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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

France and Germany give new push to joint next-generation battle tank  – POLITICO

ÉVREUX, France — Germany and France pledged on Thursday to maneuver their joint next-generation battle tank ahead by the top of the 12 months.

French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu and his German counterpart Boris Pistorius met on the Évreux-Fauville Air Base — the place a joint Franco-German tactical airlift squadron has been situated since 2021 — to provide new political impetus to the Essential Floor Fight System (MGCS) after years of delays.

“The tempo was slowed down and now we’re rushing up,” Pistorius instructed reporters after the assembly. By the top of this 12 months, Paris and Berlin will outline the completely different pillars and the main nation for every of them, he stated: “Subsequent 12 months, I hope we’ll get to the decisive stage of signing the contract, which can permit others to hitch the challenge.”

Each ministers declined to supply particulars on the pillars. 

The MGCS was launched in 2017 by French President Emmanuel Macron and then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a logo of protection and industrial cooperation between their two nations. The challenge goes hand in hand with one other one to construct a Franco-German fighter jet — the Future Fight Air System (FCAS). Germany leads the MGCS and France leads the FCAS.

France’s Nexter, the maker of its Leclerc tank, and Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), which makes Leopard 2 tanks — now merged right into a single firm referred to as KNDS — had been initially the main protection firms in cost. In 2019, Germany’s Rheinmetall was added to the combination, contributing to delays as Paris and Berlin needed to discover a new steadiness of energy with two German firms as a substitute of 1.

Whereas Paris and Berlin are at loggerheads on many points together with air protection, commerce and nuclear vitality, each ministers had been eager to showcase unity amid feedback suggesting that the Leopard 2’s battlefield efficiency in Ukraine — resulting in new orders piling up — means the MGCS is now not a precedence for German trade.

Thursday’s bilateral dialogue is a part of an ongoing political push: Lecornu was in Berlin in July to satisfy with Pistorius and can journey to the German capital on October 9 and 10. Each ministers will converse month-to-month to maintain the challenge transferring. 

After the assembly, the French and German land military chiefs signed a so-called Excessive Stage Widespread Operational Necessities Doc (HLCORD) — a key step earlier than an precise specs for the principle battle tank. “Key expectations are beginning to emerge,” Lecornu stated. 

Whereas the preliminary timetable was someplace between 2035 and 2040, Lecornu instructed reporters on Thursday the challenge “will take us to 2040, 2045.”

The MGCS goals to interchange the Leclerc and Leopard 2, however the French minister touted it as way more than a tank. It’s “a system of various manned and unmanned modules,” laser know-how and drones, he stated. Synthetic intelligence can also be anticipated to play a key function for information-gathering, coordination and command help, in addition to resistance to cyberattacks and readiness for electromagnetic warfare.

Italy and the Netherlands have expressed curiosity within the challenge, each ministers stated, including that Paris and Berlin would want to agree on the MGCS’s necessities first earlier than different capitals can be a part of. 

Caleb Larson reported from Berlin.

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