During today’s meeting of the European Defence Agency’s Steering Board, defence ministers welcomed the progress made by the majority of Pooling & Sharing initiatives they had endorsed one year ago.
In 2012, two exercises were held in the framework of the Helicopter Training Programme (HTP). The exercises hosted by Portugal and Belgium allowed for the training of 56 helicopter crews and over 3,000 ground personnel.
During the EDA Steering Board, Defence Ministers signed a Programme Arrangement for live exercises over ten years. Initially based on delivering live exercises aiming at disseminating tactical skills, the Helicopter Training Programme now includes a synthetic simulator based training project, a helicopter tactics instructor training course, and an operational English training course.
-- The Maritime Surveillance (MARSUR) live network continues to extend its membership. The goals of the network are to facilitate exchange of information and to support safety and security. In October 2012, Bulgaria, Latvia and Norway joined the network which now includes 18 nations.
-- The European Satellite Communications Procurement Cell (ESCPC) has moved forward as planned, with the signature of a framework contract in 2012. Five Member States participate on a pay-per-use basis of commercial satellite communications services. For the longer-term Future Military SATCOM project, decisions are required in the near future on the replacement of existing satellite networks in the 2018-25 timeframe. As the window of opportunity will close shortly, EDA stands ready to take action on P&S solutions, and is planning a high level workshop “MILSATCOM 2020” in the first half of 2013 in order to present proposals, foster common activities, and link with bi-lateral initiatives.
-- The Multinational Modular Medical Units (Medical Field Hospitals) attracts growing participation. Fifteen Member States have so far signed the Letter of Intent. The Common Staff Target is expected to be finalised by mid-2013. The Memorandum of Understanding and Common Requirements will follow, with the objective of procurement of assets in 2014 and Initial Operational Capability in 2015.
-- Air to Air Refuelling (AAR): EDA has developed a global approach with three objectives: increasing overall capacity, reducing fragmentation of the fleet, and optimising the use of assets. The Agency has started to work on short-term solutions including access to commercial AAR services and optimised use of existing assets. Longer-term actions include the acquisition of more AAR kits and increasing the strategic tanker capability in Europe by 2020. A Letter of Intent on a European Strategic Multirole Tanker Transport initiative, prepared under the lead of the Netherlands, was signed during the Steering Board.
-- Pilot Training has attracted significant interest. France has offered to lead on transport crew training, and Italy on fast jet training.
-- Work on European Multimodal Transport Hubs has been launched through a study (the results of which will be available in March 2013). The aim is to develop a European concept to increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of Europe’s transport assets in support of military, civil and disaster relief operations.
-- EDA has shaped substantive work on Smart Munitions. Possible P&S opportunities are outlined (i.e. in the areas of training and education) but no lead nation has yet been identified.
Ireland, as lead nation, has initiated work on European Naval Training with a view to inter alia improving the sharing of existing facilities and the realisation of civil/military synergies.
Additionally, the Agency presented the successful work delivered as regards to Pooling & Sharing enablers:
-- Airworthiness: Member States are implementing EDA’s European Military Airworthiness Requirements (EMARs) in national law. Currently, additional EMARs for Maintenance Personnel Licensing and Airworthiness Management are being developed. A first practical example where EMARs are being applied is the A400M.
-- Ammunition: EDA addresses the regulatory framework (harmonisation of qualification and certification regulations) in the field of ammunition; this will facilitate cooperation on procuring, stockpiling, exchanging or transporting all types of ammunition.
The government to government online market place – eQuip – for redundant or surplus equipment will be launched shortly.
The first Technical Agreement on diplomatic clearance for military transport aircraft was signed during the Steering Board. The arrangement describes harmonised procedures for overflights and landings and enables Member States to operate without the need to submit diplomatic clearances requests for each flight (by using diplomatic clearance numbers valid for one year), including support to on-going operations and transportation of dangerous goods.
The Go Green project on alternative energy sources for European army forces was launched in March 2012. Seven Member States are participating and the tender procedure has been launched.
-- Pooling demand. EDA has concluded a € 228m Euro Framework Contract covering Basic Logistic Services to support the current German-led EU Battle Group.
The EDA continues to work on the European Defence Standards Reference System for a harmonised approach to standardisation. The development of hybrid standards, with both civil and military applications, will contribute to an efficient EDTIB.