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Mate tank of Germany and France to be created by 2035

Author : Zeitung Die Welt

60 years ago, Germany and France had already planned the joint tank's production
15:40, 9 November 2018

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A common German-French Main Battle Tank should be created by 2035. Both countries are determined to complete this project at any costs. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann concern can execute an order for several thousand tanks.

60 years ago, Germany and France had already planned the joint tank's production. However, that project was not destined to be realized, and as a result, the German Leopard 2 chassis and a Leclerc turret were born. But this should not happen again. At least representatives of the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) concern, which produces Leopards, are sure of this. According to them, the intentions of the parties are so serious that neither German nor French party would dare to prevent the development of a joint tank. French President Emmanuel Macron recently spoke in favor of creating a "real European army," thus confirming these intentions.

These prospects seem to be very attractive for the defense industry. KMW CEO Frank Haun said in the spring that orders for the production of new tanks and artillery systems could reach more than 100 billion euros by 2050. Currently, European countries (including Russia's neighbors) have a total of about 8,000 tanks of different classes, with an average age of 40 years. According to some rough plans, sooner or later at least 5,000 new armored vehicles will be required to replace them.

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New German-French tank, which should appear by 2035, should play a crucial role in it. Its price would amount to 10 million euros. Experts also underline the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS). Essentially significant points like the drive and the mass of the new combat vehicle have not been determined yet. It is only known that it will have “various effective systems” along with the gun. This would in no way affect the basic complexion of a heavy battle tank though, insiders assure. As is the case with the planned Future Combat Air System (FCAS) European aircraft, which, presumably, could be used in conjunction with the UAVs, the concept of using the new tank will also be subjected to modernization.

French state concern Nexter and German KMW unveil no details on the success of their elaborations. In addition, the military departments of both countries have not yet created the crucial requirements for the development of the tank. Nexter and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann are not particularly informative, and it is a common behavior for the armaments industry.

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Since 2015, both companies have been involved in the joint venture company KNDS, KMW plus Nexter Defense Systems, whose headquarters is located in Amsterdam. In 2017, the turnover of KNDS amounted to 2.7 billion euros. Of these, 1.34 billion euros accounted for enterprises of the KNDS group. The revenues from the customers’ orders are estimated at 3.4 billion euros. So future orders will still exceed the turnover. At the same time, profits were made both by the KMW group and Nexter.

On the one hand, KMW makes public its new orders, and its management hires new employees. Nevertheless, according to the last report of Wegmann holding, KMW parent company: "In the long run, orders and turnovers of KNDS group depend, in particular, on the position of the German and French governments regarding the export of military equipment." KMW CEO Haun has already announced that, despite a large tank order from Qatar received in 2013, he does not exclude that exports to NATO countries would be limited. According to him, the final decisions are made by the politicians.

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KMW leadership has long been urging to adhere to a common European defense policy, instead of acting alone. A major project to develop a new battle tank would require pan-European cooperation. Most likely, the British and Italians will be interested in participating in the supertank creation. Thus, consolidation will continue. In the coming years, its results to become more obvious, insiders of the German company said.

At the same time, KMW considers itself a reliable and stable partner within the German-French KNDS joint venture, despite the recent death of Chairman-Supervisory Board of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Manfred Bode, who passed away aged 77 after a long illness. His son Felix took the supervisory board post.

KMW supervisory board consists of 27 people, including the heirs of three families. According to the insiders, their fortunes have grown at least four times over the past 15 years.

At some time, another defense industry representative, the Rheinmetall concern, tried to acquire a portion of the shares of a private rival company, but without success. In any case, Rheinmetall tried to prevent French convergence with KMW.

Gerhard Hegmann

Read the original text at Die Welt.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.

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