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Research at armasuisse Science and Technology

The world in which we live is characterised by technological progress. And this progress is forging ahead ever more rapidly. However, in addition to the advantages that this change involves, we are all also facing ever greater challenges. How will our world change, and what will the consequences be for people and for the environment? Finding answers to these questions is particularly relevant for those involved in security issues. For this reason, armasuisse Science and Technology is posing precisely these questions.

Elianne Egli, Innovation and Processes, Science and Technology

Front view of the General Guisan House (GHH) in Thun.
A large part of armasuisse S+T’s research activities take place in the General-Herzog-Haus (GHH) in Thun.

When the patron of armasuisse S+T’s location, General Hans Herzog, co-founded the Federal Construction Works in Thun in 1863, he would probably not have dreamed possible what would become reality almost 160 years later. On the fourth floor of the General-Herzog-Haus in Thun, simulation specialists are reproducing the world as a digital twin, in the sensor laboratory on the second floor, an experiment is currently being planned in which it is possible to see through the clouds, and in the neighbouring building, walking robots and flying drones abound. Technology is striding forward at a dizzying pace. They are major drivers in the configuration of modern armies and key factors of successful operational management. Keeping up with technological development is thus essential – not just for the procurement areas of armasuisse, but also for the Armed Forces.

Making knowledge useful for the DDPS

armasuisse S+T’s research activities are structured into research programmes, the contents of which are largely oriented to the operational capabilities of the Armed Forces. Six research programmes are currently active:

  • Reconnaissance and Surveillance
  • Communications
  • Cyberspace and Data Science
  • Impact, Protection and Safety
  • Unmanned Mobile Systems
  • Technology Foresight

In addition, there are the two interdisciplinary areas «Human Factors and Complexity Management» and «Materials Sciences and Energy».

Research in the area of security is also carried out at universities as well as in industry. Industry is trying to make itself fit for tomorrow’s market through its research. As a result, it has very focussed and in-depth knowledge. Universities also perform excellent research work. Knowledge with regard to technologies for national security is, however, only fragmentarily available as no technical military degree courses are offered at universities in Switzerland. This is where armasuisse S+T comes into play. It develops this outstanding technological knowledge for the DDPS. The scientists in the General-Herzog-Haus network the existing competences from various different research institutions and industries both in Switzerland and abroad and make them – supplemented with their own findings from trials and experiments – usable for the DDPS.

Support for decision makers

A solid decision-making basis is created in defence as well as in armasuisse, based on these findings. The knowledge required for complex planning will thus be made available to decision makers, for example, in the Armed Forces staff. The head of Research Management at armasuisse S+T, Dr. Hansruedi Bircher, clarifies: «The Armed Forces staff has to plan our army. For this purpose, it needs to know how technology is developed, what is in store for us and what impact the development has on the skills portfolio.»

Next stop: Innovation

In the future, however, findings will no longer only be generated at armasuisse S+T, they will also be tested. Innovation projects are planned to introduce more innovation into the Armed Forces in future, while simultaneously making armasuisse S+T’s knowledge transparent. In this way, S+T is preparing the DDPS for the technologies of tomorrow, thus making an important contribution to security in Switzerland.