Starting in 2018, it will be possible to explore and test countermine and counter-IED efforts even better at Bundeswehr Technical Center 52 in Oberjettenberg, using a facility that is unique in Europe.
“Protecting our servicemen and women on operations is one of our most important tasks. With the L-IED facility, we have taken a huge step forward in countering asymmetrical threats,” declared Harald Stein, Director-General of BAAINBw, on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the facility at Bundeswehr Technical Center 52 last Thursday, 12 October 2017.
The landmine and IED detection facility (L-IED facility) provides an unparalleled environment for developing and testing measures and procedures in order to detect and counter IEDs. Investing about six million euros in this facility is a statement in support of the location Oberjettenberg and its future prospects.
“It is thanks to the untiring efforts of our employees at Bundeswehr Technical Center 52 that, within the infrastructure in theater, Bundeswehr personnel are well protected against threats,” said Director-General Stein. Regional politicians and guests from the Bundeswehr were invited to the small opening ceremony.
The first testing and research efforts can start in 2018. “We are looking forward to being able to use this unique testing environment in the future,” stressed Michael Klaus, Director of Bundeswehr Technical Center 52.
In the past years, asymmetrical threat scenarios have taken on greater significance for the armed forces. Attacks against UN and NATO troops are often carried out using IEDs, in order to cause heavy losses and cruel injuries while requiring only little effort from attackers. In order to better detect and locate such IEDs in the future, the L-IED facility has been established at the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Protective and Special Technologies, providing a unique testing environment.
Currently, mainly dual sensor systems are used to detect IEDs. These dual sensor systems consist of a metal detector and a ground penetration radar. The metal detector is used to search the subsoil for metallic objects while the ground penetration radar is used to identify any changes in dielectricity.
Certain sensor technologies are sensitive to interferences caused by metals. That is why the L-IED facility was built without using metal. With the help of the integrated overhead sprinkling system, physical parameters of the soils influencing detector properties and performance can be assessed under conditions that can be compared to those in a laboratory (e.g. by varying the soil humidity).
The facility provides a floor area of 70 meters in length and 25 meters in width for two detection trails with five different soil types. The detection trails are 1.5 meters deep and 5 meters wide. Moreover, an exhaust extraction system is available for vehicle-based detection systems.
This facility is designed to help evaluate the performance of (hand-held and especially vehicle-based) detection systems to identify IEDs in various types of soil, e.g. loess loam, basalt, humus, sand and rubble. Due to the varying soil physics, the different types of soil impose variable requirements on detection systems. In this way, the soil-dependent performance and deployment limits of the detectors can be determined in an optimal manner. A detector that works properly for a certain type of soil may not do so for a different kind of soil composition.
It is necessary to identify and analyze such shortcomings in order to subsequently initiate efforts for improvement and optimization. This is the only way to ensure that the user has a detection system on hand that enables him to accomplish his task in the best possible way.