M3A Multinational Maritime Multi-Mission Aircraft Capabilities
On 29 June 2017, six NATO Allies announced their readiness to work together in developing and fielding follow-on solutions for their existing maritime anti-submarine and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. At a ceremony in Brussels, Defence Ministers from France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey signed a Letter of Intent on “Cooperation on Multinational Maritime Multi Mission Aircraft Capabilities.” This Maritime Multi Mission Aircraft (M3A) cooperation could lead to the joint acquisition or development of new aircraft.
“The decision to work together demonstrates both foresight and the willingness to invest in the critical capabilities that the Alliance needs” said NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, in the margins of a meeting of NATO’s 29 Defence Ministers. Gottemoeller attended the signing ceremony of the LOI, together with Defense Ministers Ursula von der Leyen (Germany), Sylvia Goulard (France), Roberta Pinotti (Italy), Maria Dolores Cospedal (Spain), Fikri Isik (Turkey) and Panagiotis Kammenos (Greece).
The initiative reflects the readiness of Allies to reinforce European capabilities, contributing to fairer burden-sharing across the Alliance. This cooperation will also ensure better value for money for taxpayers. Other Allies were expected to join the initiative. As for the current patrol capabilities of the six signatory states, it is as follows:
- France (Navy) has domestic patrol planes in the number of: 22 Breguet Br.1150 Atlantic, 6 Dassault Falcon 50 and 5 Dassault Falcon 200 Guardian (also working on the patrol version of the Airbus A319 MPA aircraft);
- Germany (Navy) has 8 US P-3C CUP + Orion patrol aircraft;
- Italy has two German Camcopter S-100 (Polish Navy) unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as 4 French Breguet Br.1150 Atlantic planes and 2 Italian P72-A / ATR 72 MPA (Air Force);
- Spain (Air Force) has 5 US P-3A / M Orion patrol aircraft and ZOP, and domestic: 8 CASA CN-235 patrol and SAR and 4 CASA C-212 patrol aircraft;
- Turkey has 8 Italian ATR 72 MPA aircraft (currently being modernized by Turkish Aerospace Industries) and 4 Spanish CASA CN-235 (both anti-submarine and anti-surface);
- Greece (Air Force) has one Canadian Canadair (Bombardier) CL-415 patrol aircraft.
On 15 February 2018, Canada and Poland joined a multinational effort for developing follow-on solutions for aging maritime anti-submarine and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. At a signing ceremony at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Defence Ministers from France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey welcomed Canada and Poland to the multinational effort on “Cooperation on Multinational Maritime Multi Mission Aircraft Capabilities.”
“This joint effort recognises the fact that the majority of Allies’ maritime patrol aircraft fleets will be reaching the end of their operational lives between 2025 and 2035“ said NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller during the signing ceremony. She further encouraged the participants to “push on to the implementation phase. The goal here isn’t just a drawing board design – we need a new generation of aircraft, in the air, fulfilling what is an increasingly important mission”.
The initiative offers participants the opportunity to adopt common solutions in this critical capability area. This will deliver better value for money, as well as operational benefits. Since 2017, the six Allies have started to define a common requirements document for future capabilities in this area, which should be completed in 2018. This work will provide a foundation for developing and fielding follow-on solutions.
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