Last week a “Grant Agreement” was signed in Rome for the partial financing (100 million euros) of the “Eurodrone” program (MALE RPAS - Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System).
In addition to the director of OCCAR, representatives of Leonardo Spa, Airbus Defense & Space SAU, Dassault Aviation and Airbus Defense & Space GmbH were present at the ceremony.
The event itself represented the first tangible example of co-financing of defense programs with funds directly from the European Union Budget, although the initial share of the funding represents a small percentage of the investment required from the participating States, which will be filled. potentially from more substantial funds from the European Defense Fund (EDF).
The Eurodrone will offer European industries the opportunity to participate in a significant program of unmanned aircraft intended to integrate into civil air traffic. At the moment the plan includes the development and production of 20 systems (5 destined for Italy) which each contain 3 aircraft and 2 ground control stations, in addition to Ground Support Equipment, spare parts including storage, training and 6,5 , XNUMX years of initial in-service support.
For OCCAR, an agency with over 20 years of experience in the management of complex programs in the armaments sector, with enviable results in terms of systems delivered to nations and brought into service, it represents an important step towards a program portfolio of over 100 billion EUR.
Un important step per European cooperation in Difesa? Certainly.
Having been present at the event, a sentence from Admiral Bisceglia, the director of OCCAR, nevertheless remained in my mind: "...I don't know if EuroMALE may be indicated as the best in the world, what it will do will be achieve a European technological sovereignty in this field ".
So, finally, Europe will fill a gap, an effort that hardly a single (European) country could have sustained.
But we need to make up for a delay or a disadvantage technological? Yes, if you reach the competition, you don't stop.
Let me explain: all the major world players (USA, Russian Fed, China) NEVER limit themselves to single research and development programs and, in the start of production of an asset, are already engaged in subsequent generations of armaments (at least two!).
OCCAR's commendable work serves as a gap filler of capacity? Of course, but the EU must do something more: invest in Defense, not only for research programs, but by "capacity" with time horizons more (not only contributing to development costs but also to acquisition costs?). Then, after the delays have been canceled, it will even be possible to overtake in an extremely competitive world and the invested funds will not be lost in the stop at each finish line.
The doubt we therefore address to European politicians is: "Europe, which from 2027 will put theEurodrone, are you already thinking about the aircraft of 2035, 2045, 2055 ...? "
Image: Online Defense / OCCAR