Defence equipment and platforms are most often deployed in hostile environments where their underlying materials are affected by diverse factors such as humidity, pressure, temperature and radiation. The consequences are fatigue, corrosion, plastic deformation, erosion and other effects which harm the equipment and increase vulnerability in operations. On 15 June 2016, 31 experts from various European Ministries of Defence, Armed Forces, European institutions, industry and academia participated in an EDA seminar to address the effects hostile environments have on materials.
High-level experts on materials and defence technologies gathered to discuss the effects of hostile environments on materials as well as possible solutions to mitigate these effects. In order to understand the importance of these issues, background information was provided on operational problems caused by material degradation and on current research work in this area carried out at EU level. The discussion focused on identifying the main effects suffered by materials used in military systems and platforms, the preventive technologies which could address them and the actions needed to reach the right Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) for the operational use of these technologies. Participants also addressed the challenges and the way ahead in view of raising awareness and sharing data.
The main outcome of the seminar was the identification of promising solutions such as coatings, structural health monitoring, smart materials, additive manufacturing and nanotechnology fabrication methods. However, industry requires understanding of operational military needs, calling for a larger participation of end-users in knowledge-building activities. Also, the specification of environmental properties of materials was viewed as necessary for guiding the production and design of future materials. More cooperation between defence structures, industry and academia, coupled with appropriate financial resources were considered key elements for the advancement of research work in this area.
The seminar was co-organized by the EDA’s CapTech on Materials & Structures, the Ministry of Defence Portugal, the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) and the University of Beira Interior (UBI).