Monday, 14 June, 2021

Defense: is the marriage between France and Germany really solid?


Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron will formalize in Meseberg the projects of combat aircraft, heavy tanks and joint maritime patrol planes. This Franco-German idyll, however, hides differences.

The future European MALE surveillance drone

Between Paris and Berlin, the military idyll continues. Two months after the signing of an agreement on the Franco-German combat aircraft of the future, at the ILA airshow in Berlin, France and Germany are preparing to give a new boost to their aircraft programs. common defense. The meeting between Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, scheduled for Tuesday, June 19 at Meseberg Castle, should be an opportunity to clarify this successor project to the Rafale and the Eurofighter (SCAF, for air combat system of the future), planned by 2035-2040. Agreements should also be signed on the combat tank of the future (MGCS, for Main Ground Combat System), successor to the French Leclerc and the German Leopard, and a possible joint maritime patrol aircraft.

Between Paris and Berlin, the military idyll continues. Two months after the signing of an agreement on the Franco-German fighter aircraft of the future, at the ILA airshow in Berlin, France and Germany are giving a new boost to their joint defense programs. On the sidelines of the meeting between Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, this Tuesday, June 19 at the castle of Meseberg, the Franco-German council of ministers saw the signing of two letters of intent. The first relates to the SCAF (Air Combat System of the Future) program, clearly the successor to the Rafale and the Eurofighter, scheduled for 2040. The second relates to a common combat tank (MGCS, for Main Ground Combat System), which would succeed the French Leclerc and the German Leopard in 2035. A common artillery program (CIFS) is also mentioned in these Franco-German agreements. Paris and Berlin have finally committed to launching the future CSO3 military satellite on the European Ariane 6 launcher.

What to think of this frenzy of projects? Obviously, this is a real step forward. Paris and Berlin have so far managed to share the responsibilities without much clash. Germany has accepted that the SCAF combat aircraft program of the future be piloted by the French Dassault Aviation, a natural candidate given its expertise related to the development of the Mirage and Rafale fighters. In exchange, Paris accepted that the battle tank program be placed under German responsibility, as well as the European MALE (medium altitude, long endurance) surveillance drone project, which also brings together Italy and Spain.

Goodwill of industrialists

Industrialists are also showing good will. Dassault and Airbus signed an industrial agreement on the SCAF program at the end of April in Berlin. More than a simple new combat aircraft, the two partners are working on the development of a system integrating at the same time a “new generation combat aircraft, MALE drones (medium altitude, long endurance), the aircraft fleet. existing, future cruise missiles and drones evolving in swarms ”

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