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EU defense ministers meeting in Brussels for the steering board of the European Defence Agency (EDA) today launched a European helicopter training program aimed at increasing the short-term availability of helicopters for crisis management operations. Starting in 2010, two live exercises will be held per year, one focusing on individual training and one on interoperability and operational tactics. In addition, an annual symposium will be held on lessons learned from operations, which will be incorporated in further exercises.The defense ministers of Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden signed a letter of intent on the European Air Transport Fleet (EATF). The EATF aims to address European airlift shortfalls through such solutions as pooling training, logistics and procurement, exchange of flight hours and making aircraft available.EU defense ministers expressed political support for the implementation of common European military airworthiness requirements aimed at reducing the costs of air systems and speeding up European aircraft programmes.The defense ministers launched a joint investment program on unmanned maritime systems as an umbrella for several smaller research and technology projects to which different groups of EDA member states are contributing. This program aims to link work on uninhabited naval systems, especially underwater systems, with the EDA's maritime mine countermeasures project.Ministers also launched the European Framework Cooperation for Security and Defence, which aims to synchronize investment in research and technology by the EDA, the European Commission and the European Space Agency to maximize complementarity of civilian security, space and defense-related research programmes.Finally, the defense ministers approved the EDA's 2010 work program focusing on capability improvement and implementing strategies on European defense research and technology, armaments cooperation, and a European defense technological and industrial base. All this on a shoestring budget for 2010 of €31 million and with a staff of 113 after four new hires.
ar99, EU, EDA, helos
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