Blog AnalysisGulf Middle EastMissions Operations

How much did the strikes in Syria cost? First assessment

(B2) It is always difficult to evaluate the cost of an operation such as the military strikes on Syria (operation Hamilton), because depending on the cost basis covered (total real cost or additional cost), we arrive at different data.

We thus arrive at a cost between 115 et 135 millions of euros. Based on the latter figure, almost three quarters of the budget is spent on munitions (98 million euros), the rest is due to operational costs (17 million for aviation and 25 million euros for the navy).

This takes into account:

1° the costs of weapons fired as well as that of weapons not fired (the existence of which is recognized on the French and American sides).

2° the hourly cost of return planes — French Rafale, American B1B, British Tornado —, their escort (Mirage, Tornado, F-22), tankers and surveillance planes (Awacs, F-16, etc.), but also the preliminary scouting time (average) for Awacs and fighter planes.

(3) the cost of moving ships and submarines.

Methodology. The cost of weapons is calculated according to known data and the average public price, and the B2 'OPEX' database. To define the hourly costs of planes, I based myself on data from the Pentagon, the British government after the operation in Libya (2011 report) and the French Parliament (Launay report 2012). To define the costs of the ships, I took as a reference the average monthly cost of engagement in previous operations (Libya or Iraq), according to the B2 'OPEX' database. The $/Euro rate was taken at an average rate of 0,81 euros per dollar.

The lower range of the figure comes from a cost put into perspective at the operational level. Explanation: even outside of operations, ships and planes must fly or navigate, if only to maintain training and vigilance conditions. NB: the relative cost of ammunition was not taken into account. Unfired ammunition must, at the end of its period of non-use, be either reconditioned or destroyed and renewed.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(Updated) We have received several messages. Some people ask us for details. They will be made as this article is updated. Others are more critical. Criticism concerns, first of all, the very fact of publishing such an assessment. This would play into the hands of the pacifists, we are told.

  • With these kinds of arguments, political journalists will no longer write a single line, because we would always be accused of playing into someone's hands.

They also underline that we did not take into account the positive repercussions of this strike, particularly on the political level.

Finally, the “too simplistic” methodology used is also called into question.

  • We are very aware of the limits of this evaluation, which remains a “journalistic” and not a “scientific” evaluation. We must just take into account the “marginal” cost generated by these strikes, the “real” cost (of the means used) or the “total” cost (including support and planning structures). Each of these methods requires us to make very political choices, depending on what we want to demonstrate. We have chosen to take the “real” cost into account, putting certain notions into perspective.

Read also on the same subject:

The American-French-British coalition strikes three Syrian sites (V5)).


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).