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France, Germany sign Main Ground Combat System framework agreement

German Army Leopard 2 tanks
Illustration: Bundeswehr photo of German Army Leopard 2 tanks

French and German defense ministers have signed a framework agreement that sets out the next steps in the two countries’ plans for the joint development of a new tank that is to be fielded in the 2030s.

On April 28, German defense minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and her French counterpart Florence Parly held a virtual signing ceremony, agreeing project organization and management structures.

The Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS), also referred to as “Leopard 3” by some, will replace the German Leopard 2 main battle tank and the French Leclerc battle tanks.

As outlined in the signed document, both countries will benefit equally from the cooperation, which is why the contracts to be concluded will be equally financed between Germany and France. In addition, both nations are to receive sufficient intellectual property rights for the intended future use of the work results, the German defense ministry said.

The ministers also signed a document titled Implementing Arrangement 1, which lays the groundwork for commissioning the system architecture definition study, which will harmonize the two countries’ needs and expectations from the new tank.

The architectural study is to be followed by a technology demonstrator phase.

The main contractors on the MGCS program are expected to be Germany’s Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann (KMW) and France’s Nexter. The two companies created the KMW+Nexter Defense Systems (KNDS) through a merger in 2015.