Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB

Business Unit Defense

Business Unit Defense



For the benefit of Germany’s defence as part of Europe and NATO the Fraunhofer IOSB supports the German ministry of defence and its subordinate authorities as well as the defence industry with applied research and technology on the areas of imaging with optronic systems, image and signal analysis, and architectures for simulation and information systems. Rapid transfer of our research results in order to enhance the ability of the armed forces and to protect our soldiers is our prime objective.


Scope of Work

The IOSB’s core competency lies in research into optronic systems for human and computer vision, real-time processing and analysis of imagery, and full-motion video as well as the necessary information and communication technology for the use of images in network-enabled operations.


Of special significance for the German armed forces is our research and technology work in the following areas:

  • Design, evaluation and protection of existing and future optical and optronic sensor systems: daylight and night vision, hyperspectral sensing, laser-based sensors and protection against laser threats.
  • Warning sensors, propagation of light through the atmosphere, signatorics for reconnaissance and protection, concepts for and evaluation of camouflage, concealment and deception.
  • Network-enabled interoperable real-time processing and analysis of imagery for purposes ranging from wide-area imaging reconnaissance  to target detection in weapon platforms, including human-system-integration.
  • Computer assisted object and situation recognition and image-based methods for object tracking and target handoff.
  • System architectures for networked simulation and generation of terrain and building models for simulator-based training.




The research and technology activity of business unit Defence is carried out in three tiers:

  1. To support the ability of the German ministry of defence (GMOD) and its subordinate authorities for analysis and evaluation of defence-related technologies the IOSB conducts basic research that is funded by the GMOD in the long term.
  2. Based on this research the institute conducts technology projects of the GMOD with a medium-term horizon and specific objectives.
  3. Finally projects with the defence industry lead to solutions for the forces. These projects are carried out in close coordination with the GMOD to ensure the independent role of the IOSB as consulting entity for the governement.


International cooperations based either on bilateral agreements, with contracts from the European Defence Agency (EDA), or common research activities in the context of NATO’s Science & Technology Organization (NATO STO) are continously flanking our national defence research work.


To the extent that military security classification does not prevent this, the R&T in business unit Defence is incorporated into the IOSB’s applied research for civil purposes performed by the other four units in order to achieve the highest benefit for all application areas.


Equipment, lab and test facilities

  • Environment simulation (e. g. for camouflage assessment)
  • Adaptive optics
  • Bidirectional reflectance analysis of materials
  • Airborne platform for imaging radiometrics (AirSIG)
  • Observer performance evaluation
  • Assessment of visual and infrared imaging systems
  • Optronic countermeasures
  • Femtosecond laser lab
  • Human-computer interaction for image analysis (eye gaze, gesture)
  • Testbed for network-enabled imaging reconnaissance
  • Federation of simulators
  • Distributed Network Battlelab (DNBL)
  • SAR simulation (CohRaS®: Coherent Ray-tracing based SAR-Simulator)
  • Reconnaissance and surveillance with mobile sensor swarms
  • Serious gaming for image analysis training
  • Airborne multisensor platform  (VIS, LWIR and hyperspectral)

Fields of Work

The technologies of IOSB are of central importance for most contemporary innovative systems. Therefore, we use them for a long list of applications in the fields of reconnaissance, navigation, simulation, satellite technology, land, air and naval platforms, target approximation, effect on target and protection, equipping of soldiers and information technology. Core competencies of the business field are the production of images, and related sensor signals including the corresponding signal processing, and the use of images in systems. 

The basic funding of the German Federal Ministry of Defense (BMVg) is dedicated to investigate crucial technologies and to gain and keep a leading edge in defense technologies, and scientific knowledge on imaging optronics, image exploitation, and the system aspects that go with them.

Various research grants and orders from the German armed forces form a second column of the activities in science and Technology of financing the business unit build. These projects vary considerably: some grants are awarded for long-term work that lasts three years while others concentrate on short-term results for urgent needs. Generally, we develop innovative technologies and support them to the point of lab demonstrators. 

IOSB scientists are gladly consulted. They are frequently present on national and international committees, as well as planning and control meetings for armament projects of the Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement (BWB). Based on their long-time experience in the fields of military research, they have the necessary background knowledge to address current problems, and have earned the trust of their partners in government, institutions of the armed forces, and soldiers. With present overseas operations of our armed forces needing technology formerly only addressed in national security environments, IOSB has widened its scope to security research for the benefit of both Defense and Security.


Contracts and orders from the industry related to military products and supply, constitute a third source of funding. Expertise from basic research and the partners trust in our work form the foundation. We have an extensive success record in cooperating with partners from industry, which often build the starting point for new joint projects. Industry also values consultations from the institute, and you will find IOSB scientists and technicians, along with their up to date equipment, frequently involved in industrial testing activities. Know how gained from public programms is transferred into industrial use and thus optimizes the return of public investments.

Most departments in this business unit focus on matters related to defense research. The list of their names speaks for itself: 
Autonomous SystemsApplication Center System TechnologyInteractive AnalysisInteroperability and Assistance SystemsInformation ManagementObject RecognitionOptronicsSignatoricsSecure CommunicationScene Analysis