Corps de l'armement

Corps de l'armement
Active 1968-present
Country  France
Branch Aerospace & Defence
Type Corps of military engineers
Role Management of Aerospace & Defence Programmes, Research & Testing
Size 2000

The Corps de l'armement, or corps des ingénieurs de l'armement[1] is a Technical Grand Corps of the French State (grand corps de l'Etat),[2] aimed at providing the French Armed Forces with all appropriate equipment and at supervising the French Aerospace & Defence industry.

Its members are the ingénieurs de l'armement, or ingénieurs du corps de l'armement, nicknamed "IA" in French. They are high level engineers and public servants with military status, originating for most of them (more than 2/3 by decree[3]) from the Ecole polytechnique[4] and trained at Institut supérieur de l'aéronautique et de l'espace (ISAE) (formation SUPAERO) or ENSTA ParisTech.

The Corps de l'armement's main employer (50%) is the Direction générale de l'armement (General Directorate for Armament).[5] The second half are employed in other bodies of the Ministry of Defence, in international Defence organizations (NATO, OCCAR,...) or can be detached in French administrative bodies (CNES, CEA, ESA,...) or the French and European industry (EADS, Safran, Thales Group, MBDA, DCNS...).

Prehistory of the Corps of Armament

The Corps of Armament was created in 1968 as a fusion of previous Corps of military engineers[6] recruiting at Ecole polytechnique

In 1743, the "Ecole des constructeurs de vaisseaux royaux" was created to train Naval engineers. This school is known today as ENSTA ParisTech.

Corps of Armament and High tech Colbertism

The role played by the Corps of Armament in the development of the French Aerospace & Defence industry in particular with the logic of Grands Projets (Concorde, Airbus,[9] Ariane,...) can be compared with the role of the Corps des télécommunications in the development of the French telecom industry (telephone, Minitel,...) or the role of the Corps des mines or the Corps des ponts with their respective Grands Projets (Nuclear industry, TGV,...). They illustrate the Colbertism, a French version of Mercantilism.

French Colbertism is an old tradition dating back to the 17th century influenced at that time by the Chinese system. French high public servants are still nicknamed "mandarins" referring to their Chinese counterparts.

The French economist Elie Cohen described the effects of French Colbertism in the field of High tech in a renowned book entitled "High tech Colbertism - Economics of the Grand Projet" (1995).[10]

High tech Colbertism can be characterized by a prevalent role played in France by the Administration and the Grand Corps. A typical Colbertist mechanism is the "pantouflage" where top civil servants become Heads of French public companies. The word "pantouflage" cannot be translated in English nor in any Western language but can be translated in Japanese where a comparable mechanism exists. The Japanese word is "amakudari" ("fallen from the sky").

See also

Notable members of the Corps de l'armement

Délégués généraux pour l'armement (directeurs généraux de l'armement)

Heads of other Public bodies

Top industrialists

Aerospace engineers

Naval, nuclear & telecom engineers



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