The Franco-German MAWS program is not dead: the Bundeswehr is investing in a new study!

Launched in 2017, jointly with FCAS and CIFS, the Franco-German MAWS program was to make it possible to design the successor to the French Atlantic 2 and German P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.

However, as was the case for other cooperative programs between Paris and Berlin, MAWS quickly came up against industrial ambitions and operational expectations that were difficult to reconcile, between Dassault Aviation and Airbus, as between the French Navy and the Bundeswehr.

The program seemed to have been at a standstill, if not outright abandoned, for several years. However, Berlin has just entrusted the MAWS Gbr joint venture, formed by German industrialists for this program, with a second study, to prepare for the new phase of cooperation.

Once the surprise has passed, we can wonder if, after having managed to get the FCAS and MGCS programs out of the ruts in which they found themselves, the French and German Defense Ministries have not undertaken to resuscitate this third program. in cooperation ?

The MAWS program, or Maritime Airborn Warfare System, and its uncertain status

In many aspects, the MAWS program followed the same trajectory as the three other Franco-German cooperation programs announced jointly in September 2017, by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

merkel macron 2018
In 2017, E. Macron and A. Merkel shared a common vision of a Defense Europe built on Franco-German cooperation.

Indeed, after a phase of euphoria surrounding the initial announcement, the program very quickly encountered numerous difficulties. The two European aircraft manufacturers, Dassault Aviation and Airbus Defense, both considered themselves legitimate to design the cell, provoking a second conflict between the two manufacturers, parallel to that which opposed them around the NGF of the FCAS program.

The difficulties encountered by each program, as well as the normalization of relations between the German chancellery and Donald Trump, slowed down the overall dynamic of Franco-German cooperation from 2018. In 2019, Germany announced his intention to order P-8A Poseidon, with the American Boeing, to replace the oldest P-3Cs.

This caused new tension between Paris and Berlin, to the point that the very status of the MAWS program was considered, at best, uncertain, and at worst, abandoned, by most specialists on the subject. Ordering a second batch of P-8As reinforced this feeling, while Paris, for its part, has been discussing, for two years, the possibility of engage alone in the design of a successor to the Atlantic 2, by 2035.

The Bundeswehr entrusted MAWS GbR with an additional study to prepare the program

Fact, the announcement made by the Bundeswehr, concerning the study mission entrusted to the joint venture MAWS GbR, formed by ESG, Hensoldt and Diehl, as part of the Part II phase of the analysis phase of the MAWS program, on May 13, 2024, may come as a surprise.

Certainly, Berlin had never announced its withdrawal from the program, even after having ordered 8 P-8A Poseidon, the number of maritime patrol aircraft necessary to replace the P-3C Orion fleet, and carry out the missions assigned to it. entrusted by NATO in the North Sea and Baltic Sea.

P-3C Orion Bundeswehr
The German P-3Cs will be replaced by 9 American P-8A Poseidons.

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