20 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Terrestre

France, Germany kick off race for ‘quantum leaps’ in aircraft and tank tech

COLOGNE, Germany ― The defense ministers of Germany and France have inked new agreements for the joint development of a new combat aircraft and a next-generation tank, key programs that could shape the European defense landscape for decades to come.

Ursula von der Leyen and Florence Parly signed the letters of intent on the sidelines of a bilateral Cabinet meeting in Berlin on Tuesday. The documents are meant to provide the necessary guidance to set up a program of record for the Future Combat Air System and the Main Ground Combat System.

A defense spokesman in Berlin told Defense News the agreement calls for the examination of potential management structures, for example through OCCAR, a European collective for joint weapons acquisition and management. The core members of OCCAR include France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and Belgium, though other nations can partake in individual projects.

By: Sebastian Sprenger

According to a German Defence Ministry statement, the signed documents establish the two governments' “left and right boundaries” for the programs.

“Industry is now requested to fill the space,” the statement reads. “Both projects ... stand for technological quantum leaps that shall be approached together while integrating the strengths of each nation's industries.”

Led by France, the Future Combat Air System aims to replace the Eurofighter Typhoon in Germany and the Rafale aircraft in France. The Main Ground Combat System, helmed by Berlin, will succeed the German Leopard 2 tanks ― used widely in Europe and beyond ― and the French Leclerc.

The new aircraft are envisioned to hit the skies by 2040, while the the new tanks are pegged to roll in the mid-2030s. Connected to the tank effort is also an artillery replacement plan, named Common Indirect Fire System.

While both projects initially are exclusively German and French, partner countries will have an opportunity to join once a “strong foundation” is established by the two lead nations, the German Defence Ministry said.

KNDS, a joint venture by German tank-maker Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and France's Nexter, unveiled a European Main Battle Tank as an interim step toward the future tank program at the Eurosatory defense trade show in Paris last week. The next-generation combat aircraft project, which officials said will include a sizable unmanned component, is slated to enter a concept-study phase by the end of the year, according to the German ministry.

Both efforts are still some time away from formulating concrete military requirements, to which companies eventually can tailor their offers. That cooperation process is expected to be thornier than the agreement on political pronouncements so far that paint Germany and France as the motor of Europe's new defense ambitions.

Absent from Tuesday's joint statement was any mention of cooperative work on a new air-to-ground missile and modernization of the Tiger attack helicopter to a Mark 3 version.

The two ministers had announced at the ILA Berlin air show in April that the two countries would cooperate on the airborne weapon and the midlife upgrade of the combat helicopter.

A common weapon for both French and German Tiger helicopters would cut down integration costs for the missiles.


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  • AM General CEO on acquisition by a private equity firm

    14 août 2020 | International, Terrestre

    AM General CEO on acquisition by a private equity firm

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We've discussed with them where we can go. They're confident in our business and the growth prospects of AM General. They feel good about and stand behind our strategy, and we're going to work together with them. Will the company focus more on the Humvee, or do you see it becoming more flexible? What is the future for the Humvee? Who are its customers these days? To say we're only focused on the Humvee today would not be a correct premise. We've made investments across the board, in base automotive systems, and then automotive systems that have a particular special use. Our core focus is in solving very complex mobility challenges for customers. So the Humvee has a great future. I would offer that you turn to not what I say about what the Army will do but what the Army says they're going to do on the Humvee fleet, which is to steadily and systematically manage a very large fleet by systematic replacement of that fleet and recapitalization of that fleet going forward. They've been buying new-built Humvees to replace old Humvees over the last four years at a pretty heavy clip and have announced their intention to continue to do that going forward. We're obviously going to focus on the Humvee because there's significant demand. It is today the world's leading military 4x4 in its class, and we build more of them than any other military vehicle manufacturer in the world, and especially more than anybody in our weight class. That won't be the only thing we invest in. You can see our investments in the Hawkeye, which brings game-changing breakthrough technology [in relation to] how artillery systems are moved around and employed on the battlefield, together with a whole other range of implementing technologies such as autonomous navigation, off-board power and those kind of things. The U.S. Defense Department is an important customer, but a considerable portion of our businesses is global business, so we take a global view of how we solve mobility challenges for our customers around the globe. The Army recently issued a request for information about replacing heavy trucks. Is that a potential opportunity? We certainly feel like we have something to offer, a range of things to offer there, and that RFI's only been out for a couple of weeks. We'll will certainly take a closer look at that. We're also taking a look at the JLTV competition they announced back in February. Defense News recently characterized AM General as “largely stagnant” since losing the competition for the JLTV in 2015 to Oshkosh. Do you want to push back at all to talk about AM General's time under McAndrew & Forbes? The JLTV decision was 2015, and the four years since the announcement on the JLTV competition we've built more military vehicles than Oshkosh or any other military vehicle manufacturer by a long shot, and sold them to more customers around the globe than anyone else. I think that's far from being stagnant. There are a lot of adjectives you can apply to the company. “Stagnant” would not be the one I would apply. Private equity firms will typically set up companies they buy for faster growth, and then potentially that'll lead to a future sale. Do you think that's something that might happen here, and what do you predict? Is there any indication of time horizons for KPS? KPS has made a lot of smart investments, they have a pattern, but they're not going to be pigeonholed into a particular time frame for a next-step strategy. https://www.defensenews.com/interviews/2020/08/13/am-general-ceo-on-acquisition-by-a-private-equity-firm/

  • Defense aerospace primes are raking in money for classified programs

    4 novembre 2020 | International, Aérospatial

    Defense aerospace primes are raking in money for classified programs

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Because of investors' focus on the commercial side of the business — including plans for the return of the Boeing 737 Max to flight, as well as the continued downward spiral of sales caused by the global pandemic and its chilling effect on air travel — executives did not speak about Boeing Defense, Space and Security's classified activities during the company's Oct. 28 earnings call. “Overall, the defense and space market remains significant and relatively stable, and we continue to see solid global demand for our key programs,” a Boeing spokesman said in response to questions about the company's classified business. “We project a $2.6 trillion market opportunity for defense and space during the next decade, which includes important classified work.” After years of lost competitions, there are signs that the company's combat aircraft production facilities in St. Louis, Missouri, as well as its advanced projects division, Phantom Works, are returning to health. Over the past two years, the company has banked major awards, including the Navy's MQ-25 tanker drone and the T-7A trainer jet, both of which were developed by Phantom Works. Boeing's work on the T-7 received praise from Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper for its use of digital engineering, which involves simulating the design, production and life cycle of a product in order to drive down costs. The company has also started selling the advanced F-15EX fighter jet to the Air Force, breathing a second life into that aircraft with this latest variant. But Aboulafia worried that pressure on Boeing's commercial business — combined with its strategy of leveraging the work of other aircraft makers on projects like the T-7, where Swedish manufacturer Saab had a heavy influence in shaping the design — may have led to a loss of resources and engineering talent at Phantom Works. “Either they're sitting it out now because their focus is elsewhere, or they don't have the capabilities and the commitment that the others do, or we're just not hearing about it now,” he said. Boeing is not the only company investing in digital engineering and advanced manufacturing processes. 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