Research & development

Shaping the future of security and sustainability

Research and development (R&D) is the foundation of the European aerospace and defence industry, as it enables the development of new technologies and products that contribute to Europe's security, sovereignty, innovation, and competitiveness. R&D also supports the industry's mission to achieve net zero aviation by 2050, and to protect Europe against internal and external threats.

The industry is a leader in R&D investment, both from the private and public sectors. In 2022 alone, the R&D expenditure on aeronautics and defence from both industry and governments was estimated at €23.2 billion.

ASD represents the interests of over 4000 European companies in the sector, ranging from large system integrators to small and medium-sized enterprises that are actively engaged in R&D.

ASD plays a key role in advocating for the industry's R&D priorities and interests, and in supporting the industry's participation in the EU initiatives and programmes. ASD also promotes the exchange of best practices and the development of common standards and roadmaps among its members and stakeholders, to foster a coherent and coordinated approach to R&D in the sector.

ASD is committed to working with the EU institutions, the member states, and the industry partners, to ensure that Europe has a strong and competitive R&D base for its aerospace and defence industry, and to maintain its global leadership and excellence in this strategic sector.

What are the main EU initiatives and programmes that support R&D?

The European Defence Fund (EDF): established in 2021, the EDF aims to foster transnational cooperation for research and development projects among European companies, and to strengthen the European defence technological and industrial base. The EDF has a budget of €7.9 billion for the period 2021-27.

Security Research Programme: In 2005, the EU launched a programme for advanced security research. Under the 2021-2027 EU budget, the research and innovation programme Horizon Europe funds security research initiatives within its cluster “Civil Security for Society” with the aim to respond to challenges arising from persistent security threats, such as cybercrime, natural and man-made disasters.

The European Space Programme: launched in 2021, the European Space Programme provides a framework for the EU's activities and investments in space, covering areas such as Earth observation, navigation, communication, and exploration.

The SESAR Joint Undertaking: established in 2007, the SESAR Joint Undertaking is a public-private partnership that coordinates and manages the research and innovation activities for the modernisation of the European air traffic management system, with the aim of making it more efficient, safe, and digital.

The Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking: established in 2021, the Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking is a public-private partnership that coordinates and manages the research and innovation activities for the decarbonisation of the aviation sector, with the aim of developing and demonstrating disruptive technologies for low-emission aircraft.

ASD Papers

Explore ASD papers on issues relating to research and development (R&D) in the aerospace, security and defence industry in Europe