In a significant advancement for the European Union’s military capabilities, the first real military manoeuvres of the EU’s new Rapid Deployment Capacity were successfully conducted off the coast of Cadiz, Indra announced on 8 November 2023.

Coordinated by the Spanish Armed Forces, the MILEX-23 exercise showcased the future European Command and Control Systems (EC2), a project led by Indra and its industrial partners, including Leonardo, Eviden, LuxGovSat, and Thales Edisoft.

The EU, traditionally focused on economic and political integration, has gradually stepped up its defence ambitions in response to the changing global security landscape. The Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), established in 2017, marked a pivotal shift in this regard, and the EC2 project, conducted under the umbrella of this initiative, is representative of the EU’s  commitment to a unified defence strategy.

This cooperative framework represents the EU’s effort to foster a more integrated approach to defence, complementing the NATO alliance, in which many EU members also participate.

MILEX-23  mobilised 3,000 troops from 19 countries. The EC2 project team was stationed aboard the Juan Carlos I aircraft carrier, where they established a command and control centre linked to the main headquarters in Brussels. This setup facilitated the concurrent planning of a complex amphibious landing. 

The exercise was designed simulate efforts to restore stability to a non-European country destabilised by a major terrorist group. The event highlighted the capabilities of the EC2 system, which allows mission planning across various domains (land, sea, air, and cyber) from multiple locations. This system’s flexibility and accuracy were particularly evident during the week-long operation from October 16 to 22.

Antonio Hernández, Indra’s Land and Command and Control Systems Director, emphasised the exercise’s success in demonstrating the potential of the EC2 system. Key features tested included the maturity of the planning system and the “day zero” system for immediate deployment of command and control capabilities in operational areas.

The EC2 project, part of the PESCO initiative and led by Spain with key contributions from France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and Portugal, began in 2019. It received additional funding from the European Defence Fund in 2022 and is expected to be completed by 2025. The system aims to enhance the European External Action Service’s ability to coordinate multi-country missions, aligning with the European Strategic Compass to strengthen the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy.

PESCO aides EU member states in working closely on defence matters to increase defence spending efficiency and to develop joint defence capabilities.