Airbus Defence & Space is to lead a consortium to identify short- and long-term options for strategic transport of outsized military cargo under an European Defence Fund (EDF)-backed project.

One of 54 projects selected by the EDF to share €1 billion ($1.08 billion) through its 2023 call for proposals, the 18-month European System for Outsized Cargo Airlift (ESOCA) study will receive €19.9 million.

Detailing the initiative, the EDF says strategic airlift capabilities are “critical to rapidly and effectively deploying large numbers of personnel, heavy equipment, and oversized cargo, in order to meet European and allied nations’ military requirements.


Source: AirTeamImages

NATO currently relies on outsize cargo types including the Ukrainian An-124

“It is necessary to fully express and develop this capability collaboratively in Europe.”

Through ESOCA, the project partners will “identify, define, and evaluate short- and long-term options for future European strategic airlift capability”.

Comprising 14 entities from eight European nations – Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain – the consortium also includes Leonardo, Safran Aircraft Engines, and ITP Aero.

NATO currently relies on assets including commercial Antonov An-124s and a pooled fleet of three Boeing C-17 strategic transports, flown from Papa air base in Hungary, to perform outsize cargo duties.

Other projects selected by the EDF include those looking at a thrust-vectored hypersonic vehicle and advanced drone swarm technologies.