Making Waves

The Franco-German Future Combat Air System sixth-generation combat aircraft is one platform which could benefit from technologies being developed under the CapTech RFST rubric.

The EU’s Radio Frequency Sensors Technologies CapTech is helping to spur innovation in the electronic warfare domain.

The European Defence Agency (EDA) is tasked with promoting and enhancing cooperation in armaments across the European Union (EU). Intrinsic to this are the Capability Technology (CapTech) areas the EDA has established and is promoting. The CapTechs are intended to further research and development of technologies applicable to the military capabilities of the EU’s member states. According to the EDA, each CapTech includes expertise from the public and private sectors with each CapTech under the auspices of a CapTech moderator.

One of the EDA’s CapTechs covers Radio Frequency Sensors Technologies (RFST). This CapTech was established in 2004. The initiative is an umbrella for a myriad of research and development projects which are ongoing within the EU’s member states run by a plethora of public and private sector organisations. A written statement supplied to Armada by the EDA stated that the membership and scope of these projects can differ widely. The RFST CapTech meets three times per year. At these meetings “the status of projects and proposals for future projects are discussed.” Exact details on the projects within the RFST CapTech “are for EDA member states only and not to be disclosed to the public.”

Data Processing

However, the EDA did disclose that one technology of interest to the initiative is the use of novel data processing techniques. This is already attracting significant interest from several programmes connected to the CapTech RFST.

Unsurprisingly artificial intelligence, a hot topic in the radar, military communications and electronic warfare fields, is expected to gain increased interest within the CapTech RFST in the future, particularly the hardware aspects of such technologies, the statement continued. Over the longer term, the EDA is confident that the importance of the EDA’s CapTechs “as fora for experts in the different research areas are likely to gain importance.” This could see the number of EU member states involved in the CapTech RFST increasing: “Currently, experts from ten participating member states are regularly participating and contributing to the meetings of CapTech RFST.” The EDA predicts that “in the future, an increased participation is expected due to the increased importance of the forum for the discussion on topics to be covered under the umbrella of new EU defence funding mechanisms.”

Like other EDA CapTechs covering sectors like optronics, communications, materials, ammunition and navigation to name just four, the work being performed by the CapTech RFST makes an important contribution to defence initiatives across the EU. This could also help member states to exchange information and foster innovation to drive this technology forward. As electromagnetic systems in the radar, communications and EW domains get more complicated this will only increase in importance in the years to come.

by Dr. Thomas Withington