The CapTech RF Sensors Technologies (RADAR) deals with Radar and Electronic Warfare (EW) systems applying 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 RF Sensors projects from a 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, EW (ESM, ECM) and multi-function
- RF systems (MFRFS), which can support combinations of radar, EW and communications functions.
- Applications include airborne, spaceborne and naval surveillance EW includes electronic support measures (ESM), electronic counter measures (ECM) and RF Directed Energy Weapons (DEW-RF)
- EM propagation in air and water
- Environmental and Radar Cross Section (RCS) modelling, sensor performance modelling
- Signal processing – scope, includes, but 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, (especially MFRFS), sensors networks
- Non-cooperative target classification and identification
- Radar signature control and reduction
- Materials, devices and algorithms suitable to reduce the RF signature of targets and RF sensors
The work of the CapTech Radar is primarily limited to activities of TRL 2 to 6, and it is mainly technology pushed. However, in terms of military capability priorities, RF technologies can bring significant contributions to air, maritime, land and pan-environment systems, 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 in the Radar CapTech.
In the same time, RF Sensors are a good example of 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 military RF Systems designers. For many years, the use of European funds for Defence Research was not possible. The European Council’s conclusions in December 2013 expressed a change of view with an explicit call in favour of better exploitation of civil-defence synergies.
The Council Conclusions stated that a Preparatory Action for Defence Research (PADR) on Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) related research will be set up. PADR is on-going, and the last call for proposals has been published in 2019. Preparation for the European Defence Fund (EDF) are on-going, and the programme is supposed to start in 2021. The impact of the EDF will be significant for the whole defence research community. In that sense, the PADR is a key factor in shaping the future of collaborative European defence research. In the RF Sensor Technologies field, the PADR (and probably the EDF) will contribute to enhancing capabilities related to RF Sensor Technologies, such as ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance)and Electronic Support Measures (ESM).
The Radar CapTech meetings are held 3 times per year, with a duration of 1 day each. Typically, a topical 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.
To become a Radar CapTech member (CapTech Governmental Expert - CGE or CapTech non-Governmental Expert- CnGE), please follow the instructions given on the R&T general website, and be aware that your request will be forwarded to the relevant CapTech National Coordinator - CNC. The approval of the CNC will be needed to become a CGE or CnGE, and also for your participation in a CapTech event.
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 members on the most urgent technical challenges to be addressed in the CapTech. The Radar CapTech 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.
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 members in proposing solutions for governmental needs can considerably and effectively support finding opportunities for new collaborative projects.
It is a challenge to bring together the highly competitive companies in charge of RF Sensors manufacturing in joint initiatives, given that competition in this market is extremely high. Global spending on Radar 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 arena have been implemented, amounting to more than €60 million and covering a wide range of subjects:
- The SMRF Programme (2005-2019) has been devised to create an ecosystem enabling European cooperation in the field of Scalable Multifunction RF Sensors. Several activities have been developed in the Agency: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 advantage of agreeing on Systems Engineering frameworks and Model Based System Engineering (MBSE) as well as the expected benefits of their use.
- MBSE will generate 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. They would presumably be connected in extensive networks with the ability to provide persistent surveillance enabled by high level sensor and data fusion.
- 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 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 probably start in 2020, paving the way for further activities in this area in the frame of the EDF.
- The Cat. B project SIMCLAIRS (2009-2013) Innovation Technology Partnership (ITP) 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 Centres were established with Competing Programmes. They were managed and coordinated by the lead 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 burst in UAV activity is tangible, achieving half of their value from payloads. RFST developments will come through enablers of the SWAP-C reduction of sensor payloads for the Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, & Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability. In that field, multifunction sensing and Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) antennas are critical. The possibility to develop conformal AESA has been analysed in the OB study UCAR (2014).One of the main trends is the progressive integration of COTS 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 analysed in the OB study RICS (2013) or the use of photonics will significantly improve speed/bandwidths.
- During the last years new technologies forNon.Cooperative Target Recognition (NCTR) with active 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 starting in 2019 and 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 processed ISAR images in a target classifier. The passive radar technology will be further addressed in the Cat. B project JAMPAR starting in 2019, which will assess the usability of jammer signals as target illuminators of opportunity.
Other topics of interest are covered as well, such as the analysis of the biological effects of RF military signals for personnel protection 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 and use 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 allow the division of systems in Building Blocks (BB) that can be worked out in isolation through different and disruptive technologies. The fact that these BBs are defined through standard interfaces make them possible to be easily integrated 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 these projects.