European Defence Agency establishing European Terrain Database for European armed forces


The European Defence Agency (EDA) is working on the establishment of a European Terrain Database (ETDB) which will include a vast selection of images taken from across Europe to be made available to Member States’ Armed Forces for multiple military purposes. To this end, a Multinational Field Trial Exercise was held on 23/24 March at the land test centre of the Italian Armed Forces (Centro Polifunzionale di Sperimentazione) in Montelibretti near Rome.
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Once established and fully accessible, the database can be used, for instance, for target recognition, the assessment and improvement of camouflage effectiveness, the testing and enhancement of sensors in different terrains, the generation of synthetic images or the support of modelling and simulation activities. (Picture source: Italian Army)


More than 30 experts from military test centres based in Italy, Sweden, Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Portugal participated in the exercise co-organised by EDA and the Italian MoD. The first part of the event took place outdoor, in the wider area of the test centre, and was aimed at acquiring images with several cameras working in different spectral regions (visible, longwave Infrared, short wave Infrared) under diverse configurations (mounted on a drone or grounded).

A large number of pictures of different terrain landscapes were taken, with and without a specific target. During the second part of the exercise, all these images were uploaded onto the prototypic software platform of the future European Terrain Database which will be installed on EDA servers in the coming months, ready to be populated by users from different participating Member States with unclassified images in different spectral regions (visible, Infrared wavelengths and microwave). The stored pictures will also include information and metadata deemed necessary or useful for their military usage in test and/or research activities.

Once established and fully accessible, the database can be used, for instance, for target recognition, the assessment and improvement of camouflage effectiveness, the testing and enhancement of sensors in different terrains, the generation of synthetic images or the support of modelling and simulation activities.

The exercise participants came from different expert communities with an interest in the ETDB, particularly scientists and technicians specialised in Optronics and Radar sensor design (including materials) and performance prediction, design, development and testing of new camouflage, visible and infrared signature and Radar Cross Section mitigation solutions. The future dataset can be employed by the Ministries of Defence of all participating Member States for R&T initiatives as well as for operational and training purposes. The multinational field trial was therefore an excellent opportunity for those experts to meet and explore potential cooperation opportunities among European defence test centres.

The event was organised in the framework of EDA’s Defence Test & Evaluation Base (DTEB) initiative, which was launched in 2010 to collect, share and harmonise defence test & evaluation standards and procedures at European level. In the meantime, the DTEB has developed into a dynamic and useful network, not only of European Military Test Centres, but also of companies, universities and public/private research centres operating in the sector of defence technologies.


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