Submarines, specialized ships, electronic warfare… How does France spy in the China Sea?

gto win the war before the war is to keep watch”, recently declared the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Pierre Vandier, during a hearing at the National Assembly.

Thus, in the China Sea, to benefit from a capacity for anticipation, “la Royale” applies the words of its leader since it regularly sails in this region where tensions between Taiwan and the Middle Kingdom are exacerbated and are even become palpable since the visit of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, last August to the island state.

“The French presence in this area is a desire to show that it is there and that it is monitoring China, whose expansion ambitions are known”, explains Jérôme Poirot, former deputy to the national intelligence coordinator at the presidency of the Republic.

For this, the Navy regularly sends nuclear attack submarines (SNA), whoseEmerald who sailed in the Indo-Pacific for almost 6 months between September 2020 and April 2021.

Submarines and a specialized ship

More recently, in connection with the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DRM), it also dispatched the ship specializing in electronic warfare and which is a real intelligence collector, the Dupuy-de-Lome.

“With its large antennas it is known to be very visible while the SNAs are more discreet. Both are very effective in gathering intelligence”explains the man, doctor of the University of Paris-IV Sorbonne.

But then, what does France, a Pacific nation with Polynesia, want to know about the Chinese Navy? “She wants to observe his activity and intercept communications. Are they simulating attack maneuvers? Shooting? You have to know what they are preparing for.”

He pursues: “The objective is also to capture all electromagnetic signals because, in terms of military intelligence, this is very valuable.”

Thus, by intercepting them, the Navy will know precisely the adversary’s radar capabilities, the frequencies used and the electronic warfare means at its disposal to, for example, launch its missiles.

In 2022, for an army, what counts is not the number of men or tanks. The most important thing is its operational capacity and its ability to carry out war actions.”

Intercept missiles

“By observing precisely how the ships of the Chinese Navy maneuver and communicate, we have a lot of information about their real capabilities”he adds.

With this collection of information, the Navy will build archives, such as a library of information on the equipment used by China or other powers, so that it can quickly identify a threat, have the ability to counter it and adapt the means.

In terms of military intelligence capability, France ranks second among Western countries. Far behind the United States but with a ahead” on the English.

In 2021, the DRM had a budget of 110 million euros for 2,100 agents.

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