Defence ministers from 19 European Union states have agreed to launch the European Defence Agency's first joint research programme - a three-year force protection initiative that is being viewed as a testbed for more ambitious technology collaboration. The €54 million ($72 million) project will be overseen by a management committee with representation from each contributing state, although the UK opted out, believing it is sufficiently developed nationally.

France, Germany and Poland will contribute a combined two-thirds of the total budget, with Paris providing €12 million. The French and German allocations have been drawn from their national defence technology research resources. Other states providing more than 1% of the programme budget will also be allowed to contribute to the work, with each part to use a consortium approach requiring the participation of at least two countries and at least one small or medium-sized enterprise, laboratory or university. "There is enough scope within this joint technology initiative to increase the capability of smaller European states, especially in advanced niche technologies," says an EDA source. "It allows small countries to put their small eggs in a bigger basket."

Source: Flight International