European OPTIMISE project explores alternatives to GPS and Galileo for military navigation


The OPTIMISE project has proposed a combination of technologies to provide alternative positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) systems for military navigation when Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) are disrupted.

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European OPTIMISE project explores alternatives to GPS and Galileo for military navigation The OPTIMISE demonstration showcased the systems integration and data collection during ground and flight tests hosted by the University of Žilina, Slovakia (Picture source: EDA)


With funding from the European Commission’s Preparatory Action for Defence Research (PADR), the OPTIMISE project - innOvative PosiTIoning systeM for defence In gnSs-denied arEas – is part of broader initiatives to explore alternatives to GPS and Galileo for military navigation. OPTIMISE focused principally on aircraft navigation scenarios in GNSS-denied environments.

GNSS refers to a constellation of satellites providing signals from space that transmit positioning and timing data to GNSS receivers. The receivers then use this data to determine location. However, if such systems, which include Europe’s Galileo, were jammed by an adversary, the need for flexible and reliable alternatives would be crucial.

OPTIMISE, which had a budget of approximately €1.5 million, trialled reliable and secure ways to allow data from different sensors and signals to work together and achieve the integration of different positioning, navigation and timing technologies. Those included relying on star sensors, radars, ground antennae such as telephone masts, atomic clocks and data fusion software.

Real-time demonstration

At the final session of the 28-month project at the European Defence Agency (EDA) in Brussels, OPTIMISE detailed the scenarios and requirements, and the developed technologies and validation activities including ground and flight tests. The technology integration, testing and operation of the different types of OPTIMISE sensors were showcased together with a detailed analysis of the data, via a multi-sensor/multi-platform software architecture for navigation.

The OPTIMISE demonstration showcased the systems integration and data collection during ground and flight tests hosted by the University of Žilina; such tests were complemented with simulations using the information from a reference flight trajectory.

OPTIMISE also elaborated, within its exploitation plan, a roadmap for the further development of the individual technologies and the overall project-integrated system. The follow-up of part of the work within OPTIMISE will be continued in an EDA Category B (Cat. B) project. The project is also related to the work conducted under the Capability Technology Groups of EDA (namely CapTech Guidance, Navigation and Control and CapTech Space).

OPTIMISE brought together nine beneficiaries from four countries. Led by Skylife Engineering SL of Spain, it also includes MBDA ITALIA SPA of Italy, SENER Aeroespacial Sociedad Anonima, also of Spain, France’s Office National D’Etudes et de Recherches Aerospatiales, Syrlinks SAS, STAR NAV and SYSNAV SAS, Zilinska Univerzita v Ziline of Slovakia, and Spain’s La Asociación de Investigación y Cooperación Industrial de Andalucía "F. de Paula Rojas".

OPTIMISE was selected under the 2019 call for proposals for the EU Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) managed by the European Defence Agency. OPTIMISE was selected following an EU-wide PADR call for proposals on the topic of ‘Future Disruptive Defence Technologies - Emerging Game-changers’, in the sub-topic related to autonomous positioning, navigation and timing.

OPTIMISE and European Commission’s Preparatory Action for Defence Research (PADR)

The OPTIMISE project is part of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) launched by the European Commission in 2017 to assess and demonstrate the added value of EU-supported defence research and technology (R&T). It paved the way for a proper European Defence Programme to come as part of the European Defence Fund (EDF), under the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027).

The PADR implementation is run by EDA following the mandate via a Delegation Agreement between the European Commission and EDA signed on 31 May 2017. By this agreement, the Commission entrusts EDA with the management and implementation of the research projects launched within the PADR.