The Spanish Defense Industry and Dual Use Technologies have achieved very good results in the first tender from Brussels for access to grants from the European Defense Fund (EDF), which awards the best collaborative projects.
42 of the 61 multinational consortia that EDF grants are one, two, three, four or even five large, medium or small Spanish companies and there are even universities, like those of Alcalá, Coruña, Murcia, Seville, Zaragoza and the Polytechnic University of Madrid. Brussels has highlighted the presence of SMEs, represented in 43% of the winning initiatives, to which 18% of the aid is dedicated.
As a result, more than 60 national companies and institutions will receive a whole range of funds from the almost 1.2 billion euros – exactly 1.167 billion euros – which the European Union has earmarked for funding cooperative research and development (R&D) projects in the defense sector. The exact amounts will be known towards the end of the year when Brussels signs the final contracts with each of the consortia. Her experience in international projects has underpinned her success at European level.
National champion is Indra, who is involved in 19 different projects and has made it “Align all key proposals with his business strategy”, he says. Its CEO, Ignacio Mataix, describes the result as a “resounding success” and the “increasingly crucial role that digitalization is playing in the development of the defense sector”.
A project led by Indra that the Spanish tech company attaches great importance to is Eu-Guardian. dedicated to applying artificial intelligence to detect and respond to cyberattacks. The University of Murcia, two institutions from Italy, two from Bulgaria, one from Estonia, Lithuania and Poland and Airbus CyberSecurity from France are involved. The entire project is funded with 13.46 million euros.
For large, small and medium-sized companies
GMV is involved in seven projects, Navantia in six, Sener Aeroespacial and the National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA) in five. Airbus Defense and Space España and Instalaza are involved in three each. Escribano Mechanical & Engineering, Integrasys, the Tecnalia Foundation, Tecnobit and Thales Programas participate in two consortia. Aragon’s Arpa is also part of two industrial clusters. In one of them – whose acronym is Nomads – it plays a leading role in the development of technologies for storing energy systems that can be used on the battlefield.
A consulting firm specializing in coordinating the skills of different companies and a university are notable for having managed to lead the three projects presented. Gerardo Sánchez Revenga, President of the Asociación de Empresas Contratistas con las Administraciones Públicas (AESMIDE), highlights the two achievements of Ghan, a small consulting company that for years has been responsible for the management of the clothing supplied by 13 companies to the Spanish army.
Gahn is coordinating the work of three other Spanish companies, two Italian companies and a Romanian company to develop the Mi Sharp project. which will seek to develop a new training pathway in helicopter tactics, techniques and procedures. In another initiative (Sholfeas), Gahn is leading the work of two other Spanish companies, two Italian companies and a Slovenian company to develop a new family of shoulder-fired man-portable missiles and rocket launchers, including their simulation equipment.
The University of Zaragoza, together with institutions from Germany, France, Italy and Slovenia, wants to launch the Enlighten project, which consists in realizing disruptive technologies for use in electro-optical detection devices that allow scenes behind obstacles to be visualized. The first wave of Brussels funding focuses on 15 areas. The lion’s share goes to the future next-generation combat system NCWS/FCAS, which is endowed with 189.8 million euros in funding due to its great relevance and towing effect.
The second area with the second largest funds is ground combat with 154.7 million euros. With four projects approved, one of them is Commands (24.84 million), led by Sener Aerospace. Santa Bárbara Sistemas, Indra and companies from Germany, Czech Republic, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden participate. The aim is to develop capabilities for intelligent and cooperative ground systems, both manned and unmanned.
Spend better together
Third place on the podium goes to three projects related to naval combat, for which 103.5 million euros are earmarked. Navantia is present in all and takes the lead in Edinaf, endowed with a budget of 29 million euros and dedicated to the development of the architecture of a digital ship and the standardization of its interfaces.
Indra, Aertec Solutions, the University of Coruña and 25 other companies from Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands are involved in Edinaf. Navantia also has a strong presence in the European corvette initiativecoordinated by the Italian shipyard Fincantieri, one of the partners of the Franco-Italian strategic partnership Naviris, which is also part of the project.
The fourth largest volume – 100 million euros – is for missiles and air defense. The only program approved for this area is headed by the Spanish company Sener Aeroespacial, which, together with the Spanish companies Escribano, GMV, Instalaza, coordinates the work of the major companies of the German Diehl, the Norwegian Nammo and the Swedish Ruag Space , INTA and Navantia.
In total, Projects in these four R&D areas accounted for 548 of the €1.167 billion, or almost half (46.96%) of the total approved funds. The other 11 areas supported by Brussels are Energy and Environment (82.8 million); information superiority (70 million); digital transformation (68.5 million); disruptive technologies (64.5 million).
The chapter is rounded off by the areas devoted to the development of medical responses to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons (57.8); space (49.4); mobility and protection (49.1); sensors (38); Internet (37.9); and materials and components allocated 34.6 million. A The last cross-sectional area is topic-free tenders for innovative and future-oriented defense solutions, for which 66.7 million euros were made available.
In the first call, 142 R&D projects were submitted by as many industrial consortia, but only 61 were selected, with French industry dominating. The second call for proposals started at the end of May and will end in December and is worth 924 million euros. For Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, European defense cooperation means that “we spend better together (…), regardless of the size of industries and states”.