FEL Coverage Planner (FELCOP) – (1992 – 2000)
Since quantitative analysis often plays a central role in air defence studies, various tools and models have been developed by TNO to support the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF). FELCOP is an example of a model that in the early 1990s was built for air defence study purposes, and then gradually evolved into a system operational at the RNLAF.
FELCOP is a PC-based application that helps deployment planners find favourable sensor positions for air defence systems. The program enables the user to analyse an area of operation using digital terrain maps and terrain cross-sections. When a promising position has been found, FELCOP can quickly generate a line-of-sight coverage diagram that gives the user insight into the suitability of the location and blockages between the sensor and possible targets.
A digitised terrain database is used to calculate the coverage diagrams. Terrain data are derived from the Digital Land Mass System (DLMS), a standard available to all NATO members. The terrain is modelled in a 100-metre resolution grid, where each grid cell contains information about the soil height, culture type (water, industry, wood etc.) and culture height.
FELCOP can calculate, draw and print coverage diagrams for both single- and multiple-sensor deployments. In the latter case, a combined diagram will be produced, showing the total area covered by a set of sensors. Areas covered by one, two or more sensors are indicated by different colours. Apart from calculating coverage diagrams based on the terrain database, FELCOP can also generate coverage diagrams using elevation data measured in the field. Such ‘measured diagrams’ can be combined with the diagrams based on the terrain database, thus giving the user maximum flexibility.
Initially, FELCOP was developed for air defence coverage studies at TNO. Through these studies, the RNLAF became interested in FELCOP, which led to the use of FELCOP for Patriot deployment planning during the Gulf War. In 1992, an operational version of FELCOP (version 3.0) was developed, which was installed at the Guided Weapon Battalion and later at the Main Operation Bases of the RNLAF. After an evaluation of this operational version in 1993, some additional features were added. The program was used, among other things, to analyse the Dutch Patriot positions in Turkey during the Gulf War.
FELCOP 3.0 was also used by the NATO Analytical Cell in Brussels, the NATO Shape Technical Centre and the Netherlands Royal Military Academy.
FELCOP version 4.0 was released to the Royal Netherlands Airforce on February 16, 1996.
In the past, the Dutch Guided Weapon Battalion only used map analysis and reconnaissance parties (Recces) to select positions for their SAM units. Since sending out Recce teams is very time-consuming, only a limited amount of positions could be evaluated. FELCOP has enabled the battalion to investigate more possible SAM locations than previously as one can first roughly evaluate a position and then decide whether a Recce team should be sent to it or not. For promising positions, the latter remains recommendable since differences between the terrain database and the real world may cause some inaccuracies in the calculated coverage diagrams. Moreover, the merged coverage diagrams have proved to be a powerful tool in analysing the total coverage of multiple sensor deployments.
FELCOP also made it possible to consider not only its air defence deployments. By introducing enemy air defence systems, FELCOP could give one’s pilots an insight into which radar (air defence) systems can detect them on their route.
At the end of 1998, 31 FELCOP licenses were sold to the Belgian Army. The Belgian Army needed the software for their KFOR deployment in Kosovo to determine the best placement of their battlefield radar with which they could observe troop movements and the like. As part of the contract, TNO converted the digital terrain of Kosovo, Yugoslavia and the surrounding area into FELCOP format.