The floods in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia have had devastating consequences. The German Armed Forces played a key role in fighting the crisis and relied on German high-tech. Special aircraft ensured rapid crisis analysis, an immediate rescue of the victims and initial medical deployment on site.
The summer of 2021 was overshadowed by extreme continuous rain and flooding. The floods in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia demonstrated the importance of effective air rescue. Special helicopters and aircraft were deployed in the immediate crisis response by the air force and private first responders. This made it possible to respond to particular challenges and to protect lives.
Data from the air saves lives
Reconnaissance aircraft helped with a precise overview of the disaster situation. For example, the German Armed Forces flew a special A319 as a surveillance aircraft over the affected areas in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. The open-skies observation aircraft can fly below the minimum altitude of 1,500 metres and thus contribute substantially to situational awareness. With highly sensitive cameras on board, this enabled detailed reconnaissance. The collected data was then evaluated at the Bundeswehr's Centre for Verification Tasks and enabled targeted crisis response.
Numerous federal and state roads in the greater Euskirchen area were so damaged that the area was hardly accessible. In order to record the exact extent of the damage, the North Rhine-Westphalia Road Construction Authority, Straßen.NRW for short, is relying on help from above. And Airbus provided it: The remote-controlled and battery-powered Altair airship delivered exact data and photos with its precise optical sensors, while keeping faces and license plates unrecognisable.
The strategic use of specialised aircraft and helicopters supports disaster response.
Protecting lives with helicopters
To reach the destroyed villages, the Bundeswehr used specialised helicopters. The H145M flew relief supplies to remote areas. In addition, helicopters flew people out of areas which were not yet or barely accessible to relief workers on the ground or where the danger situation was coming to a head due to the threat of dam bursts. The advantage of these helicopters was clearer than ever: the H145M requires little space for landing and is equipped with a hoist to rescue people. The H145M was also used to deliver food and water bottles to communities that were hit particularly hard by the floods.
First aid in the helicopter
The ocean-going Airbus H155 played a central role for the provision of first aid. When emptied of its medical infrastructure, the helicopter can transport up to four passengers. Otherwise it has room for one emergency patient. In disaster operations, emergency paramedics are roped down and affected patients can be pulled up to the helicopter.
Together, these aircraft have contributed to rapid and effective disaster rescue. This underlines the importance of aviation for emergency operations. Especially in view of future disaster situations, effective aviation is of great importance.
Status: Aug 2021
Europe must be able to defend itself. In order to guarantee the continent's security in the future as well, technological sovereignty in the air is indispensable. The Eurodrone plays an essential role to achieve this.
The demands on European defence policy are evolving and new geopolitical challenges require new technologies. Advanced and innovative concepts such as drones are indispensable for modern security policy. Unmanned aerial vehicles can support armed forces from the air and thus significantly increase security on the ground.
The Eurodrone as an innovative pioneering project
The Eurodrone, also known as the European MALE RPAS, can perform real-time reconnaissance of a target area at medium altitude over a long period of time. As a medium-altitude remotely piloted aircraft with a long flight time, the Eurodrone is well-suited to reconnaissance, surveillance and protection of soldiers in the areas of operations. Delivery will begin in 2028, hence strengthening European defence.
Cooperate across borders
The Eurodrone has the potential to be a European flagship project. Drone technology is a key element of European defence policy, so there is a need to develop a European model. As a continental community programme, the aircraft will be developed and implemented together with the European partner nations France, Italy and Spain. This means that Europe will own the sophisticated technology and the know-how in the production. The ability to develop and build critical components of the European system on home territory – thereby controlling their use – is essential for the participating states.
The Eurodrone plays a key role in the future European defence architecture.
Autonomy in the sky and digitally
The Eurodrone enables the strengthening of European data sovereignty. Thanks to the use of European technology, information could be collected and analysed independently of other states in the future. This strengthens the quality of reconnaissance and ensures independent European access to central information for the defence.
Europe must be able to defend itself
In times of global challenges, individual EU member states are not in a position to face all geopolitical developments on their own. As part of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the Eurodrone can also accelerate the further integration of European defence. This strengthens Europe's ability to defend itself with its own means.
Political support is essential
The Bundestag's budget committee will vote on a corresponding bill in March. The German Bundeswehr has an important role to play as the main customer for the technology.
Status: Feb 2021
With the signing of the framework contract for the first demonstrator phase, Europe’s most significant political security project has cleared an important hurdle. FCAS strengthens Europe’s competitiveness and strategic autonomy in times of geopolitical uncertainty.
In February, the governments of France and Germany signed the framework contact for the demonstrator phase 1A of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). The contract covers a period of 18 months and initiates technology development, which will lead to airworthy demonstrators by 2026.
In the current geopolitical situation, FCAS is of prominent strategic significance. In order to preserve Europe’s freedom, independence and economic prosperity, the foundations must be laid today. Europe must be not only economically strong, but also politically and militarily; only thus can we safeguard European sovereignty on the long run. FCAS contributes to this.
FCAS ensures Europe’s sovereignty for the coming decades.
A system of systems
FCAS is much more than ‘only’ an aircraft. The project encompasses the development of four programme areas that are essential to Europe’s security: a next-generation fighter-jet, unmanned components called Remote Carriers, a new engine, as well as a Combat Cloud, which provides a comprehensive situation picture in real-time to all parties involved in a mission. The combination of these four building blocks enables their deployment within a network and thus creates a comprehensive ‘system of systems’.
Spill-over advantages for the entire industry
FCAS does not only represent a milestone in military aviation. The expected technological leaps will lead to positive effects in the civil aerospace industry and beyond. FCAS sustainably strengthens the European industry along the entire supply chain, including small- and medium-sized enterprises. It is a significant future project for the European industry, in which over 100 German companies have already expressed interest.
Safeguarding Europe’s sovereignty
Spain’s entry was an important step in the further Europeanisation of FCAS. FCAS is a cornerstone of European security policy and ensures that the continent can continue to maintain its sovereignty in the future—industrially, technologically, strategically!
Status: Feb 2020