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EDF-2021-AIRDEF-D-EATMI: Endo-atmospheric interceptor – concept phase

Air Superiority is one of the eleven EU capability development priorities identified as part of the revised 2018 capability development plan. This priority includes specifically A2AD type (anti-access area denial) and BMD (ballistic missile defence) capability shortfalls. The emergence of new threats such as manoeuvring ballistic missiles and hypersonic cruise missiles (including air launched ones) or hypersonic glide vehicles represents an additional challenge for European and NATO ground and naval-based air defence systems. Existing knowledge and technologies in the field of weapon systems and missiles design inside the EU represent however an opportunity to explore the feasibility of an endo-atmospheric air defence effector able to intercept current and emerging post-2030 ballistic and cruise missile threats.

This topic is an opportunity for Europe to federate efforts under a European design authority to master critical technologies, materials, components and expertise key to develop a state-of- the-art endo-atmospheric interceptor. The concept exploration study of the interceptor will be the cornerstone for possible future European ground and sea-based missile defence systems, able to complement significantly and improve the robustness of NATO BMD and TBMD.

The proposals must address surface-to-air interceptor solutions including interceptor concepts studies, and associated early maturation activities, until an interceptor mission definition review (MDR) and a preliminary requirements review (PRR) approved by the cooperating Member States. The proposals must aim to provide two main results:

  1. The selection of an interceptor solution to counter the post-2030 theatre air and ballistic threat;
  2. The initial maturation of the most critical related technologies.

The proposals must cover the following activities as referred in article 10.3 of the EDF Regulation, not excluding upstream and downstream activities eligible for development actions if deemed useful to reach the objectives:

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

In particular, the proposals must address:

  • The iterative definition of interceptor detailed requirements, based on:
    • The definition with cooperating Member States of a set of missions, threats, attack scenarios including salvos or combined attack, and user requirements, the definition of a workable concept of operations (CONOPS), including interceptor association with external lower/upper layer effectors and early warning sensors;
    • The detailed characterization of the relevant threats to be addressed by the future interceptor;
    • The selection with cooperating MS of relevant weapon systems (WS), platforms and command and control (C2) architectures to be considered for the interceptor concept and development activities, in consistency with Member States roadmaps for these elements at the horizon 2035+. Considering the early stage of the interceptor activities, the proposals will favour generic/high-level WS, platform and C2 assumptions;
    • The selection with cooperating Member States and characterization of the relevant sensor suites, including fire control radar and early warning sensors, to be considered for the interceptor concept and development activities, in consistency with Member States roadmaps for these elements at the horizon 2035+, and with Member States’ activities related to space-based early warning. Considering the early stage of the interceptor activities, the proposals will favour generic sensors models, taking into account existing technology and main planned evolutions in the considered horizon;
    • The elements coming from concept exploration studies.
  • The concept exploration studies and performance assessment for possible interceptor solutions, notably regarding:
    • The definition and assessment of the candidate interceptor physical architectures;
    • The definition and assessment of the candidate interceptor functional architectures, including integration within the relevant WS;
    • The assessment of interceptor and global WS performances, in behavioural and accurate (6-DoF) simulations combining physical and functional accurate modelling for the candidate interceptor solutions. In particular, the assessment will include detailed simulations of the main interceptor flight phases, and will take into account generic radar models to estimate the probability of interception against each type of threats for the selected interceptions points;
    • The physical and functional integration aspects of the candidate interceptor concepts on the relevant platforms and launchers identified with the Member States, including safety aspects;
    • The munition management aspects during its complete lifecycle, including transportability, integration to different platforms launchers, safety and integrated logistic support;
    • The testing facilities, for development and qualification;
    • The trainings aspects, including firing tests;
    • The economical (non-recurring and recurring costs) and general risk analysis of candidate concepts;
    • The proposal for a best concept candidate for further maturation and preliminary design phase, based on complete value analysis including performance, costs, risk, modularity, manufacturability, safety , consistency with Member States operational needs, current/planned platform sensors and lower layer interception means, with jointly defined detailed criteria and hypothesis;
    • The mission definition review (MDR) and a preliminary requirements review (PRR).
  • The early maturation activities key for developing an endo-atmospheric interceptor, including best suitable propulsion solutions for boost phase, midcourse phase and endgame, notably:
    • Activities related to main interceptor functional segments, in consistency/support with functional requirements and concept exploration activities.
    • Activities related to interceptor technologies and equipment, in consistency/support with the functional requirements and the concept exploration activities).
    • The maturation level raised through the present concept phase must be sufficient to allow the most critical technologies and equipment to reach TRL6 within 3 years, by means of the possible following assessment phase which has to be consistent with the scope of the retained concept.
    • Identification of complementary maturation plan allowing to reach TRL6 for most critical technologies and equipment.
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