Europe invests nearly a billion in the weapons of the future

Europe invests nearly a billion in the weapons of the future

A chip worth nearly one billion euros, to finance the European Union's defense technological innovation. If a common army does not yet exist and in 2025 it will be composed of a brigade of 5 thousand people, the Commission is putting on the plate for the next six years, until 2027, a European defense fund (EDF) of 924 million to advance the armaments of the 27 plus Norway, disengage from the supply of other countries and equip themselves with technologically advanced weapons. Launched last year and managed by the Directorate General for Industry and Space, the investment vehicle serves to fund research projects, prototypes and industrial alliances to explore the frontiers of future weapon systems: drones, cyber defenses, new materials , advanced and anti-aircraft sensors to protect against hypersonic missiles.

On 9 June the Commission will lift the veil on projects, research centers and industries that have won EDF funding, divided into 16 strategic lines of investment. According to the published prospectus, more than 50% of the budget will be allocated to projects in the field of intelligence and surveillance, the development of "green" technologies and autonomous and interconnected weapons in naval, space and land contexts, as well as programs that see the application of technologies based on artificial intelligence systems and big data.

The lines of investment:

Know before others Revolutionize traditional sectors Space and cyber Digital transformation Other projects The plan of the Union The spine of dual use Content This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

Here, if you don't see the graph, Knowing before others Knowing more and before the opponent is historically one of the advantages on the pitch. For this reason, one of the Commission's investment strands concerns information superiority and readiness to detect the signals of emerging threats, anticipate the moves of opponents and respond to new attack technologies, from drones to hypersonic missiles.

The fund allocates 20 million to strengthening the interoperability of the systems of the Single European Sky, which allows the various authorities of the 27 to communicate with each other, in order to be prepared for a "more hostile security environment", increasing the specter of surveillance of the skies. Another 30 million go to a new command and control system, which "either complements or replaces the existing ones of the European External Action Service and Information and Communication Systems". On this front, the Union is in a hurry: by 2025 it must be operational. Finally 20 million go to support the command and control capabilities of the special forces, to be used not only in tracked operations to prevent the escalation of conflicts, but also "in the Mediterranean Sea", to fight "terrorism, mitigate the flows of migrants and intercepting the illegal trafficking of people and goods ".

" The current geopolitical instability "but also" border surveillance ", which has always been an issue that has opened the portfolios of European governments, also guide investments in advanced sensors, to acquire a "better awareness of the battlefield". One of the guidelines concerns the development of systems to hide sensors, to make sure that the adversary does not detect and disable the surveillance networks. These sensors will also have to be easier to mount on other weapon systems, have greater data transmission capacity but also identify drones or hypersonic missiles. For this first chapter, 25 million are available. Another 15 go to radars, which must be miniaturized, provide a stable and interference-resistant signal, and experiment with artificial intelligence systems to proactively analyze intercepted data.

The outpost towards the Arctic where Russia amasses nuclear and submarine weapons It is the Kola peninsula, with which Moscow aims to ensure control of the north of the planet. But also a piece of land functional to keep NATO countries in check Revolutionizing traditional sectors The 50 million euros are destined to create new defense technologies for land forces, from the threat of long-range artillery to cyber risks. "Automation plays a key role in the transformation of future battlefields - writes the Commission -. It will certainly open the way to enemy systems of lethal autonomous weapons and to fleets of drones or terrestrial robots, which will benefit from their numerical advantage to engage traditional opponents. We can expect enemies to enable robot attacks, unrestricted by human intervention in the target engagement flow. " This is why the Union wants to equip itself with systems to make sensors and control centers of the 27 communicate with each other, from the lowest level.

In the maritime domain, the first 65 million go to semi-autonomous boats of size average. As many are needed to develop anti-air defense systems from new attack technologies. Another 25 million go to studies to understand how to make swarms of submarine drones work together, identifying remote control systems but also self-management systems by the group itself and collaboration with other weapon systems. Finally, 30 million are allocated to systems for analyzing submarine threats and their recognition to protect fleets and coastal objectives.

On the air front, the fund invests 30 million to develop a medium-sized aircraft to support military logistics . The goal is to go beyond the A400M, Airbus' four-engine turboprop that first took off in 2009. Overall, vehicles designed 40 years ago still survive in the sector, while the Commission is calling for the development of a prototype that meets the needs with a 2030-2050 horizon.

Europe allocates another 40 million to the electronic protection of the air forces, with “bubbles” capable of defending flocks of aircraft from attacks conducted even at great distances by anti-intrusion systems. At the moment this shield is provided by NATO systems, but the Union in concert with Norway aims to free itself by developing its own. It is a priority of the Council and the first prototypes will have to be delivered by 2027.

Why tractors have become an icon of Ukrainian resistance In the memes, agricultural vehicles trump Russian tanks, which they have demonstrated a heavy inefficiency. Is it the end of the classic war? Space and cyber Then there are the other two domains of war. Space is the one that receives the most funds: 150 million, of which 20 to organize independence in the space sector for Europe, from the launch of satellites to data management. Another 40 are dedicated to the creation of a constellation of mini-satellites with intelligence, surveillance and threat recognition functions, with a resolution of less than half a meter. Finally, 90 million are used to create a space system that identifies missile threats, starting with the new hypersonic weapons. "At the moment Europe depends on third parties", writes the Commission.

The attack launched by Russia against the satellite network of Viasat, which has had consequences throughout Europe, is perhaps the most striking case of the consequences of cyberwarfare. The Union has put its IT security agency, Enisa, to keep the strings of the defense efforts of the 27, but so far the coordination is ex post: everyone does it on his own and Enisa takes note. The new cybersecurity directive, Nis2, already establishes a coordinated crisis unit.

And to accelerate this common direction, the European Defense Fund puts 10 million on the analysis of cyber threats, also with semantic analysis systems to identify indicators of compromise or attack, and the sharing of data and discoveries. The Union expects artificial intelligence systems to automatically detect the emergence of threats and exploit shared learning to detect intrusions. There are also 33 million to create a common library of software to deal with cyber attacks but also more subtle strategies, such as fake news and manipulation of public opinion via social networks. Finally, 27 million are dedicated to the protection of the Internet of Things (IoT). “Many IOT solutions are designed primarily to be functional, without being strictly secure. As a result, the attacks against the IOT environment have gained an impulse due to the greater attack surface ", write the technicians of Brussels.

Autonomous weapons take the field in the war in Ukraine Russia has been accused of having used kamikaze drones, the United States is considering providing similar ones for defense. But internationally, there has been a longstanding demand for the ban on "killer robots", before it is too late. Digital transformation If the adversary's eyes are increasingly intrusive, the techniques for camouflaging troops and systems must also evolve. The Union invests 15 million in camouflage technologies, which resist physical attacks and also adapt to new military contexts, such as cities. Not only the classic nets or uniforms to get confused, but also cybernetic tools to actively cheat the sensors of others. Another 15 million are earmarked for the development of electromagnetic artillery, which fires projectiles at hypersonic speeds at distances unthinkable for conventional artillery, covering a medium to long range. The challenge is to equip these weapons with energy storage systems that can accumulate the necessary charge for launch and at the same time keep them manageable. Another 10 million are available for free-topic research projects in the field of the most disruptive technologies.

There are also 25 million euros for automatic image analysis, with algorithms dedicated to the recognition of new digital systems. 'weapon, distributed processing, on board the sensors, to reduce the flow of information, and shared databases to train artificial intelligence. In the absence of images that represent future threats, the Union accepts the use of "hybrid or synthetic images". Another 25 million relate to technologies to detect anti-personnel mines and other explosives.

Innovative modules for radiofrequency systems, with which to improve the transmission of information go 20 million fund, which must also support the development of an industrial chain European and Norwegian, freeing the old continent from the importation of strategic components. Another 20 million go to innovative fabrics, capable of responding to environmental stresses (for example, a warmer climate) or being equipped with sensors to interact with the external environment or with the soldier's body, for example by constantly monitoring vital parameters and the psychological state.

NATO raises a billion to finance startups and frontier technologies At the starting blocks Diana, the accelerator of the Alliance, and an innovation fund. Artificial intelligence, biotech, quantum computers, space and cyber at the heart of investments. Centers to test new technologies chosen in Italy The other projects The Union is also looking for research programs for drones, self-driving vehicles and surgical robots, especially to help soldiers affected by chemical, bacteriological or nuclear attacks, to remove them from the line or conduct operations remotely. There are 25 million euros on the plate.

To make the components of underwater vehicles more sustainable, the fund provides 20 million euros. Specifically, the request focuses on the replacement of lead-titanium zirconate, used for sonar and other underwater technologies, but highly polluting. Then there are 30 million for future threat simulation systems, 54 million for small and medium-sized enterprises and 25 for scattered activities.

The great technological alliance between Europe and the United States Washington and Brussels want to coordinate efforts to common standards and projects in the tech field, from 6G to artificial intelligence, putting China on the corner. An agreement that, however, reserves many obstacles The Union plan The President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen already foreshadowed a European strategy last year for the creation of a European defense market, capable of containing the ever-increasing costs the technology used for security purposes and, above all, to reduce dependence on third countries. In February 2021, at the request of the European Council, a commission led by the Italian rapporteur Maurizio Mensi drafted the European research and development strategy in this field.

The aim is to make the Union as independent as possible, but at the same time interoperable with NATO countries. After the continued decline in investment in the defense sector, in 2007 the Member States agreed to strengthen the industrial and technological base. As stated in the communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, however, collective spending on innovation in the defense sector - now at 1.2%, for a total of 2.5 billion euros - "continues to lag behind the 'target of 2% "established by NATO.

Europe puts a brake on the export of technologies for cyber-surveillance The thorn of dual use According to the latest communication sent by the commission in May, of importance the financing of technologies that can have a dual use (so-called dual use) is crucial. According to the European regulation 821 of 2021, dual-use products are "products, including software and technologies, which can have both civil and civil use than military "and for which any European company wishing to export them must obtain a specific authorization from the authorities.

On the one hand, the Union wants to monitor more about what is the end of dual use products. I know, however, the vice president of the Commission, Margrethe Vestager, said that "as more and more civil technologies begin to take hold in the military context, the new wave of security and defense technologies should be developed from the beginning in the within a framework of cooperation of the Union ". The European market, on the other hand, is very fragmented at a national level and not very competitive. Just this year a critical observatory on technologies will have to, among other things, identify the potential application of defense technologies both in the civil and military fields and vice versa and analyze the related value and supply chain (a market analysis). Small and medium-sized enterprises and startups will be at the center of the plan, in the wake of what NATO itself is doing with its Diana program, which has a billion in cash and a program to finance innovative companies in Europe as well.

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