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French-German Tank Project Rolls Forward as Defense Ministers Sign Off on Specs

leopard 2 tanks

France and Germany have outlined their respective operational needs in a document that lists specifications for the joint development of a next-generation tank system.

French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu and his German counterpart, Boris Pistorius, met at the Evreux Air Base in northern France for talks on the project envisioned to develop replacements for Germany’s Leopard 2 and France’s Leclerc main battle tanks.

Earlier negotiations over tank specifications and how work will be divided have repeatedly delayed the two countries’ Main Ground Combat System project.

Pistorius, speaking to reporters after the meeting, acknowledged the milestone as a move to “release the breaks” caused by the delays and “reignite momentum” on the project.

For his part, Lecornu said the two sides affirmed a working calendar that would aim for completing the system within the 2040-2045 timeframe.

The two countries now aim to break up the program into different parts and pin specific assignments to France or Germany by December, according to a Financial Times report. Other European countries may be invited to integrate the MCGS program as the project progresses.

The MGCS’s components to replace the Leclerc and Leopard tank fleet include a main battle tank complemented with robots and artificial intelligence systems, FT said.

KNDS Group, a merger of the German and French land defense systems providers Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Nexter, spearheads the MGCS tank project, with Rheinmetall joining the contractor pool in 2019.

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