German industrialists question the timetable for the Franco-German tank program MGCS

Launched in 2017, the Main Ground Combat System, or MGCS, program is today one of the pillars, but also one of the only survivors, of the efforts led by Paris and Berlin to create a European dynamic around industries and French and German armies to increase the strategic autonomy of the old continent. At that time, France and Germany shared an identical need, namely the replacement of Leclerc and Leopard 2 entered into service at the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s, with a deadline of 2035. Since then, although less publicized than the other flagship part of this cooperation, the FCAS program which must for its part replace the Rafale French and Typhoon German and Spanish by 2040, the MGCS program went through numerous and significant upheavals.

Thus, at the end of 2019, the German authorities decided to integrate the second national group involved in the design of heavy armored vehicles, the Rheinant Rheinmetall, into the program hitherto assigned to the French Nexter and the German Krauss- Maffei Wegmann, through a strictly balanced joint venture reflecting the industrial sharing of MGCS. It was therefore necessary to completely reorganize the industrial sharing around the program, so as to give each major player (KMW, Nexter and Rheinmetall) a third of the industrial activity, while respecting the load sharing equally distributed between France and the 'Germany. Until today, if agreements were announced a few months ago to allow the program to continue, this release is more the result of a "postponement" of friction points, such as the design of the armor or the gun. principal of the combat tank, than to an arbitration, since these files were postponed with the objective of selecting the most efficient industrial offer, the principle of Best Athlete which had until now posed more problems than generating solutions to the within the FCAS program.

Rheinmetall panther kf51 main battle tank 1 Germany | Defense Analysis | MBT battle tanks
The KF51 Panther, designed by Rheinmetall, constitutes a real threat to the MGCS program, just as much as the Leopard X

In 2022, two new, much more significant threats appeared almost jointly. First, Russian aggression against Ukraine has significantly changed the texture of the battle tank market, particularly in Europe. Under the influence of the new perception of the threat represented by the reappearance of the war in Europe, as well as the transfers of weapons, and in particular of battle tanks coming from European countries to help the Ukrainian defenders, the demand for The number of combat tanks jumped in a few months, turning to immediately available models, such as the K2 Black Panther South Korean, the American M1A2 Abrams, and especially the Leopard 2A7 which has recorded several major orders for 2022 alone, as many as for the previous 15 years. At the same time, in June 2022, Rheinmetall presented, at the EuroSatory exhibition, a new battle tank developed with its own funds, the KF51 Panther, while unveiling a commercial strategy openly hostile to the MGCS program. In a few months, the context which gave birth to the MGCS program was turned upside down, to the point that now, German industrialists, beyond Rheinmetall, publicly believe that the currently targeted timetable is no longer relevant at all.

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  1. If the K2PL is a modern and inexpensive tank, why not turn to this model?
    We only have 200 tanks left…that's serious.
    I no longer believe in the MGCS program. Germany only thinks about its own investments.
    We are financially incapable of relaunching a French production.
    So let's buy this tank! Where is the problem ????

    • What the Norwegian competition teaches us is that the K2 comes out at approximately the same final price as the Leopard 2A7+. As a result, there is little point in turning to Poland which will build under license a South Korean tank with performance substantially identical to the Leclerc, compared to other alternatives (EMBT, Panther, Leo2A7V)

  2. Totally agree with Mr. Vanhulle
    The pro-European incompetence and incompetence of our political and military pseudo-elites leaves us no choice, to fill this gaping abyss, but off-the-shelf acquisition such as drones, assault rifles, etc.

    In short, no failure of the past has been "pedagogical"

    And then, after having finally given up in the face of reality to have ourselves led by the nose by our new German "friend", taking into account all our skills and our know-how, we will be able to relaunch a national tank program, a "super Leclerc" that real friends will help finance.. secret defense agreements, that's also what it's for...

  3. What is curious is the purely commercial dimension of this warning. The question here is not to know what a winning tank will look like in 2035, but how many we can sell to other armies.

    I thought that on the contrary, making a common program was intended to resynchronize the needs of the two countries, and to guarantee outlets for a program so that it could be ambitious. That is to say that we were not looking to make a tank to sell it, but that we were committed to buying in order to be able to make a tank.

    • Developing a tank like MGCS will cost between €8 and €10 billion. France and Germany, together, will buy 600 or 700 of them. This means that the price of each tank will be overcharged by at least 15 m€ in this context. It is of no interest. Moreover, without exporting, it is impossible to preserve the know-how over 40 years, the time to reach the next generation. So yes, 'export and crucial. If the UK has lost this industrial capacity, it is precisely because it did not export Challenger 2.

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