While building bridges with key allies is an important part of developing effective armed forces, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched an initiative focusing on the exact opposite: how to blow them up.
The MoD’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) construct, which finds and funds new exploitable technology, has launched a new Innovation Focus Area (IFA) called ‘A Bridge to Fall’, the MoD announced on 2 March 2023.
This IFA, run on behalf of the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), is seeking innovative ways to modernise the British Army’s bridge demolition capability. The project’s objectives include reducing the time taken to prepare the demolition of a bridge and minimising the exposure of military personnel to potential hazards during such an operation.
Noting the importance of bridges to manoeuvring military forces, especially armour, a DASA press release stated that “preventing an adversary from using a bridge is an important but dangerous mission”.
The IFA addresses three challenge areas: how to identify and diagnose the structural weaknesses of a bridge; how to optimise the placement and effect of explosive charges on the bridge; and designing an unmanned device to place charges in the appropriate points. An assumption made for the purpose of the IFA is that the bridge being targeted would be made of steel-reinforced concrete.
According to DASA, “This IFA is open for the current cycle (FY23/24 Cycle 1) and will remain open for the next cycle (FY23/24 Cycle 2). End date yet to be confirmed.”
Up to GBP 400,000 (EUR 450,709) in funding is available under the initiative.