New European wagon: French and German do not want us

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

Germany and France exclude Italy from the MGCS (Main Ground Combat System) project, or the European tank of the future, and Conte's executive remains silent.

Last year, the governments of Paris and Berlin signed the agreement for the development of a new MBT that will have to replace, starting with the 2035, the German LEOPARD 2A7 and the French LECLERC. Leading the project is the KNDS group, born from the merger of the French Nexter and the German Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW).

The future Franco-German wagon has the ambition to become the standard MBT of the armies of the European Union, thus being able to standardize logistics and training (currently 17 wagon models are in service in Europe).

In a question to the Chamber, the Undersecretary for Defense Calvisi said that the possibility of joining the Franco-German initiative was extensively evaluated and several times counterparties were asked to accept Italian requests in this regard. To date, on the part of the interlocutors, there has been a desire to allow third parties to enter the program only at the end of the first phase, the one that involves the construction of a technological demonstrator not before the 2025, if not the 2030.

Therefore they would be willing to welcome us only after the development has been completed, while the initial phase of the project is fundamental for defining the characteristics of the vehicle as well as for the technological return for the national industrial sector (we probably pay our political indecision).

As our readers well know, the Italian Army has decided to update the ARIETE currently in service, especially with interventions focused on increasing the power of the engine and passive protection, with an investment for the 2019 equal to 4 million euros and of 35 million up to 2021 (out of a total expenditure of over 400 million).

To us it seems an exaggerated allocation for an update that will lead our departments to deploy an MBT however obsolete and not able to deal with operational scenarios.

A possible way would be to update only a limited number of ARIETS (enough to equip a regiment), and in the meantime look for other European partners to develop a new MBT.

Poland, Spain and Sweden will need, in the near future, to modernize their armored component. However, these are countries with little experience in the field of armored vehicle design; alternatively, we could look at a partnership with a non-European state such as, for example, Israel which has extensive experience in the sector and has already started a thorough study to realize the successor of the MERKAVA Mk IV.

Photo: US Army / Youtube