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Force protection and advanced soldier systems beyond current programmes - PADR-FPSS-01-2017
Deadline: Sep 21, 2017  

 IT Applications
 Industrial Engineering
 Public Safety

Specific Challenge:

Soldier equipment will increasingly have to meet and adapt to the requirements stemming from their future application in multinational, less and less predictable and very dynamic environments This introduces important challenges to soldier systems, such as:

  • Interoperability of defence systems will be a key capability in the future. For Land Defence Systems, interoperability of vehicles, infrastructures and soldier systems will be based on open standards and joint architectures. This introduces important challenges to soldier systems, such as multi-national interoperability, effectiveness, adaptability to mission and mission intensity, maintaining equipment at state of the art, life cycle cost efficiency, logistic and human resource footprint of force protection.
  • The safety of military personnel is a critical element of effective defence and security. The defensive measures as individual ballistic protection remain vital. The current ballistic protection systems for the soldiers are mainly based on the fibre technology and hard materials technology, where high-performance fibres and hard materials (and their combinations) are manufactured into 2D and 3D assemblies to retard the ballistic threat. New solutions and materials like shearthickening fluids are being implemented into body armour production, but still not in a commercialisation phase. Despite the efforts in the research area (most of them outside the EU), the shortcomings of commercially available products exist. The main disadvantage of the commercially available ballistic systems is their weight – average weight to area ratio for level IIIA (according to the NIJ Standard) remains about 6 kg/m2, for level III is approximately 20 kg/m2, for IIIA+ is close to 30 kg/m2, and for level IV about 42 kg/m2. The inflexibility and design shortcomings to differences in anatomy and protection approaches based only against kinetic energy threats are also important challenges. In this respect, blast protection needs to take into account the use of CBRN agents together with ammunition, explosives or IEDs and the need to detect and protect soldiers from such elements.
  • A strong civilian driving force encourages research and development in order to adapt visible appearance. Materials and components exist or are being developed to change the visual appearance of a surface for e.g. display applications. These are, in general, not suited for defence applications. Present and future threats from advanced sensor systems have been analysed. Advanced materials and structures for high-resolution spectral design are developed at universities and industry without knowledge of defence specific requirements. For longer (invisible) wavelengths no such civilian demand exists. Adaptive materials, structures and components in short wave infrared, thermal infrared and radar require specific research. Such adaptive technologies must be compatible with defence specific requirements on endurance and operability.


The topic calls for proposals to explore and demonstrate the potential of how technology can further advance and enhance soldier systems beyond current programmes, hence assessing what is the state-of-the-art in one or more of the aforementioned areas. Proposed activities could cover one of the following sub-topics:

(a) Generic open soldier systems architecture

The proposals should propose a definition of architecture ready for standardisation and comprehensively covering soldier systems within their context of operation (group, squad, multi-national, vehicles, etc.). The architecture domain to be considered shall include:

  • electronics;
  • voice and data communication;
  • software;
  • human interface devices;
  • sensors;
  • effectors.

The architecture shall be based on a suitable architectural framework. At the end of the project a technical validation should be performed to ensure that a proposed architecture in terms of interfaces, protocols or standards is technically feasible and to enable delivery of an open, modular and easily reconfigurable soldier system.

Results from relevant NATO (STANAG 4677, STANAG 4619, STANAG 4695, STANAG 4740) and EDA (STASS I & STASS II) activities and studies should be used as baseline for the development of generic open soldier system reference architecture.

(b) Tailor-made blast, ballistic and CBRN protection of military personnel

The proposals should aim at research and technology development in lightweight ballistic and blasting protection allowing reduction at least 20% of weight versus existing commercial solutions for military personnel. The technology should allow achieving optimized protection with effective dissipation of energy and body protected zones. It should enable flexibility and modularity. Proposals should also explore the use of novel materials to integrate CBRN detection and/or protection into military body armour. Relevant advancements in manufacturing techniques, such as 3D printing, might also be investigated.

The activities included in proposals submitted under this sub-topic should clearly differentiate from or go beyond work already covered under Horizon 2020, in particular by the Specific Challenge "Secure societies – Protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens".

(c) Adaptive camouflage

Advanced active and passive camouflage methods which are able to rapidly reconfigure or change to various patterns according to the surrounding environment. The camouflage should be active against a variety of present and future threats from advanced sensor systems and observation means, adapted to the needs and the variety of missions of the military users.

Activities are expected to focus on TRL 2 to 3 (for subtopic (a)) and TRL 2- to 4-5 (for subtopics (b) and (c))

The European Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 1 to 1.5 million for subtopic (a) and EUR 2 to 3 million for subtopics (b) and (c) would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

  • Convincing demonstration of EU-wide research cooperation in defence research;
  • Promotion of the integration of interoperability standards;
  • Enhancement of the effectiveness of military personnel;
  • Reduction in life cycle costs.

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