The CapTech RF Sensors Technologies (RADAR) deals with Radar and Electronic Warfare (EW) systems applying radio frequency (RF), magnetic and electronic technologies. It includes the related subjects of signal processing, propagation and signature control and reduction. Governmental representatives, through a dialogue with research and industry experts, meet in order to generate collaborative projects from a RF system level perspective. It also supports pMS in preparing wider programmes and common initiatives.
The technologies and techniques covered by CapTech Radar include:
- RF systems and sub-systems for Radar and Electronic Warfare (EW)
- Multi-function RF Systems (MFRFS), which can support combinations of Radar, EW and datalink functions
- Applications include RF-based surveillance from airborne, spaceborne, ground and naval platforms
- EW includes electronic support measures (ESM), electronic countermeasures (ECM) and electronic protection measures (EPM)
Signal processing includes, but is not limited to
- Algorithms for detection and tracking of challenging targets in clutter and jamming environments
- Algorithms for the detection and identification of RF signals (ESM)
- Algorithms for RF system management (single systems and sensor networks)
- Non-cooperative target recognition
RF modelling and simulation
- Electro-magnetic propagation in air and water
- Radar Cross Section (RCS)
The work of the CapTech Radar is primarily limited to activities of Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 2 to 6, and it is mainly based on technology push, thus providing cross-cutting technologies in support of several capability domains. Thus, in terms of military capability priorities, RF technologies can bring significant contributions to improvement in new military equipment based on air, maritime, land and space platforms, having strong interconnections and interdependencies with the respective CapTechs. Other essential links are with the Components and Optronics CapTechs, which offer hardware inputs and systems complementary to those addressed in the Radar CapTech.
RF systems are good example for dual-use technologies exhaustively used for security and defence applications. Civilian technology will, and already does, make a major contribution to military radar, signal processors and manufacturing techniques. Commercial developments will drive materials and device technology that can then be exploited by defence RF system developers. In addition, the European Commission is currently preparing to foster synergies between civilian and defence domains by supporting dual-use technologies.
Since recently, defence projects are directly supported from the budget of the European Union. The projects in the frame of the Preparatory Action for Defence Research (PADR) having resulted from the 3 calls in the years 2017-2019 are partly already finished and still ongoing, and in 2021, the first call of the European Defence Fund (EDF) is issued, including also calls related to RF systems. PADR and EDF will contribute to enhancing capabilities related to RF sensor technologies according to the scope of CapTech Radar.
To become a Radar CapTech member (CapTech Governmental Expert - CGE or CapTech non-Governmental Expert - CnGE), please follow the instructions given on the EDA Captechs general website and be aware that the request is to be approved by the respective CapTech National Coordinator - CNC. This process also applies for the participation of non-CapTech members in a CapTech event.
To become a member of CapTech Radar (CGE or CnGE), please contact us at: CapTech.Radar@eda.europa.eu
The activities of the CapTech are guided by the Radar CapTech Strategic Research Agenda (SRA). The aim of the SRA is to provide shared visions between governmental and non-governmental CapTech members on the most urgent technical challenges to be addressed in the CapTech. The CapTech Radar has identified areas where technology gaps are encountered as well as the main challenges for RF systems for defence. These have been translated into 9 Technical Building Blocks (TBBs), which can be categorized into hardware topics, signal, and data processing as well as system level issues.
- TBB01 – Detection, Tracking and Recognition of Challenging Targets
- TBB02 – Advanced front/back end
- TBB03 – Electronic Warfare
- TBB04 - Multi-Platform RF Systems
- TBB05 – Cognitive Radars
- TBB06 – Scalable Multi-function RF Sensors (SMRF)
- TBB07 – Specific Radar Applications
- TBB08 – Disruptive Concepts
- TBB09 – Common EU Benchmarks for Validation, Verification and Standardisation
The CapTech Radar meetings are held 3 times per year, with a duration of 1 day each. Typically, a workshop which is related to one of the Technical Building Blocks (TBBs) defined in the CapTech’s Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) is held in conjunction with a CapTech meeting. All the information is shared in the respective ECP workspace.
Based on the SRA, all CapTech members are free to propose ideas for new activities (projects, workshops, seminars, etc.) at any meeting in coordination with the CapTech moderator. The CapTech’s work involves the whole CnGE community, including SMEs and “non-industrial” organizations. The active involvement of non-governmental experts in proposing solutions for governmental needs is needed to support considerably and effectively finding opportunities for new collaborative projects.
It is a challenge to bring together the highly competitive companies dealing with RF systems’ manufacturing in joint initiatives, given that competition in this market is extremely high. Global spending on Radar technology is forecasted at $18.54 billion in 2023 and EW will reach $17.41 billion in 2024. In the EDA framework, several collaborative projects in this area have been implemented, amounting to more than €60 million and covering a wide range of subjects:
- The Scalable Multifunction RF Sensors programme (2005-2019) has been devised to create an ecosystem enabling European cooperation in this field. Several activities have been developed under this umbrella programme:
- The initial projects STRATA (2006) and SIMPLE (2007–2010) were fundamental for the feasibility of the concept and the establishment of a modular and scalable architecture.
- AMBASSADOR (2012–2013) showed the advantages of applying the Model Based System Engineering (MBSE) co concept in SMRF development. MBSE will bring the benefit of allowing integration and reduce risk of the transmission of information between partners.
- Other trends on simulation, testing and verification will be extensively used, based on standards to ensure better quality and interoperability of sensors, which would presumably be connected in extensive networks with the ability to provide persistent surveillance enabled by high level sensor and data fusion. The aspect of specification, test and evaluation of SMRF Systems was covered in the OB study SPECTER in 2019-2020.
- Coordinating resources and optimizing their allocation to the different RF functions in the SMRF system is a crucial aspect and thus requires special attention. This aspect was addressed in 2015 by the OB study RM4MRF (Resource Management for Multi-function RF Systems).
- Activities in this area have been continued in 2017 with the OB study SREQ on gathering requirements for realizing a SMRF system demonstrator for airborne applications.
- Another activity in this area is the PADR project CROWN on “Combined radar, communications, and electronic warfare functions based on European Active Electronically Scanned Arrays for military applications”, which has a duration of 30 months, and which will start in July 2021, paving the way for further activities in this area in the frame of the EDF.
- The Cat. B project Innovation Technology Partnership (ITP) SIMCLAIRS (2009-2013) was working on low Size, Weight, Power and Cost (SWAP-C) multifunction sensors but on the specific application to RPAS. New schemes to allow the participation of SMEs, universities and research centers were established with competing programmes. They were managed and coordinated by the leading system integrators and involved a wide participation of diverse actors.
- Lightweight radar and ESM technologies for urban warfare were the subject of the Cat. B project TELLUS (2009–2012).
- Signal processing for Radar and EW was the core of the Cat. B project SPREWS (2009–2012) and Radiofrequency spectrum allocation the main objective of the Cat. B project FARADAYS (2010–2013).
- The increasing number of activities in the field of RPAS is tangible, achieving half of their value from payloads. RF system developments will be directed towards SWAP-C reduction of sensor payloads for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, & Reconnaissance (ISTAR) applications. In this field, multifunction sensing and Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) antennas are critical. The possibility to develop conformal AESAs has been analyzed in the OB study UCAR (2014). One of the main trends is the progressive integration of COTS products from the civil market into military systems. This approach is aimed at decreasing costs but introduces obsolescence and security challenges. Other trends like advanced signal processing with compressive sensing were analyzed in the OB study RICS (2013).
- During the last years new technologies for Non-Cooperative Target Recognition (NCTR) with radar have been of high interest in the CapTech. The Cat. B projects SPERI (2013–2016) and ACACIA (2014–2017) have been tackling this important topic from different perspectives. This field will be further addressed with the Cat. B project MANTRA (2020-2024), exploring the benefits of machine learning applied to NCTR with radar.
- Another topic which has been included in the recent years into the portfolio of CapTech Radar is Cognitive Radar. The basics of this technology have been addressed already in 2011 in the frame of the OB study ASAR. The efforts in this field continued with addressing knowledge-based approaches in the OB study KBARET in 2016. Finally, in 2019, the Cat. B project COGITO has started, and it will explore with experimental trials the application of NCTR using cognitive approaches.
- Passive Radar is another topic which has gained increased importance and interest in the last couple of years. This topic has been first addressed by the Cat. A project APIS (2010-2012) followed by the Cat. B project MAPIS (2014-2017), Both projects were aiming at using passive radar technology for NCTR by evaluating ISAR images in a target classifier. The passive radar technology will be further addressed in the Cat. B project JAMPAR having started in 2020, which will assess the usability of jammer signals as target illuminators of opportunity.
- Another topic which is not part of the CapTech Radar SRA, but which is of general interest of the community is the analysis of the biological effects of RF military signals which is addressed in the Cat. B project RFBIO (2016-2023). This activity is supposed to generate exposure limits for pulsed RF radiation in military contexts based on experimental data.
The development of Interoperable Modular Architectures (IMOSA) represents a core innovation addressed in the CapTech. It is viewed as a very powerful tool which may boost cooperation and is ideal for EU funding. IMOSA allows the division of systems in Building Blocks (BB) that can be developed separately through different and disruptive technologies. The fact that these BBs are defined through standard interfaces allow easy integration in complex systems. Since they can be treated as black boxes, it would be possible to protect the IPR of the different partners participating in related projects.