GBAD requirements evaluation

Background and requirement

As part of the EDP framework (QinetiQ), a sensor mix capability study for the customer (MOD – JSENs) was undertaken to take a holistic assessment of the types of sensors required in a Networked GBAD solution, that would deliver a resilient GBAD solution for the future battlespace.

The customer required a ‘back to basics’, science and needs based analysis to define the future sensors in a GBAD network. The analysis was built upon a foundation of scientific principles and technology and therefore, remained product agnostic, to avoid any potential conflict on MoD future procurement strategies.


The first step in the study was to understand the role and functionality required of sensors within a networked GBAD solution. From this initial assessment core, supporting and tertiary functions of GBAD sensors were defined. This was undertaken to shape the succeeding scoring and analysis of sensor technologies and to create clarity to the analytical approach. The analysis included the functional requirements of multiple effector systems from missiles, guns to Laser and Radio Frequency Directed Energy Weapons, along with the likely impact to network capacities and C2 processing.

The team concurrently assessed the Air Threats identified within the programme scope, it became evident that the analysis, omitted neutral and friendly air users from assessment. For maximum value add It was decided to expand upon the Air Threats list to develop an ‘Air Objects’ list, with detailed assessment of the ‘observable characteristics’ of each air object for all air objects. The generation of this list and observable characteristics allowed the identification of characteristics that could be exploited by different sensor types. The observable characteristics list was extensive and covered many different parameters, from thermal emissivity, to size, colour and manoeuvre models.

Having defined the function and the list of air objects, including a detailed assessment of the observable characteristics the next step in the analysis was to define and the assess the impact of the physical and electromagnetic terrains, within which the sensors would be required to operate. It was clear from the outset that atmospheric effects, such as rain and ECM could have significant effects on the ability of sensor types to conduct the GBAD core, supporting and tertiary functions.

In parallel a comprehensive review of sensor technologies was conducted, going back to first principles and identifying all likely sensor types. Engagement with contractors, Subject Matter Experience interviews and engagement with the defence scientific community also identified the likely development pathways for these technologies, noting that the study was assessing both near term and future air object and sensor development epochs.

Drawing together all the analysis, the report developed a scoring methodology and graphical data representations to bring together the functions, air objects (observable characteristics), environmental and electromagnetic constraints against the variety of sensor types. This included sensitivity analysis on atmospheric transmission and the likely resilience to operating in a congested or denied Electromagnetic spectrum.


The study was able to provide a prioritised list of technologies, both now and in the future, based upon a clear GBAD functional need and against future air objects. The report recommended the development of sensor technologies, which are being assessed within the GBAD team and for the first time has a science and needs based baseline of the sensor requirements for GBAD.

Interested in discussing a project?

Contact us to arrange a call