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The UK Ministry of Defence Invests £2m in EOIR Sensor Technologies

May 19, 2020 by Kelcie Moseley

The UK government has announced that the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has awarded contracts to various respected organisations. The contracts will fund short and long-term investigations aimed at improving electro-optic and infrared (EOIR) sensor technology for military use.

Contracts Valued at £2.3 Million Announced for Various Organisations

The UK’s Ministry of Defence has awarded 13 contracts valued at £2.3 million to small and medium-sized companies and academic institutions in a competition to develop higher quality electro-optics and infrared (EOIR) sensor capabilities.

The contracts were awarded by the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and were announced on the 5th of May. The Advanced Vision 2020 and Beyond competition is run on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and aims to improve EOIR sensors that are a key military capability for surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, threat warning, target detection, and more.


Improving Technology for Military Activities

DASA is seeking “innovation and novel approaches” to improve the EOIR sensors, which rely on high image resolution to accurately identify threats (or other objects of interest). All of the sensors and technologies are to operate from the ultraviolet (UV) to far infrared (IR) range. 

Examples of applications for such EOIR improvements, as described by DASA, include:

  • Imaging in environments where high resolution may normally be difficult to achieve, such as through smoke or clouds, atmospheric turbulence, extremely low (or zero) light, or through foliage or camouflage

  • Detecting and identifying small or difficult-to-distinguish objects passively and actively in low-light environments, or environments with different wavebands (UV to LWIR) at long range. This includes slow air targets, such as drones, snipers, small high-velocity objects in a wide field, man-portable guided weapons, and more

  • Identifying objects from a long range (more than 20km), in the interest of distinguishing between (for example) friendly and adversarial vehicles

  • Real-time assistance for situational awareness. where many critical objects (e.g. on urban land or sea) that represent threats must be identified quickly and allow users to prioritise responses accordingly


London parliment.

The DASA awards are intended to boost UK-based industries and lead to accelerating innovation at a national scale. 


“The ever-evolving nature of military operations means that we wish to invest in novel and resilient technologies that can function in contested and congested environments that will extend the range, lower the cost and size, and expand the range of targets that can be addressed by EOIR sensors,” said Andy Cole, project manager at Dstl.


The Contract Winners

The contracts will include phased work that DASA hopes will eventually facilitate the ability to conduct outdoor experimentation using the required technology and observe the equipment’s performance in real-world conditions.

The following companies and institutions received DASA contracts:

  • Thales

  • Teledyne e2v

  • The University of Strathclyde

  • The University of Exeter

  • QinetiQ (2 funded proposals)

  • The University of Stirling

  • Heriot-Watt University

  • The University of Bristol

  • Iceni Labs

  • Frazer-Nash Consultancy

  • Living Optics

  • Spectra Medical

More information on the competition can be found here on

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