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EDF-2022-LS-RA-DIS-AC: Innovative technologies for adaptive camouflage

Camouflage is an important measure to protect soldiers and military platforms. The adaptation of the camouflage characteristics to the conditions, such as encountered sensors, environment and threat level, could bring this protection to a new level. Both the performance of the adaptive camouflage and material characteristics, including its passive properties (e.g., fire/electric shock protection and camouflage), will influence the impact of this technology on military capabilities. This topic complements ongoing projects, in particular following the PADR call on research in technology and products in the context of Force Protection and Soldier Systems.

A good camouflage coverage changes the appearance or signature respectively and prevents from being detected, recognized or identified, and furthermore from being, attacked, hurt, killed, damaged or destroyed. Various camouflage measures have been used in many conflicts and have led to partially astonishing and impressive results. Legacy camouflage techniques and means are normally passive materials with fixed technical properties and with no possibility to adapt or change them. Hence, the signature remains unchanged if the background changes due to movement for example. These conventional techniques are being used in nearly all military situations, missions, scenarios and environmental conditions.

At the same time, available military and commercial sensors, drones, detectors and cameras in combination with sophisticated signal or image processing and analysing software algorithms (such as artificial intelligence-based routines) increase the probability to detect, to recognize or to identify such conventionally camouflaged objects. An increasing threat consists of (more) affordable high-tech sensors, airborne (e.g., drones) and ground based, operating in the spectral bands mentioned in footnote 16, including emerging sensor technologies (such as lasers scanning and quantum) and multi and hyperspectral sensors.

Improved and new Camouflage, Concealment, Deception & Obscurant (CCD&O) solutions and operating procedures are required to prevent land systems (including their weapons) to be detected, identified or their intentions disclosed. Potential countermeasures include passive camouflage, mobile systems, weapons, active camouflage, including smart materials, deception methods, obscurants, and deceptive technologies.

A promising contribution to this challenge is adaptive camouflage techniques and devices that are able to adapt their signatures to the background, to the surveillance sensors (mainly when active), different weather and daytime conditions and threat level hence reducing the ranges of detection, tracking, recognition and identification increasing the survivability of soldiers and platforms. Military platforms or soldiers equipped with adaptive camouflage measures are able to change the signature and to adapt it to the actual background or to deceive sensors in different spectral bands. In order to provide protection against future sensor technologies, development of new materials and concepts have to be investigated. The current development of electromagnetic detection tools like Foliage Penetration Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Tracking and Engagement Radar pinpoints a need for wider spectral range protection, also including radar frequency bands, to protect moving soldiers or military platforms under trees. A combination of camouflage in the optical and radar spectral bands will ensure the highest level of protection, reducing the risk of being targeted.

In that sense and in line with both ‘Ground Combat Capabilities’ CDP priority and ‘Soldier Systems’ CARD Focus Area, this topic aims to push the undergoing technological effort addressing adaptive camouflage for protection of land systems.

In particular – and in compliance with European Defence Agency (EDA)’s Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA) results, including TBB “Passive and active protection for Land Systems” and TBB “Camouflage and Signature Management Technologies” – this topic will contribute for closing the technical gaps directly related with the following capabilities:

– Upgrade, modernize and develop Land platforms to adapt to operational environment– upgrade of current and development of next generation’s armoured platforms.

– Enhance protection of forces.

– Improve individual soldier equipment.

The main scope is to investigate suitable adaptive innovative camouflage techniques, taking also into account usability, and to demonstrate this with a technology demonstrator in real applications. Especially the problem of a good adaptation to the background and to the observing sensors in different spectral bands should be at the heart of the activities. Proposals should address the development of new concepts, technological blocks, sub-systems and/or systems. Technologies for commercial, civil applications and concepts of previous projects that have been publicly presented should be taken into account.

In order to understand the prioritisation of adaptive camouflage techniques, the activities should contain a threat analysis, which explores and ranks risk areas on military platforms or soldiers and ranks spectral range threats to be treated. These considerations should reflect night-time and daytime scenarios, situations of degraded visual environment given in woodland, arid and snow situation. The abovementioned threat analysis should also contain reference on the physics of camouflage for each spectral band.

The activities shall further focus mainly on research on state-of-the-art and innovative adaptive camouflage techniques and devices in the different optical and radar spectral bands, on arranging and combining them in a common structure (layers, mosaic), on realizing a demonstrator (rigid panel display, elastic shield or flexible textile) and on testing and assessing it. The aim is to have the ability to change the signature (intensities and patterns) in different spectral bands at the same time without deteriorating the signature in any other spectral band. A concept and proposal to develop a self-adapting closed loop with the help of sensors (either embedded or as part of the material) detecting the surrounding environment and its own signature should also be planned. Materials for signature management in spectral bands listed in footnote 16 not deemed as threats should be studied on a more basic research level (TRL 1-4). Moreover, a development of bi-recyclable textiles and flexible elements (e.g., smart glass, optical fibres, etc,) with widest possible anti-radar properties should be investigated.

The adaptive camouflage techniques considered should address the integration with the platform or soldier C4I technology and should consider power source appropriate for the platform or soldier energy budget.

The following tasks must be performed as part of the mandatory activities of the project:

  • Generating knowledge

(1)         threat analyses to prioritise object areas for each spectral band

(2)         selection of suitable and development of innovative camouflage techniques and principles in the different spectral bands

(3)         design of the materials or components with the aim of reducing the target’s signature in all the considered spectral bands proposal for a new assessment methodology for an adaptive demonstrator

(4)         laboratory testing, to determine the properties of the camouflage materials and coatings. Research should be performed on:

    • mechanical and thermal properties;
    • resistance to external factors (water, dust, fire, weather);
    • chemical resistance to e.g., lubricants, disinfectants;
    • spectral characteristics and measurements, and,
    • evaluation of gloss and contrast.

(5)         Development of a concept of a self-adapting closed loop:

    • collection of surrounding environment flux in the considered spectral bands
    • specification and assessment of different technical possibilities;
    • selection of suitable feedback sensors in different spectral bands, and;
    • analysis of a digital based control unit with an interface to allow integration into an overall system concept.

(6)         definition of the energy budget for each active adaptive camouflage technique considered, including analysis and evaluation of alternative power sources for generating and storing electricity and creating conditions for an autonomous mode of using electricity.

(7)         Technology demonstration on a military platform or soldier using standard-like surrogate targets; as for example a human body dummy and vehicle dummy.

  • Integrating knowledge

(1)         establishment of a concept of combining and integrating different, active and passive adaptive techniques in a mixed structure (layers, mosaic), including but not limited to ECPs, LEDs, NIR-diodes and flexible electrochromic display, optical fibres and new fibres based on dual technologies, transparent paintings, digital printing for active and passive camouflage, cooling elements, layers with spacers, etc. Biologically inspired materials and structures could be considered as well;

(2)         analysis of the technical feasibility, requirement specification, trade-offs and concept definition for an operational use case.

  • Studies

(1)         study of novel materials with potential to improve signature management beyond state-of-the-art;

(2)         study on the development of easy to scale-up technologies of elastic elements, as well as production of textile, preferably recyclable materials, with specific camouflage properties;

(3)         analysis of industrialization and technology maturation needs at EU level;

(4)         analysis of the disruptive potential of specific solutions for adaptive camouflage.

  • Design

(1)         design and testing of the surface structure;

(2)         design and build a demonstrator, performing measurements at different environmental conditions in different spectral bands, compare to different background signatures and intensities;

(3)         construction of a unified technology demonstrator;

(4)         performance verification of the technology demonstrator in laboratory- conditions as well as under field conditions.

Functional requirements

It is essential that the research activities generate new or improved camouflage capability according to requirements generated from the operational needs of the Member States and Norway military forces.

Final adaptation to physical requirements regarding e.g., mobility, size, weight, power consumption, platform integration, and general robustness is not excluded, but more suited for a development program phase. Nevertheless, the proposals should include considerations on how the technology development can be driven with these parameters in mind.

The proposals should meet the following functional requirements:

– camouflage systems for both soldiers and military platforms should be considered;

– the camouflage should be functional in the different spectral bands listed in footnote 16;

– the camouflage should be able to be integrated with the platform or soldier C4I technology and should require power source appropriate for the platform or the soldiers’ energy supply;

– power consumption should be minimized because it is critical for many missions (e.g., for all unmounted scenarios). The active camouflage for soldier should possess sufficient electrical independence: reduced power consumption in case of electronic components, as well as a self-recharging system. For vehicle applications power consumption is not as critical;

– all proposed solutions should clearly indicate required power, voltage and current, in order to be able to compare the proposals to the generators or batteries of existing vehicles and batteries of dismounted personnel;

– the active camouflage should be equipped with user protection system preventing from risk of electric shock;

– the most crucial aspect is the compatibility of all the spectral protection measures into a unified compact multitool, applicable for single soldier and military systems;

– the active camouflage control system should automatically generate suitable camouflage patterns ensuring low level of detectability efficiently;

– the active camouflage system must have a cyber security protection to prevent targeting by enemy systems;

– different optical intensities, colours and patterns should be generated;

– different weather conditions (summer, winter, sunshine, night, rain) and different background scenarios (woodland, dessert, urban) should be taken into account;

– the active camouflage material should demonstrate good mechanical properties, such as strength, low weight, compact structure and ease of use, allowing easy transportation and handling;

– the working principle of the control loop and the feedback signals should be defined;

– the possibility to integrate into an overall military system concept for different carriers with compatibility to other equipment and boundary conditions should be considered;

– for the technology demonstration on a human body, a standard-like dummy target could be considered;

– for the technology demonstration on a vehicle a standard-like target such as the (EDA) STANDCAM could be considered;

– current available assets, as the European Terrain Database (EDA), could be exploited to assess camouflage effectiveness of soldiers and military platforms as well as the effectiveness of sensors in different terrains.

The functional requirements also include the optical properties of an adaptive shield (flexible or rigid) with an arrangement of different adaptive elements in different spectral bands also possessing radar protection. Properties to cover should be (if applicable):

– selection of materials with good performance in terms of their durability, usability, resilience, and low undesirable impact on other spectral ranges;

– increased camouflage effectiveness in spectral bands listed in footnote 16;

– spatial distribution of the emitted light and reflected environmental light, described by the BRDF (Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function) should be considered;

– polarization signature should be considered;

– speed of the adaptive change;

– properties of the closed feedback-loop with respect to different sensors, digital hardware, control concept, accuracy and speed.

Expected impact

– Contribute to closing the technical gaps directly related with the capabilities described in the CDP for the priority “Ground Combat Capabilities”:

– upgrade, modernize and develop Land platforms to adapt to operational environment;

– upgrade of current and development of next generation armoured platforms.

– Enhance protection of forces with feasible solutions and improve of Land mobility.

– Improvement in military tactics and missions.

– Enabling of mission profiles that cannot be executed using conventional non-adaptive camouflage.

– New materials, new sensing techniques and new production techniques will create a renewed and variety of options in the world of “seek and hide” by combining selected Visible, IR and radar camouflage combinations, according with specific mission needs and requirements.

– Improve individual soldier protection.

– Decreases exposure to the enemy’s actions, decreasing the number of combat casualties.


EDF-2022-LS-RA-DIS-EAD Electromagnetic artillery demonstrator

Long-range effects are a substantial contributor to capability priorities concerning sea surface superiority and ground combat capabilities to maintain indirect / over-the-horizon fire support over large distances for precision strikes against a brought spectrum of targets. Physical limits of existing artillery systems in highly agile symmetric warfare scenarios call for exploring radical game-changing concepts, that combine increased performance and safety on the battlefield and that cannot be achieved with conventional (chemical) propellants and launchers. These will allow European technology and industry to remain at the leading-edge, contributing to technological supremacy and European Strategic Autonomy in the defence sector.

Considering the requirements for enhanced precision and extended range of ammunition, while seeking affordable costs, Electromagnetic accelerators, or guns (EMG) represent a disruptive technology to launch projectiles over extremely long distance (> 200 km) and muzzle velocities. Thus, an EMG system is a promising option to fill the gap between conventional artillery (cost effective but limited to 70 km range) and missiles (long-range but expensive and therefore limited to high-level targets).

An EMG system consists of the three major components, the accelerator or electromagnetic gun itself, the conversion and storage unit, and the projectile. These components present different technology maturity levels and affect the total system efficiency. Two basic concepts have been investigated for military applications, the railgun (EMRG) and the coilgun (EMCG).

In Europe, the technological maturity of the EMG systems system is currently located in the range between TRL 3 and TRL 4, which means that the experimental proof of concept is done and the technology is being validated in a laboratory environment.

Feeding the EMG with a large amount of energy in a very short time is a challenge. The electric pulsed power, that is needed to supply the EMG, requires storage space close to the gun barrel. Electrical storage is under the constraint of at least two parameters: the first parameter is the volume needed for the hardware (related to the energy density of the storage, that is to say, to the storage weight); the second parameter is the capability of the storage to deliver the energy in a very short duration.

The projectile and the electromagnetic launcher have to be co-developed. In the case that electronic parts and other electromagnetically sensitive parts has to be integrated into the projectile magnetic shielding has to be taken into account for the system-specific projectile design. EMG are most frequently working with square calibres. Rectangular or round calibres can also be used, which are more challenging because of the need for sabots or laborious constructive measures This means that a large variety of projectile shapes are possible and offer the opportunity to develop out-of-the-box aerodynamic concepts.

A large calibre weapon with an extremely high muzzle velocity, achieved by electromagnetic propulsion (hypervelocity regime), has major benefits like longer ranges and shorter time-to- target, compared to conventional artillery systems or missiles.

However, developing a large calibre electromagnetic gun is an ambitious goal that will require time to achieve. An intermediate step is required. Besides, considering the emergence of new air threats such as swarms of drones or hypersonic missiles, novel capabilities for air defence missions will be key assets. This is why a medium calibre electromagnetic gun that can be used for air defence and anti-surface warfare is seen as an important goal and also as a milestone in the global roadmap for the development of electromagnetic guns.

Taking into consideration that the electromagnetic gun will be integrated in a naval or land platform, the size and weight of the different components (e.g., components for conversion and storage of energy) are considered a challenge, which needs to be addressed.

The objective of the topic is to solve the current technical challenges and increase the maturity of the critical components required to develop a medium calibre electromagnetic artillery system.

The focus is set on the following tasks:

  1. Requirement analysis and system specifications of a medium calibre electromagnetic gun dedicated to air defence (primary mission) and anti-surface warfare (secondary mission);
  2. Improved design and development of the critical system components, namely (1) the electromagnetic gun, (2) the pulsed power supply and (3) the hypervelocity projectile, according to the overall system specifications;
  3. Assessment of the components at laboratory level (minimum TRL 4), including their performance validation and the feasibility of their integration at system level.

The priority of this call is to work on the critical components and to make progress on their maturity (B and C), especially for the pulsed power supply.

The whole system development and demonstration (TRL > = 6) is beyond the scope of the current topic.

The following tasks must be performed as part of the mandatory activities of the project:

  • Definition of the operational requirements of the artillery system: in-depth analysis of the use case scenarios for the following missions:
    • Primary mission: air defence operations, in particular anti-missile warfare and C-RAM (Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar);
    • Secondary mission: anti-surface warfare.
  • System analysis and specification of an electromagnetic artillery system that complies with the physical and functional integration on military platforms comprising a medium calibre electromagnetic gun a pulsed power supply and hypervelocity projectiles to meet the operational requirements.
  • Design of a modular inductive power supply based on XRAM technology, development and test of two modules: the focus is set on size, weight and performance parameters.
  • Design of a modular power supply, development and test of two modules (the focus is set on size, weight and performance parameters).
  • For power supply technologies: comparing of the two modules and demonstration of the feasibility of modules integration at system level to meet the full system specifications.
  • Design, development and test of a medium calibre EMG:
    • Electrical and mechanical architecture;
    • Reduction of the gun wear to increase the bore life;
    • Concept for the EMG loading system according to the firing rate.
  • Design, development and test of the sabot and the armature required to accelerate and guide the projectile along the gun bore, search for low-density/high-performance structure to reduce the parasitic mass.
  • Design, development and test at short range of instrumented hypervelocity projectiles:
    • Aerodynamic design: low-drag and heat-resistant aerodynamic architecture;
    • Investigation of lethality mechanism: kinetic penetrator or airburst/fragmentation warhead;
    • Hardening of the projectile structure with respect to acceleration, heat and electromagnetic constraints, search for low-density/high-performance structure to optimize space for embedded components such as fuse, explosive, pre- formatted fragment, course control actuators, etc.;
    • Investigation of course correction devices and GNC (Guidance, Navigation and Control) devices.

Functional requirements

The proposals should meet the following functional requirements:

  • Medium calibre electromagnetic artillery system:
    • Primary mission: air defence, in particular anti-missile warfare and C-RAM;
    • Secondary mission: anti-surface warfare.
  • The system should operate with both naval and ground forces.
  • Medium calibre electromagnetic gun:
    • Total launched mass: from 3 kg to 5 kg (to be refined during the system analysis phase);
    • Muzzle velocity ≥ 2000m/s
  • Pulsed power supply:
    • Energy density ≥ 1 MJ/m3
    • Modular design: development of two modules, to demonstrate that the upscaling capability meet the full system specifications.
  • Medium calibre hypervelocity projectile:
    • Low-drag and heat-resistant aerodynamic profile;
    • Lethality mechanism: kinetic penetrator or airburst/fragmentation warhead;
    • Mission-specific fuse, explosive, course correction or GNC capabilities.

Expected impact

  • Technologies identified in this topic directly contribute to the development of “next generation precision strike capabilities”, under the CDP priority “Ground Combat Capabilities”.
  • They also contribute to “Naval Manoeuvrability” CDP priority, by providing disruptive technologies for surface superiority and power projection from sea.
  • Concerning CDP “Air Superiority”, EMG technology will enhance “Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD)” capability, in order to mitigate adversary Air Defence systems.
  • These technologies are further in compliance with European Defence Agency (EDA)’s Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA) results.
  • Contribution to the defence and security interests of the EU, its Member States and Norway:
    • Contribution to EU strategic autonomy;
    • Increased protection of critical assets as well as ground and naval units;
    • Reduced life-cycle cost compared to current systems.
  • Contribution to European technological sovereignty:
    • Reinforcement of innovation capabilities through the investigation of new and disruptive concepts and technologies;
    • Strengthening of the EU’s Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB).s, decreasing the number of combat casualties

EDF-2022-LS-RA-DIS-NT Non-thematic research actions targeting disruptive technologies for defence

The specific challenge is to lay the foundations for radically new future technologies of any kind with unexpected impact that aims to bring radical technological superiority over potential adversaries. This topic also encourages the driving role of new actors in defence research and innovation, including excellent researchers, ambitious high-tech SMEs and visionary research centres of big companies, universities or research and technology organisations.

Proposals are sought for cutting-edge, high-risk/high-impact research leading to game- changing impact in a defence context. They must have the following essential characteristics:

– a disruptive impact in a defence context: Proposals need to clearly address how the proposed solutions would create a disruptive effect when integrated in a realistic military operation;

– radical vision: Proposals must address a clear and radical vision, enabled by a new technology concept that challenges current paradigms. In particular, research to advance on the roadmap of a well-established technological paradigm, even if high- risk, will not be funded;

– breakthrough technological target: Proposals must target novel and ambitious scientific or technological breakthroughs that can be experimentally assessed, and the suitability of the concept for new defence applications must be duly demonstrated. Basic research without a clear technological objective targeting defence applications will not be funded.

The inherently high risks of the research proposed must be mitigated by a flexible methodology to deal with the considerable science-and-technology uncertainties and for choosing alternative directions and options.

Proposals should include clear descriptions of the proposed criteria to assess work package completion.

Functional requirements

This call is open to any technology with a high disruption potential. Proposals should describe the targeted functionalities and the foreseen means to measure progress toward the achievements of these functionalities.

Expected impact

  • Scientific and technological contributions to the foundation of a future technology with disruptive applications in the area of defence.
  • Enhanced innovation capacity of the European Defence industry by identifying and exploring ground-breaking concepts and approaches or by applying technologies and concepts previously not applied in the defence sector.
  • Enhanced competitiveness of the European defence industry and creation of new defence markets.
  • Enhanced defence research and innovation capacity across Europe by involvement of actors that can make a difference in the future such as excellent researchers, ambitious high-tech SMEs or visionary departments of big companies, research centres and universities.