A new analysis of the European Technology Acquisition Programme (ETAP) is warning that the six-nation initiative meant to advance next-generation combat aircraft capabilities has been seriously undermined by Italian and UK participation in the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme.
The report also says the French government-initiated Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstration programme is not providing the industrial and technical co-ordination needed by Europe to offset US dominance in the aerospace sector.
Prepared by the Western European Union (WEU) Assembly’s technology and aerospace committee, the report says “new life” needs to be injected into the four-year-old ETAP initiative, including greater involvement of the newly established European Defence Agency in its activities. Alignment of ETAP activities with new research to be funded under the European Commission’s 2007-13 Seventh Framework is also required.
The WEU analysis says JSF programme participation by Italy and the UK ties those nations “for over a decade to a US project which makes no industrial or technological contribution to [the] European defence industrial and technology base. In research and technology terms, the issues thus raised are important ones as the sums invested in the JSF inevitably represent a loss to any other possible European project for an offensive air system of the future as envisaged in the ETAP agreement.”
PETER LA FRANCHI/PARIS
Source: Flight International