France could walk out of a project to develop a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) along with Germany called Maritime Awareness Weapon System (MAWS) following the latter’s decision last week to purchase five Boeing P-8A Poseidon MPAs worth $1.43 Billion.
French publication LA Tribune reported yesterday that Paris could soon announce the end of its participation in the Franco-German Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS) program and convert into a France-only solution.
The MAWS program is intended to replace the P3-C Orion MPAs of the German Air Force and the Atlantique (ATL2) MPAs of their French counterparts. It will be based on an Airbus A320 aircraft with radars and electronics sourced from French and German companies.
“Nobody in France really believes that the purchase of five P-8A planes is a ‘temporary solution’ to replace the old P-3C Orions,” the newspaper wrote suggesting that American buy could be curtains for the MAWS program. This means the first major crack in a France-led pan-European initiative to develop advanced military equipment for ending United States’ dominance over European military purchases.
French defense procurement agency DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) announced the launch of feasibility studies for the MAWS in October 2020. Participating companies were Thales for the French side, Hensoldt, ESG (Elektroniksystem) and Diehl for Germany. The aircraft manufacturers, Airbus and Dassault, are expected to be integrated in the MAWS programme during the second phase of the studies starting this year.
Earlier reports said that if Germany picked European-made Airbus C295 or Leonardo ATR72 aircraft instead of Boeing planes, the programme would go ahead.
French DGA General Delegate for Armaments Joël Barre had said during its annual press conference in October 2020, “We are going to initiate the first (MAWS) feasibility study. We decided with our German partner to start with the study of the mission system. This study will be entrusted in the coming weeks to the manufacturers corresponding to this phase of the program, namely Thales for France, and Hensoldt, ESG [Elektroniksystem] and Diehl for Germany.”
The MWAS studies will be conducted by T-HED consisting of representatives from Thales, Hensoldt, ESG and Diehl.
Information is so far not available as to whether the feasibility study has been initiated.