Funding | Advanced radar technologies | European Defence Fund (EDF);European Commission - Peeref (2024)

Objective:

New types of threats are difficult to detect and track, in particular those with stealth characteristics, hypersonic speeds, slow airborne motion, small highly manoeuvring and when saturation attack tactics are used. Facing such threats, existing surveillance radar systems are reaching their limits in terms of detection range, angular domain coverage, tracking and recognition capabilities. Consequently, the objective of this topic is to mature the required technologies and concepts to cover the need for situational awareness by achieving advanced high-performance and a highly integrated multifunction system that may support radar, electronic warfare (EW) and possibly communication functions when feasible and advantageous, enabled through the development of active electronically scanned array (AESA) antennas.

Specific objective

This topic addresses the maturation of new RF sensor technologies, such as, but not limited to, high-power, high-frequency (up to Ka band), multi and wide band operation both active and passive, adaptive waveform design, modern AESA antennas with digital beam-forming, advanced resource management, innovative signal processing and spectrum-sensing techniques, multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) radar, multi-static configurations and cognitive capabilities with for instance Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML). The aim is to render radars highly versatile and adaptive, while being compatible with operational constraints in terms of performance, size, weight, power consumption and cost (SWaPC).

These advances are expected to continue paving the way for more integrated capabilities with respect to radiofrequency (RF), microwaves and electronics, permitting the integration of the functions of radar, electronic warfare and desirably communications into existing or new platforms when feasible and advantageous. The specific understanding, development and management of AESA antennas is essential in this regard.

Scope:

Proposals must address research on innovative RF sensor technologies able to improve the performance of current radar systems and deepen into the concept of multifunctional capabilities when feasible and efficient.

As agreed with supporting Member States and EDF Associated Countries, challenging scenarios must be proposed, Associated Countries, after being analysed by using different combinations of radar techniques and selected as the most appropriate solutions in terms of performance, feasibility and cost. In that regard, the proposals should consider active and/or passive RF systems, stationary and/or mobile, single band and/or multiband using a wide coverage of the spectrum, multiplatform, adaptive and flexible with cognitive capabilities that suppose a strong impact and significant effects in the theatre of operations, increasing survivability, interoperability and resilience of the EU Member States’ and EDF Associated Countries’ Armed Forces.

This set of technologies should be conceived to be integrated in different platforms and with the capacity to be part of a network able to cover wider areas and work synergistically in order to improve the detection, tracking and identification capabilities of challenging targets. Examples of those are the stealthy ones (low RCS), tactical ballistic missiles (TBM) and hypersonic missiles, or when saturation attack tactics are used and targets are immersed in clutter or protected by jamming.

Proposals should not address the network aspects.

The improvement of the technological enablers of the AESA antennas should be covered as a mean to allow the multifunctional concepts and improve the general performance of the radar against new types of threats.

Types of activities

The following table lists the types of activities which are eligible for this topic, and whether they are mandatory or optional (see Article 10(3) EDF Regulation):

Types of activities

(art 10(3) EDF Regulation)

Eligible?

(a)

Activities that aim to create, underpin and improve knowledge, products and technologies, including disruptive technologies, which can achieve significant effects in the area of defence (generating knowledge)

Yes(mandatory)

(b)

Activities that aim to increase interoperability and resilience, including secured production and exchange of data, to master critical defence technologies, to strengthen the security of supply or to enable the effective exploitation of results for defence products and technologies (integrating knowledge)

Yes(mandatory)

(c)

Studies, such as feasibility studies to explore the feasibility of new or upgraded products, technologies, processes, services and solutions

Yes(mandatory)

(d)

Design of a defence product, tangible or intangible component or technology as well as the definition of the technical specifications on which such a design has been developed, including any partial test for risk reduction in an industrial or representative environment

Yes(mandatory)

(e)

System prototyping of a defence product, tangible or intangible component or technology

No

(f)

Testing of a defence product, tangible or intangible component or technology

No

(g)

Qualification of a defence product, tangible or intangible component or technology

No

(h)

Certification of a defence product, tangible or intangible component or technology

No

(i)

Development of technologies or assets increasing efficiency across the life cycle of defence products and technologies

No

Accordingly, the proposals must cover the following tasks as part of mandatory activities:

  • Generating knowledge:
    • Development of novel algorithms and methods for the previously mentioned challenging scenarios including difficult functionalities. Development and simulation of the specific innovative waveforms to be used. Development of scenarios where challenging targets should be included.
    • Generating knowledge on the application of cognitive techniques (e.g., AI techniques like reinforcement learning) for adaptive waveform and beamforming design, signal processing (e.g., inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR)) and radar resource management, aimed at improving clutter mitigation, signal to noise ratio (SNR) enhancement and target classification development and improvement. Particularly, research to define and learn decision-making policies in unknown dynamic environments.
    • Development of innovative spectrum sensing techniques and waveform design algorithms to capitalise spectrum awareness to face with spectrally crowded scenarios.
    • Research and development of new electronic sensing/electronic attack/electronic protection (ES/EA/EP) techniques incorporating advanced and sophisticated algorithms. Develop and apply AI/ML or other methods to modern EW to probe, sense and characterise threats and then automatically generate countermeasures to new types of threats in real-time autonomously and adaptively.
    • Studies on innovative solutions for environmental antenna protection for efficient multi and wideband operations (up to Ka-band).
    • Research on EU Multifunctional RF AESA enabling technologies and architectures optimised to specific scenarios (improving the size, weight and power – SWaP – when imposed by the platform) maturing compact and high-performance building blocks including, but not limited to, RF antennas, front ends and digital hardware (HW).
    • Incorporate Modelling & Simulation, digital twin techniques and methodologies from the beginning in order to have a deeper insight of the real system behaviour from the concept development until system development, operation and end of life covering the entire lifecycle.
    • Improvement of inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) techniques;
  • Integrating knowledge:
    • Studies on different concepts and architectures of radar systems, including stationary vs. mobile, multiband/multichannel/multifunction or passive vs. active to understand the benefits and possibilities of the different options and configurations for challenging targets.
    • Integration capabilities with respect to RF, microwave, electronics or processing as enablers for the development of new systems and architectures that can confer superiority against the adversary.
    • Research on the integration of the functionalities given by radar and electronic warfare together with the communication functionality, when feasible and advantageous to achieve a multifunctional capability.
  • Feasibility studies:
    • Feasibility studies of the selected technologies for the optimised functions in specific configurations including multifunction.
    • Studies on digital engineering methodology adoption within the design and development cycle i.e., digital twin implementation and modelling.
    • Research on passive radars technology with the analysis of the feasibility and availability of different illuminators of opportunity (IOs).
    • Study to explore ubiquitous 3-D radar concepts and evaluate possible performance benefits enabled by new system architectures consisting of a rose of equi-spaced staring beams over 360 degrees, which can be steered in elevation (i.e., multibeam architectures and cylindrical arrays), especially in terms of enhanced Doppler characterisation of targets with respect to conventional 3-D radar.
  • Design:
    • Design a multifunction RF sensor based in compact AESA antennas with the multiplicity of characteristics requested: active/passive, single band or multiband, multiplatform, stationary and mobile. It should be able to select the most appropriated configuration for each specific kind of target.
    • Design and develop demonstrators of the subsystems, techniques and components necessary to achieve the previously mentioned system.
    • Modelling of new processing algorithms of radar, EW and possibly communications as part of a potential future digital twin/simulator, enabler for the optimisation of a multifunction system.

The proposals must substantiate synergies and complementarities with foreseen, ongoing or completed activities in the field of sensors, notably those described in the call topics EDF-2021-SENS-R-RADAR related to Advanced radar technologies and PADR-EMS-2019 related to Electromagnetic Spectrum Dominance.

Additionally, the proposals should substantiate synergies and complementarities with the foreseen activities as described in the call topics EDF-2023-DA-SENS-GRID related to Sensor grid, EDF-2023-RA-SENS-EMSP related to Electromagnetic signal propagation, and EDF-2024-DA-C4ISR-AIMA related to AI-based multifunctional AESA SD transceiver.

Functional requirements

The proposed product and technologies should meet the following functional requirements:

  • The architecture of the multifunctional system should allow the integration of existing and new technologies and should follow an integrated modular and scalable architecture (IMOSA) paradigm.
  • The design and architecture of the sub-systems and the technologies to be integrated in mobile small platforms should be modular, SWaP-C scalable, supporting miniaturisation.
  • Capability of airborne/ground/seaborne targets detection and tracking of challenging threats including stealth, hypersonic missiles/glide vehicles, TBM and drones together with cognitive radar management and processing methods.
  • Target recognition should exploit techniques like ISAR, range-Doppler as well as micro-Doppler signature information and enhance system capabilities thanks to AI/ML classification algorithms.
  • Increase the survivability and resilience of common future European radar surveillance systems by flexible use of active and passive modes to augment each other or replace if necessary.

Expected Impact:

The outcome should contribute to:

  • More precise and valid situational awareness information through the flexible use of cognitive capabilities in an RF sensor system combining multiple functions like radar, electronic warfare and, (when viable and beneficial) communications, through multiple bands and agile waveforms, working in active or passive modes to strengthen the recognised air/ground/maritime picture.
  • Standardisation of hardware, waveforms, software, data transmission protocols, data format, procedures etc., within the framework of an interoperable, modular and scalable architecture, in order to increase interoperability among participating parties and existing or designed products.
  • Reduction of the electromagnetic spectrum use and achievement of the higher level of survivability of the overall system, and particularly for the platforms involved, through the development and integration of cognitive capabilities.
  • Demonstration of the capacity and feasibility of the different innovations developed in the project through tangible and measurable results.
Funding | Advanced radar technologies | European Defence Fund (EDF);European Commission - Peeref (2024)
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