Weapons Effects Course 2017

A new Course in Weapons Effects and Force Protection

By Dr Michael Netherton

The Air Force’s new Weapons Effects and Force Protection Engineering Course was held at the Army’s School of Military Engineering (Holsworthy Barracks, NSW), in June. The course aim was to provide in-field Commanders with technically qualified engineers who can effectively communicate practical and pragmatic risk-based advice with respect to Weapons Effects on Structures.

The course was open to any Army and Air Force Engineering Officers with a Civil Engineering qualification.

The students drew on their structural engineering knowledge to determine technical solutions for problems not readily covered within current in-service doctrine. They were shown how to calculate a number of different loads from a variety of air, land and sea based weapons, and then determine the most likely structural and human-injury responses for a variety of engineered solutions. Typical scenarios included: direct fire from both small arms and heavy machine gun fire; IDF from various mortars; terrorist-style VBIEDs and PBIEDs; Bare explosives (including fire events post-blast); as well as Air-to-Ground munitions such as Mk 80 series warheads, guided munitions (ie: JASSM and JSOW), and hard-target penetrators. The students were required to design pragmatic and bespoke engineering solutions, using a variety of Civil Engineering Materials, to mitigate the risks posed by these threats.

One aspect of the course that was very successful was the connection between design and practical reality. In one scenario, the students designed Over Head Protection (OHP) to withstand an explosion from a simulated mortar attack, where the OHP was intended to reduce the risk of damage to a simulated item of critical FOB infrastructure. The “as‑designed” structure was constructed by 65SQN Airfield Engineers from RAAF Base Richmond, and then “attacked” by members of 65SQN EOD Flight from Defence Establishment Orchard Hills.

The direct connection between the student’s calculated design and the practical demonstration of its survivability gave students confidence that their bespoke designs are more than just theoretical solutions. This confidence greatly improves their ability to give robust and considered risk-based advice to their future Commanders.

The course was also a great success in terms of collaboration between Full-time and Reserve members of the ADF, the Federal Government and a number of civilian agencies. Civil Engineers from the Army’s Joint Proof and Experimental Unit, 19 Chief Engineer Works, Geosciences Australia and The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade each provided peer-briefings on their current risk‑based approach to weapons effects on structures. The course was also supported by Cranfield University (UK) who provided students with the latest “Computational Fluid Dynamics” software for modelling explosive blasts within complex environments; plus, the University of Newcastle (NSW) provided information on their current research into Risk-based advice for Commanders for circumstances when blast/fragmentation loading (and consequential structural response) is variable and uncertain.

The course was also directly supported by a number of Civilian organisations who released their Civil Engineers to instruct on the course. They included: Dr Michael Netherton (The University of Newcastle); Mr Terry McLennan (Aurecon); Mr Angus Johnson (Taylor Thomson Whiting) and Mr Josh Porter (AECOM). All of whom are also ADF Reserve Officers, who were able blend their contextual ADF service with their civilian expertise in order to enhance the training value of the course.

FLTLT Emily McSkimming, SQNLDR Terry McLennan, CAPT Michael Sipple, MAJ Timothy Napper, CAPT Daniel Parkinson, LT Douglas Menzies, WO2 Gregor Buckley, SQNLDR Simon West, MAJ Patrick Trainor, CAPT Andrew Hansell, SQNLDR Michael Netherton
FLTLT Emily McSkimming, SQNLDR Terry McLennan, CAPT Michael Sipple, MAJ Timothy Napper, CAPT Daniel Parkinson, LT Douglas Menzies, WO2 Gregor Buckley, SQNLDR Simon West, MAJ Patrick Trainor, CAPT Andrew Hansell, SQNLDR Michael Netherton

Jye Martyn (65SQN EOD technician) fixes linear-cutting charges to one of the structural beams designed during the WEFPEC.
Jye Martyn (65SQN EOD technician) fixes linear-cutting charges to one of the structural beams designed during the WEFPEC.

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Last update: Thursday, 3 August 2017

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