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Military Capabilities

France and Germany launch joint MPA effort

09 April 2018
One of the eight P-3C Orions currently fielded by the German Navy. The type looks set to be replaced in the latter stages of the next decade by a new platform to be developed by France and Germany. Source: IHS Markit/Patrick Allen

France and Germany are to jointly develop a new maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to replace the nations’ current types from the mid- to late-2020s.

The effort, dubbed the ‘Maritime Airborne Warfare System’, was revealed by the German Navy on 6 April when the service disclosed that the defence ministers from both countries will sign a letter of intent (LOI) to formally begin the joint project later in the month.

This LOI between Florence Parly and Ursula von der Leyen will be geared towards building a successor to the Dassault-Breguet Atlantique for France and to the Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion for Germany. Its signing is set to take place on 27 April, during the ILA Berlin Airshow.

The announcement of the development of a new Franco-German MPA comes nearly a year after the German-French Defense and Security Council decided in Paris on 13 July 2017 to seek a ‘European solution’ to renew the naval and maritime intelligence capabilities of their respective navies, with a ‘common roadmap’ to follow in 2018.

France and Germany are already taking part in the Co-operation on Multinational Maritime Multi-Mission Aircraft Capabilities programme that is looking to develop a new MPA with Canada, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, and Turkey. While it is not immediately apparent as to how the two projects relate to each other, it is likely that there will be a high degree of synergy given the similar timelines and capability requirements. Since 2017, the six original participants (minus Canada and Poland, which joined earlier in 2018) have been defining a common requirements document for future capabilities in this area, which should be completed later this year. This work will provide a foundation for developing and fielding follow-on solutions, such as that now being proposed by France and Germany.

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