Leonardo inks OCEAN2020 grant agreement

Image Courtesy: Leonardo

Italian defense company Leonardo has signed a grant agreement for OCEAN2020, the first European Defence Fund’s initiative project aimed at boosting Europe’s defense research.

The project – which will be funded by a grant totaling around EUR 35 million – will be led by Leonardo, which will coordinate a consortium composed of 42 partners from 15 European
countries.

“OCEAN2020 will make it possible to promote technological research in a sector of great interest and relevance for Europe and for the Mediterranean area in particular, such as maritime safety,” Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo, said.

Leonardo, within the scope of the “Preparatory Action on Defense Research”, was selected as part of GOSSRA project, led by Rheinmetall, which is working to standardize soldier equipment that will improve the interoperability during joint operations conducted by forces of European countries.

The company said it supports the commission’s proposal, aimed at providing the European Defence Fund with a budget of EUR 1.5 billion a year from 2021 onwards. Of this amount, up to EUR 1 billion a year will support the joint development of defense capabilities by the European Union’s Member States. An amount of EUR 500 million will be earmarked for research activities, essential for the growth and competitiveness of the European defense industry.

The OCEAN2020 project will see the integration of unmanned platforms with the command and control center of the naval units, providing for the data exchange via satellite with command and control centers on the ground.

As informed, the 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.

Companies which have so far announced the participation in the project include UMS SKeldar, ECA Group, Safran (with its Patroller UAV), Qinetiq and Terma, among others.

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