Nato-Russia Council

STANDEX Counter Terrorism Project: 10 Years 10 Stories Anniversary Feature

Stand-off Detection of Explosives

Mass transport represents an attractive target for terrorists, as has been demonstrated by attacks in cities including London, Madrid and Moscow.

Recognising this vulnerability, the countries of the NATO-Russia Council decided to work together to develop technology to help counter it.  In 2009, the NATO-Russia Council launched a project for the Stand-Off Detection of Explosives (STANDEX) on suicide bombers in mass transport.  This project, which is supported by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme, aims to develop technology to detect explosives concealed on a person moving through a crowd, for example in a metro station at rush hour.  At the same time, the detection efforts must cause minimal inconvenience to the large numbers of people who depend on mass transport in their daily lives.

STANDEX is a multinational programme run by a consortium of laboratories and research institutes that each contribute to the project.  Participants include the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Germany’s Frauenhofer Institute, the Netherlands’ Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), the Khlopin Radium Institute and the Applied Science and Technology Organisation (APSTEC) in Russia, ATC Semiconductor in Russia and the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA).  The intent of the project is to bring together and integrate various techniques and technologies to allow for detection, recognition, localisation and tracking of would-be suicide bombers.

The project is currently in its final stages of technology development.  Once the technology is ready, it will be tested in a live environment in 2013. A successful test of the technology will mark an important milestone and is expected to pave the way for more widespread use of stand-off explosive detection technologies in mass transport systems.  

The issue of transport security remains on the agenda of the NRC, and the positive cooperation under the STANDEX programme may lead to further ideas for projects that can be undertaken within the NATO-Russia Council.  For example, plans are underway to follow the successful STANDEX work with collaborative research aimed at understanding how the detectors can best be integrated and how the response to the detection of a bomber can be implemented in a difficult mass transport environment.