Building European Strategic Air Transport for Outsized Cargo (SATOC): A Path to Autonomy and Global Capability

Strategic Air Transport for Outsized Cargo (SATOC) plays a crucial role in the rapid projection of military capabilities, mission support, disaster relief, and crisis response. However, the European Union (EU) currently faces a critical dependency on third countries for strategic airlift, exacerbated by the reduction in the ANTONOV logistics fleet due to the Russia-Ukraine war. To ensure European sovereignty and global force projection, it is essential to explore options for developing a new SATOC capability. This blog post discusses the objectives, scope, and types of activities involved in creating a unified and self-reliant European SATOC capability.


The primary objective is to address the strategic airlift requirements of EU Member States and associated countries (Norway) by identifying, defining, and evaluating short-term and long-term solutions for SATOC. The focus is on mapping potential solutions against economic and military performance, availability, and interoperability. The study aims to explore redesign options, development possibilities, and potential dual-use applications to reduce costs and establish a basis for unity of effort among participating nations.


The scope encompasses technical, operational, and programmatic studies to achieve initial and full SATOC capability. Feasibility studies will analyze requirements, propose technical modifications or new solutions, and evaluate their performance and response to operational needs. Additionally, studies will address conceptualizing operational concepts (CONOPS), logistic solutions, market analysis, and the impact on infrastructure. The proposals should consider economic analysis, risk assessment, and propose the best solution for acquisition or service provision.

Types of Activities:

1. Generating Knowledge: This involves creating, underpinning, and improving knowledge, products, and technologies relevant to SATOC. It includes exploring disruptive technologies, improving interoperability, resilience, security of supply, and defense technology exploitation.

2. Studies and Feasibility Analysis: Feasibility studies are mandatory and aim to explore the feasibility of new or upgraded SATOC solutions, technologies, and processes. Pre-design activities, such as defining technical specifications and partial tests for risk reduction, will be conducted.

3. Design and Development: Optional activities include designing defense products, components, or technologies and defining technical specifications. System prototyping, testing, qualification, and certification are not within the scope of this topic.

4. Program Studies: These studies cover market analysis, procurement and sustainment models, deployment possibilities, economic analysis, risk assessment, and the establishment of program schedules and milestones.

Functional Requirements:

The proposed deliverables should fulfill the following requirements:

– Competitive overall flight hours comparable to current market solutions.
– Ability to transport oversize/overweight loads that cannot be accommodated by existing solutions.
– Flexibility to operate on various logistics missions, including pelletized cargo.
– Fast and self-contained handling of transported goods, including equipment, armoured vehicles, heavy transport helicopters, and main battle tanks.
– Compliance with international and national air traffic regulations for worldwide operations, including the transportation of dangerous goods.

Expected Impact:

The establishment of a European SATOC capability will contribute to EU autonomy, technological sovereignty, and strategic autonomy. It will enhance deployment and sustainment capabilities on a global scale, ensuring self-reliance in strategic airlift operations and reducing dependency on third countries.

The development of a European SATOC capability is critical for preserving European sovereignty, enabling global force projection, and addressing EU-internal needs. By exploring various options, considering dual-use applications, and promoting unity of effort among participating nations, the EU can establish an autonomous and capable SATOC system. This strategic airlift capability will not only serve military purposes but also play a vital role in crisis scenarios and humanitarian aid missions, enhancing Europe’s overall preparedness and responsiveness in the face of challenges.

Haptic R&D Consulting is interested in joining as a partner for the new consortia focused on developing a European SATOC capability. With our expertise in research and development consulting, we aim to contribute to the project’s success and help achieve the objectives outlined in the topic.

For more info

European Defence Fund

EDF-RA EDF Research Actions
EDF Action Grant Budget-Based [EDF-AG]

22 June 2023
22 November 2023 17:00:00 Brussels time