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France and Germany have signalled their dedication to a plan to collectively develop a futuristic tank system, regardless of a rival project being hatched by German defence firms.
French defence minister Sébastien Lecornu, and his German counterpart, Boris Pistorius, backed the Modern Combat Ground System (MCGS) in a joint interview in Le Monde newspaper forward of a gathering on the Evreux air base in northern France on Thursday.
“Sebastien Lecornu and I are determined to continue the MGCS project and lay the foundations of one of the world’s most modern armoured systems,” Pistorious stated. “Our idea is to make MCGS an open project so that other EU countries can join.”
Lecornu added: “In Evreux, we will sign off politically on the operational needs expressed by the leadership of our two armies.”
The feedback observe related reassurances in July on a dedication to a project that has been repeatedly delayed whereas the French and German army negotiate over the tank’s specs and how work will likely be divided up amongst their nations defence contractors.
Initially conceived because the successor to France’s Leclerc tank and Germany’s Leopard 2, the MCGS was unveiled in 2017 as a part of a broader effort for the 2 nations to work extra carefully on defence procurement. Germany was to take the lead on growing the long run tank, whereas France was to guide on a successor to the present era of fighter jets, often known as the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
But each initiatives have been hobbled by squabbling between the governments and infighting among the many defence contractors, main some consultants to query whether or not both will ever see the sunshine of day.
The tensions present how laborious it’s for nations to collaborate on defence regardless of the wake-up name supplied by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the following enhance in spending on weapons programs.
Paris and Berlin have additionally been squabbling over their air defence methods. Paris opposes a Berlin-led plan for a shopping for membership often known as the European Sky Shield Initiative that may depend on US and Israeli know-how, and has thus far excluded a Franco-Italian system.
MGCS can be made up of a predominant battle tank accompanied by robots and synthetic intelligence, and was to interchange the fleets of Leclerc and Leopard tanks starting someday between 2035 and 2040. The programme is led by KNDS, a German-Franco joint enterprise of Kraus-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Nexter, the prime contractor for the French Leclerc.
The addition of German tankmaker Rheinmetall in 2019 has led to considerations on the French aspect that the steadiness is now off, in response to an individual conversant in the state of affairs.
The warfare in Ukraine has introduced land warfare back to the highest of the agenda for defence ministries in Europe. Germany at the moment dominates the European land car market and its merchandise, primarily the Leopard tank, have been exported globally.
France, then again, is seen as counting on the MGCS to assist reinvigorate its manufacturing strains after the manufacture of the Leclerc led to 2008. Its new army price range for 2024 to 2030 has put aside round €500mn for the project.
The Leopard 2’s newfound recognition has made Rheinmetall and KMW extra desirous to develop a successor to the tank. German newspaper Handelsblatt reported this month that the businesses had been shifting forward with a brand new model, and might additionally workforce up with firms from Italy, Spain and Sweden.
Pistorious acknowledged that the businesses had been engaged on a “European project to develop a modern tank” however he solid it as an initiative pushed by business and not by governments. “The project does not represent an alternative for us to the MCGS,” he stated.
Rheinmetall and Nexter declined to remark. KMW was not instantly accessible for remark.