BRUSSELS, March 15 (UPI) -- As Europe continues to eye collaborative efforts on defense systems development, a multinational organization is helping point to the road ahead.
The European Defense Agency, an arm of the European Union, has produced an analysis of industries involved in land systems and identified specific priority areas for collaboration.
That collaboration on demonstrator programs, it said, result in key technologies and also strengthen Europe's defense technological and industrial base.
"The land defense industry is not only vital for ensuring key capabilities but also for growth and competitiveness in Europe," said EDA Chief Executive Claude-France Arnould.
Land defense industry activity in European Union states at present has an overall annual turnover worth about $22 billion. The majority of business involves the EU market. Exports to the non-EU market are worth about $6 billion.
More than 130,000 jobs are tied to the land defense sector, the report said.
The study -- officially named the "Future Land Systems Study" -- evaluated supply and demand. It found the land sector more fragmented than naval and air sectors of Europe's defense industry. Overlapping, redundant structures and short production runs, mainly at national level, was a major characteristic.
"In the current financial climate this model is no longer viable and Europe is in danger of losing key capabilities, skills and know-how," it said.
Noting that most of EU-member troops that are deployed are land forces, the EDA report underlined the need for better equipment and interoperability between the armed forces of member countries. It said increased cooperation, including pooling and sharing, "is more crucial than ever."
In explaining how it conducted its examination of the land system defense industry of the European Union, the agency said collated all available information on future military capability requirements. In parallel, a detailed stocktaking of the global land-related defense technological and industrial base was performed, followed by a gap-analysis.
Road maps for correcting the shortfalls identified were then produced. They cover the period up to the year 2030.
The agency said member states must launch collaborative research and technology programs demonstrator programs to address the gaps the agency pinpointed; and they must undertake common action on key enabling technologies and design methods.
"The FLS road map provides recommendations in areas with anticipated high impact on the supply chain, such as maintenance of skills and know-how," as well as recommendations more a more efficient manufacturers' supply chain to support pooling and sharing.
Recommendations to address the challenge of competition from Asia and Latin America were also given.
Meanwhile, the agency reported an example of collaboration in Europe's aerospace sector: an advanced sense-and-avoid capability for remotely piloted aircraft flying in non-segregated airspace will soon be demonstrated in France.
The demonstration is part of an EDA-sponsored technology development program that involves five countries and 13 companies.
EDA said the fully developed MIDCAS project collision avoidance demonstrator will be flown on a manned aircraft before this summer. In 2014, it will be flown in Sweden aboard an unmanned aircraft.
The countries participating in the project are France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
MIDCAS was started in 2009 and stresses the principle of standardization of support, systems engineering, functional design and tests and evaluation.