Neutralization of explosive devices with high-power lasers
The neutralization of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in a civilian environment can pose a serious danger to clearing forces and the population. Therefore, the development of new neutralization techniques with improved safety is an ongoing field of research. One example of current research activities is the FP7 project ENCOUNTER, which aims at the development of innovative, novel neutralization techniques and the rating of their safety and reliability for the application in an urban environment in comparison to established, existing neutralization techniques. In this paper, we introduce the FP7 project ENCOUNTER with a special focus on the neutralization of IEDs by high-power lasers. The working principle of laser neutralization is explained, and the setup of a laboratory test environment is presented that allows for a detailed study of the processes involved when IEDs are irradiated by a high-power laser. Examples of the observations that were obtained from generic IED models under laser irradiation are presented, and an outlook on further work is given.