You are here

EDA News

Subscribe to EDA News feed
Updated: 4 days 15 hours ago

CE holds talks in Sweden as part of ‘tour des capitales’

Thu, 17/09/2020 - 10:29

Jiří Šedivý, EDA’s Chief Executive, was in Stockholm today for meetings with the Swedish authorities and industry. It was the second visit of his ‘tour des capitales’ which will see him paying visits to all Member States in the coming months.

Mr Šedivý was received by the Minister of Defence, Peter Hultqvist, Defence State Secretary Jan-Olof Lind, Deputy Chief of Defence Vice Admiral Jonas Haggren, R&T Director Jens Mattsson, Capability Director Lena Persson-Herlitz, and National Armaments Director Göran Mårtensson. He also met at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Director Jessica Svärdström (European Security Policy), as well as with defence industry representatives.

“It was a pleasure to make my inaugural visit to Sweden which is among the most active EDA Member States in terms of number of projects and programmes it participates in. With Minister Hultqvist and my other interlocutors, we took stock of the work underway and discussed how, going forward, the Agency can best support Member States in improving their defence capabilities through cooperation, in full complementarity with NATO.  In these crucial times, it is good to see that Sweden remains a strong and active supporter of EDA and intergovernmental European defence cooperation”, Mr Šedivý commented.

Swedish Minister of Defence, Peter Hultqvist said: “The European Defence Agency has a valuable role as an intergovernmental forum, and in providing support to the Member States’ capability development. I am glad to have had the opportunity to welcome Mr Šedivý to the position as Chief Executive of the EDA, and to have had the opportunity to discuss the work ahead.”

More information:
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

EDA participates in EU secure SatCom project

Tue, 15/09/2020 - 12:39

EDA is part of a new EU research project launched today by the European Commission under the HORIZON 2020 programme which aims to develop secure satellite communications for EU governments and institutions. Called ENTRUSTED (‘European Networking for satellite Telecommunication Roadmap for the governmental Users requiring Secure, inTeroperable, innovativE and standardiseD services’), the project will run until February 2023.

Under the leadership of the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) and with a budget of €3 million, ENTRUSTED will identify needs and requirements of secure satellite communication end-users. The project will contribute to the formulation of assumptions and guidelines, in terms of user-orientated activities, for the future EU GOVSATCOM programme aimed at creating independent, autonomous and secure satellite communication system for EU Member States and agencies. 

With its wide SatCom expertise based on two SatCom services delivering projects and a Project Team Satellite Communication, EDA has been called to be part of the consortium of EU Member States and EU Agencies implementing the project. The Agency will contribute to all work packages with a focus on user needs, requirements and use cases definition, surveying the state-of-the-art of existing secure SatCom user technologies and definition of a research and development (R&D) roadmap.

Over the coming 30 months, ENTRUSTED will develop a common understanding of governmental user needs for secure SATCOM systems, elaborate a set of user requirements for the future EU GOVSATCOM programme and analyse available and planned secure SATCOM capabilities and solutions offered by commercial operators and governments. It will also assess the need for European standardisation for secure SATCOM user equipment and services and identify the main research and innovation actions to be taken at national and EU levels with regard to secure SATCOM user technologies. A set of recommendations to the European Commission will be issued at the end of the project.  
 

More information:  
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

RPAS automation project helps set European standards

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 15:33

Mission accomplished for EDA’s ‘Enhanced RPAS Automation’ (ERA) project launched in 2016 by EDA on behalf of Germany, France, Italy, Poland and Sweden. The project aimed at standardising a set of key technical enablers for the operation of both civil and military RPAS in Europe and was formally closed at today’s 4th online stakeholder workshop, where its results were reviewed. 

ERA has contributed to setting industry standards that provide the technical and procedural baseline for the certification in Europe of automatic take-off and landing, autotaxi and automation and emergency recovery functionalities. The validation activities required for standardization purposes were successfully carried out and nearly all performance and functional requirements were validated by the simulations, review, analysis, and flight tests. 

The relevant information for standardisation has been provided to the European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment (EUROCAE). Finally, ERA’s consortium has led the standards’ development, following EUROCAE’s standardisation process and involving a broader stakeholder community, including the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). In the safety context, ERA has proposed the bow-tie methodology for the Operational Safety Assessment, as requested by the current EUROCAE guidelines. This methodology offers the advantage to get a complete picture of the hazards relevant to the whole operation, which include, but are not limited to, system failures.

These standards will be published by EUROCAE towards the end of 2020, once the open consultation, the last step in EUROCAE’s standardisation process, is accomplished. This would enable both Civil and Military Aviation Authorities to recognize these EUROCAE standards and include them in their certification basis for RPAS operations in Europe.
Follow on activities

The project originally involved a test campaign with an ultra-light manned aircraft that could not be accomplished due to several technical issues with the test aircraft in the final phases of the project. These problems together with the COVID-19 crisis during this period, forced the cancellation of the ‘Automatic Take-off and Landing’ and ‘Autotaxi’ demonstrations. These tests to be performed with a representative RPAS are now proposed as a follow-on activity.

Furthermore, regarding the Operational Safety Assessment, supporting EASA on the definition of Safety Assessment guidelines for RPAS in the certified category could be also envisaged for a potential next phase of the ERA project.
 

Background

The ERA industrial consortium was led by Airbus Defence and Space, and composed of sixteen partners from five EDA Member States: Airbus Defence and Space and ESG Elektroniksystem- und Logistik-GmbH  from Germany; Safran, Thales and ONERA from France; Saab from Sweden; Leonardo from Italy; and nine partners from Poland: Air Force Institute of Technology (leadership Polish consortium), Institute of Aviation, Hertz Systems Ltd., EUROTECH, PIAP (Przemysłowy Instytut Automatyki i Pomiarów), Eskadra Grzegorz Trzeciak, Politechnika Rzeszowska (Rzeszow University of Technology - RUT), WB Electronics S.A., Asseco Poland S.A.

 
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Collective simulations for improved air training ​

Thu, 03/09/2020 - 15:32

A new EDA research project, for which the Agency Steering Board has just given its go-ahead, will help participating Member States’ Armed Forces to step up their collaborative air training & exercise capabilities thanks to improved modelling and simulation.

The overarching aim of the project called MAJES (Modelling and simulation as a service applications for Air and Joint Exercises & Simulation) is to develop an interconnected and interacting system/network that will allow the military of participating Member States to perform training simulations for coalition operations in a distributed manner from different locations. This will allow much more realistic conditions than in the past when simulations were traditionally configurated and done locally, in isolation, which meant they were mostly unable to take into account external factors and changes and requested participating Member States to meet physically in specific training centres.

MAJES will thus help Member States in the preparation, execution and after-service of collective (but not physically joint) military trainings and exercises for air and joint operations using LVC (Live-Virtual-Constructive) technologies which suppose a mix of physical and simulated assets, including virtual adversaries. This will support as well the management and control of so-called ‘Battlelabs’ (digital distributed defence laboratories) for the concept, development and testing of System of Systems (such as the next 5th generation aircraft systems - FCAS) supporting experiment plan and data farming automation. The project also aims to improve the data collection from exercises for Artificial Intelligence learning in this distributed simulated environment which allows cooperation without joint physical presence.

The project will run over 36 months, starting from the signing of the project contract expected to take place early next year. Three countries are participating so far: France, the Netherlands and Norway (which is not an EDA Member State but has concluded an Administrative Agreement with the Agency). Industry from the participating countries is also involved.

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Stronger communication & radar systems with help of AI

Mon, 31/08/2020 - 12:09

The Agency’s Steering Board has given its green light to the launch of a new EDA research project which aims to improve and harden Armed Forces’ communication and radar systems with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make them more resilient, even in contested electronic warfare environments. Three Member States - Germany, the Netherlands, Poland – will participate in the project. 

Armed Forces’ radiocommunication and radiolocation services are faced with increasing challenges: the spectrum is becoming denser and more users are contending for limited frequency bandwidth, while the risk of interference is increasing. In addition to that, scenarios are becoming more and more dynamic with mobile high-speed communication, highly agile targets, and electronic warfare methods that are much more efficient than simple noise jamming.  

Cognitive systems supported by AI technologies are a promising option to harden the equipment against such interferences as cognitive radios and radars have the capability to respond to dynamically changing environments. This allows them to offer stable communication based on optimal utilisation of radio frequency spectrum by sensing free spectrum availability and minimizing interference between users, e.g. managing reliable communication dynamically.  

EDA’s new project, called ‘Communications and Radar Systems hardened with Artificial Intelligence in a contested electronic warfare environment’ (CRAI), will produce a study which will significantly help to make progress in the use of AI-supported cognitive systems for the benefit of military communications and radar systems. More precisely, the study notably aims to:  

  • investigate future military scenarios and use cases for relevant communication and radar systems, where cognitive methods, combined with AI, offer potential operational benefits; 

  • identify potential new communication disturbance based on the past experiences; 

  • review and adapt AI methodologies for spectrum Situational Awareness and surveillance; 

  • specify the requirements for the common cognitive system acting in contested electronic warfare environments; 

  • analyse potential AI techniques that could be used for cognitive communications and radars; 

  • design and implement cognitive techniques combined with AI for both communication and radar systems using common interfaces; 

  • do the testing, verification and evaluation of AI based communications and radar concepts; 

  • and verify, validate and demonstrate the test system in a (field) exercise. 

The project is expected to last for 36 months, starting with the signing of the project arrangement expected to take place in 2021. It will also involve a number of European defence industry players active in the communications and radar domain.  

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Artificial Intelligence: Joint quest for future defence applications

Tue, 25/08/2020 - 13:03

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for a long time since the first, if crude, modern calculating machines were created more than a century ago. However, it is only in the past ten years or so with the advent of deep-learning techniques that AI has started to come into its own, with profound implications for the defence world.

This article has first been published in EDA's 'European Defence Matters' magazine N° 19 published in June 2020

The European Defence Agency aims to marshal its Member States’ research and development (R&D) in this sector in important ways, from creating a common set of AI references and terminology to pinpointing logical areas for their cross-border collaboration to framing the most important areas of AI for Europe’s strategic autonomy. 

“AI is not new for the defence world. There have been a lot of expectations pinned to it since the end of the Second World War: many trends and crazy predictions that have promised so much, only to fade away,” said Panagiotis Kikiras, EDA’s head of unit for technology and innovation. 

“We have avoided jumping on these trends by taking a very cautious approach. That said, this latest wave in AI’s evolution has been different. Enablers that were not around in the 1980s and ‘90s such as massive processing power and huge databases of near-real time information are accelerating. This wave of innovation stands in sharp contrast to previous advances in AI capability and makes possible new deployable solutions,” he said. “That is what we want to capitalise on as we look ahead.”
 

Taking stock

To do so first requires getting a solid idea of how military AI is being researched across the EU, what it has to offer Europe’s militaries – including its limitations – and, just as important, a common technical language for analysing it.

“In our discussions with Member State experts over the past few years, we saw a lot of discrepancies or divergent interpretations about what AI and ‘deep learning’ actually mean,” said Ignacio Montiel Sanchez, EDA’s project officer for information technologies research. 

Thus, the Agency decided three years ago to launch a preliminary blueprint to promote and coordinate AI innovation across its Member States. This was approved by its board in February 2019, and has been unfolding in phases since then. 

A first phase was to develop a common understanding of AI related to defence. “Everyone needs to read from the same ‘sheet of music’ so that all refer to and use AI terms and definitions the same way,” observed Montiel Sanchez. “This domain is really extensive, so we decided to demystify which AI elements are relevant for defence and which were not. That meant putting together a common definition, a technology taxonomy relevant to defence, and a glossary of terms in order to produce a clear vocabulary for everyone within EDA.”
 

Common definition, taxonomy, glossary

For instance, a first task was to set out the limits to AI and then converge on a common definition of it. “We saw too many divergent concepts, so the common denominator we settled on was, in brief: the capability of algorithms to select optimal or quasi-optimal choices to achieve specific goals,” he said.

With that done, EDA could then begin framing its AI taxonomy. “As we built the taxonomy, for example, we did not find a comprehensive taxonomy anywhere else. The Finnish Ministry of Defence is doing some work in that area, but it has not been completed yet to the best of our knowledge,” he said. 

The goal was not, however, to create a full taxonomy but instead “to do what was feasible within the EDA framework by focusing on what areas of activity could be clustered to help us further develop AI-related projects and programmes,” said Kikiras. In the end, EDA’s taxonomy was structured along three lines: algorithms, functions carried out by algorithms, and support or related areas such as ethics, hardware implementation or learning techniques. 

EDA’s AI definition, glossary and taxonomy were completed in December 2019. Since then these touchstones have been proving their worth, particularly regarding the AI taxonomy. The latter’s utility is such that other EU entities such as the European Commission’s research policy department, known as DG RTD, have expressed their appreciation and interest in following the evolution of this work.

Moreover, the taxonomy will be a living document. “We will soon have a dedicated place on our website for the taxonomy where it can be regularly updated,” said Kikiras.
 

Identifying defence applications

The second phase has been to identify and analyse applications within the scope of EDA’s research work that are relevant to the military and which can be affected by AI. 

“This is less about identifying technology and more about addressing the lack of awareness of knowledge about AI at all levels of defence planners,” said Kikiras. “They are trying to use it to incrementally improve their current systems and scenarios, something that is desirable and increases operational capacities. However, AI will transform the future battlefield far beyond that. For example, to survey the Arctic, ships are used supported by satellites. But this could be done more nimbly with unmanned systems. We need a new generation of planners who understand the optimisations AI can induce to their systems, and who think differently.”
 

Looking for synergies

The blueprint’s third phase is also its most strategic: to get an overview of the AI’s military status and strategies across the Member States, and to propose ideas where more AI synergies between them might be possible.

“We know from the recent study that EDA commissioned on the subject that not many Member States have a dedicated AI strategy for defence: most have a more general reference to defence in their national AI strategies. The important thing is that the study identified the gaps and patterns of potential collaboration such as data management, the ethical dimensions, certification of AI applications and systems or standardisation,” he said.  “We now need to get our CapTech groups of national experts to identify how AI can be folded into their work, and to ensure they have a better understanding of what other Member States – and third countries such as the USA, Singapore and China – are doing in the sector.”

Ultimately, the challenge will be to tackle all these things the right way, top-down as well as bottom-up. “There are different levels of AI maturity across the Member States, and that is a concern for us. While the experts within our CapTechs are eager to find solutions – and there are a lot of projects possible – once you move to the strategic level, it becomes more difficult,” said Kikiras. 

Montiel Sanchez added: “At the tactical level, AI is more about the intelligent automation of functions, like those on platforms aiming for autonomous systems. But at the strategic level, this goes straight to (AI-enabled) intelligence and support to decision-making, which immediately gets more complicated for cooperation, given the sensitivities from the different parties.”
 

AI Action Plan

This third phase includes a new EDA draft AI action plan, based on the Member States’ requirements and identifying how they could collaborate to develop AI for their militaries. National capitals had until May to comment on the action plans, after which it will be formally validated by end-2020. 

Virtual testing for real-life military AI solutions

AI products and services need standardisation and certification if they are going to be readily accepted into the military sector. One idea EDA has proposed to its members is to create a repository, or ‘data lake’, of less sensitive but anonymous military operational data on vehicles, air platforms and so on. By giving research and technology organisations, SMEs and large industry access to it, these players could devise new AI solutions such as platform-specific smart software.

“Let’s say you have a company working on predictive maintenance for a helicopter type and it has developed a great algorithm. How to test it? Traditionally, they would have to go to the manufacturer or military user, where it can be difficult or slow to get the right data sets for testing and validation,” said Kikiras. 

With the repository, however, a company could go to EDA as the trusted third-party to link the innovator with the Member State that controls and owns the operational data needed. “This would create a one-stop shop for testing AI products. But first we have to see whether our militaries will be willing to do this. France is already moving in that direction with its own repository, for example,” he said.
 

Artificial intelligence vs. machine learning: what are the differences?

The commingling is found everywhere, whether in articles for the layman or scientific texts. The terms ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) and ‘machine learning’ (ML) are used so interchangeably that it suggests a complete synonymity between them, and thus the same concept. But this is certainly not the case, and it is important to understand the differences between them to avoid confusion. 

Artificial intelligence is the broad and overarching term. It encompasses various algorithms and techniques which exploit the huge power of computers (in their widest sense) to quickly make an immense number of calculations to solve specific goals. This capability can provide useful responses that can be construed as or equivalent to those coming from an intelligent human being. However, that is not a very precise or useful definition. 

Many AI definitions refer to human intelligence (itself not a well-defined term), reasoning (not clearly described either), concepts such as perception, cognition, intelligence or vague allusions to applications such as ‘computer vision’, ‘natural language understanding’ or ‘problem solving’.

To avoid confusion and establish a common reference, EDA has settled on a ‘minimum common denominator’ definition of the functional perspective of AI. For example, AI is very good at proposing the best option among a range of choices regarding a decision needed. The Agency has thus adopted the following definition: 

AI is the capability provided by algorithms of selecting, optimal or sub-optimal choices from a wide possibility space, in order to achieve specific goals by applying different strategies including adaptivity to the surrounding dynamical conditions and learning from own experience, externally supplied or self-generated data. 

This definition helps clear the way for EDA to support European defence cooperation in AI. 

As for machine learning, this can be understood in two ways related to the AI domain. One is that ML represents the ability of certain algorithms to learn without being explicitly programmed to do so. The other way refers not to their learning ability but to the algorithms themselves.  

For EDA, machine learning means the ability of algorithms “to model systems by learning from the data these systems produce”. These models identify and extract patterns, thus acquiring their own knowledge and inferring from the data how to predict the outcome of new inputs not previously seen. 

An exemplary illustration of ML would be so-called deep learning algorithms such as ‘Convolutional Neural Networks’ or ‘Recurrent Neural Networks’. These have produced spectacular results and are behind the explosion of AI in the last ten years regarding image- and voice-identification (Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.). They are also the reason why ML is erroneously taken as the whole body of AI when, in fact, it is only a part of it. Why? ML is a subset of AI because many AI algorithms do not have ML’s self-learning ability. 

 
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Common RPAS training: Remote, yet together

Thu, 20/08/2020 - 10:29

When seven EDA Member States established a Working Group in 2013 to improve collaboration and information-sharing in what was then a small and totally fragmented European Medium Altitude, Long Endurance, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (MALE RPAS) domain, they instantly realised that cooperation on education and training offered the biggest potential for tangible results. Seven years on, there is a very tangible outcome: a joint RPAS Training Technology Demonstrator deployed to ten Member States.

This article has first been published in EDA's 'European Defence Matters' magazine N° 19 published in June 2020

The Working Group started with an in-depth analysis of the varying national approaches to RPAS crew training. It revealed that the paths into the RPAS aircrew pipeline varied significantly from country to country with disparate entry standards, methodologies and qualifications everywhere. Aligning the various approaches did not seem to offer any obvious immediate operational benefits to the fielded capability of the front line crews involved, a problem further compounded due to the remote and segregated nature of their daily tasks (often highly classified) which offered very few opportunities for multinational interaction. 

Against this backdrop, in late 2015, the Working Group reached a consensus that the only viable way forward was to construct a generic common MALE RPAS training platform that would be independent of bilateral obligation and not directly challenge national approaches. Instead, the common training platform would serve as a catalyst for slower convergence of training approaches, as a tool for improved interoperability as well as a framework for structured sharing of lessons, improved procedures and for general capacity development. The quest for improved interoperability was not unique to EDA, nor the Working Group itself, and, in early 2016, the European Air Group (EAG) was invited to contribute to the workstream as they had a strong interest in practical operator level improvements to interoperability, doctrine and procedures.  
 

RPAS Training Technology Demonstrator (RTTD)

The joint approach proved fruitful, and with funding support from EDA’s operational budget, a plan was developed to build a RPAS Training Technology Demonstrator (RTTD), the results of which would be shared across all EDA participating Member States.
 
Practically speaking, the RTTD project would equip each of the national training establishments with a desktop MALE RPAS simulator comprised of separate pilot, sensor operator and instructor consoles – all of them connected over a virtual private network that would enable both local and distributed training and the opportunity to test how interoperability could be improved through regular joint exercises and an annual face-to-face meeting of operators and instructors. 

EDA took care of the provision of the equipment and initial systems training, whereas the EAG focused on structured exercise collaboration and the tactical procedural dimensions to author a dedicated training manual through a parallel effort to be called the Interoperable MALE RPAS ISR Trainer (IMRIT) project. EDA rapidly progressed with the writing of a technical specification for the RTTD and opened a contract call in late 2016 for a four-year framework contract to provide the hardware, software and associated support services. The contract was awarded in February 2017 to DCI and DIGINEXT, a French consortium, who specialised in military simulation and had already developed a stand-alone system for the French Air Force.
 

First deployments to France, Italy, Spain

After several operator led design review and acceptance meetings, the first console was deployed in December 2017 at the French Air Force, Drone Centre of Excellence at Salon de Provence, followed quickly by deployments to the Italian Drone Centre in Amendola and the Spanish RPAS Training School, in Salamanca, Spain. The system immediately proved popular for local training and inter site communication, file transfer, debrief and replay functions were tested. 

The remaining deliveries to Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom (prior to Brexit) were conducted as soon as possible between March 2018 and February 2019. Issues were resolved as they came to light and Full Operational Capability was declared in March 2019. 
 

Desert, maritime and Middle East scenarios

Aside from the equipment deployment, the first MALE RPAS symposium was held at High Wycombe in the UK in November 2018 and the Member States and the EAG began work on designing three operational scenarios covering desert, maritime and Middle East based urban storyboards to form the framework for increasingly complex operational challenges.  

Each scenario was developed over three levels of difficulty: basic, advanced and advanced plus. Member States were each allocated a scenario in groups of three and four with the objective of refining the scenarios and further improving operational procedures. The EAG offered a vision of running a large collaborative personnel recovery exercise in late 2020 called VOLCANEX, but planning is currently held up due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
 

Unique training network for MALE RPAS operators 

Results from the RTTD/IMRIT project will be made available to all EDA participating Member States in late 2021 with a view to reviewing the membership and scope of the Working Group and to perhaps continue the Demonstrator project as a longer lasting endeavour. 

Initial impressions of the joint project have highlighted several significant benefits including the value of mentoring in terms of capability development, language and cultural context as drivers for change, the value of low cost simulation employing commercial off-the-shelf gaming technologies and the very high degree of fidelity achievable using common locally shared environments and synchronisation tools. 

Although Covid-19 has enforced a regrettable operational pause to further system development, the demonstrator has already proved its worth enhancing both local and networked training but, perhaps more importantly, establishing an ongoing and trust based dialogue between European MALE RPAS operators. 

Training together in peacetime should be the normal approach to delivering success on deployed operations and in that respect the RTTD/IMRIT has already broken down several cultural barriers that in time will improve deployed operational capability. 

 
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Joint EDA/ESA ‘AUDROS’ project edges closer to demonstration

Fri, 07/08/2020 - 10:37

The detection and identification of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNe) threats has traditionally been a costly and painstaking endeavour for the military and for other civilian actors such as protection forces (border police, fire brigades etc.). Aside from the obvious risk of exposure for counter-CBRNe personnel, neutralising the threats demands complex sampling and analysis procedures, particularly in the bio- and chemical areas, to avert or mitigate their effects. 

This article has first been published in EDA's 'European Defence Matters' magazine N° 19 published in June 2020

If the time, expense and personnel required to carry out such tasks could be telescoped, the world would be a far more secure place. Indeed, new technologies – and new combinations of existing technologies – hold great promise in that regard. 

The European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) aim to do just that with their novel approach to the CBRNe sector, one that promises high levels of deployability, safety, speed, accuracy and reliability for detecting and identifying threats. The two Agencies have supported European industry in developing a concept, which is only a step or two away from the industrial production stage, meaning it could be rolling out to Europe’s defence and civil first-responder communities in just a few years.

Welcome to AUDROS (‘Autonomous Drone Services in the CBRNe operations’), the joint EDA/ESA project that combines satellite-based services with Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) technologies. The resulting capability would have a wide range of applications for many different users, ranging from defence forces to first responders (police, emergency response, firefighters, etc.) to industry (transport, energy, critical infrastructure security, etc.).
 

Joint call for proposals

AUDROS has evolved over several stages and is now poised to tackle the core of its development work. Its two sponsoring partners laid down the project’s initial groundwork with a preceding Implementing Arrangement, signed in March 2017. This was followed by a workshop open to defence and civil stakeholders and subsequent interactions in order to assess the requirements of all the interested Member States. EDA’s CBRN research and technology expert network played a central role in capturing defence specific needs and requirements. 

That, in turn, saw the definition of a joint call for proposals to study the design and function of a prototype system. “We received a solid number of proposals, matching our requirements for new CBRNe detection-identification-monitoring capabilities and services, making it a genuine success,” said Shahzad Ali, EDA moderator for CapTech CBRN & Human Factors1. 

AUDROS was one of the awarded teams of the one-year feasibility study contract worth €350,000. The Consortium was made up of four partners: the two Czech companies BizGarden (as prime) and GINA Software, the Polish company Cervi Robotics, and the Czech Ministry of Defence research institution known as VTU. “The main purpose of the study was to look at AUDROS’s technical analysis, economic viability, the added value brought by the space-based data, new possible applications and, of course, the crucial ability to deal with CBRNe threats,” observed Ali. 
 

RPAS hangar system

Starting in early 2018, the joint EDA/ESA team analysed the solutions proposed by industry to meet user needs for CBRNe countermeasures, with the study’s results assessed in December of that year. It laid out the definition of an RPAS hangar system. The ultimate goal? To enable fully autonomous beyond-visual-line-of-sight drone operations equipped to carry out day or night-time detection of persons and equipment, and search and map radiation sources, chemical warfare agents or toxic industrial pollution. 

The joint team then witnessed in late 2018 the successful demonstration of a proof-of-concept system for AUDROS. This comprised a modified off-the-shelf quadcopter RPAS with a maximum take-off weight of 25 kg (including payload of up to 9 kg) and a hangar. Equipped with lightweight sensors for radiation and gas detection, AUDROS’ test scenario focused on detecting a chemical near a large industrial site by sending the drone to ‘sniff out’ the agent’s molecules and location. This was demonstrated during the prototype system’s outdoor flights around the facilities of project partner VVU. 

“Space technologies are a crucial component of AUDROS”, said Beatrice Barresi, ESA’s Project Officer. “Satellite Navigation allows us to command the RPAS and to monitor the position of the rescue team in the field. That is not all: satellite imagery are needed to visualise the situation and to provide best available data to command the RPAS. Last but not least, satellite communication protects data transfer towards remote dispatch/command.” 

Just as important was the study’s recommendations for the design and construction of AUDROS’s drone hangar. The prototype’s portable hangar, which was connected to a fixed power source, was designed to enable the drone to autonomously re-charge its battery. Expanding on this design in future to enable auto-switching of detection suites, for example, would significantly increase the flexibility and duration of AUDROS-based missions, particularly if several drones and hangars were deployed at the same time. 
  

Towards deployment

That, however, is for the project’s next and crucial phase, namely the deployment of AUDROS in a fully operational scenario. The payload will be modular in design and industrially scalable for commercial production. 

The Czech-Polish consortium is expected to receive a new contract to build the pre-operational service, which will be financially supported by EDA and ESA.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has fortunately not adversely impacted the rolling out of the project, namely because AUDROS’s demonstration budget had been earmarked,” said Ali. “Thus, this 18-month contract will go ahead as planned, with the idea of signing off on it by the summer.” 

“Engaging projects swiftly is a critical means at our disposal to respond to the pandemic’s adverse effect on the economy at large and the space industry in particular. ESA, with its partner EDA, is therefore fully engaged to proceed as soon as possible with agreed projects in order to channel much needed resources to protect Europe’s essential industrial base in these unprecedented times”, added Florent Mazurelle, ESA’s Principal Security Strategy Officer.

The demonstration project will expand the prototype’s technical design by incorporating drone payloads for the mapping and visual day/night detection of persons, as well as situational awareness from integrated satellite services. Its hangar will be able to either recharge a drone’s battery or swap it out for a newly recharged one. Doing so would mean that a fleet of drones, combined with one or more hangars, could carry out 24/7 execution of CBRNe-missions across a relatively wide operational area. 

“Indeed, the combination of sophisticated detection-identification and monitoring suites with the diverse array of satellite services promises to produce a powerful dual-use CBRN-protection capability for Europe’s military and civil users. And it would have many cross-over links to other EDA research goals in the areas of counter-terrorism, harbour protection, protection of critical infrastructure, logistics and in-theatre medical surveillance, to name just a few. The spill over benefits, in other words, could radiate out in many directions”, concluded Ali. 
 

Fruitful cooperation

EDA’s research collaboration with ESA got off the ground in June 2011 when the two organisations signed their Administrative Arrangement on cooperation, which, above a tightly knit policy dialogue, has now given birth to cooperative projects in countless domains such as cyber defence, critical technologies for European non-dependence, Earth observation, secured satellite communications, to name but a few. 

AUDROS was a logical outgrowth of the EDA’s Joint Investment Programme on CBRN Protection, which it launched in 2012 to stimulate R&T work in the defence sector among its Member States and their industries. 

 

1 The European Defence Agency’s work in the Research & Technology domain is in line with the Agency’s mission to support Member States in their efforts to improve defence capabilities. EDA organises its R&T priorities in different Capability Technology Areas (CapTechs), which are networking fora for experts from government, industry, small and medium enterprises (SME) and academia, moderated by EDA.

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Multinational Helicopter Training Centre (MHTC) sets course for Sintra

Wed, 29/07/2020 - 13:48

Having to let go of something close, doesn’t need to have a sense of loss. When the European Defence Agency (EDA) sees its home-grown Helicopter Exercise Programme, its Helicopter Tactics Course and its Helicopter Tactics Instructors Course move to the new permanent Multinational Helicopter Training Centre (MHTC) in Portugal by the end of 2022, after many successful years at EDA, it does so with a feeling of ‘mission accomplished’.  

This article as well as the following interview with João Gomes Cravinho, the Defence Minister of Portugal, have first been published in EDA's 'European Defence Matters' magazine N° 19 published in June 2020

It is a basic principle underlying all training activities run by EDA: as soon as a programme reaches a sustainable level of support, maturity and output, the aim becomes to transfer it to a permanent facility hosted and managed by one of Member States involved. For the Agency’s ambition is not to become a permanent training institute but to serve as a catalyst and facilitator for collaborative training activities which later on will be taken care of by a Member State or an organisation – allowing the Agency to free resources and engage in other training projects.   The move in June 2017 of EDA’s European Air Transport Fleet training programme to the new permanent European Tactical Airlift Centre (ETAC) in Zaragoza/Spain, after six years of busy activities at EDA – 87 aircrews trained, 50 tactical instructor pilots graduate, 94 European transport aircraft involved – stands out as a shining example of this policy.   It will be followed soon by the Agency’s three multinational rotary-wing training programmes: the Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP), the Helicopter Tactics Course (HTC) and the Helicopter Tactics Instructors Course (HTIC). Launched in 2009 and supported by 15 countries (Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, Norway as well as the United Kingdom – up till Brexit), this trio has since become one of EDA’s most dynamic and successful training activities, highly appreciated in Europe’s rotary wing community.   By the end of 2022, their new home will be Sintra/Portugal: that’s what the Agency’s Steering Board decided in August 2019 when it green-lit the setting-up of a new Multinational Helicopter Training Centre (MHTC). 

 

A new permanent home 

The objective is to make this MHTC a permanent European centre of excellence for advanced helicopter training. It will deliver administrative and training functions to serve both as a central hub for the coordination of helicopter training across Europe, but also as the provider of the next iteration of the HEP, HTC and HTIC programmes currently run by the Agency.   

The centre is expected to reach initial operational capability (IOC) by the end of 2022, although the Covid-19 crisis impact may alter this date, and it is estimated it will operate for a period of 15 years, which can be extended to 30 years following the agreement of its contributing Member States. 

The next major milestone in the preparation is the harmonisation of the MHTC Technical Agreement, expected by the beginning of 2021, and the build-up of the infrastructures in Sintra which should be finished before the IOC MHTC. 
 

Gradual hand-over starting this summer 

The move to Sintra will be gradual, starting soon – this summer with the transfer of EDA’s helicopter training centre from its traditional location, RAF airbase Linton-on-Ouse in the United Kingdom (in the process of being dismantled), to Sintra Air Force airbase which will already be operational, on a provisional basis, between mid-2020 and the end of 2022 when it will fully take over its new MHTC role. The full set of training equipment will be moved from Linton-on-Ouse to Sintra, except the helicopter simulator which is being replaced with a new one.  

  

"An opportunity to strengthen European cooperation" 

Portugal is actively preparing to host the MHTC which it considers a priority and “strategic investment”, says the country’s Minister of Defence, João Gomes Cravinho, in an exclusive interview with European Defence Matters. 
 

How are preparations going for the transition of the current EDA helicopter programmes to Sintra in 2020 and for the creation of the MHTC in 2022? 

Currently, and until 2023, EDA helicopter programmes will take place in Sintra as part of a transition process for MHTC while ensuring the continuity of all EDA helicopter training. Portugal has received the helicopter simulator formerly based in the UK and will provide support for academic and simulator courses in existing infrastructures, specially adapted for that purpose, while the MHTC project is under development. Since November, multiple site surveys have been made in Sintra to check the current infrastructures. The flight simulator hardware is already in Portugal, waiting for INZPIRE representatives to be able to travel to Portugal and start the required assembly as soon as possible. Of course, we and all the other countries involved in the Agency’s helicopter training have also been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic which has required partial and full lockdowns, including in Portugal. This resulted in the cancellation of two courses, planned for May and June 2020. Nevertheless, Portugal has been actively engaged with EDA and Member States to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 in the helicopter programmes. In close coordination with Member States a contingency plan has been agreed that should allow these courses to take place in the future.  
 

What makes Sintra the perfect site for it? 

Sintra is being turned into the rotary wing hub of the Portuguese Air Force that is expected to be fully operational by 2023. We hope this will provide relevant synergies, and this is in itself proof that we believe Sintra is indeed a great location for this type of infrastructure. There are large modular spaces adapted to the needs of a structure like this. The accommodation, the courses and the simulator area will, of course, be in accordance with EDA’s requirements and will all be within easy walking distance of catering and leisure spaces. Additionally, because there is more to life than work, the air base is very close to the historic town of Sintra, to Lisbon and to the beaches of Cascais, meaning there is no lack of opportunities for leisure or physical exercise in the vicinity. 
 

How big an effort (infrastructure, staff, budget, etc.) is this for Portugal to become the host nation of this important training activity? 

The Portuguese government is committed to a responsible management of the State budget, but we are also committed to strategic investments. We see the MHTC project as an opportunity to strengthen European cooperation in addressing a key operational capability that has often been found lacking and is vital to provide support to ongoing and future CSDP missions. Once Full Operational Capability is achieved, Portugal has committed, through the Portuguese Air Force, to support not only the infrastructure exclusively dedicated to the MHTC academic and simulator courses, but also all student logistical support (lodging, meals). Regarding staff, the MHTC will have ten permanent positions, plus temporary personnel responsible for the academic and simulator courses. In principle, the Portuguese Air Force will be responsible for about 50% of these permanent posts, with full time dedicated personnel. We are currently assessing the best options for hosting our foreign partners involved in permanent posts in the MHTC. In conclusion, this is a significant effort, but we see it as a priority, as a strategic investment. 
 

How will this influence Portugal’s own involvement in EDA’s helicopter programme where it currently participates in the Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP) and the Helicopter Tactics Course (HTC). Any plan to join the Helicopter Tactics Instructors Course (HTIC)? 

The involvement of the Portuguese Air Force in EDA’s helicopter programmes (HEP and HTC) has been very successful in developing and consolidating rotary wing operational capabilities. Portugal is currently not involved in the HTIC, but this is an interesting programme and will be considered in future discussions regarding available investment in this area.  
 

Portugal is a very regular host of the BLADE multinational helicopter exercises, at least during the 2012-2022 period. Will you remain central and host of this exercise even beyond 2022? 

We are working on it. As you know, we are the organiser of the BLADE exercise in 2021. And Portugal in fact holds the record as the host country for BLADE exercises. I believe this is the result of Portugal’s ability to organise these exercises effectively, as well as the fact that it has, in relative terms, a very flexible airspace and ideal meteorological conditions. Portugal has made clear its availability for hosting the BLADE helicopter exercises in 2024, 2027 and 2030. Now it is up to EDA and the other Member States to decide, but Portugal is very committed to continuing to invest in cooperation with its European allies and partners in this vital operational capability. 

 

 

 

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Chief Executive opinion editorial: Now, more than ever

Fri, 17/07/2020 - 11:00

However disruptive the economic and financial impact of Covid-19 might be, it will not not obscure the need for Member States to strengthen Europe’s full spectrum of defence capabilities, and to do it through cooperation. On the contrary: this crisis makes collaborative capability development even more indispensable and urgent, argues Jiří Šedivý, the European Defence Agency’s (EDA) new Chief Executive, in the following opinion editorial.

This pandemic is far from over and the full scale of its repercussions still unpredictable. Yet, there are lessons to be learned already now as Europe must adjust to a new post-Covid reality. Defence is no exception. The budgetary shockwave caused by the pandemic may heavily weigh on some Member States’ ability to sustain existing national defence programmes, let alone launch new ones. Which in turn threatens to further curtail Europe’s security and defence clout. 

There could be a plus side to the crisis as well, though: some of its effects might help speed up the process towards genuine EU defence cooperation. Looked at from this angle, this emergency offers a unique and unexpected opportunity for making collaborative capability development the new norm in Europe. Rather than weakening national defence forces one by one, the new reality imposed by Covid-19 could advance advance the Europe of Defence as a whole.
 

Making a virtue of (budgetary) necessity

The follow-up costs of the pandemic are likely to squeeze national public spending across the board and for years to come, including spending on defence. What’s more, the fiscal downturn hits at a time when Europe needs to invest more and better in its security and defence. The many good reasons that led the EU and its Member States to raise the Union’s level of ambition on security and defence in 2016 and to work towards European strategic autonomy as a long-term goal, are still valid. To drop or even lower this ambition is not an option, even under today’s exceptional circumstances, as this would seriously undermine Europe’s security role in the world.
 

How to square this circle?

Defence cooperation is the answer. Europe needs more joint defence planning and capability development. The call for Pooling & Sharing of resources and capabilities is not new, but it has become more pressing today. When defence budgets come under pressure, the smartest way for Member States to safeguard or even increase their military resilience is to plan, develop, procure, maintain and operate their defence equipment together. Multinational capability development – be it under PESCO, EDA or any other format involving several EU countries – is more cost-efficient and impactful than national solo efforts done in isolation. Money saved through EU cooperation can compensate for expected cuts in defence spending, at least in the long run. Beyond the financial benefits, cooperation also pays off thanks to increased operational effectiveness and interoperability, for the benefit of EU, NATO or other multinational operations. Joining forces will allow those Member States under budgetary strain to do more, for their own defence and that of Europe.
 

Tools ready and fit for purpose

The other good news is that we don’t have to start from scratch. All instruments and processes needed to enable and manage EU defence cooperation are already in place and ready to be used: updated European Capability Development Priorities, the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund (EDF). If Member States don’t use the toolbox’ full potential now, then when will they?

The same applies to EDA, the EU hub for collaborative research and capability development which currently hosts more than 110 research and capability programmes as well as some 200 other activities. Here too, Member States still have some leeway available if they want to use EDA’s expertise and potential to the full extent.
 

Stronger emphasis on CBRN 

The Covid-19 pandemic has also brought to light, indirectly of course, the enormous disruptive potential of biological substances. Although Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threats have been on our radar for some time – the European Capability Development Priorities reviewed in 2018 under EDA guidance explicitly refer to the need to strengthen European capabilities in the CBRN domain – this crisis has nevertheless highlighted the urgent need to do more in order to be better prepared and equipped to deal with these kind of threats in the future. This is another important lesson to be learned from this dramatic experience. Given the magnitude of the challenge, it can only be mastered together, i.e. through cooperation. Another example of why EU defence cooperation matters now more than ever. The same is true for other military assets which proved extremely helpful for our Member States during the most acute phase of the pandemic, such as medical and logistics support or cybersecurity. They, too, must stay high on our priority list for future cooperation.
 

A fresh look at strategic autonomy

Finally, and this is a third lesson, Covid-19 has shown the importance of maintaining strategic local production capacities able to provide critical material of high quality and in sufficient quantities when crises hit – in this case relatively basic commodities such as masks or other protection utilities. This has served as a reminder to all of us, including the defence sector, that European strategic autonomy cannot only refer to high-tech, high-end capabilities but also to basic but indispensable industrial expertise and production capacities. Maintaining critical industrial production capacities in Europe is thus a crucial prerequisite for building a Europe of defence and moving towards strategic autonomy. Here too, cooperation is the way forward as Europe’s key strategic activities can only be sustained together.
 

Special Report in European Defence Matters.

Our latest edition of European Defence Matters has a special report on the impact of COVID-19 on defence with contributions from Croatian State Secretary for Defence, Tomislav Ivić, Timo Pesonen, Director General of the European Commission’s DG Defence Industry and Space (DEFIS),  Daniel Fiott, Security and Defence Editor at the EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) and Jan Pie, Secretary General of the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD). EDM19 is available now.
 

More information  
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Chief Executive starts ‘tour des capitales’ with visit to France

Wed, 01/07/2020 - 22:30

Jiří Šedivý, EDA’s Chief Executive, was in Paris today for talks with the French authorities. It was not only his first official visit since he took office in March but also the first of a ‘tour des capitales’ which will see him paying visits to all Member States in the coming months.

 Mr Šedivý was received at the French Ministry of Defence where he had meetings with Alice Guitton (Director General for International Relations and Strategy), General François Lecointre (Chief of Defence Staff), Lieutenant General Eric Bellot des Minières (Deputy Chief of Defence Staff for Defence Planning), General Eric Charpentier (Capability Director at the Defence Staff) as well as Thierry Carlier (National Armaments Director and Director for International Relations at the Direction générale de l'armement, DGA). Mr Šedivý also had meetings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Philippe Setton (EU Director) and David Bertolotti (Director for Strategic Affairs, Security and Disarmament).

We are at a key moment in the implementation of EU defence initiatives: the PESCO strategic review is underway, the first CARD report will be published in November and important aspects related to the European Defence Fund will have to be decided upon later this year. The challenge is further exacerbated by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and its potential repercussions on defence planning and spending in our Member States. These difficult circumstances call for more European defence cooperation, more joint planning and more pooling and sharing of resources and capabilities. During my ‘tour des capitales’ in the coming months, I will listen to all our Member States’ specific ideas and suggestions and exchange views on how we can further improve collaborative capability development in Europe and strengthen the Agency’s role in it. My first stop today in Paris was a very good and promising start”, said Mr Šedivý.

Director General Alice Guitton stated "The year 2020 will be a milestone in strengthening European defence. The COVID-19 crisis has shown the need for deeper European cooperation, decreasing our dependencies, and more efficiency in defence spending, and many critical projects must now be completed. EDA’s work will be critical to help the EU Member States identify, prioritize and develop the key capabilities needed to face future crises and to strengthen European strategic autonomy, in a deteriorating security context, including by ensuring the success of the most recent initiatives, such as the EDF programme and PESCO.”

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

First MRTT aircraft delivered to Eindhoven

Tue, 30/06/2020 - 22:23

Preparations for the Multinational Multirole Tanker and Transport Fleet (MMF), aimed to increase Air-to-Air Refuelling capabilities in Europe, reached a significant milestone today when the first Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft was delivered to the fleet’s main operating base in Eindhoven. 

In total, the fleet could count up to 11 Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft of which eight have already been procured. While the first of them (MMF1) has now been delivered, the consecutive aircraft (2 to 8) will be delivered in the coming years: a brand new MRTT will be delivered roughly every six months to either Eindhoven (The Netherlands) as the ‘Main Operating Base’ or to Cologne (Germany) as the ‘Forward Operating Base Plus’.
 

Six participating countries so far 

The MMF, managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) with strong support of the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) under the ownership of NATO and operated by an international unit, will provide its six participating Member States (Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway and the Netherlands) with strategic tanker and transport capabilities. 

Based on a pooling and sharing concept, the participating countries will have access to a total of 8 (and in the future perhaps to 11) Airbus A-330 MRTT aircraft which can provide strategic transport (pax and cargo), air-to-air refuelling and medical evacuation capabilities. 
 

Example of excellent EU/NATO cooperation 

The multinational fleet builds on the excellent cooperation between NATO and EU Member States and Agencies since the very beginning of the project. Back in 2011, the European Defence Agency started an initiative to address the long-standing European shortfall in the air-to-air refuelling capacity. Since then, this initiative has grown into a mature programme handed over to and managed by the NSPA on behalf of the participating countries and supported by OCCAR for the acquisition phase. 

The MMF programme stands as an example on how European countries can cooperate, pooling and sharing resources to get access to state of the art capabilities that would be difficult or impossible to access individually. All the countries involved, independently of their size and the number of flying hours, have access to the MMF capabilities. 

EDA’s Chief Executive Jiří Šedivý said: “The Multinational Multirole Tanker and Transport Fleet is a prime example of European defence cooperation done in close coordination with NATO, which shows that once a capability shortfall has been jointly identified, European nations can pull together, work on a common project aimed at filling the gap, and eventually deliver – as they do with today’s delivery of the first aircraft. It’s Pooling & Sharing at its best. The European Defence Agency stands ready to assist additional Member States which are in need of AAR capabilities to explore their potential participation in this important project”

NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, Camille Grand, said: “The MRTT fleet’s versatility in providing several critical capabilities simultaneously is nothing short of impressive. The aircraft can help respond to crises such as the COVID-19 emergency, by moving medical supplies and conducting medical evacuations. However, the fleet will probably have the most profound impact within the air-to-air refuelling mission, an area where historically many European Allies have lacked capacity. Therefore, the MRTT fleet will help contribute to a fairer transatlantic burden-sharing at NATO. It is also a successful pilot multilateral cooperation project, bringing together a number of Allies and multiple NATO and EU institutions and agencies in support of the delivery of a major capability”. 
 

Background 

The Netherlands and Luxembourg initially launched the programme in July 2016, with the first one as the lead nation of the project. Germany and Norway joined in 2017, Belgium followed in early 2018 and Czech Republic lastly joined the MMF programme in October 2019. 

The MMF aircraft will be operated by the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) comprising of military personnel of the participating countries. The unit is based in two permanent operating bases, the Main Operating Base in Eindhoven and the Forward Operating Base in Cologne-Wahn. Among the eight MMF aircraft, five will be based in Eindhoven, and three in Cologne. 
 

More information: 
Categories: Defence`s Feeds

The new EDA magazine is out!

Fri, 26/06/2020 - 22:21

EDA’s latest European Defence Matters magazine (N°19) is now available with a double focus at least partially imposed by current developments: the Covid-19 pandemic and its potential repercussions on European defence; and EDA’s successful collaborative training & exercise activities.

The first part of the magazine is devoted to an analysis of the impact the Covid-19 crisis might have on the wider European defence sector, including national and EU defence spending and the implementation of the EU defence cooperation tools. It features exclusive opinion editorials of and interviews with the Agency’s new Chief Executive, Jiří Šedivý, the European Commission Director General of DG Defence Industry & Space (DEFIS), Timo Pesonen, the Secretary General of the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD), Jan Pie, and the Security and Defence Editor at the EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), Daniel Fiott. The magazine’s cover story then provides readers with a detailed insight into the various collaborative training & exercise activities the Agency is running since many years with great success with the aim of increasing Member States Armed Forces’ interoperability.

The magazine also drills into the fascinating topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and speaks to Christian Hedelin, the Chief Strategy Officer of SAAB, about how AI has already made its way into defence equipment. Moreover, it puts a spotlight on a new promising project launched in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) related to CBRN detection. Last but not least, NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană shares his assessment of the current state of play of EU/NATO cooperation.

Have a look immediately and enjoy your reading!

The magazine is available here.


Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Defence Ministers focus on sustaining EU capability development

Tue, 16/06/2020 - 22:19

The European Defence Agency’s (EDA) Steering Board in the composition of Defence Ministers discussed today how to sustain EU capability development in times of disruptive challenges. Defence Ministers pointed to the need for more collaborative projects, efficiency gains and economies of scale as the most effective way of navigating the current crisis while ensuring that Europe’s armed forced are ready for the future. 

In addressing an ever more dynamic security environment, including the impact of COVID-19, Ministers underscored the need for even more multinational cooperation in capability planning and development to overcome an unprecedented and diverse set of challenges. Ministers agreed that the EU defence initiatives advanced since 2016 need to be implemented with more decisiveness than ever before. They stressed the importance of delivering on the binding commitments under PESCO, implementing the EU Capability Development priorities, based on a fully-fledged defence review (CARD), and making full use of the European Defence Fund (EDF) as a powerful incentive at the EU level. Ministers also discussed how to better ensure that Europe has highly resilient and responsive armed forces, which are able to prevent, detect and respond to multiple threats and scenarios.

The meeting, held via videoconference, was chaired for the first time by Head of the Agency, Josep Borrell. It was also the first opportunity for recently appointed EDA Chief Executive, Jiří Šedivý, to address the EDA Steering Board comprising the Ministers of Defence of the Agency’s 26 Member States.

Head of the European Defence Agency, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell said: “Whether we are prepared or not to respond to today’s security threats depends on our ability to pull together our resources and act. Today, more than ever, it is crucial to spend better together, rationalise, strengthen our capabilities and deploy effectively to address crises and promote stability. The EU defence initiatives are in place, but to realise their full potential they must be fully integrated into Member States national defence policies and planning processes.

EDA Chief Executive,Jiří Šedivý, said: “The key priority for European defence will be staying the course and maintaining the EU’s level of ambition on defence, especially now, facing up to unprecedented challenges, including COVID-19. Europe has spent the last few years developing a comprehensive toolbox with the new EU defence initiatives. These tools are now to be put to work to enable deeper cooperation. EDA, as the hub for EU defence cooperation, is there to serve as the preferred platform for Member States defence cooperation”.
 

Full use of EDA's potential

Ministers also looked into how the Agency can speed up the process of project generation and implementation at European level, and how it can best support more Member States in cooperative projects and programmes so that these become operational in a timely manner. EDA will examine how to further improve its service to Member States especially in terms of enabling processes and procedures, capability development, training, joint procurement, as well as R&T and innovation.
 

Next steps: CARD Report

The next EDA ministerial Steering Board will take place in November, when the first CARD (Coordinated Annual Review on Defence) Report will be presented. CARD provides an overview that will allow Member States to better coordinate their defence planning and spending and engage in collaborative projects, improving consistency in Member States defence spending and overall coherence of the European capability landscape. The report will act as a pathfinder to inform future investment decisions on the most promising, most needed and most pressing opportunities for multinational cooperation.

 
  EDA press contacts:

Elisabeth SCHOEFFMANN
Head of Media & Communication
elisabeth.schoeffmann@eda.europa.eu
T+32 470 87 01 65

Paul QUINN
Media & Communications Officer
paul.quinn@eda.europa.eu
T+32 2 504 28 24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

EDA work on MALE-type RPAS Air Traffic Integration backed by French test flight

Fri, 12/06/2020 - 22:16

EDA’s groundwork to help Member States move towards the integration of MALE-type Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in civil air traffic in non-segregated airspace received a significant boost recently when a live MALE RPAS flight test carried out by the French Air Force (FAF) contributed to paving the way for the validation of the risk analysis previously done in an Agency study carried out in 2018/19 as well as the EDA and EASA guidelines. 

To date, the conclusions of EDA’s study on the ‘Accommodation of MALE-type RPAS: scenarios and safety case’, delivered in February 2019, had only been tested through simulations but never under real flight conditions. On 19 May 2020, the French Air Force flew a REAPER RPAS, based in the military airbase of Cognac, in civil air traffic beyond segregated airspace. During this over three-hour flight, several hand-overs were carried out between civilian air traffic control centers in Bordeaux and Marseille. Portions of the cruise were carried out in upper airspace, up to FL 230. The RPAS had no specific onboard equipment such as a detect and avoid system. 

The result was a genuine success, as General Reutter, the Director of the French Military Authority, confirmed afterwards in a press statement: "With this operational exercise, we can confirm risk analysis under the auspice of the European Defence Agency. We are proud that these results can feed the Guidelines for Accommodations from the EDA and EASA. They will participate in the current working on the part 'Certified' of the ongoing civil drone European regulation and should facilitate the implementation of the European MALE program”The full press release is available here.  
 

Accomodation Study 

EDA’s study was ordered in 2018 as part of the Agency’s effort to support Member States in the area of MALE-type RPAS air traffic integration. The study conclusions published in February 2019 provided tailored risk assessments and an enhanced aviation safety case assessment methodology for MALE-type RPAS flying in non-segregated European airspace, alongside manned aviation. Following the presentation of those simulations results, France offered the possibility to perform real flights with a MALE-type RPAS (the FAF Reapers), including a cross-border portion. The successful results of the French test flight will now feed the guidelines for accommodation developed by EDA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and will be used for the ongoing work on the ‘Certified’ part of the European civil drone regulation. 

This year, there will be additional cross-borders flights performed by FAF Reapers in the framework of the EDA Accommodation Validation study. 

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Wanted: Industry input on Countering Unmanned Airborne systems

Mon, 08/06/2020 - 22:13

EDA issued recently a call for industry ideas and contributions in advance of the second ‘Countering Unmanned Airborne systems (C-UAS) Workshop’ scheduled to take place on 15 September 2020.  

After a first workshop jointly organised by EDA and the EU Military Staff last February (with participation from Member States, the European Commission and other institutional stakeholders), the aim is now to invite industry to the second workshop in autumn.  

Companies active in the C-UAS domain are therefore invited to respond to this CUAS Questionnaire by 3 July. 

Participation is open to companies of any size as well as academic, research institutes and associations or groupings of industrial suppliers. Speakers will be selected based on their replies to the call for papers, which will be evaluated by EDA. 

Whereas the first workshop in February was mainly devoted to identifying already available solutions that could be used in support of on-going CSDP operations and missions, the upcoming second event on 15 September will be focused on future capability development efforts related to C-UAS based on the Air Superiority priority agreed by Member States in 2018 as part of the 11 European Capability Development Priorities, as well as the corresponding Strategic Context Case (SCCs).   

During this second workshop, selected industry representatives will be invited to present their views to Member States focusing on the topics included in the call for papers and to make comments and suggestions on further perspectives which could inform capability development and R&T in the selected area. This should also include the long-term industrial and technological prospects (beyond 20 years) of potential relevance also to EDA’s work on Key Strategic Activities (KSA) in this critical domain.   

Contributions must be submitted to EDA at CAP@eda.europa.eu with a copy to dion.polman@eda.europa.eu by 3 July 2020

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

EDA to assess impact of EU chemical/waste regulations on defence

Thu, 04/06/2020 - 22:10

EDA has just launched a new study to evaluate the impact EU regulations on chemicals and waste might have on the wider defence sector. The results are expected to be available by the end of this year. 

The study does not cover the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) nor the CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging) regulations which have already been assessed in an EDA study in 2016 and whose effects on defence equipment have proven to be significant - from design and manufacturing to in-service use, maintenance and disposal. 

In the new study, due to be delivered in December, the focus will be on other EU regulations related to chemicals which may also have an impact on European defence capabilities, such as:

  • Biocidal Products (BPR)
  • Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP)
  • Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS)
  • Greenhouse Gases (F-GAS)
  • Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS). 

The study will also look into potential repercussions on defence of the recently revised EU Waste Framework Directive (WFD), and specifically its provision under Article 9 on providing information to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) database on Substances of Concern in articles as such or In complex Products (SCIP), as from 5 January 2021. 

The study will be carried out by a consortium encompassing Milieu Consulting SPRL (consortium leader) and REACHLAW Oy.
 

Objectives 

The aim of the study is to provide detailed information on the impact of those EU legislations on the defence sector and to propose recommendations on how defence stakeholders (Ministries of Defence, Armed Forces, defence industry) could deal with them in a more coherent way. 

As part of the study, the contractor will be conducting consultations with a range of relevant stakeholders, such as the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), Member States’ MoDs, Member States’ competent authorities as well as defence industry stakeholders, including the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) as well as National Defence Industry Associations (NDIAs).
 

More information:

 

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

EDA project aims for multifunctional smart textiles for defence

Wed, 27/05/2020 - 22:06

Smart textiles are a new generation of innovative material offering very interesting multifunctional properties such as being integrable into uniforms and platforms. They therefore have drawn the attention of the defence sector.   

Against this backdrop, EDA has incorporated smart textiles into the so-called Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) of its capability technology group (’CapTech’) devoted to Materials & Structures, and a specific Technology Building Block (TBB) was set up for them. Furthermore, other EDA CapTechs, such as those dealing with CBRN, Human Factors and Ground Systems, have taken initiatives related to smart textiles.  
 

STILE project 

In January 2019, EDA launched a project on “Smart TextILEs in defence: looking at the soldiers of the future” with two participating Member States, Spain and Portugal. The practical implementation of this project, called STILE, was assigned to a consortium led by the Spanish research institute AITEX, in collaboration with two Portuguese organisations, CITEVE and INEGI. 

The objective of STILE is to lay the foundation for a future ‘European Multifunctional Smart Textile’ for defence able to respond to a certain number of requirements in terms of functionality, integration, comfort and weight. More precisely, it was aimed to define a roadmap for developing a system offering several functionalities in a textile substrate, and to come up with a proof of concept that integrates various functionalities with state-of-the-art technologies.
 

Preliminary results  

The initial analysis undertaken under the project confirmed that Europe lacks multifunctional smart textile capabilities in defence. Hence the importance for the STILE project to produce a proof of concept of multifunctional smart textiles able to integrate in a single model all the afore-mentioned features and requirements.  

Preliminary results of the project give already an overview of the current R&T development and technology needs as well as the challenges laying ahead to overcome those needs. The methodology used was based on the technical knowledge of the consortium members and the collection of data coming from multiple sources, including a technology foresight workshop on smart textile technologies organised at EDA, a survey done among the Agency’s ‘Materials’ CapTech experts as well as various meetings with experts.
 

Roadmap 

A medium to long-term technology roadmap was established with a set of actions required to develop an innovative smart textile for future defence applications, including the incorporation of modern design and development methodology by the textile industry. For this purpose, two simulation models were developed to evaluate the main concepts regarding the thermal protection capacity of the garment and the thermal signature under different ambient conditions.  
 

Proof of concept 

As a first step of the roadmap, a multifunctional smart textile prototype - the first of this type and quality in Europe - was produced with the following functions (each of them tested):  

  • signature management: the textile has multispectral camouflage in both static and moving positions 

  • CBR threats monitoring: the smart textile detects the presence of hazardous agents (e.g. H2S, NO2, Cl2) and provides warning to the soldier 

  • improved mobility, using various textile structures as well as seamless technology in body mapping concept 

  • flame retardancy, water and dirt repellence and anti-mosquito solutions 

  • physiological monitoring: the smart textile measures the heart rate and provide info to the soldier 

  • temperature regulation (cooling and heating): the smart textile is able to control the body temperature through monitoring of the ambient temperature 

  • communication: the smart textile provides all parameters, such as the heart rate, to the soldier via an app in the smartphone, embedded in the system. In addition, the data can be transferred to the operating centre, if needed. 
     

Testing in the field 

From June 2020 onwards, the STILE prototype will be further tested in the field to make sure that it fulfills the stringent military requirements. At the end of the project (expected in May 2021) an exhibition centre will be organized to reveal the fully tested STILE model to the European defence and dual use community, reaching out the potential users in the European Ministries of Defence. 

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

EDA project aims for multifunctional smart textiles for defence

Wed, 27/05/2020 - 10:31

Smart textiles are a new generation of innovative material offering very interesting multifunctional properties such as being integrable into uniforms and platforms. They therefore have drawn the attention of the defence sector.   

Against this backdrop, EDA has incorporated smart textiles into the so-called Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) of its capability technology group (’CapTech’) devoted to Materials & Structures, and a specific Technology Building Block (TBB) was set up for them. Furthermore, other EDA CapTechs, such as those dealing with CBRN, Human Factors and Ground Systems, have taken initiatives related to smart textiles.  
 

STILE project 

In January 2019, EDA launched a project on “Smart TextILEs in defence: looking at the soldiers of the future” with two participating Member States, Spain and Portugal. The practical implementation of this project, called STILE, was assigned to a consortium led by the Spanish research institute AITEX, in collaboration with two Portuguese organisations, CITEVE and INEGI. 

The objective of STILE is to lay the foundation for a future ‘European Multifunctional Smart Textile’ for defence able to respond to a certain number of requirements in terms of functionality, integration, comfort and weight. More precisely, it was aimed to define a roadmap for developing a system offering several functionalities in a textile substrate, and to come up with a proof of concept that integrates various functionalities with state-of-the-art technologies.
 

Preliminary results  

The initial analysis undertaken under the project confirmed that Europe lacks multifunctional smart textile capabilities in defence. Hence the importance for the STILE project to produce a proof of concept of multifunctional smart textiles able to integrate in a single model all the afore-mentioned features and requirements.  

Preliminary results of the project give already an overview of the current R&T development and technology needs as well as the challenges laying ahead to overcome those needs. The methodology used was based on the technical knowledge of the consortium members and the collection of data coming from multiple sources, including a technology foresight workshop on smart textile technologies organised at EDA, a survey done among the Agency’s ‘Materials’ CapTech experts as well as various meetings with experts.
 

Roadmap 

A medium to long-term technology roadmap was established with a set of actions required to develop an innovative smart textile for future defence applications, including the incorporation of modern design and development methodology by the textile industry. For this purpose, two simulation models were developed to evaluate the main concepts regarding the thermal protection capacity of the garment and the thermal signature under different ambient conditions.  
 

Proof of concept 

As a first step of the roadmap, a multifunctional smart textile prototype - the first of this type and quality in Europe - was produced with the following functions (each of them tested):  

  • signature management: the textile has multispectral camouflage in both static and moving positions 

  • CBR threats monitoring: the smart textile detects the presence of hazardous agents (e.g. H2S, NO2, Cl2) and provides warning to the soldier 

  • improved mobility, using various textile structures as well as seamless technology in body mapping concept 

  • flame retardancy, water and dirt repellence and anti-mosquito solutions 

  • physiological monitoring: the smart textile measures the heart rate and provide info to the soldier 

  • temperature regulation (cooling and heating): the smart textile is able to control the body temperature through monitoring of the ambient temperature 

  • communication: the smart textile provides all parameters, such as the heart rate, to the soldier via an app in the smartphone, embedded in the system. In addition, the data can be transferred to the operating centre, if needed. 
     

Testing in the field 

From June 2020 onwards, the STILE prototype will be further tested in the field to make sure that it fulfills the stringent military requirements. At the end of the project (expected in May 2021) an exhibition centre will be organized to reveal the fully tested STILE model to the European defence and dual use community, reaching out the potential users in the European Ministries of Defence. 

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

New project (SPICE) to improve military sensor performance

Fri, 15/05/2020 - 16:23

EDA’s Steering Board has given its green light for the launch of a new project designed to improve the receiver performance of electronic radio frequency (RF) sensors used in military platforms in adverse and heavily contested environments. Dubbed SPICE (‘Superior Performance in Contested Environments’), the project builds on the successful work already accomplished at the Agency in the same critical domain. 

At this stage, the Netherlands and Sweden are participating in this new project which is however open to all Member States. It aims to further develop the excellent results of two previous EDA ad hoc projects on Switched Applications (SWAP) and Switched Applications-Complementary (SWAP-C), local RF power generation and amplification based on switched technology. These projects were focused on narrow band transceivers to improve the performance of radars for naval applications and on wideband transceivers for electronic warfare for combat aircraft. Both of them demonstrated the superior performance of gallium-Nitride (GaN) technology for the transmit path compared to other technologies previously used.
 

Improving the receivers

Over the next 36 months, SPICE will take this work forward with the aim of improving the performance of the receive channel of the transceiver (dynamic range, linearity, efficiency etc.). This is done in an integral approach over the complete RF chain, while taking into account additional requirements such as cost and other system-imposed constraints (including cooling). The work will start with investigating, defining and specifying concepts with which the linearity and performance of receivers can be achieved. This also includes an assessment of all the technologies currently available. 

As part of an exploration and experimentation phase, the consortium will work on wideband receivers, narrowband receivers and packaging and integration technologies. The consortium involved in the afore-mentioned projects remains the same, contributing to increase the expertise of the European defence industry and create a stable supply chain around key European players.

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Pages