ROME — The first research project to be carried out by the European Union’s new defense fund will cover unmanned naval systems and be led by Italy’s Leonardo, the firm said Friday.

The EU fund, launched in 2016 to build the union’s military capabilities, foresees a pooled €5 billion (U.S. $6 billion) procurement budget.

Prior to procurement, the fund also covers a €90 million research phase called the Preparatory Action on Defence Research and a €500 million annual budget for prototypes and demonstrators.

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