...more R&T investments needed
However, all forecasts in the study are not entirely rosy. The study also warns that some threats stemming from non-European competitors are on the horizon such as fierce price competition from non-EU countries, especially China, South Korea and Russia. Countries which very actively support their naval industries “as an act both of foreign and industrial policy”.
According to the study, the best way to counter this threat is by maintaining Europe’s technolog-ical lead at the Prime/System Integrators level as well as across the full supply chain “through increased, more supported, more coordinated and more focused investments in Research, De-velopment and Innovation (RDI) at national and European level”. In order to increase intra-EU cooperation in the naval defence and security domain, a dedicated area for naval related re-search should be secured within the next multi-annual Framework for Research, Development and Innovation starting in 2021, the study recommends: “This is essential to the long-term sus-tainability of the European naval industry”.
The European Commission’s upcoming Preparatory Action (PA) on defence-related research and the Defence Action Plan (scheduled for later this year) could also play a key role as political frameworks to increase the resources devoted to defence research activities, including in the naval domain, the study concludes. “Here, a distinct role of overall coordinator is foreseen and advocated for the EDA”, it says. The study also pleads for a regular exchange of ideas between the EDA and the major players in the naval shipbuilding sector in order to better coordinate and integrate the objectives of the future R&T programmes in this field.
Finally, the study has also led to a list of technologies considered of “primary importance” both to maintain the European competitiveness and technological lead and to ensure the required level of operational superiority. In total 13 high priority topics and 4 new items were identified.
The high priority list includes surface technologies topics (virtual ships, simulation, mainte-nance, oceanography, environmental protection, supply & support), subsea technologies (hydro-dynamics and UxV integration, modularity, UxV integration, vulnerability reduction, propulsor) as well as services and transversal technologies (uninhabited systems, propulsor & propellers).
The identified new R&T topics to be focussed on in the future are 3D printing, high capacity bat-teries, augmented reality and drones.