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At a virtual meeting on 22 and 23 October 2020, NATO defence ministers launched two air defence initiatives: Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) and Counter Rockets Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM). These are part of the 13 High Visibility Projects (HVP) in which NATO has defined the priorities of international cooperation for joint capabilities. The Defence Ministers of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom have signed a Letter of Intent (LoI)) with the aim of finding an innovative solution to the full range of air and missile threats.

In a systematic modular approach, the participating Allies will be provided with versatile, scalable solutions that will allow them to assemble GBAD force packages tailored to the threat. These solutions will cover the entire spectrum of very short to medium range. Such an approach will significantly enhance the ability of participating Allies to seamlessly integrate individual national modules into multinational GBAD force packages.

“This innovative, modular approach will dramatically increase the operational flexibility, scalability and interoperability of ground-based air defence forces,” said Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană.

Innovative Air Defence

Following the signature of the LoI, suitable components for GBAD will be identified with the aim of initiating development and subsequent procurement with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2022. The first modules should be available from 2024.

For the C-RAM project, the four defence ministers of Germany, Greece, Hungary and the United Kingdom have agreed in an LoI to explore options for multinational capability development and procurement in this area with the focus on innovative solutions such as directed energy. In Germany, Rheinmetall and MBDA already have developed laser-based weapons up to production readiness which could be used for this initiative. C-RAM capabilities are of central importance for NATO’s readiness. The development and procurement of effective solutions for the defence of Alliance forces against missile, artillery and mortar threats will contribute to the effective protection of personnel, facilities and equipment.

“This C-RAM initiative will significantly enhance the capability to conduct high-intensity operations while improving the protection of personnel, facilities and equipment against rocket and mortar attacks and conventional air strikes”, said Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană.

The schedule is synchronised with GBAD and foresees an MoU for 2022 to initiate development and procurement of solutions and from 2024 the introduction of modular systems. These multinational initiatives will provide more cost-effective and resilient solutions while increasing interoperability among the Allies involved.

NATO’s High Visibility Projects (HVP)

  • Command and Control
    • Composite Special Operations Component Command (C-SOCC)
    • Regional Special Operations Component Command (R-SOCC)
  • Training structures
    • Multinational Special Aviation Programme (MSAP)
    • NATO Flight Training Europe (NFTE)
  • High-end acquisition
    • Multi Role Tanker Transport Capability (MRTT-C)
    • Maritime Multi Mission Aircraft (M3A)
    • Maritime Unmanned Systems (MUS)
    • Next Generation Rotorcraft Capability (NGRC)
    • Modular Solution for Very Short Range, Short Range, and Medium Range Ground Based Air Defence Capabilities (Modular GBAD)
    • Rapidly Deployable Mobile Counter Rockets Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM)
  • Ammunition
    • Air-to-Ground Precision Guided Munition (A2G-PGM)
    • Land Battle Decisive Munitions (LBDM)
    • Maritime Battle Decisive Munitions (MBDM)

Gerhard Heiming