Contract Concluded with Industry on Future German-French Decisive Ground Combat System - Main Ground Combat System (MGCS)
(Source: French and German defense ministries; issued May 25, 2020)
A graphic illustrating the French vision of the Main Ground Combat System, notably comprising a tank armed with a 140mm main gun. The two-year system architecture definition study is intended to reconcile French and German visions. (Twitter image)
With the contract on a system architecture definition study concluded between industry and the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) the future German-French decisive ground combat system called Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) has reached its next milestone.

Things are now progressing fast with the MGCS. After the Framework and Implementing Agreements were signed by the Defense Ministers of Germany and France, the focus is now the contract with the ARGE consortium of industrial partners consisting of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Nexter Systems and Rheinmetall Land System. This kicks off the system architecture study for MGCS.

Nationally-selected concepts are being harmonized to develop a common multi-platform system architecture. The first part of the study is to be completed within 20 months.

The contract is concluded between the participating ARGE companies and - representing both Germany and France - the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw).

The contract is equally co-funded by Germany and France, and German companies on one side and French company have also equally shared the workshare.

Mail-based signature

Given the significance of the joint project, a festive signature ceremony would have been most appropriate. But as with the Framework and Implementing Agreement, this contract cannot be signed in person due to the coronavirus situation. Even such a landmark project must now be signed via mail.

Industry companies Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Nexter Systems and Rheinmetall Land System were the first ones to sign. After that, BAAINBw received the documents for signature. In accordance with the agreement between the two partner nations, only Germany / BAAINBw as the lead nation was to sign.

Replacement for the German Leopard 2 and the French Leclerc main battle tanks

The MGCS project which is implemented under German lead will replace the German Leopard 2 and the French Leclerc main battle tanks in the mid-2030’s. With this project, Germany and France are sending a strong signal of European defense cooperation.

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France Details Its View of the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS)
(Source: French Armed Forces Ministry; issued May 25, 2020)
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
Designed in cooperation between Germany and France, the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) program aims to deliver, by 2035, one of the essential combat systems of the German and French armies.

More than the simple successor of the Leopard 2 and Leclerc tanks, the MGCS is a complete system which will ensure the superiority of the German and French armies in the face of the threats of the coming decades.

Germany and France share the same ambitious vision: a system based on the most innovative technologies and capable of ensuring the operational superiority of our armies on all terrains and in all contexts (high-intensity combat or asymmetric conflicts).

Fully integrated into the HEER / D-LBO systems in Germany and SCORPION in France, the MGCS will be the benchmark terrestrial system when it is delivered in 2035.

The MGCS will offer superior capabilities in the three key areas of battle tanks: firepower, protection and mobility.

The MGCS will be a multiplatform system operating in a network. Manned and robotic vehicles will coexist there which will have the full range of the most efficient means of fire.

Building on new technologies, algorithms and artificial intelligence, automation will innervate all functions and contribute to tactical superiority. It will remain fully under the responsibility of the command inherent in the conduct of combat, in particular on the control of shots.

Controlling the tonnage will also guarantee the speed of the vehicles integrated into the MGCS program. To this end, new shields and protection systems will be developed.

As France and Germany widen have cooperation with other European nations, other partner companies will also be integrated.

Where are we today?

-- July 2017:
Germany and France confirm their desire to jointly build their future defense systems.

-- June 2018:
Signature of the joint letter of intent on the battle tank of the future.

-- April 2020:
Signature by Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, and her German counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, of the framework agreement allowing to launch the MGCS demonstration phase.

-- May 2020:
Award of the general architecture study contract to industry by the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and the Use of the German Armed Forces (BAAINBw), a contracting agency acting on behalf of Germany and France.

And tomorrow?

Government and industry teams are fully mobilized to prepare for the work to come, while monitoring the execution of those already launched.

The demonstration phase which has now begun aims to provide, by 2028, a solid foundation from which to launch the development and production phase. With the signing of the system architecture definition study, the two countries this month launched the first work of the technological demonstration phase.

The objective is now to build, from 2024, a complete system demonstrator. The first MGCS system will be delivered in 2035 to both countries.

Through the MGCS project, France and Germany are working to develop European strategic autonomy and to consolidate a robust European defense industry. Beginning in 2035, the two countries will have a new ground combat system that will allow them to anticipate and respond to threats foreseen by that time.

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