Press releases

Munich 30-Aug-2023

BAAINBw commissions AI backbone for FCAS

A consortium of Helsing and Rohde & Schwarz have been selected to deliver the AI backbone for FCAS, providing a high-performance artificial intelligence development platform.

The German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) has selected the HIS consortium consisting of Helsing and Schönhofer Sales and Engineering GmbH (SSE), a Rohde & Schwarz company, as well as IBM Deutschland GmbH, to provide the artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). On August 7, 2023, BAAINBw signed the contract for provision of the software platform (AI backbone) with immediate effect.

FCAS is a multinational joint initiative between Germany, France, and Spain to develop a next-generation combat air system. Part of FCAS is the Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS), which will develop a sixth-generation fighter aircraft and unmanned aerial systems. National initiatives in Germany will run in parallel to FCAS. Now that the HIS consortium has been awarded the contract, these initiatives can proceed through the NGWS National Research and Technology (R&T) project.

The use of AI will be critical to the air superiority of FCAS. AI applications are decisive for mission precision, speed, and effectiveness. AI transforms evaluating sensor data, planning missions, and deploying effectors. To allow this key capability to be developed, and deployed quickly, Germany has decided to create a cross-functional platform as a development environment for all partners and pillars of FCAS.

“AI plays a key role in conflicts with peer competitor adversaries,” says Stephanie Lingemann, Program Director at Helsing. “The AI backbone is the first step toward giving the air force cross-functional capabilities with AI; the FCAS program is making progress, but this sort of infrastructure is crucial for every platform.”

“SSE draws on many years of excellent cooperation with the German armed forces on innovation topics, and we look forward to driving the development of AI technologies in Germany,” says Dr. Martin Schönhofer, CEO of SSE. As a trailblazer for national research and technology projects for NGWS and FCAS, the HIS consortium offers the right platform for agile AI development.”

In addition, Sandra Pfetzing-Huber, Associate Partner, Defense & Intelligence, IBM Consulting, explains: "In order to develop and operate AI applications, a powerful and scalable IT infrastructure is required that is also secure. The Secure Cloud (VS-Cloud) from IBM and its partners Secunet and RedHat offers the scalability, flexibility, reliability and security to quickly and easily develop, operate and secure AI applications.”

The AI backbone from the HIS consortium will allow high-performance AI to be developed for military applications, including complex industry collaboration, and deployment to the German armed forces. Each of the consortium partners has a specific strength to contribute. Helsing is a leader in defense AI products, as well as development and deployment of edge AI for military platforms. As a longstanding partner to the German armed forces, As a long-standing partner of the Bundeswehr, SSE uses its deep expertise in real-time situational awareness, analytics, AI and management of complex data and data formats. IBM complements the team with its many years of expertise in the military sector and provides cloud technologies for the use of artificial intelligence in security-related areas.

Press & media contact

Dennis-Peter Merklinghaus
PR Manager Aerospace, Defense & Security
+49 89 4129 15671

Rohde & Schwarz

Rohde & Schwarz is striving for a safer and connected world with its Test & Measurement, Technology Systems and Networks & Cybersecurity Divisions. For 90 years, the global technology group has pushed technical boundaries with developments in cutting-edge technologies. The company's leading-edge products and solutions empower industrial, regulatory and government customers to attain technological and digital sovereignty. The privately owned, Munich based company can act independently, long-term and sustainably. Rohde & Schwarz generated net revenue of EUR 2.78 billion in the 2022/2023 fiscal year (July to June). On June 30, 2023, Rohde & Schwarz had around 13,800 employees worldwide.

R&S® is a registered trademark of Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG.


Helsing is a defence AI company, focusing on developing software-based capabilities to protect our democracies. With a diverse and experienced team of engineers and AI talent, Helsing partners with governments and hardware manufacturers to deploy mission-enhancing software. Helsing funds its own research and technology development, which allows it to undertake its own R&D at scale, applying the speed of software development cycles to mission challenges in defence. It employs AI and software to enable faster and more accurate decision-making, and the utilisation of data at the tactical, operational, and strategic level. With operations in the UK, Germany and France, Helsing accesses software and AI talent from across Europe, while serving each country’s specific sovereign requirements.

Schönhofer Sales and Engineering

Schönhofer Sales and Engineering (SSE) is a leading consulting services provider offering advanced analytics solutions and IT systems for public sector customers, government authorities, and business customers in the domestic and international markets. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rohde & Schwarz since 2022, SSE offers sensor data integration, data management, and big data analytics over the entire value chain to improve risk management and optimize decisions.

IBM Deutschland GmbH

The solution portfolio of IBM Deutschland GmbH ranges from supercomputers and software to services including consulting and financing. IBM's core goal is to support companies and government agencies in their digital transformation. The IBM Consulting division accelerates their clients' business transformation through hybrid cloud and AI technologies, leveraging their open partner ecosystem. With deep industry expertise across strategy, experience design, technology and operations, IBM Consulting has become the trusted partner of the world's most innovative and valuable companies, helping them modernize and secure their most complex systems. Its approximately 160,000 consultants work openly and use the proven co-creation method, IBM Garage, to turn ideas into results.

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