Ground Warfare

European Defense Companies to Establish Joint Project Company for Main Ground Combat System (MGCS)

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European Defense Companies to Establish Joint Project Company for Main Ground Combat System (MGCS)

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European Defense Company to Establish Project for Main Ground Combat System (MGCS)
European Defense Company to Establish Project for Main Ground Combat System (MGCS)

KNDS Deutschland, KNDS France, Rheinmetall AG, Rheinmetall Landsysteme and Thales -welcome the agreement reached by the French and German governments on Main Ground Combat System (MGCS). The consortium see it as an essential milestone in the development of a superior ground combat system for the armed forces of the future. With this in mind, the four companies (KNDS Deutschland, KNDS France, Rheinmetall Landsysteme and THALES SIX) intend to establish a joint project company in order to meet the challenges of such a complex multi-platform system in the best possible and synergetic way. It will act in the spirit of the bilateral FrancoGerman agreement.

The new, innovative “level-pillar approach” for implementation is suitable for ensuring a fair distribution of the workload in a balanced 50:50 ratio between French and German companies, and according to companies‘ complementary technical skills and resources. In order to implement a contract from 2025, the industry will soon begin negotiations for the project company with the aim of an efficient and targeted implementation. This initiative is designed to tackle the inherent complexities of developing a sophisticated multi-platform system and to capitalize on the synergistic potentials of the Franco-German partnership.

The Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) is a project launched in 2017 by Germany and France, aiming to replace their current Leopard 2 and Leclerc main battle tanks. Coordinated by Germany, in contrast to the other major Franco-German program launched in 2018 (the Future Combat Air System implemented under French lead), the MGCS will not be a single armoured fighting vehicle but a series of systems conceived around said vehicle. It is to be developed and manufactured by KNDS (a holding company founded in 2015 by German arms producer KMW and the French defence firm Nexter Systems) and Rheinmetall, which joined the project in 2019.

Main Ground Combat System (MGCS)
Main Ground Combat System (MGCS). (Photo by KDNS)

MGCS is to result in a future land warfare system which may include uncrewed, including autonomous ground and aerial vehicles, and crewed assets in the light, medium or heavy weight class as well as associated weaponry. As such, the aim of the MGCS development is to produce a means to deliver a set of capabilities currently provided by main battle tanks – yet not necessarily a typical “single platform” MBT; and requires the development of new tactics and collaborative combat capabilities in addition to new vehicles. For KNDS’ exhibition at Eurosatory 2018, the hull, engine and entire chassis of a Leopard 2A7 which can carry 68 tons were modified to host the lighter, more compact, autoloader-equipped turret of the Leclerc.

On 26 April 2024 the French and German defence ministers announced the designation of the technology pillars and national responsibilities. Accordingly, MGCS is divided into:
Pillar 1 – MGCS platform with chassis and automated navigation (German lead)
Pillar 2 – Gun, turret and ammunition (French-German lead). In a first step, different national cannon systems are to be developed and one system selected following comparative trials.
Pillar 3 – Secondary armament with, for example, guided missiles (French lead)
Pillar 4 – Communication, command and deployment system (French-German lead)
Pillar 5 – Simulation environment (French-German lead)
Pillar 6 – Sensors (French lead)
Pillar 7 – Protection and drone defence (German lead)
Pillar 8 – Support, logistics and infrastructure (French-German lead)[34]

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