These last few days have probably been the most difficult regarding the Main Ground Combat System, or MGCS, program, initially intended to replace the Leclerc and Leopard 2 from 2035. Indeed, in quick succession, several announcements have been made across the Rhine, leaving assume that this deadline would no longer be respected. Thus, according to the Bundeswehr , the industrial blockages that the program faces today would now prohibit entry into service in 2035.
A few days earlier, Suzanne Weigand, the CEO of RENK, which designs and manufactures the very critical transmissions for French and German tanks, declared in an interview that this same deadline was no longer desirable while the immediate demand for new combat tanks will redistribute the face of the addressable market in 2035.
The final blow was delivered at the end of the week by Krauss Maffei Wegmann, the designer of the Leopard 2, who presented a new 2A8 version of his tank , and indicated that a more advanced version, still designated 2AX, was in development for entry into service within 2 or 3 years.
MGCS program schedule under threat
Obviously, it will soon be impossible to continue hoping that the first MGCS will replace the French Leclerc and German Leopard 2 from 2035, the date of 2045 being often cited across the Rhine.
This deadline is even, from a certain point of view, probably optimistic given the reality of the market reversal concerning heavy tanks that we are witnessing today in Europe and around the world. As we mentioned in our previous articles on the subject, such a postponement would undermine both the French Army and the national Land Defense Industrial and Technological Base.
The first, in fact, does not today have the possibility of strengthening or modernizing its Leclerc fleet as it should to reach such a deadline, or at least nothing indicates to date in the French military programming that the The hypothesis has been treated in its entirety. The second, for its part, has an optimized load plan with the SCORPION program taking it until 2035, and was counting on the TITAN program , of which MGCS is the main pillar, to take over at this deadline.
In fact, if, as is now very likely, the MGCS program were to be postponed without being canceled, it will be necessary for Paris to find an interim solution capable of simultaneously meeting the needs of the Army as well as those of Defense Industry land, so as to preserve the capacities and ambitions of both.
Towards an interim solution for the Army
Several articles published on this site have already studied some options, such as the EMBT demonstrator and its very promising turret developed by Nexter , or even by turning to an exogenous solution, such as the KF51 Panther from Rheinmetall , the Polish K2PL or the new Leopard 2AX in design course at KMW, Nexter’s partner within the KNDS group.
However, these analyzes were based on the study of an existing solution, to determine its relevance and sustainability in the event of an increase in format, and not to respond to a postponement of MGCS. In this article, conversely, we will start from the needs, the international and commercial context, but also the lessons from the War in Ukraine on this subject, to establish what would be the best response that the French Defense Industry could provide.
Only a few years ago, most staffs considered the battle tank to be a relic of the past. For many, the progress made in recent decades in anti-tank munitions, but also in prowling munitions and precision artillery or airborne munitions, made the tank too vulnerable to be able to play its role on the battlefield. The examples of post-Cold War engagements, particularly in Chechnya, Iraq and Afghanistan, tended to support this perception.
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