TTCP: Technology Demonstrators Definitions

Whilst an increase in Technology Demonstration activities with TTCP Group activities is a laudable objective, in order for this action to be executed, clear definitions of the scope and intent of Technology Demonstration within the context of TTCP is required. Certainly, experience with some of the Groups has revealed that there is no common, accepted definition of what constitutes a Technology Demonstrator (TD). In some cases, Groups have requested clarification of the scope and definition of a TD. Each TTCP participating nation has its own scoping definition.

Australian Definition

The Australian approach is to use the terminology "Capability and Technology Demonstrator - CTD", with the objective of providing opportunities to demonstrate whether advanced technology can provide significant enhancement in priority capability areas. One objective is to conduct limited exploration of higher risk approaches to determine if a means exists by which advanced technology may enhance the military capability. However, a CTD would only be undertaken when (successful) incorporation is likely. Recognition of an industrial technology capability is an issue as is the issue of government and industry risk sharing.

Succinctly, the CTD may be defined as:

"A project that demonstrates how technology may be operationally exploited to enhance Defence capability in a previously unexplained manner."

The focus is on a technology-driven capability. Technical risk assessment is a key area for CTDs to explore.

Canadian Definition

The Canadian R&D Branch has a Technology Demonstration Programme targeted at demonstrating and/or validating technological solutions to new or emerging forces operational and/or systems concepts. Proof-of concept investigations based upon new or emerging technologies are conducted, in addition to narrower risk reduction initiatives for equipment acquisitions under advanced development.

Support from the Canadian Forces operational community and industrial participation are key factors in project selection. With respect to scope of technical maturity, the Canadian programme spans the US ACTD and ATD programmes, covering technologies primarily in the 6.2 and 6.3 definitions, although occasionally it can go beyond 6.3 with increased stakeholder participation.

US Definition - ACTD

The US has selected the title "Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations - ACTDs" in this context and the programme aims to achieve capability demonstrations and evaluation. The primary objective is the development and employment of technology and innovative operational concepts by the military user. Some constraints and characteristics are:

  • Technology can come from any source.
  • The objective is to assess the utility of near-term deployable solutions which respond to an endorsed military need.
  • An interim capability must result directly from the ACTD to facilitate evaluation and refinement of solutions.
  • The ACTD is structured to support rapid transition into formal acquisition. It is understood that the US also has a separate Advanced Technology Demonstrator Programme.

US Definition - ATD

The Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) programme of the three Services aims to accelerate the maturation of advanced technologies to upgrade existing systems and enable the development of next and future generation systems. In US funding and programming parlance, this equates to part of the 6.3 programme. In essence the key objective is to bring together the Service requirements staff and industry to explore the technical feasibility, affordability and potential of technologies to support current and emerging warfighting concepts.

Risk assessment and risk reduction are included as implicit objectives, through ATDs permitting the exploration of technical options and the elimination of unattainable technologies in the early stages of a programme. An Integrated Product/Process Development (IPPD) team is mandatory for all ATDs.

Characteristics for and requirements of ATDs include:

  • Potential for new or enhanced military operational capability not covered by another programme.
  • A programme with a duration of no more than three to four years, endorsed by the materiel developer. Costs may be typically between $2M and $100M.
  • Agreement by the User community that the stated minimum performance is militarily significant.
  • Participation by the Director of Combat Development, Battle Lab. etc. in test and demonstration.
  • A reasonable chance of the transition of the technology after completion of the ATD.

UK Definition

The UK has a multi-faceted Technical/Technology Demonstration Programme within its defence research structure. The main objectives of the TD activities are:

  • Reduce technological or industrial risks in subsequent development.
  • Demonstrate novel system capability.
  • Provide pull-through link between research and projects.

The UK has four types of TD activity:

  • The Applied Research Technology Demonstration, which aim to prove research principles within the ARP. Consistent with the broad remit of the ARP, the aims are to quantify cost and risk to enable the formulation of operational requirements which will meet forces needs for affordable equipments planned to enter service over the next 20 years.
  • The Operational Concept Demonstration. This aims to allow the service end-user to evaluate the military worth of technology, ahead of an acquisition commitment.
  • The Equipment Project Technology Demonstration. This has the main objective of reducing production risk within an endorsed procurement project.
  • Technology Demonstator Programme. This provided generic technical risk reduction post-research, but ahead of project definition.

Technology demonstration is seen to reduce technical and programming uncertainties through:

  • Expanding a range of concepts and equipment which may be considered as feasible in formulating requirements.
  • Reducing overall equipment development costs.
  • Advancing the dates by which desired levels of in-service equipments can be achieved.
  • Highlighting problem areas.
  • Incorporating new technologies for equipments already in development.
  • Upgrading in-service equipments.

Basis of TTCP Technology Demonstrators

It can be seen from the individual summaries of the four nations outline definitions of Technology Demonstration/Demonstrators - unfortunately no data on a comparable initiative has been received from New Zealand - that there are both common objectives but also certain differences between the nations. For a consideration and distillation of the programme definitions, the following generic objectives and candidate definition are proposed for TTCP Technical Demonstrators, aiming to assist Exec. Chairs in their identification of candidate TDs and formulation of joint TDs.

Generic Objectives of TTCP TDs

  • Provide opportunities for the participating nations jointly to demonstrate whether advanced technology can enhance significant equipment/functional capability in defined military capability areas.
  • To demonstrate and validate the efficacy of novel technology to new or emerging military forces operational and/or systems requirements.
  • To act as a focus and catalyst for the integration of complementary technologies in a system context. Key aims and objectives are to assess and demonstrate successful and effective integration into a system solution. Technologies from within a single Group and across Groups should be considered.
  • To act as a vehicle for the identification and reduction of technical risk and the quantification of residual risk in taking through the TD product to full development, production and eventual operational deployment.
  • To construct a demonstrator system of military relevance and application, allowing interoperability with the participating nation's existing equipments to be assessed.
  • To provide a co-ordinated technology set which can be demonstrated and indeed assessed by the participating nation's military users. This will assist in the pull-through of research into possible future projects.