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Research Program 1 - Reconnaissance and Surveillance

The reconnaissance and surveillance research program operated by the armasuisse Science and Technology competence sector deals with five capability-oriented competence areas in the field of ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance). In addition, new methods of procuring information are identified and technological and scientific expertise is developed to rectify any capability shortages within the Armed Forces. All of this is carried out with the help of a multilateral cooperation network.


Information that is relevant for making decisions can in future be generated quicker, more accurately and also under difficult conditions, such as during rainy and cloudy weather. There is a wide range of reasons behind this. In comparison to the situation today, the further development of intelligent algorithms will allow for the improved tracking and classification of targets. This applies to the further development of radar technology for air surveillance, for example. The latest developments in the field of cognitive and multistatic radar technologies allow for the improved detection of air targets through the use of environmental information. Intelligent algorithms also play a key role in the pooling of data from numerous sensors and the consolidation of information to form an overview appropriate to the situation.

Due to the advances made in electronics, the collected sensor data can be increasingly digitised and processed. This can be seen, for example, in image-based reconnaissance. Using multi-camera systems, wide-angle shots with a very high image resolution can be taken in real time. Other developments in electronics and semi-conductor technology allow for the miniaturisation of sensor components, which is of interest for applications with micro- and mini-drones. The advances made in electronics opens up spectral ranges that have not yet been able to be used with the sensor systems currently available. This promises improvements in the reconnaissance of targets in unfavourable weather conditions and under camouflage.

The latest technological developments are pushing the performance limits of future reconnaissance and surveillance devices and equipment. The main tasks of the research program are thus as follows:

  • The identification of the relevant technologies and their trends in relation to intelligence gathering (IMINT, RADINT, MASINT, ACCOUSTINT, SAR, GEOINT)
  • The identification of new technological options
  • The securing of the fundamentals and specialist knowledge for advice, testing and expertise

Competence areas

Air reconnaissance

The advances made in antenna technology, high-frequency engineering and algorithmics will allow for new applications in the future. Research topics include cognitive, multistatic and passive radar systems. Interference, such as echo signals caused by the terrain as well as backscatter signals from aircraft, must also be taken into consideration. New approaches for detecting drones are being evaluated.

IMINT Technologie für Abstandsaufklärung
IMINT technologies for standoff reconnaissance

In comparison to traditional systems, the advances made in technology promise an improved detection of ground targets, e.g. with hyperspectral sensors. Important information can also be recorded in bad weather conditions with imaging radar sensors (Synthetic Aperture Radar – SAR). The further development of SAR technology on multi-channel systems pledges to record human activities on the ground in real time

Intelligente Ueberwachung Boden
Intelligent surveillance of activities on the ground

Due to the ever-increasing volume of data being recorded, an intelligent sensor-based preliminary evaluation is gaining in significance. The additional trend towards networking promises to safeguard surveillance tasks with low staff costs. In this competence area, the trends and limits of intelligent and networked surveillance must be identified and assessed.

Leistungsgrenze moderner Sensorik
Improvements to detectors

The new developments in detector and sensor technology are being evaluated with respect to their performance limits. This relates to multi-sensor systems, miniaturisation and sensor systems that access new spectral bands, as well as new methods of wide-angle reconnaissance. Research is also being carried out into new approaches for increasing sensor distances and for deployments in urban terrain (e.g. through-wall sensing).


Zieldetektion und Tarnanalyse
Target detection and camouflage analysis

The properties of targets and the background are captured for radar, visual, hyperspectral, infra-red-based and acoustic sensors. Signature analysis and the analysis of human influences form the core of the evaluation. Furthermore, the advances made in multispectral, mobile and adaptive camouflage are collected and evaluated in this competence area.

Technology demonstrators


The FERAMO experimental field radar is used for close-range reconnaissance tasks (a few hundred meters). It can detect people, vehicle and small drones.

GigaEye Demonstrator
GigaEye Demonstrator

The experimental sensor permits complete all-round coverage, which is of particular interest for surveillance tasks. This allows simultaneous observation of sectors in a variety of different directions.

MIRANDA Radarsensor

The MIRANDA technology demonstrator allows images of the ground to be taken from the air even during bad weather when other sensors are unable to deliver any useable information. Quicklook pictures have been transmitted in real time up to a distance of 120km and high-resolution SAR images have produced resolutions of up to 15 cm.


Due to engine noise, helicopter crews are unlikely to hear gunshots aimed at their aircraft. It is therefore even more important in such cases for pilots to receive automatic warnings indicating the proximity of hazardous zones. In order to develop expertise in this area, a Cougar helicopter has been fitted with 14 special microphones for test purposes.

Demonstrator Multisensor
Demonstrator Multisensor

The desired reconnaissance result can often not be achieved with a single sensor. The multi-sensor platform makes it possible to exploit the potential of sensor data fusion.

Adaptive Tarnung
Adaptive Camouflage

This project examines demonstration camouflage kits which adapt vehicles to match their background (immediate surroundings). This type of adaptation is of interest in both the thermal infrared and visual electromagnetic spectrum.


The development of expertise is based on a wide network of partners from the professional world, academia, universities and other research institutes in Switzerland and abroad. In order to keep track of skills and capabilities, close contact and an exchange of information is maintained with users and the planning, procurement and test centres of the DDPS.

Research Program Manager

Research Program Manager
Dr. Peter Wellig

Our «Reconnaissance and Surveillance» research program manager is delighted at your interest!

Science and Technology Field of Study Research Management and Operations Research
Feuerwerkerstrasse 39
CH-3602 Thun
+41 58 468 28 10

Research Program Manager

Dr. Peter Wellig


Science and Technology

Field of Study Research Management and Operations Research
Feuerwerkerstrasse 39
CH-3602 Thun