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Mobile Anti-Ramming Barriers and Urban Resilience

Germany is readjusting to an ever accelerated fluctuating threat environment. An Islamist terrorist attack on German soil (the lorry attack in Berlin, late December 2016), for which the self proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group claimed to be the inspiration, raised urgent questions for German politicians and law enforcement agencies: What can be done to prevent and mitigate attacks by ramming vehicles in modern cities?

The lorry attack on Berlin’s venerable Breitscheidplatz can be seen as a form of asymmetric urban warfare. The attack inevitably triggered a reassessment of security of public spaces in Germany and across Europe. By using a simple available exurban logistics such as a truck against symbolic centres, the “lone-wolf attacker” put German urban openness under re-evaluation, on the very verge of being abandon to more protection and surveillance measures.

The fluid risk environment, significant psychological impact and constant uncertainty create difficult security challenges for politicians, industries and law enforcement agencies. The rise of “Lone Wolf” attackers, shifting borders, legal constraints and sovereignty, mapping the tangled web of exurban logistics, scanning social media for probabilities, are just some very tangible headlines that trigger planning scenarios. It is from the civil security point of view, perhaps the greatest challenge is to embed new safety measurement in the fabric of public spaces.

Mifram’s Mobile Vehicle Barrier (MVB) is one such measurement that is blended ad-hoc into the aesthetics of the urban environment. The MVB is a pivotal component in Mifram’s “tiered” defensive design mitigating predetermined impact velocities. The barrier’s ‘L’ shaped stops vehicles travelling at high speeds by transferring the vehicles horizontal momentum to vertical momentum, regardless of its speed. Similarly the MVBs are effective in different terrains, perimeters and environmental conditions, e.g. asphalt, rough terrain, gravel, rocky and sandy and against wheel protection.

As a passive perimeter barriers designated as “anti-ram barriers”, Mifram’s MVB’s have been proven capable of stopping all types of vehicles, ranging from motorcycles, land rovers, ATVs to light trucks. When deployed in several lines of defence, even heavy trucks similar to the one used in Berlin and Nice.

Mifram’s mobile vehicle barriers serve myriad of goals that are solely depended on the specific settings. While it is mostly in use in Israel, over 40,000 units were sold to the US military to protect their various assets both domestically and abroad. The French Navy, police in Japan and Singapore have also begun using the modular system. The barriers have long been used to protect mass crowd events such as Olympic Games, festivals, and for the protection of airports and harbours.

Compared to conventional methods, such as erected cement blocks, the MVB is a simple, aesthetically pleasing and innovative product of securing civic spaces. It is lightweight and quickly deployable from one setting to another, while being very easy to remove after the event is over. Similarly, a two-fold psychological effect comes into play: the visual presence of MVBs could potentially divert an attack, and for civilians, this kind of anti-terrorism provision does not cloud their everyday life with nervousness about attending crowded external places.

Militarily speaking, in Iraq, for instance, the American military stopped trucks with dozens tons by efficiently and spreading a number of lines of MVB units, thwarting any chance of the truck creating the necessary speed and momentum. The truck’s kinetic energy was not an issue and the impact was effectively mitigated. Yet it is essential to understand that stopping a vehicle does not occur on the an exact centimetre, rather there is a slide range of 5-10 meters, depending on the vehicle, speed and spread-our range of the barriers.

Mifram’s SMVB (Snap Mobile Vehicle Barrier) is a unique, concealed vehicle barrier. In the cross-geographic settings of combating smugglers, security force can spring a barrier 2 to 3 seconds before the smugglers’ vehicle makes contact with the barrier’s location. The vehicle hits the barrier at travelling speed. The SMVB is designed to exploit vehicle momentum to lift its front wheels into air. The barrier’s “teeth” “bite” into vehicles chassis, thus keeping them there. Consequently, the vehicle is hampered or immobilized, thus is trapped by the barrier after impact. It is therefore easier for security forces to overpower the smugglers without causing significant injury and the suspect is comprehended by security forces.

In order to contain the latest mutations of urban warfare politicians and law enforcement agencies have to continually devising new safety strategies to keep the concept of protection on the road. Mifram’s choreography of MVB is the quintessential toned-down lay-out that enhances urban resilience.

Guy Cohen


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