Rheinmetall is planning its strategy to dislodge the Franco-German tank program MGCS

Like the FCAS new generation combat aircraft program which brings together Paris, Berlin and Madrid, the Main Ground Combat System or MGCS program, which aims to design the replacement for the French Leclerc and German tanks Leopard 2, is today the subject of many questions and fears. If FCAS is above all threatened by the opposition between Dassault Aviation and Airbus DS, MGCS is, for its part, attacked by the German Rheinmetall, a last-minute guest in this program which was initially to be developed by the KNDS group, the result of the merger between the French Nexter, the originator of Leclerc, and the German group Krauss. Maffei Wegman, father of Leopard and Leopard 2. For Rheinmetall, the leading German defense group, which notably participated in the design of the Leoaprd 2 by supplying, among other things, its cannon, there was in fact no question of the new German tank being built without it. Since then, difficulties have accumulated, with Rheinmetall, which enjoys powerful political support in the Bundestag, jockeying for position, notably to the detriment of the French Nexter, even though the program must respect strict industrial parity between France and the Germany.

In fact, the Rhine group seems, for several months, to deploy a strategy aimed not at imposing itself within the MGCS program, but at derailing it. And the weapon chosen by Rheinmetall for this is none other than another battle tank, developed in-house, the KF-51 Panther. Presented at Eurosatory 2022, Panther is a perfectly modern 59-ton tank, armed with the new 130mm Rh-52 L/130 cannon proposed precisely by Rheinmetall to arm the MGCS against Nexter's 140mm ASCALON, with an MB 873 Ka-501 V12 turbodiesel engine with liquid cooling of 1500 hp, latest generation composite armor as well as an APS ADS system developed by the same Rheinmetall. Designated as a prototype, not a demonstrator, the KF-51 Panther is, according to its designer, ready to produce, and can constitute, in fact, an alternative to the arrival of the K-2 Black Panther South Korean in Europe, the latter having just obtained a historic order of 500 copies from Poland a few weeks ago.

ASCALONf Nexter Germany | Defense Analysis | Army budgets and defense effort
Rheinmetall's Rh-130 vs. Nexter's Ascalon to arm MGCS

Beyond the tank itself, Rheinmetall is developing a strategy fully in line with geopolitical reality, insisting on the fact that the Panther is ready to produce, where the MGCS will not be, in the best of cases, within ten years. However, the Bundeswehr, like the vast majority of European armies, now wishes to increase its fleet of tanks and armored vehicles to respond to strategic developments in Europe, and in particular to the Russian threat. In addition, beyond the MGCS, the other Franco-German programs initiated by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron in 2017 are all more than threatened, with a FCAS stopped against a background of industrial disagreement, a MAWS (maritime patrol) stopped by the acquisition of P8A Poseidon by Berlin, a CIFS (Artillery) shut down for 2 years, and the abandonment of German participation in the Tiger III program (combat helicopter). Finally, Berlin seems determined to become, in the years to come, the main European conventional armed force, which can only be done by significantly increasing the fleet of heavy tanks in service, beyond the 380 Leopard 2 in park.

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  1. […] Rheinmetall's second offensive came through the voice of its CEO, Armin Papperger, when the latter positioned, without saying it directly, as an economical, efficient and immediately available alternative to the MGCS program. According to him, the European market for combat tanks will, in the years to come, demand a large number of tanks to replace armored vehicles inherited from the Cold War, and the MGCS will not be able to meet these needs. within the required time frame, leaving critical space for alternative offerings, like the K2 Black Panther South Korean already chosen by Poland, which is none other than the largest market for this type of armor on the old continent with a force which will reach 1500 heavy tanks by 2035. Judging by the reactions of the specialized press across the Rhine and throughout Europe, the message has visibly carried, and the Panther appears more and more as the designated successor of Leopard 2 of KMW, delegating the MGCS to a very possible later and at least secondary role. The threat has clearly not escaped KNDS which, in a more discreet and contained manner than its competitor, published this week a video showing its EMBT, with a clear objective, that of not leaving the media and political space in the hands of from Rheinmetall. […]

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