Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge:

The combination of surface and airborne mobile assets is used to detect, identify and track targets (typically: small boats) travelling beyond coastal waters. A variety of obstacles have to be faced in current operations, and improved performances and reaction capabilities are required. Tactical communications between surface and aerial assets are considered key for improving situational awareness, early warning and reaction capacity. A particular weakness lies in communications capabilities among the mobile assets and the control centres (in particular in relation to tactical communications, interoperability and standardization). Better surveillance platforms are necessary, with improved communication performance, improved endurance (it should be more than 10 hours), and reduced operational cost (10 to 20 per cent of that of a Maritime Patrol Aircraft).


The proposed action must be structured along the following phases:

Phase 0: The participating users/buyers of R&D service should agree on common performance levels and associated specifications for the detection, early identification, and tracking of moving targets, as well as on communication specifications, standards and interfaces for information exchanges between platforms (be them surface or airborne). Interoperability to existing systems should be analysed.

Phase 1: They will plan the research and the design of solutions covering a broad variety of issues, including technologies for:

  • surveillance (e.g. lower weight/higher performance radar and electro-optic/systems and hyper-spectral sensors);

  • detection and early identification and tracking of moving targets (e.g. with moving target indication and data fusion/correlation capabilities), including the detection of marine pollution incidents;

  • response (e.g. techniques for the analysis of identification of anomalous behaviour and generation of alarm with the appropriate confidence level, methods for improved mission planning, obstacle detection and avoidance);

  • higher efficiency/lower emissions/low operational costs naval architecture and platforms (crafts, small boats);

  • air-to-surface tactical communication and cooperation between naval and aerial platforms.

Aerial platforms should carry at least a Maritime Surveillance payload consisting of: Light maritime radar, Electro-Optical camera (Visible and IR), AIS receiver, SATCOM for beyond line of sight operation. The platform should be fitted with mission support software providing data fusion capability and close to real time transmission to ground control station of mission data.

The results of phase 1 should lead to calls for tenders (for the procurement of R&D services) which focus on technologies clearly identified to be part of a unique architecture.

Phase 2: The research and specification work should lead to at least 3 prototypes, each consisting of a system including communicating airborne and seaborne equipped platform(s). Prototyping should contribute to standardisation, including of naval construction. The aerial platform(s) should be certified for flying with a pilot on board, with mission payload being controlled from a ground station, and the platform should be tested to fly in remote piloted mode. The work during this phase should be procured in the light of the development of European regulations as regards to RPAS for improved surveillance, possibly flying in non-segregated air spaces.

Phase 3: By 2020, the project should have designed, documented, and set up at least one operational scenario in which all the prototypes and elements of systems issued from the previous phase of the action (possibly combined with pre-existing capabilities) will be tested. This scenario should take place within an actual multinational operation, such as a FRONTEX-coordinated joint operation. The participation of competent border authorities should therefore be a prerequisite for the implementation of this action.

Expected impact:

Impact will depend on the potential to develop and validate future solutions by means of the experimentation with innovative proposals in a real operational environment. This can be achieved if procurement actions are tailored to the requirements defined by the users/buyers of the R&D services, and also take due account of industrial capacities to ensure future supply.

The work undertaken under this topic is expected to improve the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the prototype systems as compared to more conventional border surveillance systems, and the systems used for the detection of marine pollution incidents. It would contribute further to the development of the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) at sea initiative. By enhancing joint communications capabilities, as well as the mobility, projection and sustainability of a common pan-European pool of maritime border patrol equipment, it will also contribute to the concept of Common Application of Surveillance Tools, as included in the final steps of the European Border Surveillance System1 (EUROSUR).

For the impact of the action to be above threshold the proposal must necessarily state:

  1. the participants' agreement to negotiate in good faith and on a case by case basis, licenses to any and all of their to the background necessary for the implementation and use of the contents of the standards, specifications, design, research roadmaps, tender packages or other documents generated in the action.

  2. the participants' commitment that all such licenses shall be according to Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (“FRAND”) terms.”

Type of action: Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) co-fund action

Further to the PCP’s successful achievement, the European Commission may consider launching a PPI to facilitate the acquisition of operational systems satisfying the specifications established within the PCP, possibly in synergy with the Internal Security Fund.

Indicative budget: The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between €5m and €12m would allow for this challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Timeframe: The action is expected to have performed the testing of prototypes in the context of operational scenarios by 2020.


[1] The aim of EUROSUR is to reinforce the control of the Schengen external borders. EUROSUR will establish a mechanism for Member States'authorities carrying out border surveillance activities to share operational information with a view to reduce the loss of lives at sea and the number of irregular immigrants entering the EU undetected, and  increase internal security by preventing cross-border crime such trafficking in human beings and the smuggling of weapons and drugs.

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