MGCS tank will have greater range, lower acoustics and a ‘silent watch’ mode, if the European powerhouses can overcome various sticking points
France and Germany’s joint Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) project aims to redefine the future of tank warfare while serving as a test case for European defense collaboration.
Last month, multiple media sources reported that France and Germany are developing the MGCS project to replace France’s Leclerc and Germany’s Leopard 2 tanks by 2040-2045. Despite previous setbacks and delays, the defense ministers of both countries have reaffirmed their commitment to the initiative.
The project involves vital industry players like KNDS, a joint venture between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) of Germany and Nexter of France. German tank manufacturer Rheinmetall is also involved in the venture.
The MGCS is envisioned as a modular system capable of manned and automated platforms. However, the project faces several challenges including disputes over the tank’s main gun caliber, differing strategic goals and industrial rivalries.
Germany has shown interest in modernizing the existing Leopard 2 model, partly due to strong demand following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while France insists on a fundamentally new development. Funding and political approval are also significant hurdles while the project’s ultimate success will require overcoming complex technical and geopolitical challenges.
The project is a test case for European defense collaboration in an environment marked by heightened security concerns caused by the Ukraine war. Both France and Germany have distinct visions for the MGCS, reflected in their diverging strategic priorities and technological preferences.
The German market is already dominated by Leopard 2 tanks, with exports increasing amid the Ukraine crisis. In contrast, France, having stopped production of the Leclerc in 2008, sees the MGCS as a way to rejuvenate its production lines. Contracts are expected to be signed in 2024.
Other EU countries may join the initiative once project specifications are finalized, with Italy and the Netherlands expressing interest in having observer status.
While MGCS details are unclear, European Security and Defense mentions in a January 2023 article that it will feature a hybrid propulsion system and offer environmental benefits and operational advantages such as reduced logistics chains, greater operational range, lower acoustic and thermal signatures and a “silent watch” capability.
The article says that it will feature weight-saving measures which include reduced crew size, lighter composite armor and greater reliance on active protection systems (APS), with the main vehicle’s hull also being used as the basis for support vehicle variants.
Source: ASIA TIMES