SCAF, MGCS: Politics regains control of Franco-German defense industrial cooperation

"Many things have been said or written in recent weeks, I believe that with one sentence, we will cut it short by saying that FCAS is a priority project. […] It is awaited as much by Berlin as by Paris and this project will be done, we cannot be more direct"In a single sentence, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Sebastien Lecornu, cut short all speculation regarding the future of the new generation combat aircraft program undertaken by Paris, Berlin and Madrid. And to add "We need to think about what the fighter aircraft of the future will be like, since we need it, and we must already think about regenerating our equipment in this area. This is obviously true for the SCAF, it is also true, of course, for the tank of the future ", in order to put the new generation Franco-German battle tank program MGCS on an equal footing. In a nutshell, politicians have just regained control of Franco-German cooperation in terms of industrial programs defence, to put an end to almost a year of sterile discussions between the industrialists in order to reach a balanced industrial agreement.

It must be said that concerning these files, the Minister of the Armed Forces had little choice. The SCAF program has indeed been stopped for almost a year amid disagreement between Dassault Aviation and Airbus Defense & Space as to the scope of cooperation between the two aircraft manufacturers to design the NGF pillar of the program aimed at developing the aircraft. of combat itself. For the German company, there is no question of acting as a subcontractor on certain subjects such as flight controls or stealth, two areas for which Airbus DS considers itself largely at the same level as its French counterpart. For Dassault Aviation, the French defense industry has already agreed enough to step back on all the other pillars of the program, 4 out of 7 of them being piloted by German companies, for only one by a French company . In addition, French excludes transferring certain know-how and certain critical technologies to German industries on the basis of industrial cooperation. In fact, the program has been frozen for many months, and the jewel of French industry has not hesitated, through the voice of its president Eric Trappier, to publicly evoke the hypothesis of a pure and simple failure of SCAF. .

The MGCS program aims to develop a range of heavy armored vehicles meeting the challenges of high-intensity conflicts beyond 2040

The situation is not much better for the MGCS programme, although the causes of the difficulties differ significantly. Indeed, initially, this program aimed at developing the replacement for the German Leopard 2 and the French Leclerc, was to be designed and produced by the French Nexter and the German Krauss Maffei Wegman, in a strictly balanced cooperation between the two manufacturers. In this assembly, Nexter resumed, in a certain way, the position that Rheinmetall had within the Leopard 2 program. Only, for the latter, there was no question of being excluded from such an important program. By dint of lobbying and pressure, particularly with the Bundestag, Berlin gave in to its industrialist and ended up imposing on Paris that Rheinmetall join the program, each of the industrialists then carrying 3 of the 9 technological pillars, while Berlin assured Paris that the industrial balance Franco-German would be preserved. The sticking point that blocks this program today opposes the French Nexter and Rheinmetall, the first wanting to equip the new tank with its new generation gun of 140 mm ASCALON, the second wanting that it carries its gun of 130 mm Rh -130 L/52, without anyone being ready to back down on this subject.

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