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Explosives and Ammunition Surveillance

This technical department embodies Switzerland‘s unique expertise relating to military explosive substances, such as explosives, gunpowder and signal flares and ammunition monitoring.


Technical Ammunition Monitoring and Status Analyses

The purpose of ammunition monitoring is to keep track of the current state of the ammunition stocks of the Swiss army. Circumstances that can lead to an increased security risk must be identified, and it is necessary to be proactive in defining measures. Results from component analyses and tests provide the basis for assessing
ammunition in storage with regard to functional reliability, handling safety, transportability and ability to be stored. Early detection of property changes is an essential part of this work.

Expertise in the Explosives Division

By creating risk analyses and security concepts, the division makes a concrete contribution to customer safety when handling ammunition and explosives. This expertise also includes interdisciplinary investigations into irregularities and events, as well as responding to questions about the effect of pollutants on the environment.

In addition, it acts as the Swiss qualification centre for military explosives.

Applied Research in the Field of Explosives and Ammunition Monitoring

Applied research enables the development of the expertise of the department as well as the development of new analytical methods and models for the assessment of explosives.

Unique Test Infrastructure

Our measuring and testing facilities are available to national and international customers for system and component testing. All facilities have state-of-the-art equipment, and our highly qualified personnel ensure professional testing.

Competence Centre for Ammunition/Explosives


Safe defusing (disassembly) of ammunition and explosives takes place at the facility in Thierachern. Facilities for testing components as well as for simulating weapon and ammunition processes are the focal point of the infrastructure.

Assessment of Storage Safety


Determining the thermal stability of explosives is an essential part in assessing storage safety. Our laboratory features state-of-the-art infrastructure, including a heat flow calorimeter.

Ageing and Stability Assessments


Explosives (propellants, pyrotechnics) are analysed in the laboratories, where ageing and stability assessments are performed and safety and environmental aspects are assessed.

Mechanical Properties


Characterising the mechanical properties of explosives has become more important. To do this, we use modern measuring instruments for dynamic-mechanical analyses as well as a material tester.


Risk  minimizing trough Self-life modelling

Risk minimizing trough Self-life modelling

One of the benefits of knowing the shelf life of ammunition and the propellant powder it contains is being able to compare the in-service lifetime of the ammunition with the in-service lifetime of the weapon. This helps to minimize the risk for interim capital expenditure during the standard service life.


Factsheet 1

More efficient propellant analysis contributes to sustainability

More efficient propellant analysis contributes to sustainability

Improved chemical analysis methods in the S+T laboratory responsible for propellant analysis are helping to sustainably conserve resources without adversely affecting the quality of the results. Among other things, ten times less solvent is needed to obtain identical results.

Factsheet 2

Ammunition serveillance: S+T experts advising OSCE

Plan of a proposed laboratory

A team of S+T experts visited Bosnia and Herzegovina on behalf of Swissint from 28-31 March 2017 to advise the OSCE organisation on processes relating to ammunition surveillance and infrastructure. The first visit had taken place in 2014, when initial facts were gathered and proposals made. This year, the delegation pursued the following goals: evaluate ammunition surveillance processes and obtain more information on the various types of propellants used, and find a suitable building to serve as a laboratory for analysing propellant powder. Whether a local laboratory will be set up has not yet been definitively decided. The advantages are obvious: firstly, this would enable expertise with regard to evaluating munitions to be maintained, built up and supported in the country. At the same time it would be dangerous to transport ammunition that have not been evaluated over long distances. It also makes sense to have an analysis facility in the area. The work was carried out by a team of experts from Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Norway and Sweden. S+T supported similar efforts aimed at successful demilitarisation a few years ago in Albania and Jordan. The experience and skills acquired at the time proved very valuable and will be applied in this project.

Factsheet 3

Umweltbelastung in Serbien

NATO demilitarisation project

When it comes to demilitarisation, environment-friendly processes play a major role. Decades of experience have made Switzerland a leader in the field. A NATO project is now set to benefit from this expertise when it is employed in an area of Serbia.


Factsheet 4

Detecting sub-surface blinds

When a peat bog becomes a safety risk

In anticipation of its environmental restoration, a peat bog in the Bernese Jura has been recently examined for any remains of firing activity carried out there in the past. Before the environmental restoration project can take place, the area needs to be cleared, and experts are analysing and assessing the extent of the work involved.


Factsheet 5

Handhabungssicherheitstest Elektrostatik-Entladung im Rahmen Round-Robin Test

Efficient munitions monitoring and international quality control

Munition items suffer wear and tear. Therefore they need to be inspected regularly to ensure they are still fit for purpose. Aging of munitions/explosives can impair their reliability. International ringtests in which measurements were performed for quality assurance purposes have confirmed conformity with the international standard at all times.

Factsheet 6

Unexploded bombs in Lake Constance

Underwater metal detector in operation
Underwater metal detector in operation

Du 12 au 16 octobre, S+T a procédé à des tests de recherches dans le lac de Constance, sur mandat du service de déminage du Land de Bade-Wurtemberg. Le but de l'exercice était la recherche de bombes non explosées datant de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Il s'agit d'un excellent exemple de la collaboration transfrontalière entre l'Allemagne et la Suisse dans le domaine de la protection des eaux.


Factsheet 7

Old aerial munitions salvaged from lake

Old aerial munitions salvaged from lake
Old aerial munitions salvaged from lake

The air force firing range on Lake Neuchâtel has been used for over 80 years. Recovering and defusing unexploded munitions from the lake is a highly specialized task. In the first week of August this year a team of experts – including staff from S+T's Explosives and Ammunition Surveillance competence sector – helped to successfully salvage eight "bombs", which were subsequently removed for safe disposal.


Factsheet 8

Component Testing in Munitions Monitoring: Innovative Test Method Shows Promise

Electromagnetic mass accelerator for simulating impact energy (constructed by S+T)
Electromagnetic mass accelerator for simulating impact energy (constructed by S+T)

One of the tasks entrusted to the Science and Technology competence area (S+T) is to ensure that Swiss munitions are safe and fit for purpose. S+T carries out component tests so that it can issue reliable statements regarding the condition of the munitions without having to test complete systems. For complex systems such as intelligent munitions or guided missiles in particular, component tests make it possible to cut back on live firing tests and hence save costs without lowering safety standards.

Science and Technology Explosives and Ammunition
Dr. Patrick Folly
Feuerwerkerstrasse 39
CH-3602 Thun
+41 58 468 37 35


Science and Technology

Explosives and Ammunition
Dr. Patrick Folly
Feuerwerkerstrasse 39
CH-3602 Thun