Posted by Mr. Daniel Alex Lageman, US Marine EOD Veteran, December 16, 2020


IED stands for Improvised Explosive Device –  a homemade or improvised explosive device that is constructed and used by individuals or groups for destructive purposes. These devices are typically created using commonly available materials such as explosives, detonators, containers, and triggering mechanisms.

As IEDs can be composed of a huge range of different components, and their appearance is often well concealed, it is much harder for them to be identified by sight. Vidisco’s portable X-ray solutions allow a bomb squad to detect all three types of IED, regardless of how the device is made.

Slider car door with both an RCEID and time IED IDE - Zooming in on the RCEID

There are three types of IED, based on the way they are detonated:

An IED in this category utilizes a ‘time switch’ – a device which creates a countdown until detonation. This could involve the use of a simple solution, such as a mechanical or digital clock. In more creative cases, an imaginative bomber could use an unusual method, such as two electrical contacts separated by ice, which will melt, leading to the contacts touching and the bomb exploding.

These IEDs are operated by the bomber. They can be either tethered, or non-tethered. A tethered IED has a physical connection to the bomber – this could be a simple household object like the cord of a lamp, a fishing wire, or another kind of pull string. A non-tethered connection is remoted controlled, also known as an RCIED (remote-controlled improvised explosive device). The bomber could use a cell phone, Wi-Fi connection, cordless phone, key fob, or any other similar device.

The most common of the IED types, a victim-operated bomb is designed to explode when activated by the victim. Once again, creativity is the limit here, and many unconventional components may be used to trigger detonation. Suspicious findings may include a micro switch, pressure switch, trip line, or passive infrared sensor (PIR).


The following example is one that was successfully detected using a Vidisco portable X-ray system. This setup, as shown in the first image, is comprised of the two IEDs, both embedded in the same slider car door.

The first IED is a remote-controlled (RCIED) pipe bomb, with two butane bottles and a single 9V power source. The initiator is difficult to see, as it is an electric match located inside the cap of the pipe bomb. The second IED is a ‘time’ IED, utilizing an ordinary fire extinguisher which has been cut in half, and using a digital timer a switch. The power source for the device is four AA batteries. The bomb contains a quantity of C-4 explosive, with a single blasting cap as the initiator.

The Vidisco X-ray system also captured two additional images, showing the front and side view of the remote-controlled IED, which can be seen below. Thanks to the high-quality X-ray images, it’s easy to identify the threat. As the X-ray system is highly portable, and safe for use in public areas, it is suitable for deployment in situations where threats must be discovered and contained both quickly and safely.

In conclusion

In the relentless battle against the ever-evolving threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), the challenges faced by security forces and bomb squads are formidable. These homemade devices, designed for destruction, come in various forms and utilize diverse triggering mechanisms, making their detection by sight alone an arduous task.

Vidisco’s portable X-ray solutions stand as a crucial innovation in this critical endeavor, enabling the detection of all three categories of IEDs, regardless of their composition or concealment. Whether dealing with time-based IEDs, command-operated devices, or victim-operated threats, the versatility and precision of Vidisco’s technology offer a potent defense.
The real-world example provided underscores the system’s efficacy in identifying complex IEDs, with its ability to capture high-quality X-ray images ensuring swift and safe threat identification in public areas.

As we confront the ongoing challenge of IED detection, Vidisco’s portable X-ray solutions continue to be a vital asset in enhancing security and protecting lives.

For more information contact Vidisco’s experts here.



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