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  Mardi 11 Décembre 2018  
 

Deuxième trimestre 2018

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OCCAR plays a key role in European Defence

By Major General Arturo ALFONSO-MEIRIÑO,
Executive Director of the Joint Armaments Cooperation Organisation (OCCAR)

In the long process towards a potential consolidation of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the European Union (EU), the recent years, especially after the European Council in December 2013, have been particularly decisive. The year 2017 confirmed, once again, that the leaders of the EU, supported by the Heads of State and Government in the meetings of the Council, have the clear objective not only of continuing to develop the CSDP, but also to use it as an element of cohesion of the Union at critical moments.
In the last decade, the economic crisis has negatively impacted in the defence budgets of the European Member States and we have seen a general lack of opportunities in terms of new major defence programmes, including a lack of European collaborative programmes. I believe the tide is now turning. Increasing defence budgets with the commitment to reach a 2% of the GDP in defence in the next decade made in the NATO environment as well as the announcements made by some EU Member States of new defence investment cycles and the European Commission (EC) initiatives derived from the European Defence Action Plan (EDAP) and its European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) and finally the launching of a Permanent Structured Cooperation in 2017, will undoubtedly mark the European defense panorama in 2018.
The year 2018 is therefore presented with an agenda full of relevant events in the long process towards the consolidation of the PCSD, specifically with the implementation of the Preparatory Action for Defence Research, the approval of the rules of the game for its equivalent in the capability window, the EDIDP, or notably with the integration of Security and Defence budget into the Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU Commission for the first time in the more than sixty years of history of the Union. 
And the year 2018 is also the year in which the Joint Armaments Cooperation Organisation (OCCAR), that I am honoured to lead, celebrates the 20th anniversary of the signing of its Convention.
The OCCAR Convention, based on the Baden-Baden Principles of 1995, has the specific vision of promoting cooperation in armaments, improving efficiency and reducing costs, in order to become a center of European excellence in the management of complex armaments programmes. With a clear European vocation referenced in its preamble and articles, one of its missions, assigned by the founding fathers, is to support the European Identity of Security and Defense, as well as the strengthening of its Technological and Industrial Base.
This vocation is reflected in its current portfolio of 13 complex programs for the acquisition of defence capabilities, with an economic value of more than 60 billion euros, as well as the fact that up to 13 nations participate in it, with the potential to increase in number in the near future. These 13 nations are the six countries that are Member States of the Organisation plus seven other countries that, without being Member States (MS), are Participating States (PS) in various OCCAR programmes. This is a unique feature of OCCAR: non Member States can participate in a Programme with exactly the same rights and obligations as any OCCAR MS that also participates. Besides, OCCAR can integrate even non European member states: such is the case of Turkey that participates in the A400M Programme. OCCAR can even manage armaments cooperative programmes with only non-MS of OCCAR - the Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) is a good example of this. The Netherlands and Luxembourg started the programme, which was later joined by Germany, Norway and more recently Belgium.
I believe that we are, given the recent developments in the European defence scenario, at the verge of launching more European armaments programmes, and what is more important, cooperative programmes.
OCCAR, being an Organisation for the management of complex defence cooperative programmes with seventeen years of experience in applying best practices and best tools for the management of armaments procurement in cooperation, is well placed to support this process. We know that cooperation is not always easy: harmonisation of requirements, involvement of different decision makers (nations) and different processes and timelines in terms of budgets or capability planning are a hindrance to cooperation. But OCCAR unique features can support overcoming them.
The authority and responsibility for managing a Programme is entrusted to the Programme Manager (PM) by delegation of the Director. Therefore, the PM, with the support of a multidisciplinary Division, with all the necessary functions for the management of the programme, can work autonomously and is directly responsible to the Director in the effective and efficient management of his Programme.
In addition, the Central Office (CO) supports the OCCAR Programmes through the provision of services (Human Resources, Finance, Security, ICT, Site Administration, etc.) and is the Director’s tool for the corporate management and governance of the organisation.
The defined roles of the OCCAR Programme Boards and Programme Committees give the Participating States, as customers, total transparency and control over their respective programmes.
The legal framework of the OCCAR (Convention, OCCAR Management Procedures (OMPs), the Programme Decision and the Letter of Offer / Letter of Acceptance (LoO / LoA) for non-member states) has proven its strength, as it protects joint and individual interests of OCCAR, their MS and those of non-member PSs.
With regard to current programmes managed by OCCARs, my Board of Supervisors as well as myself, believe in the role OCCAR can play in the development of military capabilities that are necessary to achieve the European Strategic autonomy. Initiatives such as the next generation of governmental satellite communications , cyber, the Air to Air Refuelling or the Remoted Piloted Aircraft Systems were identified as critical European Defence shortfalls by the European Defence Agency. And precisely the last two programmes are part of OCCAR’s portfolio.
The European Medium Altitude Long Endurance Programme, MALE RPAS, was integrated in OCCAR in 2016 in only 10 months, despite being a very complex programme with the participation of 4 nations, DE, FR, IT and ES. Currently the programme is in its definition phase. The next stage of the programme which comprises development, production and initial in-service support, is intended to commence during fourth quarter 2019. To ensure this ambitious goal OCCAR is currently preparing an invitation to tender. The first flight is planned early 2024 and the delivery to the nations is planned for 2025.
At the level of main contractor, the programme counts with Airbus Defense and Space Gmbh, and at the level of Major Subcontractors with Airbus Defence and Space S.A.U, Leonardo and Dassault Aviation, but will undoubtedly involve a broad spectrum of European small and medium-sized companies for future phases. I believe this programme is particularly ripe to be chosen as one of the projects of the EDIDP.
I would also like to mention another OCCAR programme, the European Software Define Radio (ESSOR) Programme, one of the Permanent Structure Cooperation projects. ESSOR is a small programme in terms of Operational Budget (50MÄ) where 5 nations (soon to be 6) are cooperating, and with the potential to incorporate many more. 
The ESSOR Programme launched by Finland, France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden is managed by OCCAR since its definition in 2008 and its first phase successfully ended in 2015. In November 2016, a field demonstration was held in Finland where, for the first time worldwide radio platforms, independently developed within different national programmes by three contractors, were able to seamlessly interoperate on the field, in a realistic operational scenario. So now the ESSOR product is at the same time mature and continuously improving.
Motivated by the success of the first phase, Finland, France, Italy, Poland, and Spain decided to pursue further the development of the ESSOR High Definition Radio Wave Form to Operational Capability 1 (OC1), enhancing it with new features and functionalities. 
Other than the operational benefit, with the ESSOR programme the states are experimenting an advanced process to co-operate effectively in the defence field. In addition, their national programmes in the SDR field do feed ESSOR and are impacted by it. This model is attracting other important European players. For the involved industries, there is an undoubtable opportunity to expand their knowledge of software-intensive, real time defence software development.
OCCAR vision is to be a centre of excellence, and first choice in Europe, for cooperative defence equipment programmes on a Through Life Management basis. This, together with the level of expertise reached by OCCAR during its seventeen years of existence, makes me believe that OCCAR will play an important role in the context of the European Defence scenario, including but not only the EDF framework, and in particular in the area of the capability developments.  


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