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Raw materials in the European defence industry

Raw materials in the European defence industry

Access to raw materials is of growing concern for the European economy. In the context of the EU raw materials strategy, this study identifies the raw materials that are important for the European defence industry and evaluates the potential risks associated to their supply in terms of import dependency. The European defence industrial base requires specialised high-performance processed materials for the production of its defence applications: 39 raw materials are necessary to manufacture such advanced materials. For about half of them, the defence industry relies 100% on imports from countries outside the EU. The demand for raw materials for the production of defence applications is relatively low. Moreover, the lead system integrators and top-tier contractors in the defence industry usually do not purchase raw materials as such, but rather semi-finished and finished products made of high-performance materials. The study identified 47 different alloys, compounds and composites materials important to the European defence industry. Given the very high level of performance and special properties of these materials, that cannot be matched by readily available substitutes – their potential supply risk is much higher compared to the supply risk of the constituent raw materials. The European industry needs to secure the supply of a number of raw materials from international sources, maintain its global leadership in the manufacture of high-performance alloys and special steel, and further develop capabilities for the production of speciality composite materials to tackle the supply risks associated with raw and processed materials used in the defence sector.

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Report type: 
JRC Reports