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Activity title

Technology Roadmaps Towards Stand-off Detection in Future Route Clearance

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Systems Concepts and Integration

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Awaiting Publication

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C-IED, Explosive hazards, IED detection, Route clearance, Stand-off detection


Countering the on and off route threat is a high priority issue for NATO forces in order to minimize casualties and maintain freedom of movement, since improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other explosive hazards are deployed by terrorists and insurgents in NATO areas of operation. The IED threat is expected to remain a major threat in all future NATO missions. Many initiatives were started to counter this threat, including initiatives in the area of route clearance, by NATO, individual nations and other defence organisations. One of these initiatives was the establishment of the NATO STO Task Group SCI-233 ‘Route Clearance Concepts’ in 2010 that aimed at designing and analysing potential concepts for route clearance, and investigating the integration of technologies and systems for mounted and dismounted route clearance in land operations. Route clearance may be divided into a number of different elements, such as detection, identification, marking and neutralisation. The SCI-233 identified (mounted) detection as the most challenging element within route clearance, and focussed on the selection of the most optimal detection sensor technology combinations. The results of the SCI-233 TG can be used as starting point for the establishment of Technology Roadmaps that address the need for stand-off detection in the future route clearance capacity. Stand-off detection will provide the commander with options to address the military situation, such as freedom of movement and rate of advance, resulting in increased force protection. The foreseen Technology Roadmaps can be used for forecasts of capability developments and can give guidance to R&D.


Based on the results of the SCI-233 Task Group Route Clearance Concept, which focused on detection as the most challenging element of route clearance operations, the TG will define stand-off detection maturation options for future mounted route clearance, suitable for all relevant environments and evolving threats. Maturation options to create stand-off distance include: sensor technologies, data processing and fusion to increase detection probability and reduce false alarms, multi-sensor integration and sensors on (unmanned) platforms. The capability improvements for the different maturation options will be investigated, and the potential operational benefits (such as increase of the rate of advance, reduction of operator workload) will be estimated by the Task Group. For intermediate solutions, neutralization options that do not require detection, such as signature duplication, may have to be considered to cover the full set of threats and environments. The development paths for the stand-off detection maturation options for future mounted route clearance as defined by the TG will be outlined in Technology Roadmaps.


1. In order to start the development of the Technology Roadmaps for stand-off detection in future route clearance, the Task Group will define the intended end state for explosive ordnance stand-off detection capability in route clearance. Stand-off detection may be achieved with (combinations of) forward and sideward looking sensors and/or the use of remotely operated, unmanned or autonomous platforms. 2. To define the starting point for the Technology Roadmaps, i.e. the current capabilities, an overview of mounted detection systems that are operational or ready for operational use will be made. This activity of the Task Group may be combined with a workshop in which the other elements of route clearance (such as neutralization and reinstatement) and their relation to the route clearance element ‘detection’ are addressed. 3. The development options for individual detection technologies for mounted deployment will be identified in order to overcome their current limitations, such as rate of advance, stand-off distance, and size, weight and power. The recommendations on detection technology combinations for optimal detection in route clearance, as made by the SCI-233 TG, will be used to select the individual detection technologies to be considered in this step. 4. For the detection sensor technology combinations, mentioned under (3), the development options will be identified. These options include data fusion to increase detection probability and reduce the number of false alarms, sensor integration, modularity and scalability. 5. As a next step the deployment options for the different detection sensor technology combinations will be identified, including the use of remotely controlled, unmanned and autonomous platforms, both land-based and airborne. The TG will consider arranging a symposium with industry to obtain information on current and future capabilities of these platforms in route clearance capabilities. 6. Technology roadmaps, including intermediate solutions, will be created for the developments described in the previous steps. For the intermediate solutions and the end state the capability improvements will be described, and an estimation will be made of the potential operational benefits, such as increased rate of advance and reduced operator workload.

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