Yesterday, you'll recall, I blogged about the Industry 4.0 strategy being pursued vigorously by various German corporate giants and the German Federal government. This strategy, you'll also recall, was all about Germany becoming "the factory for factories," designing "smart robotical assembly lines" capable of producing more than one product per assembly line. Now, take that idea, and imagine an assembly line making the machine tools for whole factories, and you get the idea. It is the future of manufacturing and indeed a "fourth industrial revolution," and as I suggested yesterday, Germany means to position itself at the head of it, and to drive it.
I also indicated yesterday that this effort also had huge and sweeping implications for any permanent human presence on a large scale in space, and on our celestial neighbors. One would need such adaptive assembly lines to supply such colonies. And, as I also suggested at the end of yesterday's blog, such capabilities have huge implications for the manufacture of armaments. We have covered some of these in blogs on this website previously, from the utility to 3D print small spare parts, or even small weapons, directly on the battlefield, to the capability of the same processes to provide needed medical supplies in short order. But, as I suggested yesterday, imagine the same process applied to industrial scale assembly lines, able to manufacture a variety of parts and weapons from one adaptive assembly line. Now, in that context, consider this disturbing story that appeared in Russia's Sputnik online magazine, shared by Mr.V.T.:
As the article notes, Kraus Maffei and Nexter are the manufacturers of the German and French armies' main battle tanks, the Leopard II and the LeClerc, respectively. But the real meat of the article points out the size of the merger; indeed, one of the world's largest armaments manufacturers will be created by this merger:
The joint turnover of the new partners is about 2 billion euros, and the total number of employees is 6,000 people.
Both companies have already announced their plans in 2014. The deal is expected to be the most sensational merger in the defense sector over many years.
Now add adaptive smart assembly line manufacturing and one has an armaments company that can, quite conceivably, produce tanks, artillery, small arms, aircraft, and other military equipment from the same assmbly line. But that is not the only component one should bear in mind in today's "high octane speculation" on the story.
The other part signifies what this may portend for the future of the EU, and its geopolitics. As I pointed out in my most recent book, The Third Way, the European Union as all about two things (these are, needless to say, not the only things, but they are two of the most significant things): firstly, it is about the new "Empire of Charlemagne," for it is, as I noted in that book, citing a British observer of the EU, Bernard Conolly, really all about the "Franco-German axis" that really runs it; and secondly, the EU is all about the large corporate cartel, and in this case, one sees those two principles being driven home with a vengeance, as a two large and technologically sophisticated armaments firms, one French, the other German, are being formed into a huge armaments complex, one which, with the adaptive manufacturing strategy being pursued by Germany, could very well position the new Franco-German arms cartel at the forefront of military manufacturing.
The implications that follow from this - even though "high octane" and speculative - are in this unusual instance rather obvious. For one thing, this will mean, as the Sputnik article suggests, a standardization of equipment in the French and German militaries, and the ability for both nations to avoid duplication of effort. In other words, looking a the future, one can envision French and German soldiers, pilots, and sailors driving the same tanks, shooting the same weapons, flying the same aircraft, and deploying the same types of ships.
This, I strongly supect, presages two future developments: (1) it presages the creation of a European military, designed around an integrated Franco-German military command structure and eventually, one can only assume, integrated ranking structures and war academies,staffs, and so on. (2) I also strongly suspect that this combine has also been created as a counterweight to American pressure, and that eventually, this factor will lead inevitably to a European break with the Atlantic alliance, and for the final closure of all American bases in Western Europe. Time, of course, will tell whether or not these "high octane predictions" come true.
But in the meantime, I suspect something else, and that is that this Nexter-Kraus Maffei merger is only the first step. Add Rheinmetal(Germany), Olivetti and Fiat(Italy), and Bofors(Sweden), not to mention the smaller Belgian and Dutch armaments manufacturers, and various other armaments manufacturers in Europe, and one will be looking at the IG Farben of European armaments. And one need not accomplish this with mergers. Cartel arrangements are never out of the question. This is, after all, Europe...
See you on the flip side...