Joint Development of Main Ground Combat System (MGCS)
KMW and Nexter announced one week after unveiling its first joint product, the EMBT, at Eurosatory 2018 (story here) that they welcome the announcement by the French and German governments on the joint development of a new Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) and a new Common Indirect Fire System.
A Letter Of Intent (LoI) was signed on 19 June and was a significant step forward between the two countries and companies. This close defence cooperation was the key motivation for the foundation of KNDS in 2015, where both companies cooperate as national system houses for land systems.
This LoI was one of two, signed by French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly and her German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen. The second LoI signed was for the Système de Combat Aérien du Futur, known as the Next Generation Weapon System within a Future Combat Air System (FCAS, believed to enter service by 2040). These two LoIs materialise the will of France and Germany, expressed in particular during the Franco-German Council of Ministers of July 2017, to jointly build weapon systems of the future, and to act towards the construction of European defence.
France and Germany share the same ambitious vision of a system based on innovative technologies and able to ensure operational operability in all contexts and on all terrains. Fully integrated with the SCORPION programme in France and a future system in Germany, MGCS will be, what the companies call a benchmark in ground combat systems when it is deployed in 2035.
The LoI sets the goal of launching a joint demonstration phase by mid-2019. Adapted to the evolutions of threats and technologies, it foresees a staging point in 2022 and the establishment by 2024 of a detailed operational requirement. It designates Germany as the project’s lead nation and provides a solid foundation for a broader cooperation agreement, including with other European partners. Supporting broad and ambitious cooperation, the LoIalso includes common commitments on the artillery system of the future .
MGCS will develop a new generation of main battle tanks (MBT), providing their users enhanced and innovative systems with advanced technologies. Thus, France and Germany are jointly launching a programme package that will, “shape the future of European Armies’ main combat capabilities and contribute to Europe’s sovereignty and strategic autonomy,” the companies explain in a joint statement. “The skills and background of KMW and Nexter qualify both companies as suitable and particularly powerful and pivotal industrial partners for the Franco-German landsystem-programm MGCS. Thus, in close cooperation with leading technology companies, KMW and Nexter will substantially contribute to a strengthened European defence capability.”
The agreement involves both nations capitalising on German (LEOPARD) and French (LECLERC) MBT programmes. The base for the MGCS programme will be in Germany. While France and Germany have embarked on a necessary defence effort in view of the changing strategic context, these programmes will constitute a major contribution to the security of Europeans and to the development of a modern and adapting Atlantic Alliance. The signing of these two letters was an important step for the development of a European defence industrial base, necessary to guarantee greater sovereignty.