EU backs Eurodrone and SDR project with €137m

The European Commission has adopted the first annual work program of the European Defense Fund (EDF) with the announcement of 23 calls for proposals for a total of 1.2 billion euros of EU funding. Two projects, including the development of an all-European drone and a secure software-defined radio, receive € 137 million immediately for the development of key “home” systems.

The Eurodrone program, led by Airbus Spain with Leonardo of Italy and Dassault Aviation of France, receives 100 million euros. This is seen as a beacon program for Airbus and the entire European aerospace industry, creating 7,000 jobs in high-tech engineering and forming the basis for future defense programs such as the next European fighter aircraft (FCAS).

Airbus says Eurodrone will be “based on almost 100% European technology” and will use a digital design, production and service (DDMS) logistics system to reduce development time and costs with simulation and digital dual technology to enable training to begin during the development phase.

The Eurodrone contract is currently being negotiated, with the first flight scheduled for 2026 and the first aircraft delivered in 2029.

At the same time, the European Protected Software Defined Radio (ESSOR) will receive € 37 million for the creation of a European standardization for software radio stations. This will work with other projects such as quantum switching and point-to-point optical communication between military tactical network platforms, with more than € 48 million invested in secure communication systems.

There is also € 220 million in funding for civilian space research programs (€ 50 million), medical care (€ 70 million) and digital and cyber (€ 100 million). This aims to encourage cross-fertilization, allow new players to enter and reduce technological dependencies.

“The European Defense Fund now plays a key role in making industrial defense cooperation in Europe a permanent reality,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the Europe for the Digital Age. “This will boost the EU’s competitiveness and contribute to our technological ambitions. With significant involvement from companies of all sizes and across the EU, the Fund provides great opportunities to foster innovation and modern opportunities. 30 percent of funding for small and medium-sized enterprises is a very promising start. “

“In 2021, the European Defense Fund is coming to life,” said Thierry Breton, commissioner for the internal market. “With the EU’s first special defense program, European defense cooperation will become the norm. Public authorities will spend better together, and companies – large or small – will benefit from all Member States, leading to more integrated European defense chains for industrial value. In 2021 alone, EDF will fund up to € 1.2 billion for high-end defense capability projects, such as next-generation aircraft, tanks or ships, as well as critical defense technologies such as military cloud, artificial intelligence, semiconductors, space, cyber or medical countermeasures. “

In the first year, the EDF will co-finance large-scale and complex projects totaling € 1.2 billion, using the 2021 EDF budget of € 930 million and a € 290 million “complement” of the 2022 EDF budget. 700 million will go to the preparation of large-scale and complex defense platforms and systems such as next-generation or ground fleet fighters, digital and modular ships and ballistic missile defense.

Around € 100 million will be dedicated to critical technologies that will improve the productivity and resilience of defense equipment such as artificial intelligence and the cloud for military operations, infrared and radio frequency semiconductors.

The fund will provide 120m euros for destructive technologies in quantum technology and additive manufacturing, as well as specific open calls for SMEs and start-ups.

In particular, 26 new projects with a budget of over € 158 million were selected for funding, with the main focus on monitoring capacity (both space and marine capacity), sustainability (chemical biological radiological nuclear detection, unmanned aerial system) and high class (precision strike, ground combat, air combat).

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