Thursday, 21 January 2021

Thales: Applying knowledge to tackle CBRNe terrorism

Thales is a global leader in the design and supply of mission critical systems for promoting the safety and security of people and places. In this article, Alistair McHardy, Sales and Marketing Manager, National Security and Resilience DSC & AC reveals that Thales has extended the frontiers of its innovations by developing integrated chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive weapons system to tackle terror attack.

Thales Security Patrol CarOver recent years, the potential for domestic and international terrorist activity has increased rapidly, evolving from localised and regional threats to the threat posed worldwide by international terrorist organisations or groups loosely affiliated to them.

In addition to the historical kinetic threat, the use of CBRN materials in terrorism is now considered to be significant. There have been multiple cases of use or planned use of CBRN materials in terror attacks. Examples include the use of Sarin in the Tokyo underground, anthrax spores in the US post, and the Polonium 210 case in London.

The possible use of CBRN agents and materials in conjunction with terrorist bombs has raised the impact that these threats could pose to public health and safety. It has also changed the implications of that threat from a short-term explosive blast to one with long-term consequences. It is believed that a CBRN device would have a far greater impact on the public continuing with everyday life.

Monitoring likely target areas and key choke points for the passage of CBRNe material and responding to intended use requires a rapid integrated solution that complements existing structures. A vehicle-based platform is by far the most flexible option for this monitoring, and provides a rapid response capability to maximise influence in the critical first hour subsequent to a major incident. It can also support and draw together capabilities of other responders.

Thales Design Approach

Thales is ideally placed to offer products and tailored solutions to emergency services and other first responders, military and Critical National Infrastructure providers over a wide range of CBRNe scenarios. One of the key design drivers adopted by Thales is the recognition that both the system requirements and Concepts of Operations for CBRN detection and identification vary widely between countries and organisations and develop with experience. Through our extensive experience of working with military and civil defence customers – most recently with the UK Police National CBRN Centre - Thales has determined that a flexible and modular multi-role design is essential to facilitate tailoring of the system to meet existing and emerging capability requirements.

The role of first responders in a potential terrorist incident; to save lives and protect the public; must take account of the threat now posed from CBRN materials and environmental hazards (Smoke/debris, Toxic Industrial Materials). The challenges facing first responders are considerable, particularly where examination of the scene to determine the presence of a potential hazard has to be conducted on foot. This is both slow and physically demanding of the responders involved, and may result in greater exposure to hazards.

To address this challenge, Thales has developed a capability that allows responders to rapidly assess a potentially hazardous scene and display the information to incident commanders in a clear manner. The intention is to contain and characterise the incident and significantly reduce the consequences of a CBRN attack.

Thales’ vehicle-based system is capable of sensing and communicating on the move, and provides a clear and intuitive information management system, allowing first responders rapidly to determine the nature of any potential contamination. This information is seamlessly communicated to the incident commander, and to a number of key supporting experts and scientists, who can then set in place appropriate actions to limit the impact of the incident and protect the public.

Thales has developed a suite of components that can be configured and integrated to deliver a capability which meets customers’ requirements. Components include both commercially available best of breed equipment and bespoke systems. Some key areas of innovation include: (a) Airborne contamination sampling on the move; (b) Orthogonal sensing technologies to minimise the occurrence of false positives and negatives; (c) Research and development of next generation sensing technologies; (d) Resilient data and voice communications on the move using multiple bearers of opportunity; (e) Fully integrated, end-to-end information management systems; (f) Use of Stand-Off detection in order to non-intrusively survey a scene prior to EOD entry; (g) Streaming data feeds from drop and go sensors or Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) to allow CBRN assets to support Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams; (h) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) surveillance to assess hazards, dam age and scale of casualties.


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