Thursday, January 13, 2011

EDA, Industry To Develop Precision-Guided Ammo Plan

BRUSSELS - The European Defence Agency (EDA) and a consortium of nine European defense ammunition companies are leading efforts to develop a European solution for the next generation of precision-guided ammunition.
In December, the agency and the consortium signed a 350,000-euro ($453,225) contract under which the consortium would develop a road map and implementation plan for a European solution on precision-guided ammunition by the end of 2011.
The background to this is the EDA EDTIB Strategy paper to develop a European Defence Technological and Industrial and Base (EDTIB), approved by the defense ministers in May 2007. The EDA described it as "another important step in fulfilling the Agency's task, given by Defence Ministers, of identifying those key industrial capabilities to be preserved or developed in Europe."
Ammunition is one of the pilot areas selected by the EU member states. Consortium members are BAE Systems Bofors, Diehl BGT Defence, EXPAL, MBDA, Nexter Munitions, OTO Melara, Rheinmetall Waffe Munition, SAGEM and Thales TDA.
The study is part of a step-by-step plan to develop a more competitive European defense ammunition industry that will meet the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy capability requirements - i.e. for use in EU missions abroad - in a sustainable way, not dependent on non-EU countries for critical elements of it. It includes work to identify pilot cooperative programs and prioritized areas for investment.
The contract highlights a change in the way national defense companies are thinking in Europe. Until now, national ammunition companies have tended to go to their governments for funds, but there may not be sufficient funds in the future to work on a national basis.
"This is the first time that national European defense ammunition companies have sat around the table with each other and with EU member states to discuss the options in this area," said an EDA official. "Currently, in the area of precision-guided ammunition, Europe is fully dependent on the U.S.'s Global Positioning System.
"The EU is looking for other solutions, not necessarily satellite solutions," he said. "It might be technologies to replace the dependency on GPS. It might be new developments in the area of sensors. We don't know. Hence the study."
The focus of the study will be indirect fire (ranging from mortars to artillery from 81mm to 155mm). Proposals may include that member states jointly develop specific technologies, such as sensors, by pooling funding.
"These may be useful for other areas of ammunition such as tactical level missile technologies," said an EDA official.

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