CapTech Aerial Systems (CapTech Air in short) is one of the four Capability Technology Groups under the Intervention & Protection domains. CapTech Air promotes Research and Technology (R&T) in the aerial systems in general, and in a range of technologies covering:
- Top system level – including fix and rotary wing.
- Major sub-system level – including propulsion and command and control (C2) air domain network.
- Essential cross-cutting capabilities, required for various future platforms – including unmanned aerial vehicles, cooperative unmanned vehicles, and manned and unmanned teaming.
- Specific areas of essential future supporting system elements – including System Diagnostics, Fault Prognostics, and Self Repair.
The core objectives for the CapTech Air are: 1) draft and maintain the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for the air defence domain; 2) foster collaborative innovation among the EDA participant Members States, and 3) generate innovative collaborative R&T projects around air systems through a system of systems approach.
The work of CapTech Air is generally of Technology Readiness Level (TRL) in the range of 1 to 6, although work in higher TRLs is not ruled out. The activities of CapTech Air are generated by Technology Push through information provided by technology watch and foresight, but also by Capability Driven Pull, including the Capability Development Plan (CDP), and the CDP Priorities related to the Air Defence domain.
Requests for membership to the CapTech can be submitted to the CapTech Moderator and granted by the respective CapTech National Coordinator (CNC). Be aware that your request will be forwarded to your national authorities, in the person of the relevant CNC. The approval of the CNC will be needed to become a Governmental Expert (CGE) or non-Governmental Expert (CnGE), and for your participation in a CapTech event. To become a member of the CapTech (CGE or CnGE), please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The specific technologies to be addressed by CapTech Air from the Research, Technology and Innovation perspective derives from the EDA Technology Taxonomy and are detailed in the Strategic Research Agenda’s Area of Responsibility and the OSRA Technology Building Blocks (TBBs) of CapTech Air. These technologies include a range of domains such as: systems design, aerodynamics, propulsion and power generation, operational requirements, training systems, unmanned vehicle operations; manned – unmanned teaming.
CapTech Area of Responsibility covers (from EDA Technology Taxonomy dated from 2021):
- B02 - Propulsion and Powerplants (Gas Turbines; Transmissions and Powertrains; Air Propellers and Rotors and Alternative Propulsion Systems)
- B03 - Design Technologies for Platforms and Weapons (Aerodynamic Designs; Low Observability and Stealth Designs; Supersonic and Hypersonic Designs)
- B10 - Communications and CIS-related Technologies (Air Traffic Control Systems)
- C01 - Integrated platforms (Combat Fixed Wing Aircraft; Tactical and Strategic Fixed Wing Transport Aircraft; Surveillance Fixed Wing Aircraft; Training Fixed Wing Aircraft; Remote Carrier Aircraft; Helicopters/Rotorcraft and Unmanned Air Vehicles)
The activities of CapTech Air started by identifying several CDP-related European capability gaps and attempts to prioritise this list in a number of technology areas where a high interest in R&T collaboration is identified. Based on that, the CapTech Air Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) was drafted in 2020 by more than 60 experts.
The objective of the SRA is to build a shared vision between governmental and non-governmental members on the most urgent technical challenges. These technical challenges aim to be studied and solved in the next 5 to 10 years in order to enhance European R&T collaboration by providing a common view for the generation of well-focused R&T projects in the Air Systems domain. Thus, the SRA has been established following a bottom-up approach, based on priority areas for research indicated by Member States (pMS) experts where cooperation has been identified as beneficial and where interests and funding can be aligned to support national or multinational capability needs.
The SRA Air is to be implemented through the nine Technology Building Blocks (TBBs) roadmaps, that are largely complementary through their hierarchical relation. Each of the roadmaps is driven by one major framework project and a set of sub-projects. The role of these meta projects is to support the overarching development of the TBBs, and of related strategic technologies and solutions.
The CapTech Air TBBs, as they stand today, are the following:
- TBB01 - Autonomous Air Vehicle Operation
- TBB02 - Cooperative Air Vehicle Operation
- TBB03 - Detect, Sense and Avoid Systems
- TBB04 - System Diagnostics, Fault Prognostics, and Self Repair
- TBB05 - Human-Machine-Interface and Cognitive Ergonomics
- TBB06 - Propulsion, Power Generation and Distribution
- TBB07 - Secure Command and Control Systems
- TBB08 - Rotocraft: Next Generation High Performance Vertical Lift
- TBB09 - Fixed Wing
CapTech Air SRA is part of the Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA)-level which facilitates the alignment of all SRAs with Member States’ operational needs and requirements. OSRA brings a systematic and well-defined mechanism to strengthen the collaboration within European Defence Research.
CapTech Air promotes the cross-CapTech activities for a set of technological clusters, the most relevant synergies can be found with CapTechs Guidance, Navigation and Control, CapTech Materials and CapTech Energy. Furthermore, an analysis of Key R&T research areas implicitly reveals correlations to; CapTech CBRN & Human Factors; CapTech Ammunition and Missiles; CapTech Components, CapTech Radar and CapTech Cyber.
The work of CapTech Air also has a direct impact on several CDP, namely Air Superiority (ASUP), Air Mobility (AMOB), and Integration of Military Air Capabilities in a Changing Aviation Sector (AINT). Considering these impacts, CapTech Air interfaces with several EDA Capability Project Teams, especially with PT Air-to-Air Refuelling, PT Air Superiority, PT Air Mobility, PT Red Air, and PT European Air Transport Fleet. Furthermore, CapTech Air also contributes identification of Projects and Programmes from wider European policy areas; for instance Critical Defence Technologies.
Based on the SRA, any CapTech Air member can propose ideas for new activities (projects, workshops, seminars, etc.). The ideas are collected and shared among the CapTech Air members to capture preliminary expression of interest. CapTech Air moderator role is to persist and revisit the ideas, engage actively with non-governmental members in proposing solutions for governmental needs, and maintain a consistent and systematic dialogue with pMS to encourage cooperation.
CapTech Air community meets four times a year, usually during two consecutive days. All the information exchange is done through the EDA Collaborative Portal (ECP) where CapTech Air owns its workspace. Technical workshops around a technology cluster take place, for physical meetings this use to be prior or right after a CapTech Air meeting. Workshop’s objectives are to achieve concrete outcomes, such as the preparation of a project or fulfilment of an extraordinary request (topics for calls for proposals, SRA development, technology assessment, project scooping, etc.).
CapTech Air has executed several projects in recent years, especially in the domain of Fault Prognosis, Systems Diagnostic, and Self Repair. The most relevant ones are:
- EDA/OB: "Feasibility Studies in Support to CapTech Air TBBs Implementation" (FS2CATI) programme (2021-2025)
- EDA/CAT B: "Automatic Air-to-Air Refuelling, Hose and Drogue 1” (A3R H&D 1) project (2022-2024)
- EDA/CAT B: " Structural health and ballistic impact monitoring and prognosis on a military helicopter” (SAMAS 2) project (2021-2024)
- EDA/CAT B: “Structural Health Monitoring Application to Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems” (SAMAS) project (2017-2020)
- EDA/CAT B: “Aircraft Fuselage Crack Monitoring System and Prognosis through On-board Expert Sensor Network” (ASTYANAX) project (2012-2015)
- EDA/CAT A: “Helicopter Fuselage Crack Monitoring and Prognosis through On-board Sensor” (HECTOR) project (2009-2011)
Furthermore, CapTech Air has been acting as the EDA point of contact for the European Technology Acquisition Programme (ETAP) and has also been the originator of Desire 2 and ERA projects in the domain of the RPAS.