Innovation award for Fast Targeting team

Innovation is a core value at MBDA. One that ensures the strategic and operational advantage of all the nations we work with. That is why at MBDA we encourage a culture of innovation in our people and recognize their efforts annually with our Innovations Awards.

Anglo-French team cooperating to develop next generation AI for missile targeting solutions

This year, in 2020, our Fast Targeting project was the overall winner of the awards, known as the Three-star Award. This project is working on direct & agile target acquisition from observation images for high accuracy strikes. The ideas driving this project are to reduce long Mission Planning processes, whilst increasing the flexibility and responsiveness of cruise missiles and precision strike weapons.

Mission planning for current deep strike missiles and other guided munitions requires specific target model production. This process is complex, requires highly skilled operators and can slow the tempo of military operations in a time of crisis. Once in flight, the missile software then matches this target image with the IR seeker.

Fast Targeting aims to cut that time by utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) via direct image-to-image matching. Designation of a target could come from a variety of sources – archive images, satellite images or reconnaissance UAV images. The missile then matches these with what it is “seeing” through its IR seeker to ensure a precise strike.

To do this, the project team is working with partners in defence and in academia to exploit new Machine Learning techniques and assimilate very low TRL algorithms to foster the maturing of the required AI technology. When completed, Fast Targeting could have a huge impact on the system design of future long & medium range missiles.

The Fast Targeting project is part of the Anglo-French Materials and Components for Missiles, Innovation and Technology Partnership (MCM ITP). This bi-national endeavour sponsored by the UK MoD and the French DGA aims at developing novel, exploitable technologies for generation-after-next missile systems for the benefit of both nations.

MBDA’s Innovation Awards chose Fast Targeting for the highest accolade out of 355 innovative projects nominated by more than 2,000 employees. Fifteen other projects won Two-star Awards and recognised another 110 with One-star awards.