Center for Strategic Decision Research


Global Challenges and New Technologies

Ing. Carmelo Cosentino
Senior Vice President, Alenia Aeronautica S.p.A.

Global security is at the top of today's national strategic priorities. There are new global challenges that require increasingly global responses by governments and the high-tech industry. This change in perception is certainly common to both the U.S. and Europe, and the new security environment dimension has important implications for our industry. The new dimension will also lead to a new framework. The driving factors will be the willingness of the U.S. to preserve its technology leadership, the need to reinforce European technology and the industry, and new pragmatic defense doctrines that enable flexible alliances and partnerships. A positive political climate and understanding the benefits that an economic growth cycle can bring will contribute to the implementation of global responses in the medium to long term. 


Italy continues to be involved in both European and transatlantic defense cooperation. We are targeting more coherent, more effective, and increased spending for military-related research and development as well as dual-use applications. We believe that the Italian aerospace and defense industry is well prepared to participate in new technology opportunities. 

For example, we are already involved in the most advanced European aerospace programs and initiatives, including the Eurofighter, which links four major nations in Europe, and the ETAP program, which links six major European nations. We are also involved in security programs in which we are working to strengthen specific technology capabilities such as special-mission airborne platforms that will comply with post-September 11 requirements. In addition, we are very involved with developing satellite-based remote sensing and surveillance, particularly with the Cosmo-Sky Net Project. Italy has a long history of cooperating with other countries, and we bring our excellent training and flexibility to our joint work. 


Several important areas need to be reinforced in the new security scenario: ISR, or intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; C-4, or command, control, communication, and computing; and long-range precision weapons. To reinforce these areas we need to transform our industry, a process that has already started. Four changes are of particular importance. One is that air framers have started to become system integrators with increasing speed. A second is that prime contractors are pursuing more vertical integration. Third, manufacturers are transforming themselves with providers. And fourth, second-tier players are becoming small prime contractors, which will strengthen the value chain and provide critical integrated sub-assemblies. 

The new defense priorities require taking a technology leap. This involves making a push on basic research, particularly by government institutions and the high-tech industries. One important cooperation initiative, ETAP, is helping to take that leap, not only through research that many companies can use but through its coordinated effort. In a time of limited resources, we need to coordinate all national funds and individual companies' research because, without coordination, most of our research is wasted. 

We also need to share efforts and results between the U.S. and Europe. This is a must. I would like to remind everyone that real cooperation can exist only between equal or similar entities. If there is too big of an imbalance, then there is no real cooperation. And everyone knows how big the gap is between U.S. and European resources allocated for military spending and R&D, and that gap continues to grow. So it is imperative that Europe allocate more resources. 

The U.S. budget is $330 billion a year and for all of Europe it is $140 billion a year-a 1 to 2.4 ratio which seems destined to get worse. For instance, from 2002 to 2003, the U.S. budget will increase by $48 billion. That is the entire defense budget of the U.K. and Italy combined for one year. The same applies for research and development: the U.S. R&D budget will increase from 2002 to 2003 by $13 billion, which is equal to the total equipment and R&D expenditure made by Germany and France in one year. 


One way to improve this situation is to use dual-use synergies. That means having the aerospace industry and other concerned entities use technologies that have been developed for other purposes, for instance, commercial aircraft technologies, to our advantage. We can take a platform that was developed for commercial use and adapt it for our purposes. 

As far as long-term and short-term programs go, there can be no overlaps and no duplications. We need to manufacture and give our customers current technology products, but we also need to join with our customers to create new products as well. In my opinion, there must be no duplication between the F-22 and the Joint Strike Fighter. In Europe there must be no duplication between the Eurofighter and the new programs. 


Aeronautical programs need a long time to develop, and we have been used to having 15 years for conceptualizing, developing, building prototypes, holding demonstrations, and then producing. Today we have 10 years, both in the U.S. and Europe. This is a clear trend. But I hope that within this framework we can do our best work possible. In Italy we are optimistic because of two recent important achievements: one, the launching of the White Book for Defense, with a 10-year plan; and two, the development of the process that Italy will follow to increase its military spending from 1% of GNP to 1.25 % of GNP in two years. 

















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