Rheinmetall is now openly betting on the failure of the MGCS program

Since its arrival in the MGCS program in 2019, the German industrial group Rheinmetall has frequently had a posture that is ambiguous to say the least, suggesting that it is not aiming for the smooth running of it. In a recent statement, Armin Pappeger, the CEO of the Düsseldorf group, made it clear that he was now playing against the Franco-German next-generation combat tank program.

La presentation of the KF-51 battle tank Panther by the German company Rheinmetall during the Eurosatory exhibition, just a year ago, acted as a detonator in a European heavy armored armament industry sclerotic by 30 years of sluggish market since the end of the cold war.

Not only was it a functional demonstrator, but according to Rheinmetall's speech, the model presented could serve as a prototype, as it had been designed in this sense by German engineers.

Concomitantly with this announcement, the Düsseldorf group began, from that moment, a campaign of communication and political lobbying, so as to present its tank as an alternative to the Franco-German program Main Ground Combat System, or MGCS, which brings together the French Nexter and the German Krauss-maffei Wegmann within KNDS, but also Rheinmetall, after the group led an intense political campaign to integrate it in 2019.

Since then, the MGCS program, if not at a complete standstill, has however been very handicapped, mainly since the arrival of Rheinmetall has profoundly disrupted the industrial sharing that has hitherto been perfectly established between Nexter and KMW, so that France and Germany should fund the program equally.

Indeed, not content to have joined, Rheinmetall came with important requirements, in particular to manage, here again in equal parts with Nexter and KMW, the pillars of the program.

at kmw leopard 2a7 with trophy aps at nato day 2022 4608 x v0 9cxnnjwz5afa1.jpg MBT combat tanks | Germany | Russian-Ukrainian conflict
The Bundeswehr's arbitration in favor of Leopard 2A8 to replace the A6s sent to Ukraine, was a severe blow to Rheinmetall's ambitions to launch the Panther

Naturally, this resulted in an impossible equation to solve, between a balanced industrial sharing between France and Germany on the one hand due to co-financing, and industrial sharing between the three manufacturers, two of whom are German and only one French , the other.

If, as we have already discussed, the MGCS program is now threatened beyond the arrival of Rheinmetall by the explosion in demand for intermediate generation tanks linked to the hardening of international tensions, the strategy targeted by Armin Papperger, the CEO of the company, has since been undermined by thearrival of a new KMW tank, the Leopard X, immediately ordered by the Bundeswehr, and soon most likely by the Czech Republic and Norway.

In fact, the expected rush on the KF-51 Panther has not yet taken place, and may even never happen due to the Bundeswehr's arbitration in favor of the A8. However, the ebullient German leader does not seem to want to disarm, quite the contrary.


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