CBRNE Defence: Technology trends

Breakthrough technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), advanced materials, nanotechnology and remote sensing are used in novel CBRNE solutions to accelerate response time to threats and mitigate their adverse effects.

The following are the key technology trends affecting the CBRNE defense theme as identified by GlobalData.


Although nanotechnology is relatively new, there have been some breakthroughs in the development and refinement of new techniques to detect and curb the use of biological or chemical weapons. For example, the decontamination of chemicals requires large amounts of water and can generate waste that is harmful to both humans and the environment. In contrast, nanotechnology can even be used in the decontamination process at room temperature, which eliminates thermal destruction and removes potentially harmful vapors.

Detecting the spread pattern of a chemical attack as it occurs, or developing better sensors for decontamination efforts, may offer more opportunities to use nanotechnology to reduce the impact of CBRN use.

Nanotechnology still harbors some long-term risks, for example to aid the spreading and spreading process or to hide deadly pathogens. “Proto-nano-weapons” like Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIMEs) are designed to make explosives less indiscriminate and more dangerous by shrinking shrapnel to such an extent that medical professionals find it extremely difficult to treat the wounded.

Remote sensing

As CBRNE threat detection and identification is an expensive, meticulous, dangerous, and painful endeavor for CBRNE responders, countries are looking for new solutions, including remote sensing, to develop and improve their CBRNE detection and identification skills. Recently, various remote detection techniques based on laser absorption spectroscopy (LAS) have been developed and used, including differential absorption LiDAR, tunable laser absorption spectroscopy, laser photoacoustic spectroscopy, double-comb spectroscopy, laser heterodyne radiometry, and active coherent laser absorption spectroscopy for chemical detection.

Unmanned vehicles equipped with remote sensors have great potential to monitor the environment, quickly detect and identify these threats and cope with the consequences of CBRN attacks. In 2017, for example, the European Defense Agency (EDA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) initiated an Autonomous Drone Services (AUDROS) project to jointly detect and identify CBRNE threats using satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

Similarly, the Australian Defense Science and Technology (DST) Group, which works with industries such as Strategic Elements, Stealth Technologies, and Planck Aero Systems, is aiming for autonomous CBRN acquisition and search through the use of unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) and UAV .

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) for CBRNE training

The aerospace and defense industries have long recognized the potential for VR and AR training applications. VR enables trainees to perform virtual simulated exercises in order to gain real-life experience inexpensively and safely without putting them at risk. A virtually constructed simulation of a dangerous scenario enables soldiers to become familiar with combat scenarios and to adapt newer skills and techniques that are necessary for combat.

While VR creates an artificial environment in which the user can live; AR is used to enhance live practice in a real environment by superimposing computer generated images over the real view of the user.

Defense forces benefit from VR and AR technologies in CBRNE training solutions for their troops. For example, the Polish armed forces are developing a virtual training center for the Polish chemical armed forces. In addition, in April 2021, the US Department of Defense published a tender for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) to develop software to support the testing and evaluation of radiation detectors and their use in sophisticated lifelike nuclear response scenarios without the use of radiological sources with VR and AR.


AI technology can be used in CBRNE threat detection and protection, as well as training and simulation. Facial recognition and behavioral recognition systems help identify abnormal behavior at key passenger checkpoints such as airports, train stations, and harbors. In the context of Covid-19, AI is helping fight the virus by helping with early infection detection and diagnosis, contact tracing, drug and vaccine development, and training of health workers.

For example, the Mount Sinai Health System has partnered with Sana Labs to train nurses to treat Covid-19 patients with AI-powered assessments. According to a GlobalData survey, 43% of respondents said AI played an important role in helping the company survive the pandemic, and another 34% said it played a minor role.

Conversation platforms are more important than ever as the demand for support services has grown dramatically. The pandemic has also accelerated AI research in federated learning, which enables collaboration on models without forcing users to disclose sensitive information.

In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program awarded $ 2 million to two small businesses to develop machine learning technologies to detect CBRNE threats. DHS aims to reduce time, redundancy and cost, and improve accuracy in detecting threats such as explosives, chemicals and narcotics.


IoT describes the use of networked sensors and actuators to control and monitor the environment, the things moving in it and the people who act in it. Defense IoT use cases include military intelligence, command and control systems, soldier modernization systems, and predictive maintenance for military vehicles. This technology enables a variety of sensors that are used in all areas to gain complete situational awareness and control over different conflict zones or combat areas.

Some companies offer a special network of threat detectors to set up safe and intelligent facilities and monitor areas. For example, Bruker Detection offers a CBRNet solution to detect CNBRNE agents using open source such as cellular telephony, terrestrial and satellite communications, and Bluetooth and WiFi connections. The system connects CBRNE sensors, key decision makers and consultants.

Wearable electronics

With warfare becoming increasingly interconnected, new portable devices are becoming essential for infantry officers and soldiers to improve their situational awareness and combat capabilities. These systems can be linked to radio systems and combat management systems through the use of C2 head-mounted displays; intelligent sights; Smart wrist view and Commanders Combat information displays.

These devices are smaller, lighter, and made of materials technology when used as part of clothing. This reduces weight and allows a variety of components, such as connectors, to be added.

This is an edited excerpt from the Defense against chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive substances (CBRNE) – thematic research Report prepared by GlobalData Thematic Research.