Second DEFRA Call

The 2nd DEFRA call (launch date: 1/03/2022) will cover the following research themes, with an indicative budget of 1.600 k€ per theme.
You can already register for the online information session that will take place on 10 March 2022, at 14h00.

Space Weather for security and defence applications

Space Weather is a new discipline which has become a Belgian specialty for several years. The Solar Terrestrial Center of Excellence in Uccle is an internationally recognized pole in the domain providing  products worldwide. Belgian Defence developed a partnership with them in order to develop a military niche expertise in Space Weather that few countries have. It is therefore much relevant to leverage this academic, industrial and military know-how with the development of a research thema in Space Weather.  It could cover topics like impact assessment on military equipment, space weather forensics, classification and standardization, configuration benchmarking, dissemination and exploitation of forecast products, ground-based or space-based sensor design or development, ….Defense will also be part of the development of dual niche capabilities in the area of “Space Domain Awareness” including Space Weather and will participate, at the international level, in the growing consideration of this new area through participation in NATO Space Ops Center and the future Space Center of Excellence.

5/6G for military, security and crisis applications

5G is a complex topic that is moving very fast. 5G offers opportunities and challenges for military applications in different military application domains and utilization concepts such as implementation of 5G in different types of spectrum and in multiple bands, high-capacity tactical wireless systems, virtualization and slicing,… It also pushes the limits of technology in several areas in both access and core networks, for example for crisis management, with the ambition to develop specifications likely to encounter significant implementation challenges. In addition, its standardization and development efforts are moving very fast, with intensive research and development (R&D) and testing being conducted. Many key features of 5G are still to be specified and implemented. Credible analyses in this topic area, particularly addressing the identified challenges, require significant effort.  Proper attention will also be given to 6G predicted to be a lot like 5G in its general infrastructure, but with even more speed, accuracy, and ubiquity.

Sustainable and “green” energy applications for military use

Despite a constant improvement of energy efficiency, energy transition can only be achieved by means of new "green and sustainable" production & storage means such as renewable energies, hybrid powertrains or energy production, batteries and fuel cells.  However, these new technologies pose a challenge for their integration and compatibility in or with military systems as well for their technological development as for their logistic operational management. Part of the answer will come from the exploration and development of disruptive and new energy sources (synthetic fuels, hybridization, hydrogen, ammonia, etc) as well as the study of solutions allowing better management of resources, optimiziation of needs and energy storage.  Autonomous military camps will also have to integrate a wide energy source approach, with several different technological bricks (fuel cells, batteries, synthetic fuels, deployable solar panel etc.)  Overall, this energy transition will be an operational asset making it possible to be more efficient, aim at a better autonomy and strengthening the resilience of forces. 

Preventive Medicine for improved soldier fitness

Being a soldier is a physically demanding job. One of the challenges in a military environment is keeping the service member physically ready at a high level for an extended period of time, starting from the recruiting and initial training phase, preparing for deployment and during deployment. Physical readiness relies on four pillars: Physical fitness is the first, but mental fitness, nutrition & hydration and rest & recovery are the other three pillars. Monitoring the physical readiness of the soldier in order to prevent and mitigate injuries and other health conditions is major. However, a detailed assessment of cardiorespiratory, metabolic and locomotor functions requires appropriate and sophisticated medical exams limiting their applicability for large groups. Recent technologies, such as sensor-based technology, could open the possibility of remote diagnosis and monitoring of large numbers of people, supported by central data capture and analysis and artificial intelligence-supported algorithms and with respect for their privacy. Measures implemented to improve the condition can also be monitored for their efficacy in larger cohorts of people. A proper IT infrastructure and good communications between the people monitored and the health care professionals who supervise the management in the different settings are also key. All service members could benefit from such a warning health monitoring system which could also reduce the attrition rate due to injuries and other health conditions.