Germany vs India: Should France revise its defense industrial cooperation doctrine?

SCAF Le Bourget2019 e1654698734979 International technological cooperation Defense | Germany | Defense Analysis

Shortly after his accession to the Élysée in 2017, President Emmanuel Macron undertook to give substance to one of the key objectives of his international and European action, by agreeing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to make the Franco-German couple the pivot of the emergence of a Defense Europe.

To achieve this, the two Heads of State announced an ambitious industrial cooperation through the launch of 5 major Franco-German industrial defense programs: the new generation combat aircraft SCAF to replace the French Rafale and German Typhoon by 2040 , Ihe new generation battle tank MGCS to replace the Leclerc and Leopard 2035 in 2; the long-range artillery CIFS program for the replacement of the Caesar and Pzh2000 as well as the LRU of the Army and the Bundeswehr, the MAWS patrol aircraft for the replacement of the Atlantique 2 and the Orion P-3C as well as the Tiger III program and its anti-tank missile long-range, to modernize the fleet of Tiger combat helicopters and replace the Hellfire and Spike missiles currently in use.

Launched when tensions between Angela Merkel and Donald Trump were at their peak, these programs quickly withered when Berlin and Washington softened their positions, and even more so after the arrival of Joe Biden in the White House.

P8 Poseidon International technological cooperation Defense | Germany | Defense Analysis
The announcement of the acquisition of P8A Poseidon from Patrouille Maritime to replace the P-3C Orion of the Luftwaffe, sounded the death knell for the MAWS program, even if Berlin denies it

This is how successively, the Tiger III helicopter and its missile, the CIFS artillery system and the MAWS maritime patrol aircraft were, if not strictly abandoned, Berlin having never openly arbitrated on their subjects, in any case shelved until Paris undertook to develop these capabilities in another way, in the face of operational pressure and emerging deadlines.

After coming close to blowing up in flight over tensions between Dassault and Airbus DS over the piloting of the first pillar of the SCAF program, the design of the NGF combat aircraft itself, it ended up being taken out of the rut, not long ago, to launch the design phase of the prototype, with great support from the firm and determined intervention of the French, German and Spanish supervisory ministers, but not without experiencing a significant delay which led France to launch a Rafale F5 program much more ambitious and therefore able to ensure the interim both operationally and commercially.

As for the MGCS program, it is now at a standstill, in particular after Berlin imposed the integration of Rheinmetall there in 2019, deeply destabilizing the initial balanced industrial sharing between the French Nexter and the German KMW, for the occasion brought together in the joint venture KNDS.

In addition, it is now facing the recovery in global demand for heavy tanks following the war in Ukraine, leading to a profound reconfiguration of the market and therefore significant shifts in schedules potentially very beneficial for German industry. , but catastrophic for industry and the French armies.

a kmw leopard 2a7 with trophy aps at nato day 2022 4608 x v0 9cxnnjwz5afa1.jpg International technological cooperation Defense | Germany | Defense Analysis
The upheaval of the heavy tank market following the war in Ukraine, put the Leopard 2 in its new A8 version back in the spotlight, leading to a postponement of the MGCS program

To this picture already largely begun on the subject of the possible construction of the Europe of defense on the basis of the Franco-German couple, the new Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced, at the end of August 2022, the launch of the European Sky Shield initiative , aimed at pooling and organizing the means of detection and engagement of European countries in the field of anti-aircraft and anti-missile warfare.

While 14 European countries joined the initiative when it was launched, France did not take part, without anyone really knowing whether this was a refusal by Paris or a German initiative that deliberately excluded the France and especially its industrial solutions in this field.

In fact, it is clear that the objectives targeted in 2017 are no longer relevant, while no one is able to predict whether MGCS and even SCAF will come to an end. But the difficulties encountered by Paris in recent years with Germany are not specific to this country, far from it.

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