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British military looks to the ‘Eurotank’ as it weighs its hardware options

Zarvan

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The Franco-German joint venture KNDS displayed its new European main battle tank, a precursor to the Main Ground Combat System, at the 2018 Eurosatory exhibit in Paris. (Staff)

LONDON and COLOGNE, Germany — The British Ministry of Defence has opened discussions with France and Germany about signing up as an observer on their next-generation Main Ground Combat System program, according to government and industry officials in the U.K. and Germany.

Details of exactly what access the British will get to the program remain unclear, as a possible pact wouldn’t be signed until later this year. “Observer status is being granted to the U.K. for the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System program,” an MoD official in London said.

An industry team involving Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Nexter and Rheinmetall are in the early conceptual stages of pulling together a vehicle design to replace Germany’s Leopard 2 and France’s Leclerc around 2035.

A KMW spokesman told Defense News that the company is aware of ongoing talks aimed at making Britain an observer, but he referred additional questions to the German Defence Ministry.

For the British, the link is expected to help inform future capability requirements developed by the government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and others as part of the MoD’s Future Ground Combat System program.

That program is considering a series of options to replace the current capabilities in the mounted, close-combat arena from 2040 onward.

The Franco-German tank is not the only program being eyed by the British MoD, which continues to monitor a number of global programs and developers, British officials said.

The German Defence Ministry was tight-lipped on specifics regarding the U.K.’s involvement, though a spokeswoman stressed the project’s international thrust.


“The MGCS project was created with a European approach in mind, open for other nations to participate,” the spokeswoman told Defense News. An observer status would precede a more formal role for cooperation with new candidate countries, she added.

“Bringing new members on board with MCGS is in line with Germany’s aspirations to push consolidation in the European defense industry,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email.

The British interest in MGCS, depending on how far it progresses, has all the markings of a test case for pursuing large-scale, joint programs in a post-Brexit Europe. Military and government leaders from both sides have vowed to leave defense cooperation unscathed after the laborious divorce proceedings that ended the U.K.’s membership in the European Union. Still, London is formally an outside party in a defense cooperation regime engineered through Brussels.

The way ahead for Britain in a broader ground-warfare context might become clearer if the government goes ahead with a dedicated land-equipment industrial strategy as part of a defense and security industrial strategy review.

A land strategy, to go alongside already complete maritime and air reviews, is being considered, but a final decision is outstanding.

The fact that Britain is keeping tabs on the European tank project is a step in the right direction for those who believe the battlefield behemoths still have a future in the British Army. But it didn’t seem that way in August when national media in the U.K. reported the MoD was considering scrapping the service’s 227 Challenger 2 tanks to afford a pivot to more pressing future requirements in areas like cyberspace, space and unmanned vehicles.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace ended the speculation in September when he denied the Challenger 2 force would be mothballed. However, he didn’t say how many tanks the British would update.

Lethality and protection upgrades to the Challenger, assuming they are approved, will be led by RBSL, the British-based Rheinmetall-BAE Systems joint venture. It includes the installation of a new turret with a 120mm smoothbore gun replacing the rifled cannon currently installed on the vehicle.

A decision on the program approval is imminent, with the business case for the life-extension program delivered to the MoD’s approval body late last year. The idea is to make the vehicles last through 2035 or even 2040.

British military looks to the ‘Eurotank’ as it weighs its hardware options (defensenews.com)
 

peagle

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No !!! No!!! No !!!! Honestly, the mindset of the UK establishment is truly shocking. I despair sometimes..
We can hardly afford to develop a tank by ourselves nowadays, there are too many big ticket items to tackle alone, isn't it good to pick and choose the correct approach for each project.

It makes sense to me, after all how many tanks will we acquire, couple of hundred at most? not worth pursuing an independent tank project. Plus the technologies involved in development of a tank are hardly cutting edge, so no fear of losing an industrial capability.
 

Ali_Baba

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We can hardly afford to develop a tank by ourselves nowadays, there are too many big ticket items to tackle alone, isn't it good to pick and choose the correct approach for each project.

It makes sense to me, after all how many tanks will we acquire, couple of hundred at most? not worth pursuing an independent tank project. Plus the technologies involved in development of a tank are hardly cutting edge, so no fear of losing an industrial capability.
Correct, and we should work with the USA on this, not the EU-ropeans..
 

WinterFangs

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Recently the Uk have stepped up their game in terms of military you should’ve seen the Uk a decade ago, the equipment was no where near what it should’ve been, possibly the Afghan and iraq wars had opened their eyes abit, and the SA80 needs a change ASAP.
 

Ahmet Pasha

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Recently the Uk have stepped up their game in terms of military you should’ve seen the Uk a decade ago, the equipment was no where near what it should’ve been, possibly the Afghan and iraq wars had opened their eyes abit, and the SA80 needs a change ASAP.
SA80 is just plagued with problems from what I've seen on youtube. Updates did not fix much either.

Why do you guys hate the EU so much all of the sudden due, I just don't understand.
 

WinterFangs

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SA80 is just plagued with problems from what I've seen on youtube. Updates did not fix much either.

Why do you guys hate the EU so much all of the sudden due, I just don't understand.
Personally I’ve always wanted to stay in the eu, people just hate the Eu as they felt like they were being used by Eu etc,
 

Ahmet Pasha

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Personally I’ve always wanted to stay in the eu, people just hate the Eu as they felt like they were being used by Eu etc,
Apart from all the eastern europeans coming over, working for a bit then leaving and maybe some extra enforcement of rules. İ don't see how EU harmed UK.
 

WinterFangs

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Apart from all the eastern europeans coming over, working for a bit then leaving and maybe some extra enforcement of rules. İ don't see how EU harmed UK.
Being in the Eu never harmed the uk imo, in fact it brought a lot of benefits, I think the uk and the people of the uk are beginning to assume they are “bigger” than the Eu and they deserve more rights etc. Eu legislations also applied to U.K. and from what Ik a lot of U.K. politicians didn’t agree with a lot of them, being from London which is a majority Labour Party stronghold everyone I know voted to stay in Eu, majority out were people from countrysides and northern areas of england, similar situation as the republicans in terms of popularity within rural and urban areas. Leaving the Eu will also benefit some certain rich people.
 

Oldman1

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Not sure why they would pursue a Euro type tank when they show prototypes and concept of a new Challenger tank.
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Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) unveiled at DSEI 2019 its advanced technology demonstrator for the British Army’s Challenger 2 Life Extension Project (LEP). The newly formed joint venture is now the only contender for the project.

The UK Ministry of Defence awarded separate £23 million contracts on 22 December 2016 to BAE Systems and Rheinmetall Land Systeme for the assessment phase of the Challenger 2 LEP originally intended to address obsolescence issues to extend the service life of the main battle tank beyond 2035. BAE Systems unveiled its upgraded Challenger 2 in October 2018 which adhered to the MOD’s request and retained the tank’s L30A1 120m rifled gun.

However, Rheinmetall proposed a more extensive modernisation that includes the Rheinmetall L55 120 mm smoothbore gun. In 2006, a single Challenger 2 was fitted with the L55 for trials under the Challenger Lethality Improvement Programme and although the army was impressed the project proceeded no further as funding was prioritised to meet immediate operational requirements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

On 1 July 2019, RBSL was formed between Rheinmetall Defence UK (55%) and BAE Systems Land UK (45%) combat vehicle business. Headquartered at the BAE Systems factory in Telford, the joint venture intends to play a major role in other British Army combat vehicle projects including the manufacture of the Boxer 8×8 vehicle for the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme.

The Challenger 2 advanced technology demonstrator unveiled by RBSL at DSEI features a new Rheinmetall turret armed with the L55 gun, a new Thales commander’s and gunner’s stabilised day/night sights, a computerised fire control system, and all-electric gun control equipment. Installation of the L55 will enable the tank to fire the latest Rheinmetall ammunition including the DM63A1 APFSDS-T and the DM11 programmable air burst round.
 

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