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Detection techniques on explosives: Countering an explosive threat, across the timeline of a plot
Deadline: Aug 25, 2016  

 Nanotechnology and Nanosciences
 Horizon Europe

Topic Description

Specific Challenge:

Extensive research has developed, in recent years, methods and techniques to enhance support to those involved in countering explosive threats, including efforts to counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and Home-Made Explosives (HMEs). But up until now, no comprehensive research has assessed the effectiveness, the efficiency and the cost of the combination of these methods and techniques (including those developed outside of these civilian sphere) to stop the threat at some point in time before the attack.


Innovative approaches are required to: assess the effectiveness of the methods and techniques used to counter a threat at certain point in time of the plot, against credible scenarios based on real cases; assess how to best combine methods and techniques along the timeline of a plot; identify methods and techniques able to fill in existing gaps.

Methods and techniques to be considered include:

  • Intelligence to spot those preparing for an attack;
  • The inhibition of precursors;
  • Detection of specific chemicals, bomb factories, and/or IED;
  • Neutralization of IED;
  • Identification of weakness of the current defences against IED, and possible improvements.

Scenarios should take into account the type of explosive (e.g. home-made, conventional) and the means of transit and deployment (e.g. person-borne, vehicle-borne, left baggage), as both factors influence how effective a given combination of methods or technologies can be. No technological development is foreseen, but rather operational research undertaken in close cooperation with practitioners and building, among others, upon the work of relevant FP7 projects, of the European Network on the Detection of Explosives (NDE), and of successive activities. The results of the action should serve as a basis for the future development of new and innovative detection techniques on explosives to create a step change from current methods and technologies.

Whereas activities will have an exclusive focus on civil applications, coordination with the activities of the European Defence Agency (EDA) may be considered with possible synergies being established with projects funded by the EDA programmes. The complementarity of such synergies should be described comprehensively. On-going cooperation should be taken into account.

Indicative budget: The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of € 5 million would allow for this topic to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

Short term:

  • Better knowledge of the effectiveness of the supporting methods and techniques and of the combination of technologies used to detect and locate an explosive and to counter the terrorist use of an explosive threat.
  • Better understanding of the weakness of current defences against IED.

Medium/Long term:

  • Stronger involvement of practitioners in the field of counter-terrorist activities (e.g. Law Enforcement Agencies, bomb disposal units, Security & Intelligence Agencies, and Government Laboratories) in making assessing and selecting new tools and technologies through reliable management plans.

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