Faced with K2 and KF51, is the KNDS EMBT tank the only chance to save the Franco-German MGCS program?

In a market in high demand, and in the face of probable delays in the MGCS program, the EMBT tank developed by Nexter within KNDS could provide the answers to the threats hanging over the Franco-German tank of the future.

The express tour undertaken by President Volodymyr Zelensky in Europe, which has just ended, did not give rise to the spectacular announcements as certain commentators expected, nor, moreover, did his visit to Washington a few weeks had given rise to immediate announcements.

However, and as was the case in the United States, it is a safe bet that the Ukrainian head of state and his British, French and German counterparts took advantage of these face-to-face meetings to prepare for the continuation of the European military and economic aid to Kyiv.

Among the topics discussed, the question of the supply of armored vehicles and artillery systems was very probably at the heart of the concerns of the four heads of state, even if, as we have already discussed before, European industry currently suffers from a production deficit to meet the demand generated directly or indirectly by the conflict in Ukraine.

In this area, two industrialists seem to want to take the lead, including in the face of European leaders. The first is the South Korean Hanwha Defense which produces the K2 Black heavy tank Panther, but also the K9 Thunder self-propelled gun and the AS21 Redback infantry fighting vehicle. The first two systems have already been chosen by Poland to constitute, alongside 300 K239 multiple rocket launchers, the Polish battle corps which will be none other than the most powerful conventional land force on the old continent, with 1250 tanks including 1000 K2s, as well as 672 K9 self-propelled guns.

Indeed, after seducing Warsaw, Hanwha Defense seems to have set its sights on Bucharest, by signing a production partnership with the state company Romam to build and export the Thunder and the Redback, knowing that a similar agreement has been concluded with Warsaw concerning the K2, the K9 and probably the K239.

Leo 2A7 and K2 Black Panther Norwegian Army MBT battle tanks | Germany | Military alliances
Le Leopard 2A7 (left) and the K2 Black Panther (right) were equal during the tests in Norway, but the German tank won on political and industrial criteria

Following the visit of the Ukrainian president to Brussels, another industrialist came out of the woodwork to reveal his strategy vis-à-vis the heavy armored vehicle market in Europe. This is the German Rheinmetall which, by the voice of its president Armin Papperger, proposed to the Head of State the production of his new KF51 heavy tank Panther, one of the stars of the latest Eurosatory 2022 show, as well as the KF41 Lynx infantry fighting vehicle, to arm its forces against the Russian armies.

For this, Armin Papperger proposed to Kyiv to produce the new armored vehicles in Germany and in Hungary, which is to date the only export customer of the KF41 Lynx and which negotiated in 2020 the local production of 172 of these armored vehicles, in addition to the 46 units produced in Germany.

The hypothesis of local production in Ukraine would have been discussed, even if this could only take place after the conflict, the whole of Ukrainian territory being under the permanent threat of long-range Russian strikes.

There is no doubt that the idea will have been found more than attractive by Kyiv, the Panther being a very promising tank and vastly superior, on paper at least, to all the Russian models currently in service. However, this offer from Rheinmetall is also a disguised proposal to the Bundeswehr, which would directly threaten the continuation of the new generation Franco-German MGCS tank program.

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