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Germany and the Netherlands will coordinate the digitisation of their land forces. A corresponding agreement was signed yesterday by the defence ministers of both countries. Preliminary agreements have been made during the past months with Germany considering to adopt the battle management system developed by the Netherlands for the Bundeswehr.

€12 billion are earmarked for the joint project “Tactical Edge Networking” (TEN), which has now been launched with the signature of the agreement and which, according to the current itinerary, will ensure financing until 2030. By this time, both land forces should be fully interoperable in digital terms. This is necessary, because the two armed forces are increasing their level of cooperation. After all, there is already the airborne brigade integrated with the German armed forces, Dutch air defence forces protect German soldiers and some German tanks are under Dutch command. In all of these cases, however, it was necessary for one party to hand over its communication and command systems or equipment and for the soldiers to be trained accordingly. As a result, TEN’s initial focus will be on a common radio base to ensure communication.

In 2018, both armed forces also started their digitisation programmes. In the Netherlands the FOXTROTT programme was launched, in Germany D-LBO (Digitalisation of Land-Based Operations) to prepare armies for the battlefield of the digitised war. So far, the Netherlands has relied on proprietary developments, while Germany heading for commercially available solutions. The two programmes are now merging into TEN to form a joint bilateral approach.

TEN’s headquarter will be in Koblenz, Germany. A design and prototype centre is being built in Amersfoort in the Netherlands. Here, the physical momentum for the programme is to be generated.

Dorothee Frank