Germany and France have signed two agreements to launch the development of a new Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) intended to replace the Lepoard 2 and Leclerc tanks in the 2030s.
German defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and her French counterpart, Florence Parly, signed the framework and implementation agreements on the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS), Germany's Federal Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on its website on 28 April, stating that this was "an important signal for European defence co-operation".
The ministry said that the framework agreement established the MGCS project organisation and management structure. The objective is for both countries to benefit equally from their co-operation, and therefore they will each provide 50% funding.
This order is a prerequisite for the development of technological demonstrators, which will be used to assess the MGCS, according to German and French needs and requirements, explained the German Ministry of Defense. The Bundestag Budget Committee has authorized the launch of this two-year study.
The financial requirement per nation is approximately €75 million for the 18-month System Architecture Definition Study (SADS) Part 1. The aim is to define, develop and implement a new state-of-the-art main battle tank in order to achieve delivery of the first systems by 2035, when the main battle tank fleets in service (Leopard 2 and Leclerc) will be decommissioned.
To implement SADS Part 1, Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) will represent Germany Nexter on behalf of French side will form a working team.
The technology demonstration phase (TDP) will run until 2024, after harmonization of the multi-platform concepts, to define the system architecture and establish a system management system to lead up to the realization of “technology system demonstrators” (GSDs).
In the period 2024 to 2027, the GSDs will be built in an “overall system demonstrator phase” (GSDP) and the components will be tested for their performance and system compatibility. At the end of this phase, the performance description will serve as a basis for the start of series production.
The start of the implementation phase is planned for 2028, probably with the production of verification copies first, which will be tested by the procurement authorities and the troops for compliance with military requirements and suitability for deployment.
The first production vehicle is scheduled for delivery in 2035. After fielding and training of the crews, operators and tactical leaders, Initial Operating Capability (IOC) is to be achieved in 2040. This would be more than 55 years after the introduction of the Leopard 2 main battle tank and 25 years after delivery of the first Puma infantry fighting vehicle.