Latest news

14 New PESCO Projects Launched in Boost for European Defence Cooperation

7 minutes

Today, the Council has adopted a new wave of joint projects within the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) framework, which aims to deepen defence cooperation between Member States. 14 new projects are contained within this fourth wave, taking the total number of projects launched under PESCO to 60. Within today’s package, six are in the air domain, including the development of a European solution for the strategic transport of outsized cargo and a small highly deployable, multi-purpose Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). A total of 21 EU Member States are participating in projects in this wave.


The 14 projects launched in the fourth wave cover five military domains: land (2), maritime (2), air (6), cyber/C4ISR (2) and space (2). Projects range from the development of new military capabilities and the identification of future needs in areas such as air power and maritime surface escort, to enhancing the exchange of classified governmental imagery and joint training for main battle tanks. Projects to be taken forward will help increase the coherence of the European capability landscape and deliver operational benefits on the ground.

The PESCO projects adopted today by the Council also include:

  • Strategic Air Transport for Outsized Cargo

    The 5-nation project Strategic Air Transport for Outsized Cargo (SATOC) aims to fill the critical shortfall for strategic transport for outsized and heavy cargo, a crucial enabler for military missions and operations. SATOC involves a gradual 3-step approach, firstly by identifying a sufficient number of project members – with possible third state participation, harmonising requirements and finally identifying and agreeing on a common European solution for the transport of outsized cargo.

    The five participating nations are: Germany, Czechia, France, Netherlands, Slovenia.  An initial project timeline for the collection and harmonisation of requirements will run until 2023 with a possible agreement on a European solution and a follow-on project foreseen in 2026.

  • Medium size Semi-Autonomous Surface Vehicle

    The 3-nation project, Medium size Semi-Autonomous Surface Vehicle (M-SASV) will develop a medium size (250-500 tons) semi-autonomous surface vehicle with multiple mission modules, such as Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR), Anti-submarine warfare, Anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and Naval Mine Warfare (NMW).

    The M-SASV platform will be developed following a manned (when needed) and unmanned (when possible) approach, and will provide increased operational flexibility and crew protection. The design for M-SASV will focus on littoral operations, however the platform will be also deployable as part of naval task groups.

    The participating three nations are: Estonia, France, Latvia. The Initial Capability Requirements have already been drafted and industry partners are working to establish a consortium.

  • Next Generation Small RPAS

    The 4-nation project Next Generation Small RPAS (NGSR) aims to develop a small (150Kg) highly deployable, multi-purpose and multi-role tactical RPAS.  The system will be able to deploy, take off, land and operate in a tactical environment without need for a runway. The multi-purpose/multi-role aspect of the system will provide tactical commanders a wide multiplicity of tools in both the maritime and air domain.  

    NGSR will also have potential as a dual use system, namely for law enforcement and disaster/emergency agencies. This project also aims to reduce the radar, acoustic and infrared signature of small UAS. NGSR will also provide an additional European tactical RPAS as less than half of the platforms currently in service were manufactured in Europe.

    The four participating nations are: Spain, Germany, Portugal, Slovenia. An initial project timeline for ideation and incubation will run until 2023, followed by systems integration and interoperability tests in 2024 and 2025, finally aiming to deliver a first prototype in 2026.

  • Defence of Space Assets

The 6-nation project Defence of Space Assets (DoSA) aims to increase the EU’s operational efficiency in the space domain by making the best use of current and future space assets. Its main objectives include defining which technologies and identifying common operational needs will be needed tomorrow to defend space assets. DoSA involves a 3-step approach combining training for space military operations, space resilience and access to space and in-space manoeuvrability.

The six participating nations are: France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Austria. An initial project timeline includes identifying a set of technological priorities and/or capabilities and a first joint exercise in 2022. Further specifications including a common concept of operations (CONOPS) a feasibility studies will be developed through 2024 and 2024 with a final proposition for future systems expected in 2026.

EDA Chief Executive, Jiří Šedivý said: “The launch of the fourth wave of PESCO projects is an important milestone for European defence cooperation. These new 14 projects invigorate the PESCO process which along with the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and the European Defence Fund (EDF) are now beginning to create indispensable synergies for Member States to develop effective and cost-efficient capabilities together. I am proud of the work the PESCO Secretariat has done to bring this fourth wave to the table, in particular EDA’s contribution in carrying out the capability assessment of projects. EDA has already provided support to eight PESCO projects stands ready to support its Member States going forward.


The development and lifecycles of military capabilities are undertaken with a long-term perspective. Each PESCO project has its own timeline, with the first projects already delivering concrete results and more projects planned to deliver results before the end of the next PESCO phase in 2025.

47 PESCO projects were approved in the first three waves covering all military domains. With work ongoing since their launch, it can be expected that between 24 to 26 out of the 46 ongoing projects will reach an initial operational capability around 2025.

Projects in areas such as training and simulation technologies can be developed quicker and may see results relatively early especially in the next three to five years. The successful implementation of the EUs Cyber Rapid Response Teams (CRRTs) project underscores how project timelines vary across domains.

Capability projects involving the harmonisation of requirements, development of complex prototypes with the involvement of industrial consortia will be delivered via a longer timeline. Larger capability projects have nevertheless taken smaller but significant steps forward such as the European Patrol Corvette, while some projects such a military mobility have also seen third counties invited to join.

60 projects now launched within the PESCO framework provides a boost to European defence cooperation. Many of the projects undertaken within PESCO will enhance the EU’s capacity as a security actor, contribute to the protection of the EU citizens, while maximising the effectiveness of defence spending.


The key difference between PESCO and other forms of cooperation is the legally binding nature of its 20 binding commitments undertaken by participating Member States. These include, increasing defence spending, planning and developing defence capabilities together with other members, whenever possible and improving the interoperability and joint use of existing capabilities.

As part of these commitments, Members States will ensure that the cooperation programmes and the acquisition strategies adopted by the participating Member States will have a positive impact on the EU's Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB).


On 11 December 2017, the Council adopted a decision establishing Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). PESCO enables participating EU member states to work more closely together in the area of security and defence. This permanent framework for defence cooperation allows willing and able member states to develop jointly defence capabilities, invest in shared projects, and enhance the operational readiness and contribution of their armed forces.

An initial list of 17 projects to be developed under PESCO was adopted by the Council on 6 March 2018. A second batch of 17 projects to be developed under PESCO was adopted by the Council on 19 November 2018. And finally, a third batch of 13 additional projects to be developed under PESCO was adopted by the Council on 12 November 2019. One PESCO project from the first batch has been officially closed by its project members.

Each of the projects is carried forward by varying group of PESCO participating Member States (project members) and is coordinated by one or more PESCO participating Member States (project coordinators). The project members may agree among themselves to allow other participating Member States to join as a project member or to become observer to the project.

The 25 member states participating in PESCO are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.