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WTD 52

Below you can find detailed information about the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Protective and Special Technologies in Oberjettenberg, Berchtesgadener Land. Learn more about its tasks, responsibilities and organizational structure, get contact details and directions.

Mission of WTD 52

The Bundeswehr Technical Center for Protective and Special Technologies (Wehrtechnische Dienststelle für Schutz- und Sondertechnik) is responsible for direct and indirect protection of the forces and their assets. WTD 52 is very special due to its geographic location: It is the only Bundeswehr Technical Center in an alpine setting.

WTD 52 is in charge of many aspects of protection, the importance of which has been confirmed in various Bundeswehr missions. Therefore, the task spectrum of WTD 52 is geared to the protection of troops in current and future mission scenarios. Due to its unique geographic situation, the Technical Center can effectively use the “third dimension” (height) for its investigations. 

WTD 52 uses an alpine test site and blast area, as well as an underground facility and the Bundeswehr-owned cableway. The Center was established in 1957 and belongs to the area of responsibility of the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) in Koblenz.

Tasks at WTD 52

  • Direct protection of camps and infrastructure against weapons effects and improvised explosive devices (IEDImprovised explosive device).
  • Ammunition storage safety
  • Protection of infrastructure against terrorist attacks
  • Physical detection of improvised explosive devices (IEDImprovised explosive device), for instance using specifically designed sensors and detectors
  • Indirect protection and signature management (camouflage, concealment and deception)
  • Computer simulations (numerical simulation) of weapon effects and protective measures
  • Investigation of non-lethal weapons, i.e. means to incapacitate but not kill
  • Testing of mobile antenna support structures
  • Testing of high-risk batteries
  • Aerodynamic load testing
  • Nuclear blast effect (effect of nuclear detonations)
  • Underwater ballistics
  • Mine detection
View of the valley area of WTD 52, with the land mine and IED detection facility in the foreground.

WTD 52 in Oberjettenberg - Working in a phantastic mountain setting

WTD 52

WTD 52 Core Competences

WTD 52 protects military buildings and installations (e.g. camps, checkpoints and military bases) and the people in them. To this end, the Technical Center tests constructions like specifically designed blast wall systems. These tests simulate attacks on military infrastructure with different weapons. These include military weapons like small caliber weapons, shoulder-fired weapons, rockets, artillery and mortars, as well as car bombs and IEDImprovised explosive device.

How resistant are military buildings to terrorist attacks? To find the answer, WTD 52 simulates attacks on its grounds, for instance car bombs. Of particular interest in the investigations and evaluations is the debris spread and the resulting hazard range, to be able to determine the appropriate safety distance to potential detonation sites. 

But WTD 52 analyzes more than just military objects. The Technical Center’s expertise serves beyond military matters: It is also called upon when there is a need for the physical protection of sensitive civilian infrastructure like embassies, banks, major traffic junctions, etc.

Ammunition must be stored safely, especially during operations. To this end, solid buildings are required which resist attack in a real-case scenario. Using a combination of modelling, real-life trials and computer simulations, WTD 52 assesses risks and then develops building structures for safe ammunition storage.

In cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Short-Term Dynamics, the Technical Center developed special software tools. These are constantly being optimized and improved to also meet the requirements of future scenarios and to contribute to an easier planning of field ammunition depots, as well as to a better recognition of dangers in advance.

What effect do blast waves have on physical structures and weapon systems, for instance after a bomb attack? To reconstruct this situation, WTD 52 uses the Large Blast Simulator (LBSLarge Blast Simulator). Highly compressed air produces a blast comparable to a real detonation. The range of the simulator - by the way, the only one in Europe - covers everything from a car bomb to a nuclear detonation.

A numerical simulation is a special kind of computer simulation using numerical methods to simulate a natural or technical process. Since the mid-90s, the Technical Center uses specific software to calculate weapons effects and the reaction of protected structures. Today, WTD 52 uses an entire network of fast computers working in parallel. 

On the basis of these results, WTD 52 experts assess facts and advise the clients requesting the analysis. An advantage of numerical simulations conducted in the field of defense technology: They are far less expensive than real tests.

Self-made booby traps are a serious danger for troops deployed on missions. Improvised explosive devices (IEDImprovised explosive device), i.e. explosive devices built from rough-and-ready materials, have a single purpose: to inflict a maximum of harm to the enemy, using an easy-to-build explosive device. To protect the deployed forces from this, the Bundeswehr regularly takes countermeasures, called counter-IEDImprovised explosive device or C-IEDCounter Improvised Explosive Device.

Non-lethal weapons are weapons effective below the threshold of lethality. They help soldiers close the capability gap between avoiding the use of arms in the framework of diplomacy and using lethal force. 

With the aid of non-lethal weapons, troops should be able to influence individuals or crowds in a way that ensures accomplishment of the mission without causing permanent injury or loss of life. Depending on the degree of escalation, a variety of non-lethal weapons may be employed. 

WTD 52 tests all physical and technical options available – from mechanical and acoustic through to directed-energy weapons. In the framework of defense-related R&TResearch and Technology, new technologies are being assessed and refined.

It is essential for survival on a mission that the enemy cannot identify or locate the own troops or their equipment, or at least that they are identified or located as late as possible.

Their signatures, not only visual and acoustic, but covering a wide range of different physical quantities, must, therefore, be reduced as far as possible. For this reason, beside camouflage, deception and stealth technologies, the field of indirect protection also includes signature management.

At WTD 52, signatures covering the full spectral range from radar sensors to ultraviolet are analyzed to provide an efficient signature management for Bundeswehr vehicles and equipment. In laboratories, in open terrain and in the framework of national and international measurement campaigns, products such as camouflage patterns, modular multispectral camouflage kits, models or comprehensive signature management concepts are created to increase in-theater survivability worldwide. 

WTD 52 Special Technologies

Special technologies are part of WTD 52’s tasks, alongside protection. They include, for instance, aerodynamic load testing of pilot equipment and antenna support structure trials.

When using an ejection seat in an emergency, this means extreme stress for both pilots and their equipment. Will helmet, breathing mask or protective vest resist? Are there any possible flaws? In an emergency, the pilot’s survival depends on the correct functioning and protective effect of these components.

Therefore, WTD 52 tests these vital components in the simulator for aerodynamic flow effects. Beyond this, the functioning of mechanical components of rockets and guided missiles during flight are tested in the aerodynamic flow simulator in reproducible test conditions. 

Bundeswehr antenna support structures have to meet far more stringent requirements concerning material, quality of torsion, inclination properties and overall system strength than equipment for civilian use. Operational readiness and operational safety of antenna support structures must be ensured, even in adverse environmental conditions like rain, snow, ice or exceptionally high wind speeds.

Therefore, the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Protective and Special Technologies tests mobile antenna support structures for service use in the Bundeswehr, using static and dynamic stressing, then verifies their proper functioning. Main aspects of antenna support structures to be verified are: safety, functional capability, handling, stability and strength, all within the required mission parameters.

WTD 52 tests primary batteries for use in the Bundeswehr. In the course of constant quality monitoring, batteries are regularly subjected to type inspection, government quality assurance and storability checks. Beyond this, in the event of incidents, WTD 52 carries out special investigations.

In missions abroad, the Bundeswehr is deployed in very different climatic regions. This means continuously new challenges for the equipment of military personnel.

Therefore, WTD 52 carries out tests in its environmental testing laboratory. Here, realistic trials with numerous test objects like electronic components, batteries or ammunition are carried out in a cost-efficient way. Tests of mechanical and climatic stress scenarios as well as atmospheric pressure tests are carried out.

Landmines laid randomly and in great numbers constitute a considerable danger in Bundeswehr theatres of operation. WTD 52 is searching for possibilities of identifying and locating these landmines.

For this purpose, different procedures of mine detection, like the use of metal detectors, ground penetrating radar, laser acoustic mine sensor and X-ray backscatter technology are investigated and analyzed. WTD 52 is also in charge of several R & T studies concerning the combination of different procedures and sensors.

Scientific studies in underwater ballistics at WTD 52 include more than underwater blast and ballistic trials with torpedoes. Sea mine effects and burning tests of underwater propulsion systems in simulations of water depths of up to 600 m are part of this field of work. 

Of particular importance in these tests is the range simulator for underwater ballistics with a depth of 60 m and a diameter of 5 m. This test facility is also used by other Bundeswehr Technical Centers and Institutes, and by industry, in the framework of trials or developments in the field of defense technology, as well as by military units in underwater blast training and military diving. 

Organizational Structure of WTD 52

WTD 52 is organized into two divisions, as well as one Engineering/Operational Services element and one Economic/Administrative Services element.

The divisions are in charge of the operational branches of the Technical Center. They mainly carry out technical and trial-related tasks, as well as research & technology projects.

While the Engineering/Operational Services element includes all the technical support services, the administrative elements of the Technical Center are grouped together in the Economic/Administrative Services element.

The organizational chart of WTD 52 provides an overview of its overall structure:

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How to get to WTD 52

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This section will tell you how to get to the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Protective and Special Technologies. You have different possibilities: by car, train or plane.

You are coming by car?

  • Take the A8 from Munich towards Salzburg. Take the exit Bad Reichenhall and turn right onto the B 20 towards Bad Reichenhall/Lofer. Continue on the B 20 and the B 21 ring road towards Lofer. 
  • After leaving Bad Reichenhall, drive along the lake ("Saalachsee") until you reach the B 305 junction. 
  • There, turn left towards Berchtesgaden. About one kilometer later, turn right and follow the signposts to WTD 52.

You are coming by train? 

  • Take the train from Munich to Freilassing. In Freilassing, change trains, now towards Bad Reichenhall. 

WTD 52 cannot be reached by local public transport services.

You arrive at Munich Airport (Franz-Josef-Strauß Airport)? 

  • From there, take the train to Bad Reichenhall via Munich-East ("München-Ost"), Rosenheim and Freilassing.

 You arrive at Salzburg Airport? 

  • Take a taxi. Salzburg Airport is only about 10 km away from Bad Reichenhall.

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