Anticipated and ongoing advances in several technology areas will continue to have a substantial impact on the defence sector. Emerging technological directions need to be explored and consolidated, in order to analyse and exploit their disruptive potential on the defence sector. The communities that are able to drive this forward need to be encouraged to extend from the participating consortia to a wider European pool of expertise, thus stimulating the emergence of a European innovation eco-system with strong relations with the defence sector around a new technological paradigm, well beyond the world of research alone, including military endusers.
Proposals are sought for cutting-edge high-risk/high-reward research projects that aim to demonstrate a new technological paradigm within the scope of one or more of the following sub-topics. Applicants can submit proposals which are in scope of several sub-topics but are requested to indicate one sub-topic as the main scope of the proposed research activities.
(1) Autonomous positioning, navigation and timing
Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) have a profound impact on military positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) services which however critically depend on reliable satellite signals. The availability of these signals cannot be assured under all conditions because operations can take place in GNSS denied/contested environments or because of the physical limitations of the current technology. A promising complementary device would be autonomous PNT sources that can be used without the need for position or timing updates. Relevant factors for considered solutions should be low drift, small scale, power-efficiency and integrability.
(2) Artificial Intelligence (AI) for defence
The ambition of achieving Artificial Intelligence (AI) drives promising breakthrough technologies, expected to become significant in many fields in the area of defence. Their potential for the defence domain is huge, as AI solutions are expected to play an important role in critical fields such as cyber defence, C4ISR systems, intelligent and autonomous unmanned systems and swarms, electronic warfare, data fusion, logistics and maintenance optimization, information processing and intelligence analysis, mission planning and control, war gaming and training, which could radically accelerate the cycle of military operations and deeply influence the military practices.
Proposals are invited for research activities that apply AI in defence technologies in any part of the military capability spectrum, including for cyber defence.
(3) Quantum technologies for defence applications
The advancement of quantum technologies is expected to impact profoundly military operations. Quantum information processing, quantum communication, quantum key distribution and quantum sensing technologies will probably produce a paradigm shift in many fields, such as C4ISR, navigation, object and chemical detection etc. Research proposals in this subtopic should address areas in quantum technologies with clear military applications.
(4) Long-range effects
The operational challenges and specificities of the modern military missions and the rapidly growing cost of use of the defence systems require radical solutions for cost-efficient longrange precision strike. The separate or combined use of electromagnetic railguns, guided ammunition and hypervelocity projectiles, among other things, has been proposed and explored with promising results
Proposals in this sub-area should feature research activities aimed towards solutions which would provide a disruptive change in the area of long-range fire support.
(5) Augmenting soldier capacity
Soldiers have to operate in increasingly demanding and complex environments, performing different and multiple tasks. Soldiers' equipment becomes increasingly heavier and more complex, adding to the challenge of accomplishing their missions in a better, faster and more efficient way. Potential solutions for augmenting the capacity of the soldiers to perform their tasks have been studied, ranging from the enhancement of their physical capacities by using exoskeletons and robotic systems, to applying augmented reality for increased situational awareness.
Research in this area should propose solutions which would radically increase the capacity of the modern soldiers to perform physically demanding or mentally exhausting tasks.
The proposals should include a high-level description of the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the envisaged functionalities and the methodologies on how to measure them. A report with a detailed description of these KPIs and methodologies should be delivered within 6 months after the start of the project. When applicable, proposals should include an assessment of the ethical, legal and societal impact of the proposed solutions. The inclusion of an assessment of the ethical, legal and societal impact for all the proposed solutions for subtopics 2 and 5 is mandatory.
Illustration Photo: Spc. Cody Leasor looks into the headset of the Dismounted Soldier Training System, a virtual reality trainer, at Fort Leonard Wood (credits: U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Samantha J. Whitehead / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0))