France Flexes Military Muscle on Bastille Day Parade

Fighter jets took over the Paris sky on Saturday as part of a massive military parade in a “demonstration of controlled force” on France’s national day.

The parade will be followed by a street party if “Les Bleus” win the World Cup in Sunday’s final against Croatia.

President Emmanuel Macron flagged off the two-hour spectacle and was joined by two guests of honour: Singapore Prime Minister Hsien Loong and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono.

“With this… we will address the shortcomings of the past, improve the present and prepare the future of our country by giving it the means to defend itself,” Macron said on Friday evening.

Thousands of people, many of them tourists, thronged the Champs Elysées avenue to watch the march past involving 4,290 soldiers, 220 vehicles, 250 horses, 64 jets and 30 helicopters, AFP writes.

The theme of this year’s Bastille Day was “fraternity in arms” and featured Spanish gendarmes, Belgian armoured vehicles and an Airbus A400M military transport plane from the German defence fleet.

France’s military chief Francois Lecointre who was appointed by Macron last year after his predecessor resigned following a spat over defence spending cuts, described the July 14 parade as a “demonstration of controlled force”.

The country is deploying 110,000 police and security forces nationwide this weekend to secure the huge street parties if the national team win the World Cup on Sunday.

Following a string of attacks by Islamist extremists over previous years, the Eiffel Tower will be closed to visitors for the occasion, and police requested this week that it be shut on Sunday too when the World Cup final will be shown on a giant screen in the shadow of the monument.

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