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UAV Applications for Military Search

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Systems Concepts and Integration

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CIED, detection, GPR, metal detector, Military search, UAV


Military Search (MS) is defined as the management and application of systematic procedures and appropriate tools to detect and locate specific targets, in support of a military operation. MS was developed by the British troops in their fight against the Irish Republican Army in the seventies, and was adopted by most western armed forces during their involvement in the peace keeping and peace enforcing operations in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan as an capability of their military engineers. The objective of MS can be either offensive or defensive. For offensive MS the objectives are to collect information and material for exploitation, to deprive the resources (such as weapons and explosives) of the adversary and secure material for forensic evidence. Offensive MS can be regarded as an ‘Attack-the-Networks’ C-IED capability. The objective of defensive MS is to protect potential targets: force protection, protection of pre-planned events and protection of critical infrastructure, and can in general be regarded as a ‘Defeat-the-Device’ C-IED capability. In MS several levels can be defined. The lowest level is Basic Search for overall force protection as a basic skill for trained soldiers. Intermediate MS is for situations with no or a low threat of explosive hazards, or when a lower level of assurance is accepted. The highest level, Advanced MS, is meant for situations with a high threat, when only the highest level of assurance is accepted, or when a hazardous environment exists. Advanced MS is conducted by specialists with a special tool set. Although MS is often regarded as a procedure to find weapons and explosive hazards, such as landmines, Improvised Explosive Devices, explosive materials (that can be used of manufacturing IEDs), (Advanced) MS is more and more applied to locate other, non-explosive targets in both military and civil (police, customs, tax authorities) operations. Examples are non-explosive components that are used in IEDs (e.g. electronic remote control units), electronic information carriers (SD-card, USB stick), valuables used by the adversary to finance its operations (money, jewels, drugs), documents (that may contain information of the adversaries network), etc.


The ET will investigate the feasibility of establishing a 3-year RTG under the SCI-Panel. The objectives of this RTG will be the assessment of the potential, limitations and challenges of the use of UAVs for the detection of Search targets in Military Search operations. A Cooperative Demonstration of Technology (CDT) in which defence R&D agencies, academia and industry will be invited to participate, can be foreseen as part of the assessment. The findings of the assessment will be documented in a report by the RTG.


The ET will draft a Program of Work for the follow-up RTG, which will include the methodology for the assessment. Important aspects to be discussed in the ET are: • Agreement on the scope of the RTG, including the detection technologies to be considered; • Definition of Military Search scenarios, including the Search targets, that are relevant for the assessment/CDT; • Inventory of suitable sites for the assessment/CDT, and the prevailing regulation with respect to the use of UAVs and sensor technologies (e.g. EM interference). Moreover, an inventory will be made of potential participants in a CDT.

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