Can the French Army turn to the German Rheinmetall KF-51 Panther tank?

That's it.. they cracked... It is probably in these terms that the vast majority of readers, at least the most measured among them, have approached this new article with its slightly provocative title. Indeed, the new KF-51 Panther tank presented by its designer, the German Rheinmetall, during the Eurosatory 2022 exhibition, is today the main tool in the hands of its CEO, Armin Papperger, in an attempt to derail the Franco-German MGCS program which aims to design, precisely, the replacement of the French tank Leclerc as of the German Leopard 2. Developed in its own funds, the Panther is offered by Rheinmetall to anyone showing an interest in acquiring a new heavy tank, including in assemblies that are to say the least improbable. How, in this case, can we even imagine that France could turn to this armored vehicle, even though it is developing the MGCS and modernizing the Leclerc?

As often, the point of view from which one approaches a problem significantly conditions the reasoning and therefore the conclusion that one can bring to it. Thus, today, the French authorities like the public opinion of the country, actively support the concept of global army for the French armies, namely an armed force having the majority of the capacities required to respond to a field of use very extensive. This is how the Army has both forces adapted to symmetrical high-intensity engagement and to the projection of forces in an asymmetrical environment, how the Navy has a naval air component that is the envy of many other countries and know-how in terms of naval supremacy and very broad power projection, and that the Air Force is able to support these two armies in all employment scenarios.

What's more, France has a two-component deterrent, which is also technologically very advanced, giving it a weight roughly equal to that of China in this area. What is even rarer, France has a Defense industrial and technological base, or BITD, which is also global, giving it great autonomy of action and decision-making regarding the use of its armed forces, as well as a major asset on the international scene thanks to arms exports.

The Army will only modernize 200 of its 226 Leclercs still in service

To achieve this, France devotes several billion euros each year to finance the Research and Development programs of the BITD, so as to maintain weapons that are as efficient in the field as they are attractive on the export scene, which allows it in particular to reap significant budgetary and tax revenue linked to this last aspect and making it possible to lighten the budgetary burden for public finances, in particular thanks to certain star equipment of exports such as the Rafale aircraft, the CAESAR gun, the sailor Scorpene or the FDI frigate. In this context, the question posed in the title of this article probably appears unnecessarily provocative.

However, as long as we study the subject methodically and objectively, it appears that the design of certain equipment, in particular heavy tanks, generates costs in France that are far from being offset by export earnings, but also far from offering a sufficiently significant operational or political benefit to justify such developments, rather than turning to solutions proposed by international partners, and which could prove to be more economical and less restrictive both for the acquisition and for the implementation of this equipment. We continue ?

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