US arms purchases has France, Germany at odds, again
The French Minister is worried by the US Patriot systems, while the German one is after "speed" of deliveries.
The long-running conflict between France and Germany about whether European countries should acquire American weaponry was revealed in a joint interview with the countries' defense ministers published in Le Monde on Wednesday.
In October, a meeting was called for by Germany in which the German-led European Sky Shield plan was launched, and of which 16 NATO countries and Sweden had planned to use German, US, and Israeli equipment.
At the time, France was not among those who joined the initiative given that Paris aimed to promote its own medium-range anti-air missiles, putting massive contracts at stake. According to media sources, Germany and France alone have been anticipated to spend on air defense about 10 billion euros by 2030.
The proposal calls to develop a four-tiered air defense system capable of providing NATO nations with more powerful air defenses in Ukraine.
French President Emmanuel Macron, however, is attempting to get European cities to sign contracts with European industry rather than spend European money on American, Israeli, and South Korean firms.
French Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu told Le Monde that strengthening the European economy will not happen if American Patriot systems are purchased.
"At a time when European taxpayers are going to have to put a lot of money on the table ... everyone will agree that it's not by buying the American Patriot system that we'll strengthen our autonomy," Lecornu told Le Monde.
However, Boris Pistorius, the German Armed Forces Minister, complained about the speed, calling it "of the essence" and arguing that the European industry is not able to fulfill all current needs.
"What matters to us is to have a shield over Europe as fast as possible. We are ready to acquire non-European systems until we have developed our own systems in Europe," Pistorius remarked, adding that although European and French systems are important, they cannot "deliver everything we need."
The two ministers will meet on Thursday to discuss the Franco-German concept for a next-generation battle tank known as the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS), launched by Macron and Merkel in 2017 to replace the Leopard 2 tank by 2040.
Long-running squabbles between France and Germany about the distribution of duties for developing the new tank and export potential have slowed the project.
According to Lecornu, both ministers will formally adopt the MGCS operational standards on Thursday. Pistorius noted that other EU nations are invited to join the project.