New partners, new capabilities: Berlin has big ambitions for the MGCS program

If the first discussions around the Main Ground Combat System program, or MGCS, date from 2012, this program intended to replace the heavy armored component in France (Char Leclerc) and in Germany (Leopard 2 tank) came to the fore from 2017 and the election of French President Emmanuel Macron, when it integrated it into a set of other Franco-German programs including the SCAF intended to replace the Rafale and Typhoon aircraft, and the MAWS intended to replace the Atlantic 2 and P3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft. The Franco-German couple, stimulated by the tensions between Berlin and Washington following the arrival of Donald Trump at the White House, was then a driving force in the construction of a Defense Europe, and these programs wanted to be the realization of it. The founding act of the MGCS program was signed in 2020., or ready 8 years after the start of discussions.

Since the initial enthusiasm gave way to often very hard discussions between the industrialists of the two countries, and sometimes between the chancelleries themselves, while the visions and the industrial and political objectives of the two countries had only come closer. contextually. Thus, the CIFS program, intended to design the new generation artillery component for the two armies, has already been postponed without any firm date having been defined, and the MAWS program is seriously threatened by the very probable acquisition of 5 P8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft by Berlin to replace its P3C at the end of the race. As for the SCAF program, it came to the brink of collapse this winter facing the demands of Berlin, but also of Madrid, which joined the program in 2019; requirements which threatened the dominant positions of Dassault Aviation and Safran in the respective fields of aeronautical design and motorization, Thales and MBDA being for their part already partially sacrificed on the altar of European cooperation. The MGCS program, meanwhile, had to deal with the strong integration imposed by the Bundestag of the German Rheinmetall to the initial couple formed by the French Nexter and the German Krauss-Maffei Wegman.

The Army's Leclerc tanks will remain in service until 2035 when they are replaced by armored vehicles from the MGCS program.

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