Weekly Analisys New impetus for the French- German military and industrial cooperation

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The recent French-German joint announcement for a greater military and industrial cooperation that follows the Brexit, will lead to great and unpredictable consequences on the future of European Defence. In fact, Paris and Berlin, despite their internal political crises, intend to create s big military industrial giant with three goals: 1) To equip their armed forces with the same or with similar material, paving the way to the military integration of both countries. That would become the linchpin of European Defence wich Trump administration dislikes. 2) To conquer the European Defence market eliminating the competition of UK and Italy. This does not involve the Anglo/American partners and their strong competitivity. The US recently won on Frence’s Rafale Typhoon fighter built by consortium of BAE Systems, Airbus and Leonardo, and Lockheed Martin F-35 in Belgium; 3) To form an industrial giant who could be able to compete with players such as the United States, China and Russia on the world market.

We can already see the main programs of this French-German agreement and their programs for the future. Terrestrial sector is on the ground for a new battle tank that would replace the French Leclerc and the German Leopard 2 that was recently upgraded to version A7. The current program is carried out by German Rheinmetall and KNDS and by a holding company based in the Netherlands formed by Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMV) and the French Nexter. The two German companies were rivals in the past for internal and abroad business but from last summer, thanks to the German Government, they started talking about merging together. Rheinmetall is ready to buy KMV; this merging would not be opposed by Paris in the perspective of military integration with Berlin.

This new super corporate structure would begin a military and industrial cooperation agreement between Berlin and Paris which won’t be longer focused only on the MBT, but also on light, medium and heavy combat vehicles with or without a crew and artillery systems. This would generate an initial estimated 30 billion potential market that could rapidly expand in Europe and outside Europe and arrive to more than 100 billion Euros potential market.This agreement covers also French-German aviation sector that engages Paris and Berlin as well as the Airbus A400M programs and the medium-heavy transport aircraft. A new version of the Tiger combat helicopter has just been approved by PESCO initiative; the NH-90, the transport helicopter-ship antisubmarine naval version for special tasks and a new version for special forces. Following two new initiatives there is a project on a new fighter aircraft with stealth technology that can replace by 2030-2040 both the Rafale and the Typhoon aircrafts and a new maritime patrol aircraft project with long-range anti-shipping and submarine warfare functions to replace the current French Atlantique 2 and the German P-3 Orions. Note that the Luftwaffe and the Armee de l’Air have already pooled a number of transport aircrafts A400M based in France and are talking underway for the training of the crews and for the use by the French heavy helicopters of a German component based on the one that is used today on elder Stallion CH- 53G. This component would be a new template that could be based either on the CH-53K King Stallion component or on CH-47F block II component. This_component is today totally absent in the French arsenal.

Finally, in the marine field, despite the recent failure of the partnership agreement between Naval Group and the Italian Fincantieri as a global player, it seems that Naval Group is interested in buying the German company Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems whose surface ships Division is not on good technical and financial health. The undeclared goal is to eliminate the German competition in the construction of submarines; this is obviously not acceptable for Berlin who would prefer Italy’s Fincantieri to buy Thyssen Krupp Submarine Construction division. Fincantieri and Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems collaborated in the past for over a decade in Italian-German joint program U- 212A.

About the Author: Aurelio Giansiracusa is a Lawyer and independent Observer of Defense & Foreign Affairs. He writes for The US Italy Global ‘Forum Affairs as italian and euoprean military consultant. To contact the Author for comments and critics: info@usitalyforum.com


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