For Berlin, the future of the MAWS maritime patrol program is in the hands of Paris

In September 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced an unprecedented partnership between France and Germany in the defense industry, to give what was then presented as a shared vision for the construction of a Europe of La Défense finding its pivot in the Franco-German couple. Alongside the now famous FCAS programs for the development of replacements for combat aircraft Rafale et Typhoon, and MGCS to replace the Leclerc heavy tanks and Leopard 2, also included the Maritime Airborne Warfare System, or MAWS, program, which was to make it possible to design the next Franco-German maritime patrol system to replace the French Atlantique 2 and the German P-3C Orion. As was the case for FCAS and MGCS, the MAWS program quickly came up against divergent interests and needs between France and Germany. Indeed, where France could modernize its Atlantique 2 entered into service in the 90s while waiting for the arrival of the MAWS beyond 2030 or even 2035, the German P-3Cs were much older. and worn out, and needed at least an interim solution.

Thus, in June 2020, the German Ministry of Defense announced that it was giving up modernizing 8 of its P-3C Orions, an operation deemed too expensive for too short an effective period, and that it was therefore considering to turn to an interim solution pending progress in the MAWS program, then also mired in a standoff between Dassault Aviation and Airbus DS, the former considering itself legitimate to design the new aircraft because of his experience with the Atlantique 2, the second considering himself legitimate because the new aircraft could well be derived from an airliner model, as is the case of the American P-8A Poseidon derived from the Boeing 737. Berlin then announced that it was considering acquiring 5 American P-8A Poseidons to replace its oldest P-3Cs, while France proposed to Berlin to modernize and transfer the last 4 Atlantic 2 out of the 22 in service, the 18 others to be modernized for the French Navy. In the end, Berlin dismissed the French proposal and effectively ordered 5 American P-8As in 2021, while the blockages around the MAWS program remained.

Atlantic 2 Navy Germany | Defense Analysis | Maritime Patrol Aviation
The French Navy is currently modernizing 18 of its 22 Atlantique 2 to ensure the transition to the MAWS program or a national alternative

The German decision gave rise very naturally many questions about the future of the MAWS program, in particular in France, while Dassault Aviation was already promoting its Falcon 10 as a national alternative to replace the ATL2s of the French Navy. After the Russian offensive in Ukraine, leading to the resurgence of repeated threats to German and European naval interests in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, as well as the announcement of an exceptional effort by Berlin to modernize its defense through an exceptional budgetary envelope of €100 billion, the German authorities have announced plans to extend the order for the P-8A Poseidon by 7 units, i.e. a total of 12 aircraft, which would deal the deathblow to the MAWS program, by creating a gap that is far too significant to represent a basis for cooperation between the French Navy, which will have to replace its 18 Atlantic 2s by 2035, and Germany, which would have a fleet of 12 P8-A Poseidons of less than 10 years from this date. However, no official declaration in favor of the acquisition of these 7 additional Poseidons has been made since, and the specialized site Defense News seems to know why. Indeed, according to the American site, Berlin would wait for a return from Paris, in particular concerning the study in progress carried out by the Ministry of the Armed Forces and the DGA on the subject, to arbitrate one way or the other, as to the sizing and the nature of its interim and future capabilities.

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