The IED Threat

Course Group: 
Lethality and Survivability


This two-day course provides an overview of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and the science behind their operation. This course is aimed at individuals who require an understanding of IEDs and their effects on vehicles, structures and personnel. Some protection technologies will also be discussed. Attendees will receive a comprehensive set of notes covering the lecture content.

Who Should Attend

Course Outline

Presenter Background

Dates & Registration

Duration: 2 days

Delivery mode: Classroom


Advertised: Canberra

In-house: All states and neighbouring countries, contact the  for more information. Recommended for groups of 10 or more.

What you will receive:

  • Compresehensive set of course notes
  • UNSW Canberra certificate of attendance
  • Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea

Affiliated courses: Bombs, Blast, Bullets, and Fragments (2 days), Armoured Protection Technologies | Introduction (2 days) & Armoured Protection Technologies | Intermediate (3 days)




Anyone requiring an in-depth understanding of IED threats facing personnel entering a warzone or where terrorism is anticipated including (and not limited to): design engineers; civil engineers; city planners; material scientists; systems engineers; project managers; serving officers; business managers; journalists and charity workers. It will also be of interest to and those working to combat terrorism.




Introduction to explosives and blast

Detonation | Examples of explosives | Effects of blast on people and structures | Engineering principles to protect building occupants from blast

Fragmentation effects

How fragments are formed (Mott fragmentation theory) |Prediction of fragment velocities & air drag theory | Fragment penetration mechanisms | Penetration prediction (de Marre & Recht)

Shaped charge and explosively-formed projectiles (EFPs)

History | Design | Operation | Integration into warheads | Lethality


Anti-personnel mines | Anti-tank mines | Mine construction | Effects on vehicles | Protecting vehicle occupants

Stress waves and shock

Elastic and plastic stress waves | Stress wave propagation at interfaces | Shock-wave effects | Hugoniots| Why shock waves can kill you

Penetration mechanisms (theory)

Failure mechanisms | Low-velocity impact | de Marre theory | High-velocity impact |Hydrodynamic penetration theory 

The vulnerability of the human body

How bullets and fragments penetrate | Injury criteria | Primary, secondary and tertiary blast injuries

Protection strategies

Materials for protection | Metals (steel, aluminium, magnesium and titanium alloys) | Composites (GFRP, CFRP, UHMWPE [e.g., Dyneema®], Kevlar®) | The importance of material properties | How to stay safe




Paul has over 20 years of experience studying the impact behaviour of materials. He has recently moved to Canberra, Australia from the UK to take up the post of Professor of Impact Dynamics at UNSW Canberra. Before taking this position he was Head of the Centre for Ordnance Science and Technology at Cranfield University’s Shrivenham campus (at the UK Defence Academy). He has published extensively, appeared in several documentaries and presented his research work at numerous symposia. He has published two books on protection technologies with the most recent called ‘ARMOUR: Materials, Theory, and Design’ (CRC Press). 


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