PhD position: health monitoring and performance modeling of guided missiles to achieve tactical resilience

PhD Student

March 7, 2017

TNO Defence, Safety and Security, the Dynamics based Maintenance group at the University of Twente and the Netherlands Defence Academy (NLDA) will cooperate in a joint research project on health monitoring and performance modeling of guided missiles. Within this project, there is a position for a PhD student.


Background Procurement and operation of guided weapons are very costly. A large fraction of these costs is related to surveillance and maintenance of capital ammunition, especially guided missiles. The condition of missiles is currently assessed in international surveillance programs, which mostly involves the periodic destructive testing of a number of missiles. Moreover, the effects of degradation on operational performance of the missiles is based on very conservative assumptions. This leads to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ life prediction of the whole population, which appears to be very costly.

In the present project, technological possibilities to monitor and predict the degradation of subsets of missiles or even individual missiles will be investigated and developed. This will involve the application of different types of sensors and development of degradation models. But also the effects of degradation (of subsystems) on the performance and operational deployability will be investigated. This requires modeling the missile performance, critical assessment of the prescribed operational scenarios and quantification (and possible reduction) of the presently adopted safety margins.

Job DescriptionThe research in this project will focus on the development of predictive maintenance concepts for guided missiles, which will lead to a reduction of the cost of ownership. Another aim is the life time extension of existing missiles, as well as the increase of the operational flexibility (tactical resilience). This will be achieved by covering (one or several of) the following topics:

  1. In the present surveillance programs ageing and degradation of missiles is assessed in a conservative way. The actual storage and operational conditions, which largely vary across countries, are not taken into account. In this project, the aim is to develop usage and condition based maintenance concepts, that do take into account these variations. For usage based maintenance, this requires monitoring of the environmental conditions at or on the missiles with appropriate sensors, combined with detailed understanding and modeling of the physical and chemical degradation processes.
  2. For condition based maintenance, sensors and methods are required to assess the actual condition of a missile in a non-destructive manner. A range of methods, e.g. vibration based (ultrasonic), will be investigated and a suitable method will be selected and adapted to the specific application.
  3. The effect of subsystem degradation (e.g. propulsion, guidance system) on missile performance is considered during the design, and is covered by application of large safety margins. By accurately modeling these relations in a quantitative sense, the margins can be quantified and possibly reduced. This will potentially enable a life time extension.
  4. The operational effectiveness of missiles is related to the functional performance. However, a slight degradation does not always impair the deployability. The quantification of the performance reduction due to missile degradation (see 3.) also enables to quantify for which scenarios (target type, environmental conditions) the (degraded) missile is still deployable. This requires the modeling and quantification of the performance requirements for all individual scenarios. This may yield the ambitioned tactical resilience: adapted flexible operational use of aged missiles that would otherwise be declared overdue.


For this position a Master degree in a technical discipline is required, e.g. mechanical, aerospace or systems engineering, (applied) physics or materials science. The candidate should have affinity for both numerical and experimental work. We welcome ambitious candidates with strong communication skills who like to present their work at conferences and project meetings. Fluency in English is required. You need to provide IELTS test results (minimum score 6.5), TOEFL-iBT (minimum score 90) or Cambridge CAE or CPE. An interview and a scientific presentation will be part of the selection procedure. Finally, a security screening will be performed, where only candidates from NATO countries are expected to pass this screening.Information and applicationFor more information on the research at the University of Twente and the Maintenance Consortium TIME in general, or the Dynamics based Maintenance group in particular, please visit and The website of TNO can be found at Additional information about this specific vacancy may be obtained from prof. dr. ir. Tiedo Tinga, research chair Dynamics based Maintenance, e-mail; tel. 053-4896152 or dr. ir. Peter Hooijmeijer (TNO), email:

Your application should comprise a letter of motivation, a curriculum vitae, a list with grades of courses attended, contact information of 2 referees and, if applicable, a list of publications. Applications should be sent before April 4, 2017 through the link below. The project is intended to start immediately.


We offer a 4-year full-time position as a PhD candidate appointed at the University of Twente (UT), with a qualifier after 1 year. Your starting salary will be € 2191, - gross per month in the first year and up to € 2801, - gross per month in the last year.

You will be working at the facilities of the three organizations involved, the University of Twente in Enschede, TNO in Rijswijk or the Netherlands Defence Academy in Den Helder. Division of working hours over these locations will depend on the type of activities (and required facilities) and can be discussed.


The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which drives change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university in the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. The University of Twente has a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out pioneering research. 

The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) is one of the five faculties of the University of Twente. ET combines Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our faculty has approximately 1800 bachelor and master students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates. The departments of the faculty cooperatively conduct the educational programmes and participate in interdisciplinary research projects, programmes and the research institutes: MIRA, CTIT, SBE and IGS.


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University of Twente

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University of Twente is a university located in Enschede, Netherlands and partner of the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU).

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