France is set to spend more on its military next year. French President François Hollande said Wednesday that the country would up its defense spending by 600 million euros, or $667 million, according to Defense News.
Hollande said the increase was laid out in an official letter sent to ministers that describes the proposed 2017 spending. The increase in defense spending, which stood at 32 billion euros in 2016, was a "strong signal."
Hollande addressed the crowd at a garden reception held by France's Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian for service personnel marching in a military parade Thursday on the Champs Elysées. The parade also features Australian and New Zealand forces and fly by performed by the French Air Force.
One conservative candidate running to represent Les Republicains in May's French presidential election, Alain Juppé, who also briefly served as defense minister, wrote in a campaign note that French defense spending needs an uptick of some seven billion euros in 2022 should the country desire to hit a NATO target of two percent of gross domestic product, Defense News reported.
Every candidate has said they would boost defense spending but those promises have been greeted with skepticism, considering the cost and France's poor economic outlook. One major upcoming project is a new generation nuclear missile submarine, which could reportedly cost five to six billion euros per year.
On a global scale, France spends quite a bit on defense, but still trails giant spenders like the United States. The U.S. spent $650 billion on defense last year, according to NATO statistics. That equates to about 3.62 percent of the country's GDP. Overall, the U.S. spends more than double what the rest of the NATO nations spent combined.
No nation compares with the U.S. when it comes to defense spending. China is a distant second at about one-third of the U.S. budget, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.