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EU Defence Fund paves the way towards a stronger Europe

The proposed European Defence Fund is set to become a catalyst for innovation. Already, momentum is building for closer cooperation across strategic defence projects, in particular Europe’s visionary Future Combat Air System, the EuroMALE drone programme and the joint Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS).

Strategic autonomy through cooperation

In a move to secure Europe’s strategic autonomy, in June the European Commission has proposed a €13 billion European Defence Fund for 2021-2027. The Fund is to pave the way towards the development of new and enhanced defence technologies. This is particularly the case for the aerospace industry, which is at the heart of “Innovation Europe”.

Europe to develop world’s most advanced combat air system

Airbus Defence and Space and Dassault Aviation’s recently declared their readiness to jointly develop and produce Europe's Future Combat Air System (FCAS). The announcement was followed by a Declaration of Intent signed by the German and French defence ministers on 19 June 2018.

The system would complement and eventually replace the current generation of Eurofighter and Rafale fighter aircrafts between 2035 and 2040. FCAS will include a variety of elements working in concert, from a next generation fighter aircraft to Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and even drones flying in clusters. This state-of-the-art European system will be able to connect and to be operated with mission aircrafts, satellites, NATO systems and other land and naval systems.

FCAS is the most important and ambitious European defence project yet and is set to pave the way in making Europe a leader in global defence while generating significant spill-over effects into many other sectors. As Europe’s most important industrial project for the coming decades, it is a unique opportunity for the continent.

EuroMALE unveiled, MAWS to be developed

Unveiling of the European MALE at ILA 2018

Significant progress has also been made on new Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft (MALE-RPAS). Unveiled by Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo at the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show, the MALE-RPAS is a joint project between four nations. The unmanned aircraft is planned to be used by the French, German, Italian and Spanish armed forces from 2025 onwards. In addition, both France and Germany have committed to the development of a joint Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS) that is supposed to provide the basis for the reconnaissance and surveillance of large maritime areas.

Gaining momentum

Europe needs a strong and unwavering commitment by governments and EU institutions to secure Europe’s strategic autonomy and to preserve its industrial base and technological know-how. European nations must now build on the current momentum and turn blueprints into reality.

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