R&D focus areas
The Finnish Defence Forces has set four strategic R&D focus areas for 2016-2024:
1. Analysis of the operational environment and defence system enables the identification and evaluation of security threats and the creation and maintenance of efficient defence.
2. Battlespace information management and decision making gain importance as information becomes more and more abundant. Research emphasizes i.a. systems of surveillance and reconnaissance as well as command and control. Key areas include systems integration, usability, interference resiliency as well as capabilities for and against cyber warfare.
3. Human agency is a versatile research theme. It involves the study of the optimal functioning of soldiers as well as the interactions between human agents, systems and units.
4. Impact and protection pertain to the hard core of warfare: the effectiveness of weapon systems, vulnerabilities as well as protection from kinetic impact. In addition to traditional weapons, impact may also be achieved e.g. via network attacks or information operations.
Six themes – research agenda
The research agenda of the Finnish Defence Forces outlines R&D focus areas in the medium to long term. Forecasting key trends of future warfare, six thematic areas are identified:
- Evolving operational environment and the character of crises and warfare
- The human agent as part of systems and units
- Information operations
- Capability in the electromagnetic spectrum
- Systems with autonomous characteristics.
The operational environment is undergoing a constant change on the strategic, tactical as well as practical level, transforming the character of crises and warfare. Security threats are expanding and becoming more versatile; conflicts are becoming more and more complex; the notion of war gets blurred due to hybrid or asymmetric tactics and non-state actors.
Respectively, the objective of the defence forces as well as the development of their modalities and modus operandi must be constantly studied in a new light. Forecasting, trend identification and innovations emerge as key factors for developing defensive capabilities.
The human agent as part of systems and units is a research area involving the learning process, human capacities as well as the interface between man and machine.
The study of human capacity aims at restoring, maintaining or improving the fighter’s physical, psychological, social and ethical capacity. The challenge is to retain responsible operational capacity in volatile, complex and strenuous environments.
Human-machine interface involves the study of ergonomics, embedded ICT, wearable electronics, augmented reality, physiological monitoring as well as the interactions between man and machine.
Information operations are activities aimed at influencing the societal and military decision-making and capacities of the state and its citizens, or protection against such activities. The repertoire of measures includes network intelligence, monitoring and influence, electronic intelligence, electronic disruption, psychological operations and kinetic action against the opponent’s surveillance, monitoring and management systems.
Networking reduces the need for physical presence: a service can be produced elsewhere than where it is used. This enables the dispersal of features and their use via information networks. Networking changes the way defence systems are constructed and used.
The networking of sensor, weapons and management systems enables a more comprehensive situation picture and as well as a more versatile use of kinetic force. The driving force behind the development of networking is the civilian sector, whereas the defence sector must, above all, develop its capacity to understand and apply new technologies.
Capacity in the electromagnetic spectrum involves e.g. improving the stealth protection of units as new radar, laser and hyperspectral sensors are being developed. The repertoire of warfare is expanding from the traditional land, sea and air environments into space and cyberspace. New challenges and opportunities emerge for exploiting the electromagnetic spectrum.
Systems with autonomous characteristics are becoming increasingly intelligent and more important for warfare. There are attempts to replace man with machines, for instance, in such risk-prone missions as reconnaissance and operating within enemy controlled area. When the person is no longer situated inside the machine but operates it from outside, the machine can be made smaller, lighter, less expensive and more capable.
In the future, fully or partly autonomous systems will be able to communicate with each other, making joint decisions as a swarm. New fighting applications involve e.g. lurking weapons, swarming and group-targeting robots, small ubiquitous sensors and systems functioning under fire.
The research agenda is implemented by the Defence Forces through research programs, separate studies as well as through national and international cooperation.
The research agenda (PDF, 1,4 MB)