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MoD calls for novel tech solutions to block IED detonation

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The UK Ministry of Defence’s Defence and Security Accelerator innovation hub is seeking new technologies that could be used to prevent home-made explosive devices from being detonated by terrorists and other adversaries.

The MoD is expected to spend at least £3m in the search for technologies to prevent radios, phones and other basic devices being used to detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Companies will be invited to enter DASA’s 'Invisible Shield: Countering IEDs by Novel Technology and Techniques' competition, which launches in late April, to seek funding for proof of concept. At least £1.5m will be available for up to 10 proposals during the first phase of the competition (lasting nine months), with further funding to be made available as the technologies are developed.

Terrorists and other adversaries are capable of building and detonating explosive devices using relatively limited resources; the trigger mechanisms used to initiate IEDs are often adapted from cheap commercial products like radio-controlled toys, for example. Countermeasures are required to combat a quickly growing range of technologies operating across the radio frequency spectrum and using a range of signalling schemes.

DASA is seeking technologies that could play a life-saving role in helping armed forces and security services tackle what it describes as “complex and fast evolving threats” posed by terrorists. The competition is calling for: “innovative proposals to thwart adversaries, terrorists and criminals from using everyday communications items such as radios or mobile phones and networks to trigger home-made bombs and explosives”.

Specifically, it is searching for new techniques for detecting, analysing and jamming radio-frequency signals (such as algorithms to distinguish between various standards and protocols, or tools to identify suspicious changes in the environment); techniques to neutralise target devices quickly; and new and novel hardware and system components.

Solutions could be carried by service personnel, attached to vehicles, or used to provide protection at fixed locations to prevent the detonation of unknown IEDs.

“Our adversaries readily manipulate and exploit everyday electronic and communication devices to enable improvised threats to the public as well as our military and security forces,” said Lieutenant Colonel Barber. “We must consider any novel or innovative solution to this challenge that has the potential to enhance our existing capability, allowing us to maintain our advantage and protect the nation, and our people, from emerging threats.”

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