Raw materials are essential for Europe’s energy and digital transitions, but their importance to the military domain is less often discussed. This report outlines the most commonly used raw materials in European defence applications and provides a risk assessment of supply security and geopolitical risks.
Forty critical and ‘soon-to-be’ critical raw materials are deemed strategic for the European defence industry in this report. These are used across the air, sea and land domains in various military applications and components.
Based on an assessment of probability and impact of supply disruptions, materials are ranked according to their supply risk for European defence. Probability is measured as the short and long-term supply security and geopolitical risks, including the diversity of a material’s supply base, the potential for supply chain bottlenecks as well as the reliability and stability of suppliers. Impact is operationalized through the frequency of material use across defence applications.
The importance of raw materials differs across military domains. Materials deemed very critical for aircrafts, helicopters, and missiles might not be as critical to build corvettes, aircraft carriers and submarines. Moreover, the categorization of supply risk differs from the one used in the European Union’s energy and digital transitions.
Securing the supply of strategic raw materials for defence requires cooperation between the civil and military domain, cooperation at the European level to overcome supply-related obstacles, and transatlantic dialogue to ensure the supply of military technology.
Authors: Benedetta Girardi, Irina Patrahau, Giovanni Cisco, Michel Rademaker
The research was made possible by a financial contribution from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy to the The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. The conclusions and recommendations presented in this paper are the result of independent research. Responsibility for the content rests with the authors and the authors alone.