Was the probable failure of SCAF planned by Berlin for a long time?

Whether industrial, military or even political authorities, today there are hardly any voices in France as in Germany. to hope that the Future Air Combat System, or FCAS, program will come to an end. Even the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the voice of the Elysée's European and Franco-German cooperation ambitions for more than 5 years now, is not resigned, but at the very least discreet, even skeptical on the subject. This failure in the making, which now seems almost inevitable, is often presented as the consequence ofindustrial opposition between Dassault Aviation and Airbus Defense & Space about the Next Generation Fighter, the first and most important pillar of the SCAF program, the piloting of which was attributed to the French aircraft manufacturer from the start of the program, but whose terms of cooperation are called into question by Airbus D&S. However, on closer inspection, this probable failure has its roots in successive decisions from Berlin, and this from 2017, even when the SCAF was barely taking shape. in the speech of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

A two-part article published on the Defense-aerospace website, draws up the list of these decisions which came to scuttle the ambition of Franco-German cooperation of the two Heads of State, and this well beyond the SCAF program alone. It should be recalled that this cooperation initially concerned the SCAF, but also the Main Ground Combat System or MGCS program to replace the Leclerc and Leopard 2 heavy tanks, the Maritime Air Warfare System or MAWS program intended to replace patrol aircraft maritime P3 and Atlantique 2, the Common Indirect Fire System or CIFS program to replace artillery systems by 2035, the Eurodrone to produce a European Male combat drone, and finally Tiger III, the evolution of the Tiger combat helicopter, one of the few recent Franco-German defense programs to have come to an end.

The MGCS was initially to be developed equally by KMW and Nexter within the joint venture KNDS. The arrival of Rheinmetall imposed by the Bundestag will have completely destabilized the industrial balances within it, dooming the program to foreseeable failure.

Thus, in December 2017, Berlin put a more than significant knife edge in Franco-German defense cooperation by announcing the launch of two Electro-optical reconnaissance satellites, whereas since 2008, the two countries had agreed on a sharing of skills in this field, France implementing Electro-optical satellites, Germany satellites equipped with radar. A few months later, Berlin imposed its veto on the execution of contracts for the export of French armored equipment equipped with German engines to Saudi Arabia, which undermined the entire contract with Riyadh. However, two years later, Germany authorized the export of military trucks to the same country. In 2019, Berlin imposed the arrival of the industrial Rheinmetall in the MGCS program, even though the industrial sharing around this program had been organized around the merger of Krauss Maffei Wegman and the French Nexter, the latter assuming within the new program the same role as Rheinmetall within the Leopard 1 and 2 programs, thereby deeply destabilizing the program.


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