MGCS: Paris and Berlin validate the industrial sharing of the future European battle tank

Long threatened, both by differences in expectations between the armies, and by tensions concerning industrial sharing, the MGCS program, which should make it possible to replace combat tanks Leopard 2 Germans and French Leclerc, around 2040, had an uncertain future, until the supervisory ministers of the two countries decided to take it in hand, last September.

After the armies of the two countries brought together their visions, at the beginning of the year, concerning what this future program should be, it was now necessary to tackle the most delicate point of friction, industrial sharing, while tensions between Rheinmetall and Nexter, had almost imploded the future European tank.

Sébastien Lecornu and Boris Pistorius, the Defense Ministers of the two countries, have just announced that this step, as decisive as it is difficult, had just been reached, and that an agreement had been reached, concerning industrial sharing between the different industrial players in this program.

An MGCS program with a chaotic trajectory since 2015

Since its launch in 2015, the MGCS program has gone through different phases, of varying intensity. After a modest start, it experienced renewed interest in 2017, becoming one of the pillars of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel's initiative to give birth to Defense Europe.

MGCS German vision
German vision of the MGCS presented by the German Army in January 2024

Quickly, however, differences emerged, first between the expectations of the French and German armies, then in the area of ​​industrial sharing, after the Bundestag imposed that the German Rheinmetall join the program, in 2019.

For more than three years, the program remained almost in a state of stasis, raising serious doubts about its sustainability. At the same time, the resurrection of the battle tank market led German industry to design the Leopard 2A8, an evolution of the A7 including, in particular, an APS Trophy, weighing a new threat to the MGCS calendar, initially planned for 2035, and which could, in fact, cannibalize the market address of the German tank.

At the start of 2023, the program was threatened, to the point that even industrialists and the military seemed exasperated and sometimes discouraged by the lack of progress, while Franco-German tensions began to appear on the public stage.

As with the FCAS program which also went through a zone of strong turbulence, it was necessary that the French and German Defense Ministers take the subject back into their own hands in September 2023, to get it back on track. A few weeks later, the two countries announced the arrival of Italy in the program, and at the beginning of January, the Army and the Bundeswehr finally managed to align their expectations, to revitalize the program.

A balanced agreement for industrial sharing between manufacturers

All that was missing, then, to relaunch and secure it was an agreement concerning industrial sharing. This is precisely what Sébastien Lecornu, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, and Boris Pistorius, his German counterpart, set out to do.

Lecornu Pistorius MGCS
Sebastien Lecornu and Boris Pistorius in Berlin to discuss the MGCS program in July 2023

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