PARIS — France will seek to persuade Germany to go ahead with a cooperative project for a new missile to arm the Tiger attack helicopter, rather than see Berlin opt for the Israeli Spike weapon.
“A few weeks ago we were at the Berlin Air Show when we took a big step with the Future Air Combat System,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said in response to a Defense News question at the Eurosatory trade show, which opened June 11.
“And tomorrow, with the Germans, we will launch the future main battle tank. So we are moving ahead swiftly in Franco-German cooperation,” she continued, adding that other programs are also being considered by European allies.
Germany is close to pulling out of a planned Franco-German program for a new air-to-ground missile for the Tiger Mk3 modernization program, opting instead for the Israeli alternative, La Tribune reported on its website. A meeting of French and German defense ministers is scheduled June 19, when Berlin’s decision may be announced. The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) and MBDA declined comment.
Germany potentially opting out of the cooperative program reportedly stems from a preference for Diehl to adapt the Israeli Spike missile for the Tiger.
”Germany’s apparent decision to withdraw from the new missile program [for the Tiger upgrade] is an indicator of just how much Germany values Diehl and is prepared to direct business to keep it going,“ said Sash Tusa, an analyst with equity research firm Agency Partners.
”Diehl has a pretty narrow product range and is overly dependent on variants of IRIS, so Eurospike would be a valuable extra business line,” he added.
A German decision to pull out of a European missile program could hurt the export prospects of the Tiger, said an industry executive, who declined to be identified. A choice of one or two weapons helps the foreign sales outlook, but a pick of between a U.S. or Israeli missile for the Tiger limits the prospects in the Middle East and Asia.
“A European missile is needed to be exportable,” the executive said.
The Airbus Helicopter Tiger can be armed with the Hellfire or Spike air-to-ground missiles. The French Army is drawing up its requirement for a Future Tactical Air-Surface Missile, dubbed MAST-F, which would arm the upgraded Tiger Mk3. At Eurosatory, MBDA’s chalet displayed a model of the Tiger armed with various missiles, namely Brimstone; an air-to-air Mistral; and MLP/European Modular Missile, a proposed long-range version of its MMP anti-tank weapon which has been delivered to the French Army.