Two major collaborative defence research (R&T) projects, launched under the European Commission’s Preparatory Acton on Defence Research (PADR) and implemented by the European Defence Agency (EDA), came to a close end of October. The results of both projects - OCEAN 2020 and VESTLIFE – will contribute significantly to enhancing European Member States’ defence capabilities in two important domains: maritime situational awareness and soldier protection.
The OCEAN 2020 (Open Cooperation for European mAritime awareNess) project, launched in 2018 and co-funded by the EU with €35.48 million, achieved its main objective which was to demonstrate enhanced situational awareness in a maritime environment through the integration of legacy and new technologies for unmanned systems, ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, reconnaissance) payloads and effectors, by pulling together the technical specialists in the maritime domain covering the ‘observing, orienting, deciding and acting’ operational tasks. As the biggest of all PADR projects with no less than 43 entities from 15 European countries involved, OCEAN 2020 also successfully addressed the problems of integrating EU systems and individual organisations into a coherent framework to increase cost effectiveness and interoperability for joint missions. The variety of assets involved in the project highlighted how a global integration of multi-domain unmanned systems in an operational task force can provide a force multiplier.
The project implementation culminated in two major demonstrations in the Mediterranean (November 2019) and Baltic seas (2021). All in all, the OCEAN 2020 confirmed the EU’s ability to lead innovation in support of Europe’s strategic autonomy in the maritime domain.
Information on the OCEAN 2020 consortium (led by Leonardo) and its 43 members can be found on the dedicated OCEAN2020 website.
The second project now accomplished, called VESTLIFE, was signed in April 2018 and granted an EU grant of €2.43 million to develop an ultralight modular bullet proof integral solution for dismounted soldier protection, including a CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological Nuclear) detection system. The new protective gear provides an increased coverage area whilst maintaining comfort, plus a weight reduction of the ballistic panels. It therefore ensures an optimum balance between protection and comfort, tailoring such a protective surface to the forecasted mission risk. The protection system developed in this project consists of soft panels and hard plates.
The VESTLIFE consortium Led by AITEX (Spain), also encompassed 5 other participants from 5 countries: CITEVE (Portugal), Brapa Consultancy (the Netherlands), TECNALIA (Spain), Petroceramics (Italy) and FYComposites (Finland).