France and Germany get closer to design future battle tanks with diesel-electric propulsion

A new agreement highlights the responsibilities of each side in building a range of combat machines.

The project known as the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS), which provides for designing and building a main battle tank that would replace Leopard-2 in Germany and Leclerc in France, received a boost this week when the defense ministers Boris Pistorius and Sebastian Lecornu signed a memorandum of understanding about what side will do what.

The new work-sharing pact provides for equal workload and responsibilities for the defense firms involved in the MGCS initiative - KNDS, Rheinmetall, Thales, and others. Germany, which is leading the project, will award the first contracts by the end of this year.

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Launched in 2017, the project also foresees the designing and building of a range of combat machines for the armed forces of the two countries.

Since then the two partners wrangled about the responsibilities and costs but the Russo-Ukrainian war made them solve the differences and reboot the project.

In 2018, KNDS unveiled the prototype of the next generation European Main Battle Tank during the Eurosatory expo – a hybrid combining the hull of Leopard-2A7 and a lighter version of the Leclerc turret. While specifications of the future machines are classified, German officials reportedly want some kind of hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system for them.

Other countries such as Belgium, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have showed interest to join the project.

The earliest tanks under the MGCS were expected to roll out after 2040 but the sides agreed to speed up their research and design. Industry fragmentation is the primary challenge of this project.

Germany and France are also working together to create better fighter jets and weapon systems.

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