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Windfarm Mitigation for UK Air Defence

Funding details
Registration opens
05 Mar 2020, 00:00
Registration closes
17 Apr 2020, 00:00
17 Apr 2020, 00:00
A total of up to £2m is available, intended to fund a number of contracts of up to £500k (inc. VAT).
Defence and Security Accelerator

This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition is seeking proposals that can provide future offshore windfarm mitigation for UK Air Defence surveillance; including alternative technologies that could fill or remove gaps in radar coverage.

DASA will be holding a dial in briefing session and 1-1 slots to enable potential suppliers to ask questions:

26 March 2020 – A dial-in session providing further detail on the problem space and a chance to ask questions in an open forum. If you would like to participate, please register on the Dial in Eventbrite page.

26 March 2020 – A series of 20 minute one-to-one teleconference sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask specific questions. If you would like to participate, please register on the 1-1s Eventbrite page.

Impact of turbines on radar

The continued development of wind turbine sites has the potential to cause a number of negative effects on civil and military air traffic control and defence. Offshore windfarms, when in the line of sight of radar, have a detrimental effect on Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) primary surveillance radar capability used to deliver a recognised air picture for Air Defence.

Radar returns from within-radar line of sight wind turbines comprise reflections from both the static and moving elements; providing different challenges for the radar operator. While reflections from the stationary elements of wind turbines can be removed by utilising stationary clutter filters, the rotating turbine blades impart a Doppler shift on the reflection that cannot be easily removed. A number of recent trials have demonstrated the adverse impact that this has on the UK’s air defence capability. The Doppler shift on ground radar returns mimics the signals of fast moving aircraft, curtailing the RAF’s ability to detect incoming, low flying, aircraft threats.

Analysis of these trials has concluded that current mitigation methodologies (including Non-Automatic Initiation Zones [NAIZ]) are insufficient to meet the agreed aviation specification. In addition, many of the mitigations applied to civilian radar systems cannot be applied to MOD primary surveillance radar assets, in part due to the age and type of these assets. Further, Air Defence staff cannot rely on transponder data, standard flight paths, and standard flying heights of potential enemy aircraft who may intend to remain hidden. The detrimental effect of offshore windfarms will be exacerbated by the increasing size, number, and scale of future installations.

Given these challenges, more than half of current wind farm developments are subject to objections from the aviation sector (civilian and military); preventing the development of radars within the line of sight of many air defence radar installations. With accelerated deployment of offshore wind farms needed to meet the goals set out in legislation, there is a clear need to mitigate the impact of wind turbines on radar and allow the wind farm developments to go ahead. MOD’s objections to offshore wind facilities within radar line of sight are causing attrition in the deployment pipeline, which risks endangering the decarbonisation trajectory of the United Kingdom.

Competition Challenges

This competition has 4 challenges:

Challenge 1: alternatives to radar
This may include, but is not limited to, alternative sensory information or technologies that would result in the mitigation of Windfarm inference with UK Air Defence.

Challenge 2: technologies applied to the wind turbine or installation
This may include, but is not limited to, metasurfaces applied to, or alterations to the design of, the wind turbines.

Challenge 3: technologies applied to the radar, its transmission, or its return
This may include, but is not limited to, alterations to the initial radar signal or radar station or processing of the return.

Challenge 4: technological mitigations that meet the above scope that are not covered by Challenges 1, 2, or 3

We want novel ideas to benefit users working in UK Defence and Security. Your proposal should include evidence of:

theoretical development, methodological advancement or proof of concept research which can demonstrate potential for translation to practical demonstration in later phases
innovation or a creative approach
clear demonstration of how the proposed work applies to the given civil and military air traffic control context and military air defence context (including non-cooperative aircraft within the recognised air picture)

Proposals for funding to meet these challenges must be submitted by midday GMT on 17 April 2020 via the DASA submission service, for which you will be required to register.

The total funding available for Phase 1 is £2m (excluding VAT), with individual proposals not exceeding £500K (ex VAT). If successful, contracts awarded will complete no later than 31 March 2021.

Additional funding for additional phases to increase TRL may be available. Any further phases will be subject to a separate competitive commercial process and will be open to applications from all suppliers, not just those that submitted successful Phase 1 bids.

Further guidance on submitting a proposal is available on the DASA website.

To see the full competition document, click here.

If you would like to speak to someone at KTN about a proposal for this competition, please contact Hazel Biggs, KTM Defence.

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