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The international armaments cooperation for structural protection against the effects of weapons is expanded. On October 28, 2020, the Federal Council of Switzerland confirmed that it would join the multilateral program designed to protect troops and infrastructures from the effects of weapons. This means that Germany, Norway, Switzerland and the United States of America currently belong to this program. Now this round is to be expanded. Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK want to be able to join the program. With the admission of these countries, all those involved can benefit even more from the direct exchange of technical and scientific test results and from international experience in the field of protection against the effects of weapons.

Goal of the program

In order to better assess the impact of large explosive charges on military and civil infrastructure and public buildings, complex tests are required. Such tests cannot be carried out on a large scale in Switzerland and neighboring countries. It was therefore decided to work together internationally to protect against the effects of weapons. It is about the basics for the structural protection of infrastructure and the users housed in it. These can be soldiers as well as diplomats stationed abroad.

For example, large-scale blasting tests were carried out in 2018 under the name “Cloudberry 2018”. A delegation from armasuisse was there for the first time and was able to actively shape the large-scale blasting tests. The venue was Älvdalen in Sweden. The preparations for these large-scale tests ran for several years. For example, the modular protection components that were tested had to be procured abroad. The multinational coordination on site and the complex logistics posed great challenges for the project. The test site Älvdalen is extremely isolated and can only be reached by car via gravel roads. This made the logistics difficult, but made such attempts possible. For example, it was about structural protection against active threats, for example from larger vehicle bombs.

The 2018 patronage was Norway. To this end, the Norwegian government had a four-story concrete building constructed for the test series. Various facade elements could then be attached and blasted on. The test was initiated with a view to the planned new construction of administrative buildings in Oslo. Switzerland used the first floor for experiments with masonry. The focus of “Cloudberry” was on tests of how facade elements can be protected against medium loads. The exercise planners understood this to mean several hundred kilograms of TNT equivalent.

Photo: armasuisse

In parallel to the facade elements, Switzerland and Sweden tested different types of dummies. The aim was to be able to assess the effects of the air blast effect on people. A simple, robust dummy was developed for this purpose.

The next large-scale test followed on August 15, 2019 with the “Shield” (super heavy improvised explosive loading device), also in Sweden. "Shield" is an experiment that exceeds "Cloudberry" many times over in terms of the scope of the test objects and the size of the explosive charge.

Andrè Forkert