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EDF-2021-DIS-RDIS-QSENS: Quantum technologies for defence

Quantum sciences have the potential to be a disruptive technology for a wide range of application domains including defence. At the core of this “second quantum revolution” is information: its acquisition (quantum sensors, quantum imaging), its transmission (quantum communications) or its processing (quantum computation).

In the long term, quantum communications or digital superiority by quantum computing are two examples of how quantum technologies can benefit defence applications.

In a shorter-term, quantum sensors are expected to play a major role in offering unprecedented advantages in a defence context. Thanks to quantum physics, new sensors are tested in laboratories with precision not achievable before.

This topic aims to push the undergoing technological effort, taking into account the special requirement of the defence sector.

The possession and deployment of quantum technologies will be a game changer in many application domains, which means that maturing and mastering these technologies is a must for mission superiority, but also competitiveness. Europe and European countries fully engage to support this technological development, but are currently outpaced by other countries especially China and the United States. This topic proposal aims at filling this gap.

The ambition is to explore and demonstrate quantum technology solutions in mainly three applicative directions, namely:

(1) Positioning, navigation and timing,

(2) Quantum radio frequency sensing and

(3) Quantum optronics sensing.

Developments concerning specific enabling technologies are intended to be included. Indeed, most of enabling technologies exist already in laboratories. They need now to reach the necessary maturity to meet military operation conditions. This may include: compact cryogenic systems for quantum technologies, fast electronic devices for quantum technologies, specific sources of light for quantum technologies, integration of photonic systems.

Quantum radar (based on entangled RF photons, i.e. quantum RF illumination) must not be considered in the proposals since preliminary system analysis have shown operational gains only in very specific and reduced domains of applications.

Some activities covered by the proposals could share multiple communalities, for example in terms of enabling technologies, with other quantum domains of applications (e.g. communication, encryption). Whilst not being the objective of this call topic, the proposals should elucidate potential benefits of current works for these other quantum domains of applications.

The proposals must cover the following activities as referred in article 10.3 of the EDF Regulation, depending on the topics addressed according to the functional requirements:

  • Activities that aim to create, underpin and improve knowledge, products and technologies, including disruptive technologies for defence, which can achieve significant effects in the area of defence;
  • 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;
  • Studies, such as feasibility studies to explore the feasibility of new or upgraded products, technologies, processes, services and solutions;
  • The 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 tests for risk reduction in an industrial or representative environment

In particular, for each technical area as referred in the functional requirements, the proposals must include some or all of the following activities:

  • Analysis of the disruptive potential of specific quantum technology capabilities in defence applications;
  • Analysis of the technical feasibility, requirement specification, trade-offs and concept definition for an operational use case;
  • Development of a demonstrator system for an operational use case and maturation of quantum technology components;
  • Performance verification in a relevant environment such as a testbed aircraft or a research vessel;
  • Analysis of industrialization and technology maturation needs.
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EDF-2021-DIS-RDIS-NLOS: Non-line-of-sight optical sensors applications

Optical technologies are facing a paradigm shift by an evolutionary revolution from digital imaging to computational and quantum imaging. These disruptive novel optical sensing approaches could bring game-changing sensing capabilities to many military operations. As a lighthouse technology in computational and quantum imaging indeed, non-line-of-sight imaging (NLOS) could overcome limitations of classical optical sensing which are tied to the direct line-of-sight, as it can extend the perception range of an optical sensor to areas hidden from direct view, while insuring high spatial optical resolution. In the future, this emerging technology might therefore enhance soldier’s observation and detection capabilities dramatically by bringing imaging and ranging capabilities, in many operational scenarios where current technologies such as line-of-sight optical sensing or RADAR fail to deliver relevant data with appropriate resolution. Possible operation scenarios include enhanced situational awareness, mission planning for hostage rescue (localization of persons in building) and threat analysis like detection of ambush.

This topic aims to push the development of novel quantum sensing devices, laser technologies and computational algorithms such as geometrical reconstruction and artificial intelligence, such as to enable a breakthrough in optical sensing and situational awareness.

Classically, the perception area of optical sensors is limited to the line-of-sight. This area can be extended by computational imaging to areas outside the direct line-of-sight: using highly sensitive devices, multiple diffuse reflected photons can be recorded and their signatures analysed by sophisticated algorithms, such as physically based back-projection or artificial intelligence. Due to multiple diffuse reflections, the expected signals are very low and require quantum sensing devices with single photon counting capabilities. Further, the sensors have to measure the photon roundtrip path length with high precision.

Expertise from different fields is to be combined to build a demonstrator to be validated in a relevant environment. In this context, the topic calls for research in fields of computer science, for the development of novel reconstruction algorithms, semiconductor electronics, for the development of highly sensitive and precise single photon counting devices, and photonics for the development of laser illumination and optical receiver. All research activities may be led to a laboratory scale demonstration system which may be tested in relevant scenarios.

The proposals must cover the following activities as referred in article 10.3 of the EDF Regulation:

  • Activities that aim to create, underpin and improve knowledge, products and technologies, including disruptive technologies for defence, which can achieve significant effects in the area of defence;
  • 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;
  • Studies, such as feasibility studies to explore the feasibility of new or upgraded products, technologies, processes, services and solutions.

The proposals should support the development of novel sensor devices dedicated of NLOS sensing, the development of new reconstruction algorithms with the aim of fast reconstruction of the hidden scene, the development of a compact laser source with performance adapted to the specific needs of NLOS sensing and the development of a laboratory system to investigate and demonstrate NLOS sensing in relevant scenarios.

An integrated experimental setup is expected with first approaches for self-calibration and self-adoption to environmental conditions within the first 3 years. Then the maturity must be increased by further integration of the system components (laser, sensor, optics, software) and investigate first relevant scenarios by testing in representative environment.

The proposals must finally give prediction on how the technology investigated could be integrated into military sensing platforms and industrial products.

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EDF-2021-DIS-RDIS-OTHR: Over-the-horizon radars applications

The EU requirements for surveillance, as depicted in the 2018 capability development plan, describe the necessity for increased situational awareness through means such as long-range radar systems. In that sense HF (High Frequency) Over the Horizon radars can be a viable solution that offers target detection over very long-range by exploiting propagation characteristics of HF waves. This can be distances in the order of thousands of kilometres by using the sky waves, which are reflected down from the ionosphere, or some hundreds of kilometres by using surface waves, which follow the earth curvature. However, sky wave radars have an extensive blind area (the skip distance) because the sky waves reflect down to earth at distances beyond 1,000km and thus leave areas at shorter ranges without illumination.

For the reasons stated above, such installations are well suited to countries occupying a large area, particularly because of the zone of about 1,000km radius extending the radar transmitter which is not covered by sky-wave propagation. USA, Russia, and Australia among others have already developed OTH radars and have the ability to monitor such large areas. For geographically confined countries though, collaborative air and maritime picture over large areas can be acquired only through a cooperation among them that will utilize OTH radar units operating in a networked environment. Thus, this technology scale naturally fits the extent of the European continent and requires collaboration between Member States to improve collective defence and situational awareness.

The specific challenge of this topic is to address new technologies to be developed by integrating different HF infrastructures (transmitters and receivers) in a collaborative and passive mode to increase air and sea detection range. That includes:

  • Collaborative and passive OTH Radar networking,
  • Ionospheric sounding network to monitor the status of the ionosphere interacting with OTH radar,
  • Non-cooperative broadcasting HF emitters as illuminators of opportunity.
  • Cognitive spectrum management and algorithms to detect challenging targets.

To enhance situational awareness and operation superiority, there is an EU requirement to improve detection, tracking and identification capabilities over wide areas and with minimum latency. High frequency over-the-horizon systems need therefore to be improved whilst an EU concept for cognitive and scalable network, both active and passive, of HF OTH sensors could be investigated.

This topic addresses the technologies for EU OTH radar concept offering deep collaborative strategic surveillance and data sharing. In this regard, both HF Surface- and Sky- Wave radar technologies should be explored regarding their respective advantages in terms of covered area in long ranges and as a gap filler.

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

  • 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;
  • Studies, such as feasibility studies to explore the feasibility of new or upgraded products, technologies, processes, services and solutions;
  • The 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 tests for risk reduction in an industrial or representative environment.

The proposals must conclude to the creation of a proof of concept for the intended solution. This will exhibit the intended functionality and act as a testbed for the development of prototype-scale projects in the future.

The targeted activities should in particular include:

(1) Integrating knowledge

  • Review of defence requirements and accordingly define the preliminary CONOPS for the OTH radars.
  • Definition of OTH Radar specifications based on preliminary CONOPS coming from the end users (armed forces of involved EU members). These should cover collaborative air space and maritime surveillance.

(2) Studies

  • New signal processing techniques, among others, for:
    • Clutter mitigation,
    • Improving target localization and tracking,
    • Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) configuration,
  • Reduction/use of multipath and Doppler fading.
  • Study of the very long baseline related issues:
    • Synchronization of installations,
    • Direct signal disturbance mitigation.
    • Usage of passive mode by exploiting (non-)cooperative illuminators in HF band.

Furthermore, activities specifically targeted on HF Sky-wave radars should include:

  • Support for multiple radar configurations for better footprint management (e.g. one remote illuminator/multiple reception sites or multiple remote illuminator/multiple reception sites).
  • Focus on receiver architectures, mainly oriented to SDR technology.
  • Focus on transmitter technologies, particularly on power amplifier architectures.
  • Signal waveforms and coding.
  • Novel antenna element designs, array architectures and/or scanning techniques.

(3) Design

  • Real time atmospheric propagation models based on processing of data collected by a network of sensors, such as advanced ionosphere stratification models.
  • New techniques for optimized use of electromagnetic spectrum management (frequencies and bandwidth).
  • New signal processing techniques, among others, for:
    • Clutter mitigation,
    • Improving tracking capabilities and target localization,
    • Multistatic system combinations and Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) configuration,

The abovementioned technologies should be demonstrated (partially or in whole) through small scale or reduced functionality (e.g. shorter antennas, reduced power etc.) technology demonstrators. Modularity in terms of future expansion towards a prototype and use of existing equipment / infrastructures must have positive consideration. Additionally, EU technology should be incorporated to the greatest possible extent.

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EDF-2021-DIS-RDIS-AMD: New materials and technologies for additive manufactured defence applications

Additive manufacturing (AM) allows producing multi-functional parts and has been introduced into various industry segments over the last decade. For future military applications employing materials that are even more advanced, the AM process still requires significant technology development in order to establish robust and high yield processes to tap its full potential. The complexity of the necessary processes of additive manufacturing requires a profound understanding of material chemistry, metallurgical structures on microstructural level as well as defect detection on the macroscopic level. Research activities could include but are not limited to identification and analysis of material properties, such as (super)alloys or concrete composites, full functional 3D printed electrified structures, new technologies to further improve military propulsion, AM parts or structures for an improved protection of soldiers and equipment, specialized AM-materials for function and structure in next-gen ammunition and missiles or AM technologies for ballistic functional structures as well as new approaches to lightweight applications.

Additive manufacturing (AM) allows production of parts for various defence-industries segments with various technologies and materials. AM e.g. can improve development processes due to shorter production times, to manufacture obsolete spare parts or parts on- demand, to produce parts with integrated functions or parts of high complexity. There are several topics related to AM that can be addressed in research activities. These activities could include but not be limited to: the identification and analysis of material properties, such as (super)alloys or concrete composites, full functional 3D printed electrified structures, specialized AM-materials for advanced ammunition and missiles or AM technologies for ballistic functional structures.

  • Proposals should in particular address R&T efforts in the areas of:
  • Identification and analysis of new materials for AM for defence application
  • Innovative AM technologies and procedures, e.g. for the production of multi- functional parts

Proposals should balance R&T efforts in the following areas:

A Additive Manufactured Electronics (AME)

In order to overcome future challenges in defence electronics, the aspects of increased miniaturisation and complexity is of major importance. Furthermore, SWAP-C needs to be considered, too. In case of damage, defence electronics should be replaced as soon as possible and not depend of the availability of spare parts. Therefore, the impact of supply chain management and their impact to the independency from outer EU regions is vital. Finally, classical manufacturing of PCBs is related to significant numbers of harmful substances, like acids or galvanic fluids. This is directly related to RoHS and REACH requirements.

B Additive Manufacturing of Advanced Ammunition

For the next generation of ammunition several challenges need to be addressed, e.g. increased performance, improved reliability and safety, additional functionality, changing requirements and adequate supply. AM can be used to produce ammunition covering both, the production of the body/shell and the high-energetic material. The high degree of freedom in shape, can led to significant improvements in performance as the ammunition can be designed and adopted to several mission-specific requirements. For example, pressure profile in a barrel can be improved by the design of the energetic-material or the fragmentation of a shell can be influenced by the shape of the casing.

C Additive Manufacturing for Protection

Different groups of additive manufacturing technologies provide the opportunity to improve the protection of soldiers and equipment by advanced approaches to avoid or resist threats. Using the flexibility in terms of shape and complexity, AM parts or structures can be manufactured without the restriction of classical technological limits. Particularly for resistance it is important to absorb energy and withstand high-strain rates, where AM structures can show an improved protection quality and/or reduced weight.

D Additive Manufacturing for Lightweight Structural Parts

Lightweight structures can be achieved through a geometrical lightweight design and/or the use of lightweight material. AM offers the opportunity to address both by taking advantage of the freedom in the shape using (new) lightweight materials leading. Additionally, using AM for structural parts leads to the necessity of safe and robust processes leading to high-quality products.

Proposals should consider the current state-of-the-art including additive manufacturing systems, materials and material properties. Additionally, the entire additive manufacturing process should be taken into acount in order to evaluate and classify the planned activities within a project.

Proposals are generally intended:

  • To improve the understanding of the investigated AM-processes
  • To further develop the manufacturing technology
  • To evaluate the potential compared to other solutions
  • To improve the performance of the products, processes or operations addressed by the proposal

For the previously mentioned areas, this means:

A Additive Manufactured Electronics (AME)

To increase the level of integration regarding electronics and RF-components, multiple physical functions should be integrated in multi-functional parts using AM, e.g. mechanical, thermal and especially the electric function.

Due to the potential design freedom AME can merge mechanical and electrical functions in one multifunctional structure. Future designs could handle concurrent requirements regarding weight reduction, increased complexity, rapid manufacturing and reduced environmental impact.

Challenging factors to get AME in use at defence level are manufacturing process maturity, definition of material properties and population technologies (e.g. soldering, multi-layering). Additionally the ability to create these functional designs is equaly important. Therefore, the education of engineers and definition of design guidelines are therefore the key to implement AME successfully.

B Additive Manufacturing of Advanced Ammunition

Different types of ammunition may be investigated e.g. kinetic projectiles, shaped charges, grenades or high and hypervelocity ammunition. The specialized materials must be characterized and tested with respect to their intended use, e.g. high-density materials needed for kinetic projectiles.

To improve and adopt the behaviour of ammunition items energetic materials may be additively manufactured to affect the time-dependent energy conversion. To affect fragmentation gradients in the material properties within a shell may be investigated as well as a complex design of ammunition bodies/shells. To affect propulsion, complex shaped propellant grains may be investigated.

The quality and accuracy of the AM-process and the AM-processed materials should receive special attention.

C Additive Manufacturing for Protection

To increase protection different combinations of materials and technologies may be used at each stage of manufacturing process. Different densities, internals structures of components should be considered here, e.g. to optimize the protection quality /mass ratio. AM may be used to exclusively manufacture or just perform the modifications of the existing parts. Multimateriality and multifunctionality of the parts may be additionally implemented.

D Additive Manufacturing for Lightweight Structural Parts

Lightweight structures are to be realized addressing both aspects, an optimal distribution of the material as well as improved (weigh-specific) material properties. Therefore, complex designs are to be addressed as well as the use of new materials. Due to the typically low safety factors used for many lightweight applications, special attention should be paid to process and material quality as well as an substantial database, which should be built up for the processed materials.

The proposals must cover the following activities as referred in article 10.3 of the EDF Regulation, depending on the topics addressed according to the functional requirements:

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

In order to overcome the aforementioned challenges, projects should include the following activities (if applicable):

  • Analysis of available printing technologies and materials in terms of chemical, environmental, mechanical and thermal properties of the additive manufactured parts
  • Investigations on long-term behaviour and effects of environmental conditions
  • Analysis of parameters and variables affecting the additive manufacturing process
  • Investigations at specimen, sub-component and component level
  • Investigations on post-processing and post-treatment of printed parts
  • Optimization methods and numerical simulations
  • Consideration of testing methods (including non-destructive testing)
  • Consideration of reliability and quality related issues
  • Investigations regarding the overall added value for defence systems and products

For the previously mentioned areas, target activities additionally must include:

A Additive Manufactured Electronics (AME)

  • Analysis of material in terms of electrical and RF properties
  • Investigations on assembling technologies, e.g. soldering, gluing, beam welding and wire-bonding
  • Investigations on new possibilities of three-dimensional routing for electronic parts, integrated shielding and increased packing density of RF structures
  • Investigations on the integration of microelectronic components and analysis of thermal management
  • Investigations to optimize post-treatment processes, e.g. to reduce post-treatment temperature

B Additive Manufacturing of Advanced Ammunition

  • Analysis of specialized materials (or material-combinations) with respect to the intended use of the ammunition, e.g. high-strain-rate or shock driven processes
  • Investigation on the performance of additively manufactured ammunition

C Additive Manufacturing for Protection

  • Analysis of the material properties and high-dynamic loads and the energy absorbance
  • Investigations covering complex or adopted shapes and/or lattice structures
  • Ballistic tests of the fabricated resistance structures and components

D Additive Manufacturing for Lightweight Structural Parts

  • Investigations on the lightweight potential using optimized designs
  • Investigations on the lightweight potential using new material
  • Analysis of the process robustness and quality of printed parts during the product life cycle

The proposals must substantiate synergies and complementarity with foreseen, ongoing or completed activities in the field of AM, notably through EU funded actions under Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe or in the framework of the European Defence Agency.

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If you are already in a consortium, want to submit an application and need support to find a consortium or want to integrate an application already in preparation, please write to edf@iddportugal.pt