European Defence Fund, which was established in 2017 with the aim to coordinate and increase national investment in defence research and to improve interoperability between national forces. European Union policymakers have backed plans that will see the organization financially support the European defense industry in an effort to promote new product development.
The EU subsidies are intended to encourage companies from different countries to cooperate in the development phase of new and upgraded defense products and technologies in the EU.
Under the plan, some €500 million (U.S. $615 million) will be allocated in 2019 and 2020 for the new program, which is aimed at cross-EU country development of EU defense capabilities. This could, for example, include drones for military use or a European cybersecurity mechanism.
The amount could increase to €1 billion per year from 2021 and possibly boost pan-EU cooperation on large weapons systems, such as aircraft, battle tanks and naval ships.
The move was welcomed by senior French Member of the European Parliament Françoise Grossetête, chairwoman of the Working Group Economy and Environment, who, speaking from Brussels, said the program will “strengthen our capability to defend our countries and citizens, improve our strategic autonomy, foster innovation, and create jobs in Europe.”
“This is a ground-breaking way of thinking in the development of our defense capabilities and an important step towards a European defense union,” she said.
“We need to have fewer weapons systems in order to maximize our defense collaboration in the field and get the most out of the public money we spend on defense, and this is a way to achieve it,” she added. “The all-European defense technological and industrial base — in particular our [small and medium-sized enterprises] and mid-caps — will benefit from this program. Excellence and innovation will be the main drivers.”
EU governments must combine their defense spending on research, development, acquisition, training and maintenance in a comprehensive way.
The European Defence Fund, which was established in 2017 with the aim to coordinate and increase national investment in defence research and to improve interoperability between national forces, will grant OCEAN2020 with €35 million (USD43 million).
European Defence Fund Research projects
The European Defence Fund was launched in June 2017 aiming at stengthening EU defence industry. Under the research strand of the European Defence Fund, €90 million will be allocated to defence research grants directly funded from the EU budget (2017-2019).
The project supports maritime surveillance and interdiction missions at sea and to that end will integrate drones and unmanned submarines into fleet operations. The information acquired will be combined with conventional systems to build up a comprehensive picture of developing situations for military commanders.
The OCEAN2020 project will see the integration of unmanned platforms with the command and control centre of the naval units, providing for the data exchange via satellite with command and control centres on the ground
Defence Ministries in Estonia, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom are involved.
The project will be run by a consortium led by Leonardo S.p.A, bringing together 42 partners from 15 EU countries. It will receive a grant of around €35 million. In 2019, the project will stage two real-life demonstrations – one in the Baltics led by the Swedish navy and one in the Mediterranean led by the Italian navy.
The industrial partners are: Indra, Safran, Saab, MBDA, PGZ/CTM Hensoldt, Intracom-IDE, Fincantieri and Qinetiq. Research centres include Fraunhofer, the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek (TNO), the Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE NATO) and the Italian Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI).
Three other projects that aim to improve soldiers’ equipment were each awarded grants in the range of €1 to 3 million.
This project will develop adaptive camouflage for soldiers that will protect them against sensors operating in several wavelength ranges.
Partners from France, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden are involved. Participating companies are from the textile, aerospace and defence system integrators sectors: CITEVE, Damel and Safran. Research centres are the Swedish Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut (FOI), Fraunhofer, and the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek (TNO).
This project focuses onensuring that complex system elements worn by soldiers work together. Soldiers are equipped with a range of devices which are required to work together. The project aims to create a methodology for specifying how components connect, making it much easier to develop new devices that can work with existing equipment. Partners from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden will run the project.
The companies involved are Rheinmetall, Indra, GMV aerospace and defence, Leonardo, Larimart and Saab; SMEs Tekever and iTTi and the research institute Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek (TNO).
The goal of this project is to create protective clothing for soldiers. It will work on developing clothes that are effective for defence purposes, but lighter, more flexible and comfortable at the same time.
Partners from Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, together with companies CITEVE and FY-composites, research institutes AITEX and TECNALIA are involved. Two small and medium enterprises (SMEs) BRAPA and Petroceramics are also taking part in the project.
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