Defense Technology Foresight

At a glance


The Business Unit “Defense Technology Foresight”  provides Technology Analyses and Strategic Planning for the Federal Ministry of Defence (FMoD) and its subordinated offices.

The technology-oriented futures research of our interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers serves to provide defense clients with reliable guidance and recommendations for action on likely developments in science and technology, including the defense technological and military implications of such developments. Emphases are placed on the early detection of new technological developments and emerging technologies of potential relevance in defense, as part of a comprehensive technology monitoring system, on the identification of related opportunities and risks of such developments for defense purposes, and on the assessment of the related technological relevance. The further development of defense research planning processes moreover is supported by observing and analyzing respective international processes and strategies.

To provide such decision support for research planning in defense, we apply methods of scientific foresight analysis, non-technical studies, and aspects of concept development & experimentation (CD&E). The most prominent product of this Business Unit is the quarterly “Defense Technologies Forecast (WTV)”, providing on behalf of FMOD analyses of relevant current technological developments and emerging technologies, reviewing current state, future potential and implications for research and technology planning, and deriving recommendations for the uptake of findings in the planning process.

Our Experience


Since its foundation as a Fraunhofer Institute in 1974, it is the basic mission of Fraunhofer INT to advise the Federal Ministry of Defense (FMoD) on all aspects of technological developments and their implications for defense research and technology (R&T) planning. Work under this mandate is concentrated in the Business Unit “Defense Technology Foresight”.

The services of this Business Unit are provided by scientists and engineers, many of whom have years of experience in analyzing, forecasting and evaluating technological developments of potential long-term relevance for defence R&T planning.  They have comprehensive expertise in all relevant scientific and technological fields, complemented by broad methodological and process-oriented skills in futures research. Applying this broad interdisciplinary knowledge in our comprehensive as well as individual technology analyses, it enables us to achieve and maintain a high quality in our technology foresight activities. Regular exchanges with our network of national and international partners, and an internal peer review process are cornerstones of our quality management.

depth knowledge of the structures, processes and requirements of our clients, we can tailor our research  and the presentation of its results in the best possible way to meet their articulated needs.

Our Approach & Methods


Our methodological approach is based on the perception that the successful realization of technical innovations in the future requires substantial preparatory work in research laboratories today. Consequently, our desk research includes not only applied scientific research, but extends even to primary literature and published results of basic research. The goal of our research is to identify particularly dynamic, technological "core themes" and to forecast their expected future development and potential defense applications. For each identified technological core theme, we extract statements on trends, technology readiness, prerequisites and application potential, technological context and relevant actors in research.

On the methodological side, systematic technology scanning and monitoring are of paramount importance, i.e. the directed and undirected search for suitable themes and statements in the literature concerned. The central element is the continuous screening of key sources such as scientific journals.

We use other supporting methods, such as bibliometric analyses respectively scientometrics (i.e. the statistical analysis of publications and quotations), keyword analysis, data and text mining, expert survey methods (e.g. the Delphi method), and various participatory approaches, i.e. a structured dialogue with experts and users. Especially for undertaking bibliometric analyses we have developed our own software toolbox that allows us to analyze specific characteristics of research topics, thus gaining information on expectable future developments in these topics ("Trend Archeology").

Our Services


As an independent, neutral mediator between strategic research planners, decision makers and technologists and other scientists, we provide our clients with a view “out of the box".

In doing so, we offer the following services:

  • Technology scanning and comprehensive technology foresight for defense applications across the whole technological spectrum
  • In-depth analyses of specific technology issues (description of technology, classification, prospects, technology context, consequences, policy recommendations), also by using quantitative methods (bibliometrics, patentometrics, data and text mining)
  • Brief expert opinions / ad-hoc statements on individual technological topics
  • Technological assessment of and contributions to the development of military capability requirements
  • Technology assessment together with the client, using various methods of "Assessment gaming"
  • Participatory futures workshops with stakeholders, systematic expert surveys
  • Analysis of international R&T strategies, international R&T cooperation and collaboration opportunities, R&T projects, defense R&T country reports
  • Provision of web-based R&T information systems