A report by the German government to the parliament has said, defense officials expect European partners to sign up for the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System later this year in September following a conference in Berlin towards this end.
According to the close-hold document dated March, the September conference is expected to trigger an “opening wave” of interest from countries in the European Union, NATO and elsewhere, as long as France and Germany agree on the prerequisites of the Main Ground Combat System.
So far, the UK has shown interest in the upcoming main battle tank. Earlier this year in April, defense-acquisition leaders from Germany and the UK had met and discussed cooperation on the program; France is on the fence as far as admitting outsiders goes.
While Paris has agreed in principle to the idea of extending the circle to other countries, it has yet to select countries who could be full partners, states the report citing the outcome of a February 5 Franco-German Defense and Security Council meeting.
For Europe, building a new weapon system such as the main battle tank, is considered as a home game for German industry, including Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann; German lawmakers are eager to keep tabs on the progress. France’s Nexter is another key player and is part of the team through a joint venture with Krauss-Maffei, dubbed KNDS.
Initially, the trio was leading the MGCS program, although Rheinmetall has since managed to snag a supporting role.
Headwinds stem from the fact that some of the planned investments have yet to be anchored in the German government’s budgetary plans, with the German Ministry of Defense planning to request approval to proceed in the last week of June, a few days before the parliamentary goes for a recess.
According to the report, eight development areas need funding this year including “mobility test bed”, “overall protection”, “main effector, ammunition and turret”, simulation test bed for crews”, “collaborative combat”, “automated fire sequence”, “automated navigation and mobility” and “improved sensor suite”.
The conglomerate also plans on adding high-end features to the main battle tank through separate round of contracts in 2023. The improvements targeted are “barrel-launched (non-) line-of-sight missile”, “high-power electromagnetics”, “high-energy laser system”, “hyper velocity missile integration”, and “unmanned combat aerial vehicle”. The report by the government is in response to a request for information by lawmakers about information relating to the MGCS program as well as the Future Combat Air System. Lawmakers from France and Germany have been eager to award the largest possible contracts for their national companies.