Through a winding journey European industrial cooperation developed the 4th generation Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet in the early 2000s (Heinrich, 2015). European countries, however, eventually missed an opportunity with the following generation, relying instead on the American-made F-35 Lightning II. Therefore, European states are now eager to make up for lost ground by developing a 6th generation fighter jet. Two parallel projects are underway. Firstly, France, Germany and Spain are jointly working on the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), a programme intended to develop a Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS) with a Next Generation Fighter (NGF) at its core. Second, Japan recently joined the UK and Italy in developing the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), a follow-up of the Tempest project similarly intended to deliver a 6th generation fighter.
On August 20, the governments of the Netherlands and Denmark issued a joint statement to announce the intention to deliver F-16s fighter aircraft to Ukraine (Government of the Netherlands, 2023). Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen pledged to send 19 aircrafts in three instalments, while Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte did not specify any number (Sabbagh, 2023). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for his part, claimed they reached an agreement for 42 fighter jets (Sabbagh, 2023).
On 21 August, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw a test-firing of strategic cruise missiles from a navy ship, as the state media agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. This event coincided with the annual joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea (Reuters, 2023). Known as the ‘Ulchi Freedom Shield’, these drills are primarily computer-simulated command post exercises designed to enhance coordination and readiness in responding to potential security threats (Kim, 2023).
On 1 August, two Belarusian military helicopters violated Poland’s airspace by shortly flying over Białowieża, a village not far from the border between the two countries (Brzezinski, 2023). The Polish media outlet Onet deemed such incursion a provocation (Chiappa, 2023). The following week, the alert threshold was raised as Minsk held military exercises in the Grodno region, which were simulating real-combat situations, according to the Belarusian Defence Ministry (Teslova, 2023).
On 11-12 July, NATO leaders held their annual summit in Vilnius amidst an unprecedented security landscape and high expectations on the steps towards enlargement and the new courses of action to preserve collective defence in the Euro-Atlantic area and states’ resilience and capacity-building. While the Alliance delivered on its core missions (collective security and crisis management), it was not as ambitious and straightforward when it came to more sensitive matters like Ukraine and Sweden’s membership paths, or partnerships in other global regions (e.g., the Asia Pacific).