PARIS (AP) — France plans to hold the line on military spending while reducing 34,000 defense jobs over the next five years.
President Francois Hollande's Socialist government laid out its five-year military program at a Cabinet meeting on Friday that would keep annual defense spending at €31.4 billion through 2016 — then rising to €32.5 billion by 2019. Key NATO ally France would remain Western Europe's second-biggest spender on defense after Britain.
The plan goes before Parliament this fall. Socialists and their allies control both chambers.
Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Europe-1 radio the plan avoids "drastic cuts" in other deficit-minded Western countries "including the United States."
The plan also cuts back on planned purchases of Dassault's Rafale fighter jet to about 5 per year through 2019 — down from 11 previously.
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