In focus

Portugal gears up for the next generation innovation in Defence and Aerospace

Defence innovation is taking exciting shape in the clusters of European Union and Portugal stands out in leading some of the breakthrough technologies in defense and aerospace.  AED Days 2022, the main event of the Portuguese Aeronautics, Space and Defence Cluster, that gathers the national ecosystem along with the major international industry and policy players […]

Defence innovation is taking exciting shape in the clusters of European Union and Portugal stands out in leading some of the breakthrough technologies in defense and aerospace.  AED Days 2022, the main event of the Portuguese Aeronautics, Space and Defence Cluster, that gathers the national ecosystem along with the major international industry and policy players demonstrated the advancement of such systems.

The war in Ukraine has further accelerated the pace of such effort in addressing the opportunities as well the challenges. Defence markets are expanding due to the deterioration of regional security, geopolitical reconfigurations and the need for new and advanced weapon systems. Defence expenditure has risen for the sixth consecutive year among the Members of the European Defence Agency, accounting for 198 billion euros in 2020.

By 2030, Portugal will be spending over 6 billion euros in Defence; Military equipment and defence research, development & innovation investment growth is expected to triple by the end of this decade. The Military Programming Law is now under revision to provide adequate means for the Portuguese Armed Forces to perform its missions in a new and challenging international system, and to contribute to NATO and European Defence and Security efforts.

Portugal has launched the Defence4Tech Hub, and is currently developing the “SmartDefence” intelligent platform to digitise the Portuguese Defence Economy ecosystem. Portugal has recently published the National Defence Strategy for Space, and idD Portugal Defence, has established Magellan Orbital.

Such effort has resulted in laying ground for innovation defence and innovation. Take a look at Portugese entity TEKEVER which has developed UAS, combining complex systems, as drones that fly 20 hours, with satellite communication, powerful sensors, a cross-platform, Ground Control Station and an AI/ML-powered data-centre. Europe’s first UAS-based maritime surveillance system. TEKEVER AR5 is the medium-altitude, medium-endurance fixed wing UAS which is chosen as Europe’s first UAS-based maritime surveillance system. The RAPSODY Project, led by TEKEVER, will test the use of unmanned aerial systems in a maritime context through real-conditions demonstration of two scenarios: search and rescue missions; and pollution and oil spill monitoring. The systems will operate over the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the first time unmanned aerial systems will be introduced into maritime surveillance missions in Europe.

How Portugal with relatively low defence budget managed to create such ecosystem? Jose Neves leads the AED Cluster Portugal which is galvanizing the industries to design and develop advance systems. He talked about nurturing such ecosystem, said: “The growing number of resources allocated towards the development of advanced military technologies will foster defence companies and the involvement of academia and research centres.”

He further added that Portugal will host an accelerator network site (Arsenal do Alfeite) and a test centre (Navy’s Operational Experimentation Centre); Digital technology is transforming our physical world, namely with the use of “digital threads” and “digital twins”, which are known to reduce costs and maximize efficiency.

Another area of innovation is mobility. Portuguese entity known as Critical Software in working on some of the most futuristic technologies, driving the next generation concept in the world of mobility. In 2018, Germany’s BMW Group and Portugal’s Critical Software formed Critical TechWorks to build software for BMW’s future vehicles. Critical TechWorks COO Jochen Kirschbaum said the company chose Portugal because, “It stands out for investment in technological education and excellent engineering schools as well as for strategic governmental investment that positions Portugal as a technological innovation center at the European level.

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