This has been true since time immemorial. What has changed, however, is that defence innovation and disruption no longer primarily stem from military labs, but from the usage the Armed Forces make of civil applications and services developed and marketed by private high-tech companies. Hence the need for Ministries of Defence to team up with today’s civil movers and shakers of tech innovation to ensure EU Member States’ Armed Forces can maintain military superiority over Europe’s potential adversaries.

In the following pages, we assess the most promising and disruptive tech trends for defence and look at how a sample of EU Member States - France, the Netherlands and Estonia - tackle the defence innovation challenge. With the help of a defence innovation expert from the Armament Industry European Research Group, we also analyse Europe-wide trends and hear from industry how innovation impacts defence capability development and production cycles.

Foresight and incentives are crucial for supporting innovation, similarly in the defence domain. This year’s EDA Tech Foresight exercise and the Agency’s Defence Innovation Prize contest, both presented in this magazine cover story, are testament to that.

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Driven by global threats, shaped by civil high-tech