Italian defense company Leonardo was selected to lead the first European Defence Fund’s initiative project which will see the integration of unmanned platforms in surveillance and interdiction missions.
OCEAN2020, as the project is called, is issued by the European Union under the ‘Preparatory Action on Defence Research’ program.
The project will see unmanned platforms of different types (fixed wing, rotary wing, surface and underwater) integrated with naval units’ command and control centers, allowing for data exchange via satellite, with command and control centers on land.
The joint and cooperative use of both manned and unmanned vehicles will also be demonstrated as part of the project.
The competitive selection was conducted by the European Defence Agency and will be contracted in the coming weeks, Leonardo said. The OCEAN2020 team, which will be led by Leonardo, comprises 42 partners from 15 European countries.
These include the defense ministries of Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Lithuania, with additional support from the ministries of defense of Sweden, France, the United Kingdom and Estonia and the Netherlands.
European industrial partners include Indra, Safran, Saab, MBDA, PGZ/CTM, Hensoldt, Intracom-IDE, Fincantieri and QinetiQ. A number of research centers include Fraunhofer, TNO, CMRE (NATO) and IAI.
“We are extremely pleased with this result, the OCEAN2020 initiative has a high level of strategic and technological-operational value” said Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo. “It is the leading technological research project dedicated to the very topical issue of maritime surveillance, which is of interest across Europe and to the Mediterranean region in particular. This success has been made possible thanks to the strong collaboration between all 42 team partners which we have the honor to lead.”
In addition to complex simulation work, OCEAN2020 project will involve two live demonstrations of maritime surveillance and interdiction operations, conducted by European fleets using unmanned aircraft, surface vessels and underwater systems.
The first demo, scheduled to take place in the Mediterranean Sea in 2019, will be coordinated by the Italian Navy and will see Leonardo’s ‘Hero’ and ‘Solo’ unmanned helicopters operate from Italian naval units alongside other European partners.
The second demonstration, which will take place in 2020 in the Baltic Sea, will be coordinated by the Swedish Navy. The data collected by various systems during these two demos will be processed and sent to a prototype European command and control center in Brussels.