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The European Union is pondering an EU Commission proposal to acquire a fleet of surveillance drones, satellites, and planes as part of an “ambitious action” to boost the European defense industry. It follows revelations of the NSA’s spying programs.
According to RT, the European Commission has issued a 17-page report, proposing some concrete steps that would encourage pan-European defense cooperation.
“Maintaining and developing defense capabilities to meet current and future challenges in spite of severe budget constraints will only be possible if far-reaching political and structural reforms are made. The time has come to take ambitious action,” the commission’s report said.
One of the actions suggested in the report is funding a pre-commercial procurement scheme to acquire prototypes of some technologies – including drones.
The full list of technology candidates includes equipment to detect chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives threats (CBRNE), “communication equipment based on software defined radio technology,” and remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), otherwise known as drones.
The drones are also proposed to be used in conjunction with other surveillance technologies, including aircraft and satellites.
Lamenting the absence of a structural link between civil and military space activities in the EU and saying that Europe “can no longer afford” the economic and political cost of such a divide, the Commission focused on several technologies that are said to be able to serve both civilian and defense objectives.
These include space surveillance and tracking (SST), which are said to be aimed at protecting satellites from space debris, boosting satellite communications (SATCOM), and building a pan-EU cutting-edge satellite surveillance capability.
The report said it is “crucial” for a number of technologies to be explored and developed in the EU, including “hyper-spectral, high resolution satellites in geostationary orbit or advanced ultra-high resolution satellites in combination with new sensor platforms such as RPAS.”
The Commission has yet to estimate to what extent the proposed moves are useful for EU security. Based on the assessment, it will “come up with a proposal for which capability needs, if any, could best be fulfilled by assets directly purchased, owned and operated by the [European] Union.”