Countering explosive threats

Countering explosive threats

Explosive devices represent a threat to human life and material assets, both military and civilian, in a wide range of situations. With the rise of the internet, any malicious person can gain access to an encyclopaedia of information on how to build explosives, expanding the threat from war zones and regions of civil unrest to everyday situations in cities around the world. Here, the biggest challenge we face is the continuous race between perpetrators and identifying and countering the threats they represent. For this reason, our CET team constantly looks ahead, working to predict what the next threat will be and how it can be countered.


Countering Explosive Threats (CET) is the TNO team that specialises in threat detection and neutralisation of explosive materials, including IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and home-made explosives that are placed in buildings and streets. They are a weapon of strategic influence used by insurgents and terrorists, and are one of the main causes of casualties among troops, police forces and local populations.

We study the various threats posed by all kinds of explosive devices and conceive, develop and test ways to counter their threat. We focus on finding explosive threats and preventing them from detonating. We do this for our customer base which includes organisations and government institutions from around the world, such as the Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism , the Dutch and foreign Ministries of Defence (MoDs) in NATO member states, EU institutions and businesses ranging from SMEs to multinationals.

Effective threat detection

In the face of an ever-evolving range of threats, TNO invests heavily in researching and developing technologies that detect and counter malicious attacks. In doing so, we rely on a wide variety of technologies. Effective threat detection calls for smart sensors, as well as the compilation and presentation of harvested data that allow an operator to come to a well-founded decision on the most effective way to counter a potential threat.

A combination of multiple technologies is usually needed to identify a threat. In a crowded civilian environment such as a large train station, for example, any countermeasures deployed must impede the flow as little as possible and ensure the safety of people.

TNO advises policy makers and end users on the optimum deployment of such detection and neutralisation systems, carefully balancing security and operational aspects.

Defeat the device

In a military context, TNO researches all three pillars of the NATO approach to countering improvised explosive devices or IEDs: Attack the Network, Defeat the Device, and Prepare the Force. Our main focus in this field is on defeating the device, the ability to detect, identify and neutralise a threat before it can cause any harm.

In a nutshell, we research, develop and test the high-end technologies and components necessary to detect and counter threats and advise our clients accordingly.

Unique test facilities

TNO is an attractive partner for small and large-scale research or testing projects. Due to years of experience and investments we can offer our clients a wide variety of high-end on-site R&D and test facilities. Here, we perform independent testing and validation of detection equipment using real explosives (including Home-Made Explosives) and weapons in a laboratory environment and (simulated) real-life scenarios.

Developing robust test protocols is part of the testing process. TNO also acts as an accredited test centre for aviation security systems. Commercial clients typically come to us to have their security-related products thoroughly tested. We also collate the kind of data that will make these products even better.

Multidisciplinary approach

TNO is a particularly strong and multidisciplinary player, acting as an expert one-stop shop with extensive knowledge and expertise covering every link in the chain. The specific expertise you can find with us are:

We collaborate extensively with peers, knowledge centres, and customers and end users around the world, to ensure that our knowledge base is continuously updated and we continue to provide the right solutions for you.

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Weapon systems


We determine the performance of weapon systems. Government and industry use our assessments to make choices and implement innovations.

Explosions, ballistics and protection


With expertise in ballistics, blast and materials TNO innovates in protection as well as munition performance