SESAR and military issues

SESAR takes a look at its work around military issues and outlines why civil-military interoperability is so important to the fundamental success of the programme. The article also focuses on existing barriers and what you can and should expect from SESAR in the future.

1. Why military aircraft in SESAR?
The European States’ aircraft fleet has steadily decreased since 2003 and are expected to account for less than 8,500 assets in 2013, as opposed to 13,344 in 2003. Military general air traffic (GAT) flights also continue to decrease and in 2011 only 1.87% of all aircraft flying GAT were State aircraft.
In Europe, military aviation represents hundreds of military areas, dozens of military airfields and it is estimated that around 30% of military flights fly GAT, while the rest belong to Operational Air Traffic (OAT).
However, despite decreasing numbers, there is a strong need for sovereign military use of airspace to include a large variety of missions for training purposes, homeland security missions as well as cross border crisis management operations, such as those conducted since the 90’s in the Balkans and, more recently, in Libya and Mali. For such missions, access to airspace is vital, however, given that these missions are often launched at short notice, military use of airspace becomes more complex and varied than civilian airspace users.

2. Civil-military interoperability is a must!
In this context, a wide military involvement is paramount in order to collect comprehensive information on the various ways in which militaries use airspace across Europe and so that the SESAR concept, as it develops, takes these needs into account.
Although the military pursue different objectives, they commonly operate in a mixed civil-military environment and thereby often contribute to the civilian ATM system through mixed civil-military airports, radar surveillance or indirectly by realising missions, such as air policing or search and rescue operations.
But still military operations are supported by different infrastructures designed to sustain crisis time activities and respond to secure C2 requirements (command and control), which often vary from one state to another.
SESAR’s operational concept based on 4D trajectories or the setting up of collaborative decision making processes across the entire ATM community will imply a high level of interoperability of systems and procedures.
To preserve and even ease the military requirement of access to all airspace, there will be a need to progressively bring the procedures and the performance of ground and airborne military systems used for ATM purposes up to standard. The harmonisation of Operational Air Traffic rules, the promotion of common and dual purpose technologies and the development of performance based specifications will all support this paradigm shift in civil-military co-operation.

3. There are some barriers to be overcome…
It is currently very difficult to fly across Europe with a harmonized and efficient military ATM system. Furthermore, the implementation of military performance ATM system and binding regulations is lacking in political will and a shared vision for the future cohabitation of a streamlined civil aviation system and the different national military aviation systems.
Today there is a need to promote a single military position able to take into account and assess SESAR development and its subsequent implementation. This becomes all the more relevant when considering that SESAR could be a unique opportunity to defragment, reinforce safety and performance of military aviation in Europe.
The implementation of a common model and standard through a “Joint and Integrated approach” will have a positive impact on performance, which will be of benefit to all users including military. Thereby SESAR will ensure that civil and military airspace users, together with the Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) will work together in true partnership.

4. Future outlook at a glance
The SESAR programme already commits to military activities in cooperation with the Defence industry to shape the future of military aviation towards a civil-military performance driven European sky. It should also be noted that military organisations, like the European Defence Agency and NATO, as well as from some Member States (through the Military Engagement Plan for SESAR – MEPS), could also provide valuable support.
SESAR Joint Undertaking has been able to produce a number of tangible and validated results intended to provide military decision-makers with sufficient information and get them on Board with the SESAR programme. In addition, research, such as the outcomes of the SESAR Military Avionics Study (2012), have been widely distributed throughout the military community. For the SESAR programme to be a success we need to ensure tighter efforts between both Civil and Military players, interoperability will be fundamental to the deployment of a new generation ATM system in Europe.

Source: Military and Aerospace Electronics

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