Tuesday, February 20, 2024


Where your horizon expands every day.


The Israel situation takes the spotlight at the Ukraine-NATO summit.

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Today, defense ministers from NATO will gather in Brussels to discuss the situation in Ukraine. However, the ongoing issues in the Middle East may hinder their discussions.

Germany is set to broaden its Sky Shield coalition today by enlisting additional nations to join the joint air defense strategy.

The chief executive officer of Fincantieri, a major shipbuilding company, is excited about the possibility of a European aircraft carrier initiative.

Hello and welcome to Morning Defense. Send any tips to [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected]. You can also follow us on Twitter at @joshposaner, @LauKaya, and @calebmlarson.


The NATO Ministerial is taking place today in Brussels, with defense ministers from the alliance convening for the first of three meetings. The formal agenda includes discussions on providing military aid to Kyiv, which will continue until Thursday. However, there are also concerns about Israel that may be brought up.

Stuart and his team are examining how the alliance plans to accommodate both of their allies in this situation.

In as an equal: Kicking off is the first ministerial of the NATO-Ukraine Council. “Ukraine will actually sit in that meeting as an equal with NATO allies to work on a variety of issues,” said Julianne Smith, the U.S. NATO ambassador, adding the agenda would cover everything from cyber defense to Kyiv’s prospective NATO membership.

Kajsa Ollongren, the Dutch defense minister, stated to Morning Defense that the focus will be on discussing the short-term needs of Ukraine, such as air defense systems, as Russia is expected to launch attacks during the winter. Regarding ammunition, Ollongren mentioned that the Netherlands is collaborating with Germany to guarantee a significant supply to Kyiv.

What is the status of Sweden’s membership? Please keep in mind that Turkey and Hungary have not yet approved Sweden’s membership. The British are eager for quick advancement. Further information can be found here.


At approximately 8:20 a.m., defense ministers will enter NATO headquarters. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will speak briefly on his arrival, followed by a formal press conference at 6:30 p.m.

The French Armed Forces Minister, Sébastien Lecornu, will hold a meeting with Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh this evening. He will also appear before the Senate’s committee on foreign affairs and defense at 4:30 p.m., while the land army boss, Pierre Schill, will be present at the National Assembly at 9 a.m. The main topic of discussion in both hearings will be the 2024 defense budget.

Additional information on the budget for France’s military can be found in this post by Laura.

ASD’s message: In an increasingly uncertain world, having appropriately sized and equipped armed forces is the most effective protection against military attacks. The European defense industry plays a crucial role in supplying cutting-edge equipment for our soldiers, and its presence strengthens the reliability of our defense. Learn more about this important industry.


EUROPEAN SKY SHIELD INITIATIVE: On the sidelines of the NATO meeting today, more allies are expected to formally commit to the European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI), a German-led plan to jointly procure air-defense systems. The plan launched a year ago, and has 19 interested countries.

Relying on your backing: We anticipate that a minimum of three individuals will officially commit, and the announcement is scheduled for 6:20 p.m.

Paris is hesitant about the initiative because it primarily benefits American and Israeli companies, which goes against their efforts for strategic autonomy. The signing of the agreement is disappointing for Paris, but they will closely observe the level of commitment from other countries, whether it be a memorandum of understanding or simply expressing interest.

The Finnish armed forces carried out an aerial observation mission above Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia as a collaborative effort with NATO.


Thierry Breton, the defense leader of the European Commission, has a vision of creating a European aircraft carrier and missile defense system. His proposal involves the following components.

Keep ’em coming: Industry loves the idea. “Conceptually we have all the ingredients,” Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO of Italy-based shipbuilding titan Fincantieri, told us. “Mr Breton put forward a very ambitious and emblematic target that makes sense in every respect.”

Fincantieri’s CEO stated that the joint venture between Fincantieri and France’s Naval Group, known as Naviris, serves as a model for future collaborations on aircraft carriers. Naviris is currently working on the European Patrol Corvette, which was briefly mentioned by Breton in his speech and serves as an illustration of a joint maritime project. Folgiero further explained that the goal is to create a ship that can be utilized by multiple navies, with the ability to be modified and adapt new concepts in the future without requiring a completely new design.

From afar: Folgiero refused to provide a specific timeline for the carrier, but maintained that where there is determination, there is a solution.

The Finnish president is accusing “outside interference” for a leak in a gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia, causing suspicion on Russia. Both nations are conducting investigations, while NATO is prepared to provide assistance. Further details can be found here.


TAKEAWAYS FROM BRUSSELS DEFENSE BASH: On Tuesday, the defense sector’s top brass — ranging from CEOs to ministers and ambassadors — gathered in the EU capital for the third European Defence and Security Conference.

These are the main points that Laura, who was present at the location, shared:

The commissioner expressed a strong desire for the EU to prioritize long-term defense planning in its upcoming budget. Despite the possibility of a nearby war, there has been little effort to break from the past and recognize the need for coordinated action. The commissioner emphasized the importance of increased productivity and independence.

Looking ahead to 2025: As the EU’s main procurement methods, ASAP and EDIRPA, reach their end in 2025, there is pressure for the bloc to consider long-term solutions in order to prevent a sudden stop in funding. François Arbault, a director for the defense industry at the European Commission’s DG DEFIS, stated that “We must ensure there is no gap between the multi-annual financial frameworks,” in reference to the 2021-2027 EU budget. The Commission’s upcoming European defense investment program (EDIP) could be a first step towards avoiding a “defense shutdown” in 2025, as Breton has referred to it.

Additional information on ESG in November: The principles of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) were also a topic of conversation. According to Jiří Šedivý, CEO of the European Defence Agency, a statement regarding this will be presented at the upcoming defense ministers meeting in November. Keep an eye out for updates.

The Bulgarian Defense Minister, Todor Tagarev, emphasized the importance of not solely prioritizing large countries when allocating EU defense funds. Instead, the funds should also support the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) as a whole, rather than just a select few powerful nations. This approach would also strengthen supply chains.

Purchasing products from Europe gives buyers more authority and flexibility due to the fact that they are made locally. MBDA CEO Éric Béranger explains this by using the success of his company’s SCALP/Storm Shadow missiles, which can now be launched from a greater variety of aircraft thanks to the ability to make design changes. This highlights the limitations of buying American, as it restricts the options for governments in utilizing the weapons.

“We have made significant strides in the last year and a half, but there is still much work to be done in strengthening our EDTIB,” stated Charles Fries, the Deputy Secretary-General for Security and Defense at the EU’s External Action Service. Nexter CEO Nicolas Chamussy also echoed this sentiment, cautioning that current events should not distract from the importance of preparing for future warfare with advanced tanks and artillery.


Rheinmetall, a German defense company, has received an order for over 100,000 155mm shells from its new Spanish subsidiary, Rheinmetall Expal Munitions. The order also includes additional DM 121 high-explosive rounds.

Waiting for ammunition: While the German government is paying the bill — all “mid-three-digit” million euros — the entirety of this ammunition order is destined for Ukraine. A vague “tens of thousands” of rounds will arrive this year, with the remainder in 2024.

NAMMO’S CAUTION: During an interview with Breaking Defense, Morten Brandtaeg, CEO of Nammo – a Norwegian ammunition company, advised European governments to establish extended contracts spanning 10 to 15 years. This will allow businesses to effectively plan their investments. Brandtaeg emphasized the importance of making sufficient profits to fund future developments in artillery rounds.

LESSONS LEARNED: Our U.S. colleagues write that the hottest topic at the Association of the U.S. Army’s ongoing annual meeting in Washington is learning from Ukraine. Given the fact that Ukraine and Russia are trading mountains of artillery shells, the situation is making its mark on the Army’s forthcoming conventional fires strategy, due by the end of the year. 

The UK is providing aid to Ukraine in the form of a £100 million package. This package will include resources for clearing minefields, as well as a contract for MSI-DS Terrahawk Paladin systems, which are anti-drone systems and radars.

THANKS TO GERMANY: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for his pledge to deliver more weapons, including an extra Patriot missile battery. “As winter approaches, this is exactly the support we need,” Zelenskyy wrote on X.


Two high-ranking Polish military leaders, Rajmund Andrzejczak and Tomasz Piotrowski, have stepped down, causing controversy among the opposition before the upcoming election on Sunday.

More here.


The Middle East is currently facing a technological setback, as stated by our American colleagues.

Special thanks to Jan Cienski and Zoya Sheftalovich for their contributions.

ASD’s message states that our armed forces require adequate and appropriate equipment to carry out their mission. While it is possible to purchase defence equipment from sources outside of Europe, there are several strategic reasons to maintain a strong defence industry in Europe to support our governments and armed forces. These reasons include ensuring complete access, control, and understanding of the equipment, allowing for customization to meet the specific needs of European militaries; granting our armed forces the freedom to use their equipment as needed and giving European governments the ability to export or transfer it; and maximizing the security of supply by relying on European companies that are not subject to the shifting foreign policies of other countries and are less likely to experience disruptions in global supply chains. For more information, please refer to the original text.