Weapons, Protection and Security

FOI’s activities in this area represent Sweden’s accumulated expertise is such areas as explosives and weapon effects. These activities also support the civil community’s capacity to resist and combat terrorism.

gunpowder locker

FOI studies unmanned vehicles in order to be able to predict threats and possibilities, evaluate performance and provide hostile and friendly co-players in, for example, pilot training simulations.

Unmanned vehicles are becoming an increasingly common phenomenon in both civil and military contexts. Military unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, have long been used for reconnaissance purposes while unmanned ground vehicles, UGVs, are employed to search for and destroy unexploded mines and bombs. A factor common to all unmanned vehicles is that we want them to function in a way that is useful and, to ensure this, they require a more or less sophisticated planning and management system. Such planning and management systems are studied and developed at FOI.

In recent years unmanned vehicles have been studied in connection with a wide variety of activities. In a project financed under the EU’s sixth framework programme, FOI, in collaboration with partners including Thales Europe, has developed planning functions for UAVs intended for aerial surveillance of the Mediterranean area, watching for smugglers, vessels carrying illegal immigrant refugees, and any vessels in distress. On assignment from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, FMV, we have been working with Rotundus, the Royal Institute of Technology KTH and Saab on the development of a planning tool for a mobile robot ‘watchkeeper’ capable of patrolling, for example, factories or port installations. In order to support pilot training activities we have also developed software for decision functions for friendly and hostile co-players in a simulated air combat scenario.

Energetic Materials

Energetic materials are at the heart of most of today’s weapon systems and are necessary for the delivery of the weapon to its target. In civil applications large amounts of energetic materials are used, for example in rock blasting, space flight, and airbags for vehicle safety. Terrorism and asymmetric warfare has led to problems with homemade bombs, something that has triggered a drastic increase in interest in the ability to detect explosive substances in both civil and military contexts.

FOI is one of the world’s leading research agencies in the field of energetic materials. Our activities cover all aspects from research, development and testing to small-scale manufacture or the building of demonstrators. FOI possesses comprehensive expertise in areas such as the synthesis, formulation, analysis, characterisation and initiation of explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics. FOI can offer overall solutions to the Swedish Armed Forces and to civil customers both in Sweden and abroad.

The Swedish Armed Forces are our largest single customer but we also undertake assignments for civil authorities such as the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency MSB and the Police. For the military we develop new applications based on energetic materials and we contribute towards the increased safety of munitions through studies of the stability and ageing of explosive substances. We also study processes that can lead to the accidental initiation of explosives. On the civil side we develop solutions for space applications and for vehicle pyrotechnics (airbags). FOI has also gained wide recognition as a source of safety-oriented research covering all aspects of explosive substances for the civil authorities and other clients.

We also carry out classification and functional testing and we undertake risk analysis associated with fire and explosion risks as well as providing training courses in this area.

Warheads and Propulsion

FOI engages in research covering launch and propulsion technology, warhead technology focusing mainly on their explosive effect, high-power microwave (HPM) electromagnetic warheads and underwater technology (hydrodynamics, signatures, weapons and protection). The scientific work makes use of the development of theoretical and numerical models supported by broadly based experimental activities.

The research into warheads and propulsion systems, which are fundamental components of weapon systems, provides the Swedish Armed Forces with tools for the assessment of how new technology can be applied in future weapon systems. Among FOI’s essential areas of competence are propellant combustion, explosive detonations and pulsed electrical power, as well as effects on, and flow round, military vehicles and weapon systems. These activities have access to unique experimental facilities and well developed trials methods. The research is based on expert knowledge of rapid deformations in solid materials, measuring techniques capable of recording such deformations, interactions between fluids, gases and solid materials, turbulence modelling, electrodynamics, combustion and plasma physics, numerical methods and computer technology.

FOI’s assignments come largely from the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration but also from civil authorities such as the Swedish Space Corporation and the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. FOI has a broad range of collaborative arrangements with Universities, Colleges and other research organisations both in Sweden and internationally.

Weapons and Protection

The programme area Weapons and Protection is oriented towards the core competence of the Swedish Armed Forces – the capacity to engage in armed conflict – and more especially towards the constant duel between conventional weapons and protection against them. Work in this area also supports the civil community and its need for safety and security in the face of terrorism and large scale accidents. This activity has unique experimental resources to draw upon which make it possible to carry out anything from standard testing to detailed studies of the interaction between both current and future warheads and protection technologies.

FOI has long experience of studies and analyses of the effects of different types of weapons and the effectiveness of physical protection and other measures to reduce vulnerability. Via model development, and with the aid of computational and evaluation tools, the results are converted into technical data to support decision making with regard to the vulnerability of people, vehicles, buildings etc. and assessment of the potential of new weapons and protective techniques. A strong international network of contacts ensures that FOI can keep abreast of the latest technical possibilities and convert this information into useful knowledge both for the defence community and for the benefit of society as a whole.

Our principal customers are the Swedish Armed Forces, the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration and the Swedish Fortifications Agency as well as the defence industry and other actors in the commercial sector.


Last updated: 2023-03-07