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Defence Industry and Space
News article19 December 2023

European Defence Fund: start of 37 new defence R&D projects

37 grant agreements

 

Today, the Commission finalised the signature of Grant Agreements with 37 EDF 2022 joint defence research and development (R&D) projects across the EU. In addition, the Commission signed Contribution Agreements with the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) to delegate the implementation of four strategic defence projects from 2022 calls. 41 projects are the results of the 2022 calls for proposals under the European Defence Fund (EDF), amounting to €832 million of EU funding.

The signed Grant Agreements reaffirm the EDF contribution to EU's strategic autonomy and strengthening of the European defence technological and industrial base. The scope of new projects confirms the broad involvement of the EU defence industry. The consortia involved in the 37 projects bring together 486 unique entities from 26 Member States and Norway. The involvement of European SMEs in this second round of the EDF represents 37% of all entities. The new projects are implemented by consortia, encompassing large industries, SMEs, midcaps and Research and Technology organisations, and covering all calls and topics of EDF 2022.

The new R&D projects will help further develop the EU's high-end defence capabilities in critical areas such as naval, ground, and air combat, space-based early warning and cyber. For example, in the Naval field, the EUROGUARD project will build a vessel capable of a range of different autonomous operations in coastal areas. In the Air category, the project REACT II will improve the resilience and management of electronic warfare. In the space domain, ODIN'S EYE II, will build on the progress on space-based missiles early warning and will gather industry from 14 EU Member States and Norway to increase European capability in this area. The EDF will also directly contribute to cyber defence with three specific R&D projects that will develop cutting-edge capabilities in the domain of cyber and information warfare; develop a common toolbox for cyber physical testing with a common architecture and environment and design an integrated cyber situational awareness platform.

A number of new EDF projects will target disruptive technologies for defence - focusing on additive manufacturing, adaptive camouflage for protection of land forces, the first EU quiet hypersonic wind tunnel and critical components for electromagnetic gun. Electromagnetic gun is expected to complement other defensive armament and could be adapted to various naval platforms and land-based air defence systems.

For a first time, five of the signed grant agreements will be implemented as Technological Challenge, where funding is provided to HiTDOC, a consortium organising the Challenge, and four participating teams - AIDEDex, CONVOY, DeterMine and TICHE. Over the next four years, the teams will address technological solutions to detect and characterise improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and landmines in complex environments, using a combination of advanced sensors, information fusion, and unmanned ground and aerial systems to extend detection capabilities. These solutions will be regularly evaluated in the testing environment. This funding approach is implemented to strengthen civil-defence R&D synergies.

 

Background

The European defence industry submitted, by 24 November 2022, 134 proposals for joint defence R&D projects in response to the 2022 European Defence Fund (EDF) calls for proposals, reflecting all the thematic priorities identified by the Member States with the support of the Commission.

On 26 June 2023, the Commission announced the results of the 2022 calls for proposals under the European Defence Fund (EDF) amounting to €832 million of EU funding in support of 41 joint defence research and development projects across the EU.

The EDF is the EU's key instrument to support defence R&D cooperation in Europe. Without substituting Member States' efforts, it promotes cooperation between companies of all sizes and research actors throughout the EU. The EDF supports collaborative defence projects throughout the entire cycle of research and development, focusing on projects resulting in state-of-the-art and interoperable defence technologies and equipment. It also fosters innovation and incentivises the cross-border participation of SMEs. Projects are selected following calls for proposals which are defined based on the EU capability priorities commonly agreed by Member States within the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and particularly in the context of the Capability Development Plan (CDP).

The EDF is endowed with a budget of €7.3 billion for the period 2021-2027. This financial envelope is divided into two pillars: 1/3 for funding collaborative defence research to address emerging and future security threats and 2/3 to co-finance collaborative capability development projects.

Between 4% and 8% of the EDF budget is devoted to development or research for disruptive technologies having the potential to create game-changing innovations in the defence sector.

The EDF is implemented through annual work programmes structured along 17 stable thematic and horizontal categories of actions during the Multiannual Financial Framework period 2021-2027, focusing on:

  • Emerging challenges to shape a multidimensional and holistic approach to the modern-day battlespace, such as defence medical support, Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) threats, biotech and human factors, information superiority, advanced passive and active sensors, cyber and space.
  • Boosters and enablers for defence to bring a key technology push to the EDF and which are relevant across capability domains, such as digital transformation, energy resilience and environmental transition, materials and components, disruptive technologies and open calls for innovative and future-oriented defence solutions, including dedicated calls for SMEs.
  • Excellence in warfare to enhance the capability pull and support ambitious defence systems, such as air combat, air and missile defence, ground combat, force protection and mobility, naval combat, underwater warfare and simulation and training.

 

Details

Publication date
19 December 2023