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Estonia Leads a Smart Ship Development Project Uniting European Defence Industry

Over the next four years, the Estonian Centre for Defence Investments (ECDI) and Baltic WorkBoats will lead a pan-European defence cooperation project, resulting in the development of a prototype semi-autonomous modular vessel for European navies.

This initiative, EUROGUARD (European Goal-based Multi-mission Autonomous Naval Reference Platform Development), is one of the largest transnational development and innovation projects funded by the European Defence Fund. The project, costing 95 million euros, will see 30 million euros covered by the member countries and companies themselves. It involves 23 companies and research institutions from ten European Union countries, with the industry consortium led by Baltic WorkBoats and the cooperation of member states led by ECDI.

“Our joint interest is to advance shipbuilding technologies and develop a universal vessel platform that can be modularly adapted according to missions,” said Ats Janno, head of ECDI’s project office. “Being entrusted with a leading role in such a synergistic European defence industry project demonstrates Estonia’s forefront position in innovation.”

The four-year major project, which started this January, is divided into three phases: developing a new vessel architecture (GENSA), creating and testing the physical prototype of the vessel by the end of 2027, and developing a data-centric autonomous ship architecture. “The prototype will certainly require further development, but the closer we get to a competitive and comprehensive result in military, technical, and economic terms, the more viable the project will be,” added Janno. “This is a significant step towards the future of naval warfare fleets.”

The European Defence Fund (EDF) was established in the European Union to support defence-related research, development, and innovation to enhance the competitiveness of the European defence industry and improve cooperation between companies and research institutions across Europe in the defence sector.

In the previous EDF cooperation project, iMUGS, Estonia led a 32.6 million euro project aimed at developing a standard solution for European unmanned ground systems.

Krismar Rosin