The Ocean 2020 consortium is made up of a stunning 42 entities coming from 15 countries. Could this type of project involving an unusually high number of industry stakeholders and Member States become a model for collaborative defence research in Europe?
We believe that OCEAN 2020 perfectly represents the spirit of a collaborative European project, in which Leonardo, thanks to its dynamism and its proactivity, found a correct way to proceed. This is an inclusive project involving many countries and bringing large, medium and small companies together with research institutes and end-users. It is a complex ecosystem and one of Leonardo’s strengths is managing complexity. This was the winning card.
OCEAN 2020 is an excellent model because it exemplifies the spirit of European projects which must unite industry in the context of a healthy competition. Leonardo has actually entered not just as project co-ordinator of OCEAN 2020 but also as an active participant, in the case of the Generic Open Soldier Systems Reference Architecture (GOSSRA) project.
Leonardo is part of the consortium developing a European MALE RPAS, currently in the second phase of the definition study. What are the biggest remaining stumbling blocks for this project which is scheduled to see the delivery of the first system in 2025?
The two-year definition study started in September 2016 and is being carried out jointly by Airbus Defence and Space, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo. Full development should start in 2019 with a prototype flying for the first time at the beginning of 2023 and the first delivery of the system in 2025.
I believe that the project will continue to proceed with speed and efficiency. It is an excellent example of European collaboration that will help us overcome our dependence on foreign systems. The real challenge, once the development is complete, will be to export the system to third countries, both inside and outside the EU. Indeed, the export policy for cooperative programmes is a priority issue for future collaborations.
France and Germany last year relaunched plans to jointly develop a European fighter jet which could overhaul the European fighter industry and its three competitors: Eurofighter, Rafale, Gripen. As a key member of the Eurofighter consortium, what is Leonardo’s take on this? Could this become one of Europe’s flagship collaborative programmes?
We are convinced that the European fighter industr y could better release its potential from the development of a cooperative-based programme. But it is up to governments to move in this direction. We, the industry, stand ready to contribute. In this context, the precedent of the Eurofighter Typhoon, which has recently seen great success in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, is an excellent example of what European collaboration can produce.
I believe that Leonardo has the necessary skills to contribute to the development of any future manned or unmanned system, thanks to our experience in providing platforms, avionics, mission systems, integration and armaments.
Leonardo is a leading company in the space sector and is involved in defence and navigation programmes such as EGNOS and Galileo. What is your assessment of the EU’s space strategy and of its defence implications?
The European space strategy is laying the groundwork for solid future growth in European space activity. The European industry has been called upon to contribute to the definition of the strategy, fully recognising its role as an impor tant stakeholder. We expect this to continue in the implementation phase of the strategy itself. Leonardo, which carries out a wide range of activities in the space sector, is a key player in Europe and we will be able to effectively grasp the opportunities offered by the development of the space economy and by new technological trends. We are also primed to take advantage of new business models that are emerging in private spaceflight, an industry called ‘NewSpace’.
The protection of space assets, from satellites to orbital space stations, is also a priority issue, one where we as industry can make a very important contribution.
Leonardo, as an international group, has a leading role in the European Commission’s Galileo and Copernicus Space programmes. Through Spaceopal , a joint venture between Telespazio and the German Space Agency, Leonardo is responsible for managing the entire Galileo system and its performance, including providing some of the constellation’s cutting-edge technologies. We also provide essential support for Copernicus in the development of satellites, on-board systems and operations and also in the various applications of the programme.
Considering that space is one of the sectors in which military capabilities play a major role, it is clear that Europe must develop, maintain and improve its capabilities in both space-based and dual-use systems built specifically for defence. We should consider sectors such as communication, earth-observation, protection for space-based infrastructure and terrestrial counterparts, intelligence gathering and early-warning. In this framework, some capabilities will be developed at national level and then shared, while others will be developed at European level.