News that Britain, France, Germany and Italy are talking about joining forces to develop a medium-altitude long-endurance UAV is welcome and long overdue.
Two years ago, Britain and France struck their latest bilateral accord to forge closer cooperation between Europe’s defense leaders. The move left Germany and Italy wondering where they stood.
But propelled by defense budget cuts and the reality that continued dithering and disorganization will cost European industry critical export sales, the four are moving closer.
The trick now will be to get them all on the same page and keep them there given suspicion and rivalry have corroded too many past cooperative efforts.
Indeed, the thirst for battlefield reconnaissance in Afghanistan drove them to adopt proven American and Israeli systems as near-term solutions. But each remains committed to national programs, which are seen as key to preserving domestic skills and jobs.
Only by banding together can European industry develop the new technologies and products required to be competitive in global markets, especially for an unmanned combat air vehicle of the future.