On Thursday (11 April 2019), France joined a multinational effort to cooperate on the development of Maritime Unmanned Systems. At a signing ceremony at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, National Armament Directors from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States welcomed France to this key multinational initiative.
The project was launched in October 2018 through the signature of a letter of intent by 13 Allied Defence Ministers (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States) to support the implementation of NATO’s reinforced maritime posture, as endorsed by Allied leaders at the 2018 Brussels Summit.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment Camille Grand said: “Maritime unmanned systems will play a central role in future naval operations, where they will serve as a force multiplier by augmenting traditional, manned naval assets.” They are expected to deliver significant benefits for detecting and clearing mines, as well as finding and tracking submarines.
Assistant Secretary General Grand added: “Today, we are operating crew-dependent platforms with constrained operational awareness, but tomorrow we will increasingly use integrated autonomous systems, able to work together and complement existing manned platforms.”
Through this initiative, Allies will be able to field more flexible and interoperable maritime unmanned systems. Concurrently they will be able to reduce cost by systematically exploiting economies of scale, allowing increasing defence budgets to go even further.