FORTE – Facility for Over-the-Air Research and Testing

Exterior view of the FORTE test facility in Ilmenau
© Fraunhofer IIS/Christoph Gorke

FORTE in Ilmenau, Germany, is a testbed for SatCom on the Move systems (FORTE SatCom).

The testbed also serves for testing terrestrial radio systems in a virtual electromagnetic environment (OTAinVEE).



Testbed for SatCom on the Move


Facility for Over-the-Air Research and Testing



Over-the-air testing in a virtual electromagnetic environment

Reference projects

  • Supported by the Free State of Thuringia and the European Social Fund

    Hybrid Low-Cost Multi-Antenna GNSS Receiver (HYLOC)

    The goal of HYLOC is the development and functional validation of a novel multi-antenna GNSS receiver architecture that has similar robustness properties as available high-end receivers. At the same time, due to its much lower complexity, it is associated with huge component cost and space savings as well as low power consumption.

    The receiver architecture is designed to provide reliable position, speed and time information in complex radio environments, even in the presence of strong interference signals and multipath propagation. To this end, a new hybrid method is used instead of the purely digital beamforming methods used so far. In the first stage, analog null-steering eliminates sources of interference. In the second, digital stage, the reception beams are directed toward the satellites in order to eliminate multipath signals and other sources of interference.

    In the course of basic research, the plan is to develop an initial laboratory prototype of a discrete analog beamformer, which will enable qualitative verification of the application.

    HYLOC project information

  • Supported by the Free State of Thuringia and the European Social Fund


    In the future, 5G mobile communications systems will employ vertical services to support flight data recording and flight monitoring for the commercial use of drones. It is mainly a question of verifying transmitted flight data and detecting non-compliant behavior. The aim of the Drone-Shield project is to develop the necessary hardware- and software-based functions, which cannot be implemented easily with the standard 5G functionality.

    Drone-Shield project information

  • Development of multistandard-capable modems and radio testing solutions for worldwide use in rail transport (EMMTES)

    Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) is the new global standard for communication applications in rail transport. Future wireless modems for railway communications will be designed to simultaneously support the existing 2G and the newer 4G and 5G standards, while supporting all the required frequency bands and features for FRMCS operation. This requires a new generation of radio modules, for which a concept is being developed in the EMMTES project. In addition, scalable and future-proof testing infrastructure for radio channel emulation is to be developed and demonstrated that takes into account specific railway applications.

    This approach meets the demand for future-proof radio modules, which is expected both in the migration phase and thereafter when implementing future communication applications. Thanks to standard-compliant and interoperable implementation, the developed modules should be applicable worldwide in all FRMCS-based railway networks.

  • Virtual electromagnetic environment for testing and developing wireless systems (VEUSys)

    This project seeks to expand an existing device infrastructure at the Facility for Over-the-air Research and TEsting (FORTE). The project purpose is testing wireless systems via the air interface in a virtual electromagnetic environment, which should make it possible to emulate any radio applications between just a few Mhz and 6 Ghz under realistic wave-propagation conditions in a reproducible and controlled manner.

    With the number and complexity of application scenarios for wireless systems increasing, open-area testing is often cost-intensive and/or not permitted due to regulatory restrictions – such as frequency regulation or very limited opportunities for autonomous driving in test mode. The VEUSys testing system can be used for mobile networks (4G, 5G) and satellite navigation (GPS, Galileo) as well as vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure and industry communication.

  • Modular signal processing platform for mobile communications and mobile-sensor technology (RadioLab)

    The purpose of this project is the purchase and activation of a signal-processing platform for applications related to mobile communications and wireless sensors. The large-scale unit to be purchased must be capable of acquiring and generating HF signals in a variable frequency range up to 20 GHz and with a bandwidth up to 800 MHz. Multiple transmit and receive channels support modern principles of multi-antenna MIMO (multiple input and multiple output). The available FPGA processing power facilitates programmable signal processing in real time.

    Designed primarily for applications in channel sounding, MIMO mobile communication, wireless localization, and radar-sensor technology, the unit will make it possible to demonstrate principles of signal processing that will become especially important within the context of the fifth-generation mobile communications standard of tomorrow.

  • Test and calibration system for analyzing high dynamic, frequency converting mm-wave components and systems of up to 300 GHz (CALeX300)

    The purpose of this project is the implementation of a measurement environment to analyze and characterize system components (e.g. frequency converters, amplifiers, transceiver structures and antennas) in the millimeter band with a frequency of up to 300 GHz and to evaluate them regarding their performance. This is essential for the development and testing of components and systems in the mm-wave range for 5G and other future broadband communication systems. The measurement equipment shall enable the testing of any system components in the range between a few kHz and 300 GHz under realistic, broadband and frequency converting operating parameters. It represents enormous scientific and economic potential within the development, trial and test of mm-wave broadband radio systems.

  • Millimeter wave Over-The-Air Testing Environment (MOTA)

    The focus of the project is the expansion of an existing device infrastructure in the sub-6 GHz range in the Fraunhofer test facility FORTE (Facility for Over the air Research and TEsting). The goal is to provide a broadband Over-the-Air (OTA) millimeter wave testing environment to develop, test, and demonstrate broadband wireless systems that primarily operate in the millimeter wave range.

    The requested testing environment for broadband millimeter wave wireless systems includes both the terrestrial and satellite environments. It is intended to test the developed system components such as front-end, antenna array, and modem, as well as the prototype implementations of signal processing algorithms on SDR platforms together in a shared environment. Furthermore, their interaction is to be tested and demonstrated. The requested extensions include 24 dual-polarized horn antennas, broadband up/down converters, multi-channel digital processing nodes, multi-channel network switches, and backplane servers.

  • Logo co-financed by the European Union

    5G wireless communication tester for Over-the-Air test environment (FunOTA)

    The project aims to enhance the testing and analysis capabilities of the Fraunhofer Facility for Over-the-Air Research and TEsting (FORTE) in the domain of 3GPP mobile communication standards 5G and 6G. The rapid development in this sector requires the expansion of laboratories with specialized measurement and testing equipment. To maintain competitiveness and continue conducting standardized tests on future devices and systems, as well as developing testing methods, we are planning to procure a new wireless communication tester. 

    This acquisition will serve as the foundation for the development and verification of future contributions by Fraunhofer IIS in the fields of research and standardization of 3GPP mobile communication standards. Therefore, demonstrating the functionality and performance of the developed test environments and the systems to be tested plays a central role.

  • Co-funded by the European Union
    Supported by the Free State of Thuringia and the European Social Fund

    Context and condition-based interpretation of V2X multi-link channel measurements through metadata (Meta4MuLi)

    The aim of the project is to acquire a device infrastructure for characterizing the environmental situation of multiple mobile measuring nodes and interacting objects, including their precise spatial and temporal references. Supplementing channel measurements with metadata allows for entirely new research approaches, such as the context and situation-based prediction of wave propagation in dynamically changing measurement environments. This strategic investment is intended to secure the scientific competitiveness of the applicant together with TU Ilmenau.