WASHINGTON — European Union defense ministers this week approved new collaborative projects meant to boost the bloc’s military capabilities in air, space and drone operations.
The fourth wave of 14 initiatives boosts the slate of Permanent Structured Cooperation projects to 60 since late 2017. Collectively, they represent a key component of EU defense aspirations, though fielding any usable equipment as a result is still years away.
A new Strategic Air Transport for Outsized Cargo project aims to field a common aircraft fleet for long-haul cargo flights, filling a perennial shortage among European NATO members. The project, which is open for “possible third-state participation,” counts Germany, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands and Slovenia as its members.
The reference to so-called third states is a hint to non-EU countries — likely the United Kingdom or Norway — that they could play a role in the effort if they want. The idea is to identify a “common European solution for the transport of outsized cargo” by 2023, with a separate, follow-on project in 2026 to work toward actual equipment, according to a fact sheet published online by the European Defence Agency.
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