Europe Has Six Times As Many Weapon Systems As The U.S.
After World War II, the idea of a European army took hold before the bid failed in the mid-1950s. Russia's annexation of Crimea, Trump's perceived lack of interest in Europe and the UK's exit from the European Union have given the idea new impetus. The EU is also keen to carry out military operations without American support if it proves necessary. That has resulted in 25 EU member states agreeing on the Permanent Structured Cooperation or PESCO, which involves the structured integration of the signatories' armed forces.
Some view PESCO as the blueprint for a future EU army and it involves more efficient expenditure on joint military projects, enhanced cooperation and the reduction of the number of different weapons systems in service across Europe. Along with language and culture, different types of military hardware has made cooperation and integration difficult among European allies. The EU has six times as many weapon systems in service as the U.S. including 17 different types of main battle tank such as the French Leclerc, German Leopard 2, Italian Ariete and Polish PT-91. During Desert Storm in 1991, the U.S. deployed the M1 Abrams, M60 Patton and M551 Sheridan and today, only the M1 Abrams remains in service. EU militaries also have 20 different types of infantry fighting vehicle and 27 different howitzers. The U.S. relies on just two versions of each.
That pattern repeats itself down through the entire equipment list. Altogether, the U.S. has 30 major weapon systems while Europe has 178. As EU officials look forward to cheaper and more efficient military cooperation, reducing the variety in weaponry will be a crucial step towards streamlined interoperability. Cutting down would save costs, improve training, ease maintenance and improve the supply chain. If that does not occur, future PESCO operations may turn into a complex and uncoordinated logistical nightmare.
This chart shows the number of different weapon systems in service in 2016.
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