The European Union’s involvement in defence programmes for the development of capabilities which complement national investment, has finally been recognised as a political necessity: the purpose is to ensure the security and defence of European territory and citizens.
It is necessary to find European solutions to the specific threats to a borderless Europe and develop the corresponding defence capabilities.
This would allow Europe to achieve economies of scale, to maintain European industrial know-how and ultimately ensure European strategic autonomy and freedom of action.
Following this approach, Airbus can be a considerable asset for Europe, spearheading the research and development of European technologies and equipment in the defence sector and enabling Europe to compete globally.
The awareness of new threats has increased the will to defend common European interests and initiate robust and effective cross-border cooperation.
Airbus strongly supports the various tools proposed by the European Union which could effectively accelerate cooperation in European defence.
The Permanent Structured Cooperation on Security and Defence (PESCO), the European Defence Fund (EDF), with two complementary components of support for defence research and capability development, which together with the Capability Development Plan will contribute to create a Europe capable of protecting itself.
Within this framework, Member States play a key role in the choice and definition of the content of these tools, determining the competences maintained at national level, those carried out within bilateral or limited cooperation, and those subject to wider cooperation under the aegis of the EU or NATO.
Airbus is a leading player in ensuring air superiority in future key areas such as air-to-air refuelling, multi-purpose maritime patrol aircraft, long-range surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), preparation of the future air combat aircraft, as well as replacement of the theatre of operations surveillance capability (AWACS).
These will be key fields of activity by 2035, and will integrate interoperability and communication technologies.
They will most probably take the form of a “systems of systems” involving the interaction of various complementary devices (satellites, high-altitude vehicles, UAVs and aircraft) via intelligent and highly secured clouds (with the capacity to process the raw information received).
European initiatives are the right answer if Europe is to remain a credible partner.
The European Union must achieve the major political objective of acquiring the necessary resources to meet these technological challenges.
Only in this way, will we ensure the security of individuals, of critical infrastructures and of economic development, and ultimately contribute to the well-being of all European citizens.