The best "System" is the absence of a system


The MGCS concept presented by the French Ministry of Defense

My grandfather is a colonel, a military engineer. I have his military orders in my desk, and I do not even know what it is for — classified until now, although it would seem … I know that he tested his inventions in the then rear of the Germans, in Belarus.

Now military-engineering thought seems to be moving towards the creation of system weapons, like an aircraft carrier, which is accompanied by half a dozen other ships.

After seven years of negotiations, the German and French defense ministers have finally signed an agreement to create a tank jointly. But even the name itself already reveals the essence of the new invention — MGCS (Main Ground Combat System).

«This is not the tank of the future», said the French defense minister, «this is the future of tank forces».

By 2040, the story is to replace Germany’s Leopard 2 and France’s Leclerc. But the System will be neither French nor German. The agreement stipulates that all production is split exactly in half. This, in fact, was the hitch that cost 7 years of delay. French Nexter together with German KMW were in charge, but then Rheinmetall intervened, which complicated the task, but it is not so important.

What is important is that the production of the new monster will consist of eight areas. The platform itself, turret, systems of classical general military fire, systems of innovative fire (guided missiles, projectiles and laser weapons), communication, involved in the «cloud» Franco-German (eventually common NATO) system of artificial intelligence, which will assess the situation on the battlefield, modulate and offer solutions, heavy armor «cover», anti-tank weapons and small arms control module, which is not even placed on the MGCS, but rides somewhere in parallel. These are ground drones with a caliber of 7.62, which are controlled by the operator and AI from inside the tank.

Right now it’s not very clear to engineers where, at what point the AI will be in 10–15 years. So far, the most recent combat experience, namely Ukraine, is taken as a basis. Most likely, the ideas will be revised more than once.

So far, the price of the question is 100 billion euros. Both German and French sides are expected to attract a huge number of small and medium-sized innovative start-ups, which will help them and inject new blood and new knowledge and skills into the heavy industry.

But there will be no place without the maestros either. There will be Thales, Safran, the largest German companies, and many others. But in any case, the contracts will be distributed by the Federal Republic of Germany on a 50/50 basis.

Further — more. The new «System» MGCS will have to turn or modify itself in the future into a drone, controlled by AI, and replace all the existing armored vehicles in the European armies: Serval, Griffon, Jaguar, Leclerc and further down the list.

What’s going to happen to the French Leclerc, for example? Nothing until 2040. There is a program of its modernization, and even now the French Ministry of Defense has ordered the production to modernize 50 old cars and build 200 more. And the new ones are already being fitted with chips that provide «cloud» communication with all units involved in the operation. The engine and armor are being changed on the old pre-retirement vehicle.

Just a month ago, the tank contract was very far from being signed at the state level. In general, there was more a dispute between industrialists, businessmen, rather than the military. Both the Germans and the French linked this dossier with another: the production of a joint Scaf airplane — France, Germany and Spain are involved there — aka in English NGF (New Generation Fighter). And the French Dassault Aviation wanted to take the main role in this project

But again, it’s not an airplane, it’s a system. They now think in terms of systems, that’s what’s important and interesting! This fighter is connected to the assistants accompanying him, connected through the «cloud» with all units involved in the battle, AI models and offers him, drone to drone, solutions. The soldiers are smoking so far.

Boris Pistorius, the German defense minister, announced at the signing that this ambitious Franco-German program is open to partnership for all comers. The Italian defense and aerospace group Leonardo is already in the queue and is so far very keen to participate in the project as an observer. It is followed by the Netherlands, which has also shown a lot of interest.

Yes, and a courier brought the general’s epaulettes and the finest cloth for a new uniform to grandfather. But Nikita Sergeyevich changed his mind at the last moment about signing the order. Well, the system…