AUKUS Electronic Warfare Challenge: Electromagnetic Spectrum

How might Defence harness the electromagnetic spectrum to project force to target adversaries and counter their ability to target AUKUS partners?

Opportunity Details


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The total possible funding available for this competition is up to £1.92 million (excluding VAT). A proportion of this total (up to £150,000 to allocate to multiple projects) is to be awarded to successful suppliers for the completion of a first milestone report. A number of proposals may be funded.



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AUKUS is a landmark security and defence partnership between Australia, the UK, and the US to support a free and open Indo-Pacific by strengthening regional global security. Through Pillar 2, AUKUS partners seek to strengthen trilateral capabilities in cutting-edge military technologies, increase interoperability, and drive knowledge-sharing and innovation.

This is a trilaterally agreed challenge with three entry streams running concurrently in Australia, United Kingdom and United States with national process and terms applied. The challenge is being run as three separate competitions by the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA) in Australia, the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) in the United Kingdom and the Defence Innovation Unit (DIU) in the United States.

The electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) is a heavily congested, contested, complex and competitive environment, and there is an increasing need for low cost, disposable, high volume and highly autonomous capabilities to achieve asymmetric advantage.

How might Defence harness the EMS to project force to target adversaries and counter their ability to target AUKUS partners?

For this competition we are seeking technology that is at technology readiness level (TRL) 4, 5 or 6 to develop to TRL 7 minimum within 12 months of the contract start date.

  • In order to be eligible to apply in this competition you must be a UK business registered on Companies House. You must be based in the UK and intending to carry out project development activity in the UK.

    Entrants from Australia or the United States should refer to their national competition page in order to enter.

  • This challenge will focus on Defence’s ability to leverage EMS technologies and capabilities that provide a competitive advantage to EM targeting, and those that protect Defence from adversary EM targeting capabilities. The six key elements of the targeting cycle that Defence is interested in improving through development and transition of innovative technologies are;

    1. Find: Identify a target using the EMS.
    2. Fix: Identify a target’s location using the EMS.
    3. Track: Monitor a target’s movement using the EMS.
    4. Target: Select and apply appropriate EMS assets and/or EMS enabled weapon systems.
    5. Engage: Apply EMS assets and enabled weapons to a target.
    6. Assess: Evaluate effects of an attack using the EMS.

    Responses to the challenge sit with each nation’s Defence innovation organisation(s). A key characteristic that Defence is seeking in both innovation proposals and industry partners actions is the ability to innovate and deliver at speed. The ability to orientate to the problem statement and rapidly iterate is of greater interest to Defence than the current TRL level of the capability.

  • To enable industry to focus resources and efforts on capabilities that are likely to have the greatest impact and potential for success, Defence has identified technologies for application within the targeting cycle for industry consideration. These include, but are not limited to:

    • Sensors: The ability to increase the quantity and/or quality of sensors in the operating environment that can identify, locate, and monitor targets, and assess any effects delivered against them. To enable Find, Fix, Track, and Assess phases.
    • Closed loop targeting: The ability to employ existing EW sensor data and pre-determined mission parameters to cue and engage effectors at machine speed.
      To enable Target and Engage phases.
    • Electronic Attack: The ability to disrupt, degrade and deny adversary Command, Control, Communication and Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and EW (C4ISREW) systems, and EMS enabled weapons systems. To enable all aspects of the targeting cycle.
    • EMS access: The ability to understand, identify and auto-allocate the EMS, dynamically access the EMS for resilience, stealth and reducing spectrum conflicts against agile adversaries. To enable Find, Fix, Track, Target, Engage, and Assess phases.
    • EMS Deception & Denial: EM deception and/or denial to prevent adversaries finding, fixing, exploiting or understanding our emissions or true intent to enable blue force projection and blue force protection. To counter all aspects of the targeting cycle.
  • The following considerations will be used by Defence to determine proposal viability and inform decision-making processes. Proposals are not expected to meet all of these capability considerations; rather, these should be used by industry as a guide for proposal development. These include, but are not limited to:

    • Agility: Systems that are multi-spectral, distributed, high dynamic range, wide/multi band, coordinated, adaptive/cognitive, and real-time. These systems should have the ability to rapidly reprogram, share and update mission data.
    • Multi-function: Systems that can meet multiple areas of interest and multiple capability considerations.
    • Interoperability: Systems that employ common data standards, are flexible to Defence integration standards (including the potential to meet specific theatre entry standards), and can cooperate with existing data and systems.
    • Interchangeability: Systems that can be easily integrated and/or interchangeable with AUKUS partners.
    • Connectivity: Systems that can operate in a denied, degraded, intermittent and limited environment are preferable.
    • Cost imposition: Systems that are low-cost, easily manufactured, disposable/attritable and can distribute the delivery of effects, thereby reducing the risk of failure if targeted.
    • Sovereignty: Systems that are manufactured and sustainable domestically (or have the potential to be), and have a secure, resilient and reliable supply chain.
    • Range: Distances may vary from close-range to over-the-horizon, depending on the effect required. Regardless of range, systems should have an appropriate degree of protection to operate within proximity of adversaries.
    • Time: System speed and operational duration may vary depending on capability purpose and required effect. Consider speed as relative to the target the capability is effecting, and duration as relevant to mission considerations, such as travel time to close in on a desired target.
    • Autonomy: Systems that can reduce reliance on workforce (including human time cost and cognitive burden) and require limited training to operate.
    • Projection: Systems that can be easily projected from existing platforms and deployed into contested environments with minimal modification.
    • Domain: Systems can be employed in any of the physical domains (air, land, space, maritime [surface and sub-surface]), or across multiple domains.
  • 16 April 2024 – A virtual briefing session providing further detail on the problem space and a chance to ask questions in an open forum. If you would like to participate, please register on the Eventbrite page.

    Competition queries including on process, application, commercial, technical and intellectual property aspects should be sent to the DASA Help Centre at, quoting the competition title.


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