German and French defence companies sign letter of intent for MGCS programme

By Defence Industry Europe

During the Eurosatory exhibition in Paris, leading European defence companies (KNDS Deutschland, KNDS France, Rheinmetall Landsysteme, and Thales) signed a letter of intent for the MGCS programme. This document confirms the industry's commitment to establishing a project company for the targeted implementation of development work on the German-French Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) programme, KNDS said in a press release.


The signing of the letter of intent between KNDS Deutschland, KNDS France, Rheinmetall Landsysteme, and Thales is the next step towards developing a next-generation European main battle tank. As reported by Defence Industry Europe, in April this year, the defence ministries of Germany and France signed a memorandum of understanding confirming the cooperation between both countries on the MGCS programme and stated that a joint Franco-German company would be established in the future.


KNDS: industrial backbone of the MGCS

The Main Ground Combat System is the German-French programme to replace their current Leopard 2 and Leclerc main battle tank fleets from 2035 or 2040 onwards. According to KNDS, the MGCS is based on a multi-platform approach, composed of manned and unmanned platforms and maximally exploiting new technologies. KNDS, as an experienced prime contractor and lead system integrator, will play a central role in the programme.



KNDS develops, delivers, and sustains complete state-of-the-art multiplatform systems, mission solutions, and/or their main sub-platforms, including the related ammunition and services. KNDS masters (new) technology development in close cooperation with its extended network of European organisations and partners. The company applies a cross-border operating model at the European level, meeting customer requirements, fostering industrial efficiency, and assuring an optimised services network to support its customers throughout the whole lifecycle.

The MGCS has to operate in a complex operational environment that is multinational in different regions, composed of a variety of existing and new capabilities, linked by various C4I systems at different technical maturity stages. KNDS is fully aware of the ongoing exponentially accelerated new technology developments and their potential impact on operational capabilities. Therefore, KNDS is continuously analysing how to match concepts of operations (CONOPS) and opportunities offered by new technologies in order to increase operational effectiveness and efficiency permanently.


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KNDS, as the industrial backbone of the European main battle tank (MBT) design (Leopard 2 and Leclerc) in all aspects (development, design, in-service support) and developer of various innovative concepts like modular systems and unmanned turrets, is approaching the design of future MBTs and MGCS on the following three pillars:

  1. Evaluating various new technology concepts in existing MBT designs and KNDS E-MBT 2nd Gen;
  2. Developing the overall operational approach concerning manned and unmanned operations based on the evaluation of technology and CONOPS in leading self-developed realistic combat simulators;
  3. Developing key technology sub-elements like new gun systems and ammunition, e.g., ASCALON.


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As a major player in the MGCS programme, KNDS is also preparing for the future of the main armament by proposing the ASCALON new 140mm tank gun and ammunition concept. This innovative concept, while proposing significant growth potential, delivers performance levels that current technologies do not offer. Taking advantage of its long experience with the 120mm smoothbore gun, its mastery of compact ammunition, as well as the maturity achieved during the firing campaigns with a 140mm calibre, KNDS designed ASCALON with an open architecture to serve as a basis for cooperative development within the framework of the Franco-German MGCS programme, laying the foundations for the future standard of the European tank gun and ammunition, KNDS said.



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