We live in a world of increasing threats and instability. How we counter these — from cyber-attacks to full-blown military strikes — is rapidly evolving and requires the most advanced and integrated defence capabilities.
New technologies and cyber-terrorism, sponsored by state and nonstate actors, are now as much a fundamental part of our adversaries’ toolbox as disinformation campaigns and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Now more than ever, Europe needs to collaborate within the region and across the Atlantic to ensure it secures and/or creates the most advanced solutions.
Maintaining and expanding interoperability into European strategic culture, avoiding duplication and promoting complementary solutions are key to a cohesive Nato-wide security environment.
Defence and foreign ministers representing Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland emphasised this very point in a joint statement on the eve of Trident Juncture, Nato’s biggest exercise in recent years.
The Ministers underlined that we live in an “unpredictable and uncertain time” and that the aforementioned measures “are actively used to create divisions between people in Europe as well as in the United States, which in turn challenges democratic institutions and our ability to reach common conclusions.”
Other emerging technologies that complement the traditional military arsenal include the use of big data, artificial intelligence and cyber tactics. In addition, both Russia and China are developing hypersonic weapon technology, including nuclear-capable missiles systems.
These technologies in particular pose new challenges for Nato’s air defence systems: they are specifically designed to counter/offset ballistic missile defence systems and are difficult to find, track, and neutralise.
"Ensuring that Europe’s defence is the most technologically advanced and operationally capable requires two key strategies, Smart Investment and Cooperation"
Such developments demonstrate that Europe needs to constantly step up its state of readiness and adapt its defensive capabilities. Ensuring that Europe’s defence is the most technologically advanced and operationally capable requires two key strategies, Smart Investment and Cooperation.
The renewed pledge by Nato allies at this summer’s Brussels Summit to spend at least two percent of gross domestic product on defence is an important step forward and demonstrates that defence capabilities have moved up the political agenda.
Equally important to increased funding, nations must coordinate investment strategies to ensure complementary, not duplicative, capabilities.
Smart investments improve interoperability, which increase operational output and effectiveness, help distribute future investment and maintenance costs, enable joint training exercises and procurement strategies, reduce response times in crisis, and help foster a more cohesive strategic culture.
Industry on both sides of the Atlantic can actively help in the assessment, planning and execution of these strategies.
As Nato and European militaries build up their capabilities to address emerging, advanced peer threats, it is clear that defence cooperation is more essential than ever. Training together and integrating capabilities is central to improving the readiness of Europe’s defence.
"As Nato and European militaries build up their capabilities to address emerging, advanced peer threats, it is clear that defence cooperation is more essential than ever"
Exercise Trident Juncture is a great example of the efforts being made by the Allies to achieve this objective. For the defence industry, cooperation is the key to driving innovation.
Companies such as Raytheon, UTC, and Boeing have a long history of fostering cooperation within NATO and allied countries. This means state-of-the art defence technology is readily available and operational.
Our cooperation with European partners, especially small and medium enterprises, also promotes knowledge exchanges and efficiencies in R&D. The capabilities we provide are fit for purpose to face the latest threats.
For instance, we are developing the SM3 Block IIA system, which defeats missile threats outside the earth’s atmosphere, to be deployed on the Aegis Ashore land-based missile defence stations in Romania and Poland. The system was successfully tested at the end of October and will continue to be perfected before deployment.
Another example — the Patriot air and missile defence system — is deployed across Europe with countries such as Poland contributing to its continued innovation.
Today’s Nato is the most technologically advanced alliance in history, without parallel in the world. Transatlantic industrial cooperation is central in helping European countries to maintain their technological edge and build operational defence capabilities that are adapted to meet both traditional and new threats.
This cooperation has been at the cornerstone of European defence for decades. As the European Union continues to develop its defence programme, we look forward to continuing this cooperation with our partners.