Germany and France have promised to accelerate the joint development of a next-generation battle tank by the end of the year as part of the MGCS (Main Ground Combat System) project.
This was announced during a meeting at the Évreux-Fauville Air Base by German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius and French Defence Minister Sébastien Lecornu, Politico reports.
According to the German minister, by the end of 2023, Paris and Berlin will identify different areas of cooperation and a leading country for each of them.
“The pace was slow, but now we are accelerating. Next year, I hope we will reach the decisive stage of signing a contract that could allow other (countries) to join the project,” Pistorius said.
After the ministerial meeting, the French and German army chiefs signed the so-called High-Level Joint Operational Requirements Document, an essential step towards the actual specifications of the next generation battle tank.
While the original project schedule agreed in 2017 was for 2035-2040, Lecornu said it is now being pushed back to 2040-2045.
The MGCS is designed to replace French Leclerc and German Leopard tanks. According to the French minister, this combat platform will also be equipped with laser technology and drones. Italy and the Netherlands are also interested in the project.
Earlier, it was reported that Germany, Italy, Sweden and Spain plan to build a new battle tank under the leadership of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall.
Rheinmetall announced a sharp increase in orders for its products as European governments seek to expand their defence capabilities following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the European military aid provided to Ukraine.
The company also plans to set up a repair centre for Leopard tanks and other military equipment in Ukraine.