Skip to main content

Explosive Neutralisation and Mitigation Countermeasures for IEDs in Urban/Civil Environment

Periodic Report Summary 2 - ENCOUNTER (Explosive Neutralisation and Mitigation Countermeasures for IEDs in Urban/Civil Environment)

Project Context and Objectives:
ENCOUNTER, Explosive Mitigation and Neutralisation Countermeasures in Urban/Civil Environment developed new techniques and technologies for dealing with a found IED (Improvised Explosive Device) in populated areas.

The overall aim of the ENCOUNTER project was to improve practices for Improvised Explosive Device (IED) neutralisation before being triggered, and mitigating the consequences if they are triggered, thereby reducing danger to EOD personnel and the public, reducing or preventing damage to buildings and infrastructure, and improved forensic evidence gathering.

Four main objectives of ENCOUNTER:
-To increase the urban security through improved procedures for dealing with an IED.
-To prevent IED explosion after discovery through new technologies for their neutralisation.
-To drastically reduce damage if the IED is triggered, through development of explosion mitigating and fragment prevention technologies.
-To consider the ethical, societal and financial aspects of new ways to dealing with IEDs to ensure the response is in proportion to the threats, and that the response does not create any additional problems.

The approach of ENCOUNTER to the development of practices and means for IED neutralisation and damage mitigation is based on:
-Design basis threat and relevant scenarios. The design basis threat and scenarios was defined with the help of the end users, to ensure compatibility of the R&D statement of work to the industry's needs and the project's research bodies.
-The technological response in the development of IED neutralisation capacities. The focus was on the development and assessment of the capacities based on the stand-off distances from the IED. Direct access, medium distance and long distance.
-Evaluation of additional technologies and development of decision support tools. The focus was on development of decision support tools for responding bodies, and the assessment of technologies.

ENCOUNTER focuses on development of technologies to increase the safety of the EOD teams by increasing the stand-off distance for neutralisation techniques, by development of new mitigation techniques and by development of risk analysis and decision support tools.

Project Results:
The project started with a study of the recent attacks in Europe and significant incidents that has taken place in other part of the world, which could be repeated inside EU territory. From the recent attacks catalogue a number of characteristic threat scenarios was developed. The technical solutions proposed in ENCOUNTER has been evaluated against a selection of these scenarios.

The mitigation methods aim to reduce the impact of an IED by either containing the blast, and/or the fragments. Three mitigation devices have been developed, Blast Containment Tank (BCT), Blast Shield Wall (BSW) and Man-Portable Mitigation Device (MITIED).
Both the BSW and the BCT were proven to be effective and efficient means for blocking high energy fragments and reducing the overpressure of the blast wave. For MITIED simulations suggest the device could be very beneficial in reducing peak overpressure in many of the scenarios simulated.

The neutralisation techniques aim to disable an IED either by slowly burning the charge, disrupting the charge or by destroying the IED triggering mechanism. Four neutralisation techniques were developed and tested; high power laser, clearing charge, high power microwaves and barrel disruptor. The results show that the developed neutralisation techniques were successfully applied in the majority of the investigated scenarios. One of the advantages of the new neutralisation techniques are the improved stand-off capabilities.

A quantitative risk analysis (QRA) tool has been developed, a desktop application called ENCOUNTER-QRA-Tool, which supports users in quantifying and analysing explosion effects of IEDs in individual threat scenarios.

An investigation regarding the ethical issues of the application of IED neutralisation showed that most of the ENCOUNTER technologies are predominantly unproblematic from an ethical point of view.
EOD professionals have been questioned about their expectations on the respective technologies and the majority regarded the ENCOUNTER technologies as potentially helpful for their active EOD duty.

Each of the technologies developed in ENCOUNTER will have a cost, but also a benefit relative to current equipment and procedures. The results of the cost-benefit analysis are based on the likelihood of events occurring across the whole of the European Union, the cost of life values also use an average value for the whole of Europe.

Potential Impact:
Historically the threat from IEDs is not new, but the international development in this area has made the threat more severe and evident.

The economic impact of IED attacks can be wide ranging and cover a large variety of different cost categories and other non-financial categories of impact. It is generally understood that large investment decisions should aim to monetarise all costs and benefits resulting from that investment, however, the monetarisation of concepts such as human life and injury may be controversial and during the ENCOUNTER end-user workshops there has been opposition from the end-users to attempts to monetarise such impacts. Despite this there are examples of where this has been used successfully to maximise the impact of spending where there finite budgets.

The ENCOUNTER project focussed on preventing explosion (neutralising) or mitigating the effects of explosion from an IED just discovered. It therefore does not need to deal with aspects such as obtrusive surveillance or sensor technology. Neutralisation and mitigation will be achieved through technologies to disrupt the IED before it can be successfully triggered, or to reduce the effect of explosion, for example by restricting fragments. Through the advice and procedures developed for dealing with IEDs ENCOUNTER provide help to ensure that security services are able to deal most efficiently with situations they rarely deal with.

The ideas and technologies from ENCOUNTER has impact on society through:
Enable more effective management of an IED in an urban environment:
• Reduce the probability of an IED being successfully detonated, offering greater security to European citizens in the urban environment.
• Design to restrict damage if IED detonation does occur. Reduce the spread of shrapnel and fragments, reduce the damage to surrounding infrastructure.
• Improve efficiency of police and emergency services in dealing with IEDs through provision of advice on, for example, required stand-off distances for the public in a range of scenarios.

ENCOUNTER has taken some promising counter IED technologies forward and shown their potential for making the work of EOD teams safer and more secure. Further development is needed for all techniques before they can be used in the field.

List of Websites: