Military involvement in Research (SESAR)

The military, in its multiple roles of Air Navigation Service provider, Airspace User, Airport Operator and Regulator, in cooperation with all concerned stakeholders, is actively involved in the definition, development and validation of innovative technological solutions aimed at modernising the European ATM (Air Traffic Management) system.

These solutions are an integral part of the European ATM Master Plan. 

Although pursuing different objectives, the military operate most of the time in a mixed civil/military environment contributing directly to mixed airports, primary surveillance radars or indirectly to air defence, search and rescue and the air transport value chain.

Advanced Flexible Use of Airspace, Mission Trajectory Management, Harmonised and Improved OAT Flight Plans, Dynamic Management Areas, Swim Security and the ongoing development of 4D trajectories are some of the most promising SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research Programme) concepts which are attracting military interest.

The harmonisation of Operational Air Traffic rules, the promotion of common and dual purpose technologies and the development of performance based specifications will support the paradigm shift of having the military access all airspace for civil-military co-operation, bringing up to standard the procedures and the performance of military systems used for ATM purposes.


European ATM Master Plan

The European ATM Master Plan is the agreed roadmap driving the modernisation of the ATM system and connecting SESAR Research & Development with Deployment scenarios. The Master Plan is the tool for SESAR deployments, providing the basis for timely, coordinated and efficient deployment of new technologies and procedures.

The Master Plan includes roadmaps outlining the essential operational and technological changes required from all stakeholders (airspace users, ANSPs, airport operators, the military and the Network Manager) which are planned with a view to achieving the performance objectives set by the Single European Sky (SES).

The ATM Master Plan includes and integrates in different roadmaps the following global military performance and deployment needs:

  • maintenance of military mission effectiveness;
  • civil-military interoperability at the lowest cost;
  • access to airspace through the concept of mission trajectory;
  • improved airspace management through AFUA (Advanced Flexible Use of Airspace);
  • recognition of equivalent level of performance.


The Military Engagement Plan for SESAR (MEPS) provides the framework for the participation of military experts in SESAR. The currently over 90 experts from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Finland are directly involved in projects. Each State willing to contribute is invited to sign a contract with EUROCONTROL allowing the participation of their experts and the reimbursement of all costs incurred.

Other States or military organisations interested in SESAR developments (e.g. EDA, NATO) can also nominate a Military focal point for SESAR. 

How we help

EUROCONTROL is committed to “ensuring the involvement of all civil/military stakeholders, through adaptation of the relevant EUROCONTROL consultation mechanisms”.

The priority is to support the description of the concept of operation and to ensure that civil-military interoperability requirements are met.
The MEPS has already provided a highly appreciated contribution to projects related to Master planning and architecture, Mission trajectory management and in support of civil-military CNS interoperability (e.g. data link, ADS-B).


SESAR Deployment

The military are fully engaged with the SESAR Deployment Manager in the definition and monitoring of SESAR deployment. EUROCONTROL brings its ATM expertise to the States through new working arrangements with the Military Coordinator (European Defense Agency) and in coordination with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

The activity of the SESAR Deployment Manager is regulated by Implementing Regulation N° 409/2013, known as the Pilot Common Project, based on the definition of common projects, the establishment of governance and identification of incentives in support of implementation of the European ATM Master Plan.

In particular, the military contributed to the SESAR Deployment Programme, a context specifically addressing the families of implementation projects (. These projects are eligible for European Commission co-funding and their implementation is a State responsibility.


Mission trajectory

Military aviation needs to be integrated into the future trajectory management. For the next 15 years, the following evolutions are proposed for Step 1 to create the conditions for a smooth integration of military flights into the initial 4D-trajectory environment:

  • New airspace design options offering more modularity (Variable Profile Areas);
  • Real-time sharing of airspace activation/deactivation status among all interested ATM stakeholders;
  • Sharing with the network of military AIPs (Aeronautical Information Publications), NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen), early flight intent, OAT (Operational Air Traffic) flight plans and real-time flight data;
  • Collaborative Decision Making for airspace reservation, using automated means connecting mission preparation systems at “Functional Airspace Block” and Network level;
  • Synchronisation of the Airspace Management process with the ATFCM (Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management) process,
  • Implementation of an “OAT Transit Service” to accommodate en-route and cross-border requirements.



Advanced FUA

The objectives and business models of airspace requirements are different for the civil and military airspace users. Whereas civil aviation develops a trajectory with the most cost-effective routing, the military have a mission objective including the most mission-effective routing and usage of the airspace. FUA (Flexible Use of Airspace) was the answer. However, this concept has been interpreted differently by national organisations. Consequently, the procedures applied by these countries vary considerably, resulting in inconsistencies and discrepancies, affecting the efficiency of civil/military coordination. The concept of AFUA (Advanced Flexible Use of Airspace), embedded in the SESAR Mission Trajectory, is expected to provide more flexibility based on dynamic airspace management in all phases of flight, from initial planning to the execution phase.

How we help

The aim of SESAR Project 7.5.2 is to optimise the trade-off between civil and military requirements by defining new types of airspace structures and the associated reservation processes between the two communities of users. Project 7.5.2 is led by EUROCONTROL, with participation from Aena, DFS, NATS, NORACON and Thales. P7.5.2 will define the future airspace structures and harmonise their design at European level. These structures will have to as dynamic as possible, taking into account aircraft and weapon systems performance. Current fixed structures (Temporary Restricted Area (TRA), Temporary Segregated Area (TSA), Cross Border Area (CBA)) should in future be an exception and for a limited timeframe only. This evolution will be developed in line with the three SESAR Concept Storyboard Steps, starting with more flexible airspace structures such as the Military Variable Profile Area (MVPA) and Variable Geometric Area (VGA), and evolving to the Dynamic Mobile Area (DMA) in 2020 and beyond.

Benefits for all airspace users

The Advanced Flexible Use of Airspace concept will contribute to the SESAR performance targets:

  • By providing the appropriate segregated airspace in the right place and at the right time while also providing accurate information;
  • The evolution from fixed to dynamic structures will decrease the transit between airbases and training areas, help to save fuel and allow more flexibility;
  • By facilitating collaboration and coordination between armed forces, capacity will be increased to the benefit of all.