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With the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS), Germany and France intend to replace their Leopard 2 and Leclerc main battle tanks with a combat system for land forces in a joint project from 2035.

Now the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Utilization of the German Armed Forces (BAAINBw), on behalf of the two nations, awarded the ARGE MGCS, with the companies Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG (KMW), Rheinmetall AG and, on the French side, Nexter Systems, an industrial contract to work on the "System Architecture Definition Study - Part 1" (SADS Part 1). This is the first industrial study for the land combat system of the future.

The aim of the 15 million Euro study is to harmonize the final MGCS concepts of the previous bilateral study phase, analyze further details and propose a common multi-platform architecture. The three contractual partners will assess several aspects of different concepts: technical feasibility in the projected timeframe allotted for the programme; ability to fulfil the operational needs of both armies; efficiency and compatibility with the respective national command and control system networks (SCORPION in France and D-LBO in Germany). Workshares in this SADS Part 1 study are to be distributed equally between Germany and France on a fifty-fifty basis. The first phase of architecture work is expected to last 18 months.

Germany as the lead nation for the MGCS has established a joint German-French project team under German leadership in the BAAINBw.

The SADS Part 1 study is part of the Technology Demonstration Phase (TDP), which is to be completed by 2024. A budget of 370.5 million euros has been earmarked for this. This will be followed by the overall system demonstrator phase (GSDP), in which the entire system will be built in hardware and as a whole tested for performance. The budget for this and other R&D activities is 375.8 million euros. >From 2028, the realization phase will begin with the production of the first MGCS units for integrated performance verification and acceptance testing. After approval for service use and declaration of troop usability, series production will begin. The first systems are to be delivered in 2035. It is planned to achieve initial operational capability with the new land combat system from 2040.

Gerhard Heiming