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Dorothee Frank

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Defence has announced the signature of two agreements on the heavy land combat system being developed between Germany and France.

“The MGCS project to be implemented under German leadership is to replace the German LEOPARD 2 Main Battle Tank [MBT] and the French LECLERC [MBT] from the mid-2030s. With this project, Germany and France are sending an important signal for European cooperation in defence policy,” the Defence Ministry said, regarding today’s agreement. “Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and her French counterpart Florence Parly have signed a Framework Agreement, in which project organisation and management structures are laid down. Due to the Corona situation, the ministers were unable to meet for joint signing,” it continued.

The Leopard 2 and LECLERC MBTs were designed in the 1980s and inducted by the German and French armed forces respectively but despite having undergone extensive upgrades, these MBTs are to be replaced by 2035. Germany and France launched the joint MGCS project in 2012 with the project divided into five major phases:

  1. operational needs analysis
  2. concept study
  3. development and technological capability demonstration
  4. integration and system demonstration
  5. system production

The first two phases have already been successfully completed though, a bi-nationally coordinated prioritisation of the individual requirements (High Level Requirements) is still missing.

“Both countries should benefit equally from the cooperation, which is why the contracts to be concluded are based on a 50 percent financing between Germany and France. In addition, both nations are to receive sufficient intellectual property rights for the intended future use of the work results,” writes the Ministry of Defence regarding the contents of the agreement. “The ministers have therefore also signed an Implementing Arrangement 1, which forms the basis for commissioning a system architecture definition study. Only recently, the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag cleared the way for commissioning this two-year study. Again, Germany and France share the costs. The system architecture is a prerequisite for the development of a technology demonstrator with which the German and French requirements for the MGCS can be verified.”