Summary: TBBs are 139 (at the last count) areas identified for R&T collaboration at EDA level. They fall into thematic areas covered by a Capability Technology Groups (CapTechs). Examples include Camouflage and Signature Management Technologies (CapTech Material), Underwater Communication Systems (CapTech Maritime), Multi-Robot Control and Cooperation (CapTech Navigation).
At stake: The list alone demonstrates the scale and scope of ambition for EDA output simply at R&T level. Each area will likely generate an interest at political level in Brussels to push for other forms of EU cooperation and integration in the given field.
What they say: “We can only be successful if Member States remain committed, also in the longer run, to pursue on a more collaborative and integrated way of planning, financing, developing, deploying and operating defence capabilities together” – Josep Borrell
Exposure: Likely in the future to be on ad hoc rolling basis. Current engagement is confusing, with the UK listed by the EDA as involved in 22 Key Capability Programmes – notably, equal first… Nor is it clear how many projects the UK has attempted to date to move into OCCAR structures.
Action: Cooperation can be highly beneficial, but if allowed to happen within EDA structures on any scale it will drag the UK institutionally into it. An EDA work strand has already been set up for George Osborne’s much-vaunted pet invention, entitled Graphene in Defence.Considerable clarity is needed in what has happened with UK engagement in those 22 projects. That extends to finding out what the intellectual property rights status is over UK work undertaken since 2016 (and if they were quietly surrendered by the May Government).