France, Germany agree deal to develop Europe's next generation of tanks

French and German defence ministers will sign a landmark deal in Paris on Friday that paves the way for joint development of a new battle tank, known as the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS). The project, already several years in the making, is tipped to put the European partners ahead of the United States or Russia in building the next generation of military hardware.

"After several months of intense negotiations, we can now present a result," German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius told newspaper FAZ, which published a joint interview on Thursday with him and his French counterpart Sébastian Lecornu.

On Friday, the two countries will sign a formal document to kick off the first development phase.

Lecornu added that a detailed contract should be finalised by "the beginning of next year".

The new tanks will incorporate "the firepower of the next generation, electronic warfare, artificial intelligence, as well as laser and directed energy weapons", the French minister said.

With their joint project taking shape, Lecornu said France and Germany have a lead on the US, which has "still not started to think about the future of its Abrams tank".

Meanwhile Russia has "experienced some failures with the successor to their tank", he noted.

Defence partners

Expected to be ready between 2035 and 2040, the MGCS is supposed to replace France's Leclerc and Germany's Leopard tanks.

According to the agreement, production costs will be split equally between France and Germany.

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