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Paris: An airplane project struggling to fly, an empty tank, abandoned in the open countryside Other collaborations: Five years after it was launched by Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, the Franco-German defense cooperation program conflicts are doing.

program that skate

The two main cooperation projects, launched on July 13, 2017 during the Franco-German Defense and Security Council, relate to a Future Air Combat System (SCAF) and a Fighter Tank (Main Ground Combat System, MGCS). They are at a standstill.

Announcing an envelope of 100 billion euros for defense at the end of February, Chancellor Olaf Scholz recalled definitively that these two projects constituted an “absolute priority” despite recent purchases of American F-35 aircraft. .

The Scaf, in which Spain also participates, should enter service by 2040, with the tank around 2035.

The Scaf program, led by France, is a “system of systems” that surrounds aircraft with drones connected via a “combat cloud”, along with other military means engaged in an operation. An intergovernmental agreement was reached at the end of August 2021: it provides 3.6 billion euros for a detailed study, known as “Phase 1B”, with a view to starting the construction of a demonstrator in flight in 2025. from.

But Dassault, an industrial leader, and Airbus, which represents the interests of Germany and Spain, cannot agree.

And even though Phase 1B is underway, the Bundestag, where many delegates fear a prominent place for France in the project, will again have to give its approval for each future budgetary commitment. risk.

The Rhine’s program is “not run from either side”, lamenting a French source that it is “pessimistic”.

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The MGCS project, led by Berlin, is mired in a rivalry between the Franco-German KNDS – the German KMW and the French Nexter – and the bringing together of the German Rheinmetall.

According to the General Delegate for Armaments (DGA), Joel Barre, “Knowing that there are two German industrialists and only one French, there is a difficulty in reconciling the Franco-German balance”.

In anticipation of a settlement, the Systems Architecture Studies have been extended to the summer.

passive cooperation

Many collaborations announced in July 2017 have actually been abandoned or postponed indefinitely.

Most emblematic is the mid-life renovation of the Franco-German Tiger attack helicopter.

Paris eventually launched a 4.2 billion euro in this modernization program with Madrid called the Tiger Mark III. In the absence of German involvement, France had to modernize only 42 of its 67 aircraft, generating additional costs.

Germany, which has 53 Tigers, could still join the program by the summer, according to Airbus. But according to the special publication Jens, Berlin is more interested in American competitor Apache.

Berlin also threw the towel over the development of a Franco-German air-to-ground missile (MAST-F), an Israeli missile to choose from to equip the future Tiger.

Paris and Berlin are officially still involved in the MAWS (Marine Air Warfare System) program, which aims to develop a maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.

Alas, Berlin last year ordered five American P-8A Poseidon aircraft for 1.43 billion euros. A “provisional solution”, argues Germany, does not forbid the Paris for which the program is still born.

According to the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the future artillery, CIFS (Common Indirect Fire System) program intended to replace the French Caesar and German PZH 2000 has been postponed “beyond the horizon 2045”.

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A program (finally) launched: Eurodrone

Launched in 2015, the Berlin-led project should provide Germany, France, Italy and Spain with a drone equivalent to the American Reaper or the Turkish TB2.

The contract was notified in late February, nearly three years to Airbus, the project’s industrial leader.

Worth 7.1 billion euros, it provides for the development of the device and the delivery of 60 drones.

“It will be successful, but by how much delay and at what cost? Won’t the equipment be obsolete when it arrives?” asks French Senator Cédric Perrin (LR).

The first flight is scheduled for 2026, with the first delivery two years later. More than a quarter century after the Reaper.

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About the Author: Piers Parker

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