The NewsFeed is a press review with a summary of a selection of articles and events that occurred in the past 2 weeks. Keep track!
In our brief of the last weeks, you will find a focus on the Quirinal Treaty between Italy and France, news on Strategic Compass and PESCO going forward, orientations from the new German coalition, and much more!
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Focus: The Quirinal Treaty between Italy and France
Italy and France sign a historic Treaty for a “reinforced cooperation”
On November 26th, Italy and France signed a “Treaty for an reinforced bilateral cooperation”, also called the Quirinal Treaty, after the presidential residence in Rome. This represents a rare initiative, as for France the only other of the kind was the Elysée Treaty with Germany in 1963, named after the French presidential residence.
Italy and France already cooperate on many levels in defence and security: in their maritime industry, with a joint-venture between Naval Group and Fincantieri, in space with Alenia-Fidus satellites, in projects such as the Eurodrone, the NH90, as well as on the operational level with the European Intervention Initiative or the Takuba Task-Force in Sahel.
The Treaty covers domains such as innovation, sustainable development, education and universities, among others. On defence and security, seven key measures are identified to strengthen the existing cooperation between both countries, detailed in a roadmap joint with the Treaty:
- Both parties will reinforce their cooperation in their existing common international framework: NATO, with its mutual assistance 5th article, the EU and the European Intervention Initiative
- They will intensify their coordination and cooperation on issues tackled within NATO or the EU, with bilateral encounters in a new Defence and Security French-Italian Council. It will mainly focus on the fight against terrorism, maritime security, armament control, hybrid threat, or disinformation.
- They will develop their cooperation for the reinforcement of “mutual interest capacities”, in the conception, development, production and support phases of their equipment, with a Senior Armaments Experts Group
- They will promote structural alliances between their industries, and facilitate bilateral or multilateral cooperation projects, for specific needs or in the frame of PESCO
- They will improve their ability to operate together in space, for defence and security purposes, and participate in the development of a common strategic culture in this area, through the signing of a bilateral intention letter
- They will reinforce the exchanges of military personnel, as well as education in the defence and security domain
- Both parties commit to facilitate transits and stations of armed forces in each other’s territory
Italy’s air force chief says FCAS and Tempest will “naturally” merge
On the very structuring area of combat jets programmes, Europe is currently divided in two teams: on one hand, the FCAS team, with France, Germany and Spain collaborating on this Future Combat Air System together, with Airbus and Dassault as main industrial partners. On the other hand, the Tempest team, gathering the United Kingdom, Italy and Sweden for a sixth-generation aircraft whose main industrial manufacturer is BAE Systems. Both are ongoing independently from one another.
However, the Italian Air Force Chief, General Luca Goretti, said in a public speech that “it was natural that these two realities will merge into one, because investing huge financial resources in two equivalent programmes is unthinkable.” This could occur after the current initial period where it is normal for both parties to assess options on technology.
He also gave some insights on the difficulties that this road could face, as he justified Italy’s choice for Tempest by the feeling that Italy could play a bigger role than in FCAS.
Original article: 🇬🇧
A Swiss commission opens an inquiry on the F35 acquisition process
Switzerland announced last June 30th its selection of the Lockheed Martin F35 fighter jet to replace its military air component, among the Dassault Rafale, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet et the Eurofighter Typhoon. However, severe national critics have emerged on the acquisition process, with suspicion of an American political influence. To investigate these rumours, the Management Commission of the National Council, one of the Swiss Parliament’s chambers, decided to open an investigation. It will focus on the evaluation method of the aircrafts, the allegations of destroyed documents by Armasuisse, the Federal Office for Defence Procurement, and whether political moves from the manufacturing country have been taken into account.
Original article: 🇫🇷
Croatia becomes the sixth Dassault Rafale’s client, and the second European
During a visit of President Emmanuel Macron in Croatia, the first for a French president since the country’s independence, he and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković officially signed contracts for the purchase of 12 second-hand Dassault Rafale fighter jets. Both declared that this bilateral relationship, first announced in May, was contributing to and would strengthen the European Defence.
Original article: 🇫🇷
European Union military cooperation and external operations
Six countries join in a high-intensity maritime exercise
Six countries are joining from November 18th to December 3rd in the French-led POLARIS exercise, focused on high-intensity and all-spectrum maritime combat.
Almost half of the French fleet and up to 6000 troops are engaged in the manoeuvres in the Mediterranean Sea, alongside two American and Spanish vessels, and one from Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
This is one of the biggest operational preparation exercises the French Navy has ever conducted, with 24 ships and 65 aircrafts, including the French aircraft carrier. On one hand, it aims to cover high-intensity combat, which means entering the fight against a symmetric opponent with an equivalent fleet. On the other hand, it will cover all the aspects of a conflict: military, but also diplomacy, space, cyberspace, intelligence, information, … The loss of a satellite, asymmetric aggression, or electromagnetic jamming will be played to evaluate the force’s resilience. The French Navy hopes to obtain tactical and technical innovations to address future conflicts, and to gain experience in taking the lead in a multinational coalition.
The three-parties German coalition publishes its coalition agreement
After first guidelines, the SDP, the FPD and the Greens, forming the coalition that will succeed the CSU-SPD alliance, published their final government programme.
On defence and security, that were not key topics during the campaign, the group has taken remarked position on three main areas:
- The 2% GDP target for defence and military spending is not mentioned in the paper ; however, an overall budget of 3% GDP for development, diplomacy and defence is mentioned, which is a global increase. The share that will be devoted to the Bundeswehr equipment and military operations is not detailed.
- On nuclear deterrence, two directions are given: on one hand, Germany aims to enter the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) as an observer. The Treaty, rejected by NATO, could require Germany to leave NATO nuclear plans. On the other hand, the coalition calls for the nuclear-capable replacement of the Tornado, that will soon retire from service, and says Germany has interest in continuing to participate in nuclear plans’ “strategic discussions and planning processes”
- On foreign affairs, the position on China is tougher, whereas Russia is not identified as a threat, and the coalition admits a “different threat perception” among “partners” in Central and Eastern Europe.
NATO nuclear weapons could be deployed in Eastern countries if Germany withdraws
Answering questions during the conference of the German Atlantic Union and Federal Academy of Security Policy, Jen Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary General, suggested the NATO nuclear weapons could be deployed in Eastern countries if Germany were to refuse their deployment on its soil. Indeed, the new political coalition that won the federal election last September may not be willing to continue welcoming nuclear weapons for shared NATO deterrence. For Mr. Stoltenberg, nuclear deterrence is necessary as other countries have nuclear weapons, and it should be a shared duty, as it is a multilateral arrangement between the Allies. And whereas he expects Germany to “continue to be a part of nuclear sharing”, he added that the “alternative is that we easily end up with nuclear weapons in other countries in Europe, also to the east of Germany”.
Original article: 🇬🇧
A 4th batch of 14 PESCO projects has been approved by the EU Council on November 16th
PESCO is a disposition of the CSDP aimed at managing and financing new collaborative projects between Member States and possibly Third States. This framework was agreed by the EU Council in December 2017 following the 2016 EU Global Strategy, and the process is managed by the European Defence Agency (EDA). It focuses on both the capabilities’ and operational aspects, and complements the two other main EU defence initiatives: the European Defence Fund, that can contribute to some projects financially, and the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) that identifies opportunities for collaboration and capacity development.
In addition to the ongoing 46 projects, 14 new ones have been approved by the EU Council: 6 related to the air domain, 3 to the ground area, 2 to the space and the cyber domains, and one for the maritime area.
Four main projects are highlighted :
- The Strategic Air Transport for Outsized Cargo (SATOC), which aims to fill the critical shortfall for strategic transport for outsized and heavy cargo.
- The Medium-size Semi-Autonomous Surface Vehicle (M-SASV), a medium size (250-500 tons) semi-autonomous land vehicle, for ISR, ASuW, ASM and Naval Mine Warfare.
- The Next Generation Small RPAS (NGSR), a small (150Kg) highly deployable, multi-purpose and multi-role tactical RPAS.
- The Defence of Space Assets (DoSA), defining technologies and identifying common operational needs to defend space assets.
Official presentation of the Strategic Compass
Following the EU Council of Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers on November 16th, around the HR for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, he delivered the main points of the Strategic Compass documented that was presented, the policy paper for the next decade of European Defence and international guidelines.
The first part of the work has been to identify the threats and challenges Europe faces, where the difference between war and peace has been constantly diminishing and hybrid actions have risen. Second, responses to them have been identified, with four dimensions to the compass: to act, to secure, to invest and to partner.
- To act, more rapidly and decisively to crisis. The document proposes a European Union Rapid Deployment Capacity, to deploy up to 5000 troops, with predefined operational scenarios for their use and appropriate joint training.
- To secure, to strengthen the overall resilience of the Union and its capacity to protect against cyber-attacks and hybrid threats. It proposes a Hybrid Toolbox to coordinate the responses to hybrid campaigns. On cyber, it calls for a European Union Cyber Defence Policy and Space Strategy, both civilian and military.
- To invest, to have the capacities to act. Critical capability shortfalls have been identified within the Strategic Compass. Innovation and industrial capabilities development will be supported to that end.
- To partner, mainly with NATO. According to Mr. Borrell, the Strategic Compass is a way of making NATO stronger by making the EU stronger. But both are only complementary and not identical, and therefore the EU should have its own capacities to use alone, if necessary.
The Ministers broadly supported the approach, and agreed to work on its adoption by March 2022. Before then, 2 additional drafts will be presented to the Council, with the inputs of working groups.
Original article: 🇬🇧