Enhanced logistics are a critical enabler in all operational domains of Member States’ Armed Forces. However, when it comes to logistics, Europe’s capability landscape is mainly a national responsibility. Consequently, capabilities landscape in logistics is neither coherent nor fully enabled to support effectively multinational high readiness operations or long-term operations and missions deployed.
In the context of CSDP missions and operations, the EU Military Committee (EUMC) has linked a total of thirteen identified Capability Codes and Statements (CCS) to the EU Capability Development Priority “Enhanced Logistics and Medical Supporting Capabilities”. The coexistence of heterogenous national logistic systems build around specific organisations and processes tailored to individual needs, as well as their isolated adaptation to technological innovations, are the biggest hurdles to overcome in order to increase the coherence of the European capability landscape across all planning horizons.
The 2018 EU Capability Development Plan revision identified four areas/actions to enhance logistics at European level thus to explore the benefits of cooperation with commercial logistic operators, to develop future generation logistic systems to streamline supply chain solutions, to develop procedures for renewable energy solutions and optimise the logistic footprint using Additive Manufacturing.
Besides these higher strategic approaches, EDA also works on identifying collaborative opportunities in logistics in order to address Member States’ various requirements and demands on strategic and operational level.
AM – ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING FOR LOGISTIC SUPPORT
In 2018, EDA delivered a feasibility study on Additive Manufacturing (AM) for logistics support. Its main conclusion was that defence is a highly procedural sector. The main AM revolution for Member States’ Ministries of Defence is logistical rather than technical. At this stage, AM has reached its objectives within the R&T framework at EDA. A new approach is now required to make of this technology a military capability under the umbrella of the Agency’s effort to enhance logistics support.
A capability demonstration of AM was organised during the Exercise Capable Logistician 2019 (CL19), in cooperation with France and Spain, to seek for MS’ interest and to initiate activities to move AM from the R&T to the capability development level. Therefore, a fully equipped AM container was deployed with the aim of testing and demonstrating AM in real military environment in the land domain
Based on this capability demonstration at CL19, EDA conducted, together with cMS, two Capability Workshops on AM to elaborate and define areas with potential to determine common standards, to foster cooperation and to ensure interoperability. Based on the Member States decision at the 11th Project Team Logistic Support Meeting (PT LS), EDA initiated to formalise the establishment of a dedicated Cat B Project on AM aiming to support cMS in their effort to introduce AM as a military capability in a collaborative manner.
2. AM activities within EDA
AM is handled differently by EDA participating Member States. Many of them are still at the R&T phase with their AM activities, whereas a few have already left the R&T domain and are about to investigate the potential AM implementation with conducting dedicated CD&E projects.
Within EDA, various AM related work strands have been established. Under the umbrella of the Research, Technology and Innovation Directorate (RTI), the following work strands are already operational or in the process of being established:
- The Additive Manufacturing of Metallic Auxetic Structures and Materials for Lightweight Armour (AMALIA) Cat B project: it aims at enhancing the performances of ballistic protections, via the implementation of a tailored structure based on auxetic structures and implemented through a specific alloy developed for ballistic application. This alloy will be tailored for additive manufacturing technology.
- The Additive Manufacturing Techniques for Energetic Materials (AMTEM) Cat B project: it aims at investigating and assessing appropriate materials and related AM production techniques, with a view to producing new types of warheads and propellants with enhanced performances, and to ensuring faster and cheaper production as well as rapid prototyping. The research project is also expected to help develop new munitions and missiles systems concepts, with increased operational performances, which will further strengthen the European industrial competitiveness.
- The Packaging and Cooling Advanced Technologies (PACKOOL) Cat B project: it aims at optimising the thermal management of the packaging, from chips to modules, boards and then to the housings and the external environment. It intends also to improve the performance of existing microsystems and miniaturised sensors via thermal control. Some thermal technologies will benefit from the emergence of Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) technologies.
The Agency’s Capability, Armament and Planning Directorate (CAP) has been working at the establishment of a dedicated Cat B Project Additive Manufacturing for Logistic Support (AMLS). The objective is to support cMS in their efforts to introduce AM as a military capability. Therefore, some areas have been identified where common standards are necessary to support the introduction and implementation. The areas are Technology, Logistic Processes, Legislation and Regulations, Training & Education, Procurement Procedures and Quality Management.
Additionally, EDA is conducting currently two out of three planned studies in context of AM a study on legal aspects effecting the usage of AM solutions for military purpose, a study on AM IT standards and the usage of a common database and finally a study for a common training and education concept to ensure interoperability.
On 12 / 13 October 2021 EDA supported the German DWT in its efforts to conduct the 1st European Military Additive Manufacturing Symposium. The two days event in Bonn/Germany welcomed more than 170 participants from various stakeholder such as military, research, academia and industry. This event offered the opportunity for all stakeholders to address requirements and to provide an update on the capability state of play and technical developments.
The European Capability Development Priorities, agreed upon in June 2018 as a result of the CDP revision, identified capability shortfalls in various domains, including Military Mobility, an area already partly addressed by the development of common European procedures for Reception, Staging, Onward Movement (RSOM). The Capability Development Priorities state that “EU Member States’ forces need the ability to coordinate and to enhance the performance of personnel involved in RSOM of material through measures such as augmented reality to monitor parts’ movement and exoskeletons to improve the speed of delivering equipment”.
In the Logistics domain, benefits from cooperation with commercial logistic operators must also be exploited. The CDP notes that “short-term experience as well as longer-term assessment confirms that EU Member States’ forces may need the ability to integrate commercial logistic operators and their systems into military operations. This logistic approach requires appropriate technical and organisational means in place in order to secure commercial systems against cyber or physical attack.”
Finally, next generation logistic IT systems have been identified as a field of action to streamline supply chains. The CDP states that “EU Member States’ forces will need to deploy scalable ‘plug-and-play’ logistic control systems to areas of operations where local airbases, ports or other logistic hubs systems may be damaged, destroyed, insecure or unavailable. The long-term analysis points out the possible leverage of commercial sector experience in optimising complex global supply chains.”
Analyses were carried out by EDA and solutions identified to overcome the above-mentioned capability shortfalls. It turned out that all three areas of interest are currently facing the same issue: low quality of communication and limited exchange of information within a commonly used IT-System.
Member States’ capabilities could be enhanced by following a short, medium and long-term approach as reflected in the Strategic Context Case on Enhanced Logistics (SSC EL). The short-term approach is aiming at:
- Mapping national and commercial logistic IT-systems with an additional view on Track & Trace (T&T) and Enterprise Resource Planning Software (ERP);
- Developing a concept for harmonising and standardising the current logistics IT-landscape;
- Developing a strategy on creating a common civilian-military logistics communication system network;
- Developing a concept to embed commercial logistics operators into the military logistics IT-Security networks.
To get an overview of the logistics IT Systems, with its specifications and capabilities, EDA launched a study on Logistic IT Systems. The study is aiming to provide a map of the currently used IT-Systems (including mission applications), the IT-specifications and capabilities, T&T capabilities, existing interfaces to other systems, data exchange standards, handling of classified data and IT-security standards. Finally, the study should provide recommendations to achieve the prescribed objectives. The study will cover both the military and the civilian area to explore cooperation with civil operators in this regard.
To assist the activity, EDA conducted three Workshops on LogITSys together with national experts on ERP Systems, T&T and RSOM procedures. Objective was to reach a common understanding on the requirement and to discuss and elaborate possible solutions, but also the way ahead for new initiatives.
PT LS – PROJECT TEAM LOGISTICS AND SUPPORT
The Project Team Logistics Support aims to serve as a platform between Member States, European Commission, EEAS/EUMS and in close coordination with NATO and relevant stakeholders, as appropriate to foster cooperation and identify collaborative opportunities. The PT LS facilitates a coordinated and overarching approach to all on-going and future activities in the logistics domain. For the Strategic Context Case driven logistic topics, the PT LS serves as the main forum to discuss those topics with cMS.
SoSP - Sharing of Spare Parts
In 2015, twelve Member States (NL, BE, CY, NO, SE, FR, SI, RO, PT, ES, FI and EL) signed the Project Arrangement of the Category B project Sharing of Spare Parts (SoSP). The total duration of this Project Arrangement will be 10 years. The objective of the SoSP project is to establish a multinational framework, involving agreed principles and procedures between all services of the Armed Forces of the contributing Member States, for the request and the provision of Mutual Logistics Support (MLS) in peacetime and during the execution of operations. The MLS focuses both on an unforeseen and temporary lack of common supplies, as well as on service support for standard or specific equipment. The mutually approved exchange of common supplies and services should be granted priority over any other request, provided that such exchange does not conflict with the respective national laws and regulations, national interests and their commitments under international law. This project is neither an absolute commitment of the Member States to provide the requested supply or service support, nor an absolute guarantee to receive the requested supply or service support. Prior approval of the involved Member States is always required before a specific exchange can be executed.
SoSP offers biannual meetings at expert level and annual meetings at decision-making level.