in the defence market, while maintaining a primary market that prevents them from being 'weaponised'.

"We need to invest in multiple fieldsexplains Mr Chiva, citing the technological breakthroughs that are set to become geostrategic breakthroughs. "Quantum technology: there will be a before and an after. The first to decrypt quantum information will have a strategic advantage over the others. France is not lagging behind in this area. "It is even at the cutting edge when it comes to quantum sensors.says Mr Chiva. This technology, which can map the oceans with millimetre precision, will soon be used by the French Navy; "it will be the first army in the world to use this technology".says a delighted Mr Chiva.

Strengthening links with the IHEDN community

"We manage complex projects (as prime contractor from start to finish). To shed light on the future, the DGA has to take risks (like soldiers).says Mr Chiva. It has to do this in the drafting of contracts, in the management of projects, and accept, sometimes, to fail".. He cites the American Apollo 13 space mission as an example, "I'm campaigning for the precautionary principle (which can paralyse us) to become a precautionary principle, and for us to be allowed to take risks. I'm campaigning for the precautionary principle (which can paralyse us) to become a principle of prudence, and authorise us to take risks"..

Emmanuel Chiva recalls what constitutes the essential resource of the Direction générale de l'armement: "It's human resources. We need to attract talented people and offer them career paths (...) The IHEDN community, to which I am deeply attached, has a very important role to play: you are members of the military or civilians, industrialists, elected representatives or journalists, you are players in the debate, you are potential ambassadors".concludes the CEO. "Those who will be at the helm of tomorrow's next-generation aircraft carrier or the fighter of the future are at school today. We therefore have a duty to listen to young people; the IHEDN is a world where the old and the young have a lot to learn from each other, to form the community that is essential to us in the future.