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EU defence ministers approve new PESCO projects, launch talks with Washington

EU defence ministers approved 14 new Permanent Cooperation in Defence (PESCO) projects to jointly develop capabilities among the 25 participating member states (all EU nations except Denmark and Malta) during a meeting in Brussels on 16 November. This brings to 60 the total number of PESCO projects launched to date.

European Defence Agency (EDA) chief executive Jiří Šedivý declared after the meeting that the new batch, the fourth since PESCO's launch in December 2017, “is an important milestone for European defence co-operation. These 14 new projects invigorate the PESCO process”.

The new projects offer a mix of equipment- and service/support-orientated capabilities across all services: six in the air domain and two each in the land, maritime, space, and cyber/command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) domains. Several involve sizeable kit ambitions such as a five-nation effort to develop strategic airlift for heavy cargo.

Another involving Estonia, France, and Latvia aims to develop a medium-size, semi-autonomous surface vehicle with a displacement of 250–500 tonnes. Focused primarily on littoral operations, it will be equipped with multiple mission modules for manned or unmanned ISR, counter-submarine and surface warfare, and mine countermeasures. Its initial requirements “have already been drafted and industry partners are working to establish a consortium”, the EDA said in statement after the meeting.

Two other projects stand out, according to the agency. One involves Germany, Portugal, Spain, and Slovenia in the development of a small (150 kg), multi-role tactical next-generation remotely piloted air system for maritime and air operations. Completion of design and requirements is scheduled by 2023; systems integration and interoperability tests through 2025; and initial prototype delivery in 2026.

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