Cranfield Ordnance Test and Evaluation Centre (COTEC) performs independent test and evaluation on munitions, weapon systems, pyrotechnic and explosive stores, and conducts disposals and demilitarisation, although its extensive range facilities are suitable for testing other materials and equipment.

COTEC is situated on the edge of Salisbury Plain at Gore Cross near to West Lavington in Wiltshire, England, and is part of Cranfield University, academic provider to the UK Defence Academy at Shrivenham. COTEC is licensed by the MoD and other organisations and is accredited to EN ISO 9001:2008.

Although trials are primarily of energetic materials, ordnance and weapon systems, facilities at COTEC also allow the testing of non-explosive items (for example, rapid decompression). Customers include the UK MoD, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), foreign defence departments, the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), commercial defence suppliers and manufacturers, as well a large number of smaller specialist companies.

No explosive limits are laid down but daily limits are determined by the use of a meteorological analysis programme, which takes into account prevailing weather, particularly wind and precipitation.

Insensitive munitions testing

The complete suite of IM testing can be carried out at COTEC. In addition, COTEC staff have access to other ranges for testing higher NEC items.

Ammunition proofing

COTEC ammunition proofingThe large meadowland impact area of Salisbury Plain Training Area is available for the complete round proof of ammunition functioning. A wide variety of natures including pyrotechnics, grenades, mortars and artillery may be fired.

COTEC is one of the few places in the United Kingdom that ammunition containing white phosphorous may be fired. If required prior to firing, the ammunition can be conditioned within the temperature range of -50°C to +71°C.

Ordnance proofing

COTEC ordnance proofingThe proof firing of ordnance, (subjecting ordnance components to a pressure greater than they will see in service use) can be carried out in accordance with Def Stan 13-92/3.

Explosive trials

COTEC explosive trialsMany types of static explosive trials are undertaken including the testing of equipment against the effects of explosives and the assessment of warhead/projectile fragmentation performance and penetration.

Target equipment is varied and has recently included the testing of equipment such as glazing panels, post boxes, litter bins, protective clothing and armoured vehicles.

Bullet and fragment attack

Cotec bullet and fragment attackBoth bullet and fragment attack tests can be carried out in accordance with Def Stan 00-35 to assess the response of a munition or weapon system to either the attack by a small arms projectile or a fragment from an exploding or detonating warhead.

Fragmentation trials

COTECFragmentation trials can be carried out in accordance with the International Test Operations Procedure (ITOP) 4-2-813, 30 March 1993, “Static Testing of High-Explosive Munitions for Obtaining Fragment Spatial Distributions”.

Ballistics experts from Cranfield are also able to offer a complete analysis of the munition.

Testing and evaluation

COTECCOTEC also conducts the following testing and evaluation activities. Please contact us for further information:

  • Drop testing and Spigot Intrusion: in accordance with Defence Standard 00-35
  • Fuel fires: Standard and mini liquid fuel fires tests in accordance with Defence Standard 00-35
  • Mine boot testing: derived from NATO document TR-HFM-089 “Test Methodologies for Personal Protective Equipment Against Anti-Personnel Mine Blast”
  • Shaped charge jet attack and sympathetic reaction: in accordance with STANAG 4526 and Military Standard 2105B or Defence Standard 00-35
  • Slow cook-off: in accordance with Defence Standard 00-35
  • UN Series 6c Bonfire.

Specialist trials and demonstrations

COTECIf you have a requirement to test equipment that is unusual or needs specialist advice and assistance, or you have a legitimate requirement to demonstrate explosive or weapon-related themes, please contact us to see how we can assist you.

Map of facilities


Forward and rear batteries

channel section facility cotec 638 305 72The two secure, blast-proof battery buildings support all operations at COTEC. They host munition storage and preparation areas, together with temperature conditioning facilities. The buildings also house the trials control rooms, instrumentation facilities, visitor accommodation and operations control towers.

The rear battery is used for explosive and non-explosive trials that can be contained within its perimeter fence. The forward battery can also conduct short range trials within its security area, but importantly acts as the control and firing area for the majority, more energetic COTEC trials, and for firing into Area 15 and 16 Impact Areas.

Flare test track

COTEC flare test trackThe flare test track consists of a 110m long test track with a high speed, compressed air powered carriage capable of launching countermeasure flares or other similar stores at speeds of up to 250 m/s, thereby providing realistic simulation of aircraft launched stores.

High altitude test facility

COTECThe COTEC high altitude test facility has the ability to carry out simulated high altitude tests on equipment such as that fitted to aircraft.

The cylinder also operates as a reservoir for the rapid decompression chamber in trials to ensure that stores still function safely and reliably having been subjected to rapid decompression.

The facility also has the capability to conduct explosive atmosphere testing.


COTECWoodworking and metal workshops are available on site for the manufacture and repair of trials-related support equipment, single use equipment and consumable supplies. Mechanical and electrical engineers are available to advise and assist on specific requirements for each trial.

Communication and security

COTECCOTEC range communications are diverse to meet the needs of the types of testing we perform, to ensure safety and resilience, and to meet the developing data recording and transfer needs of ourselves and our customers. Alongside traditional landline telephone communication across the site, we have a private, licensed radio channel for everyday internal communications and range safety, together with Airwave UK public safety communications.

COTEC recently installed a site-wide wireless broadband communication backbone that enables real-time transfer of large-scale data and video around the site and back to the main network areas. The facility allows encrypted customer access to the internet and their own organisations, together with Voice Over IP (VOIP) facilities.

The backbone capability also includes a 24-hour reactive security CCTV system. Further site security is provided by an established 24-hour centrally monitored alarm system.


At COTEC we strive to utilise the latest technology in order to ensure complete customer satisfaction with data collection and maintain our instrumentation capabilities as second to none. The capabilities are fluid in their limits; if there is a requirement outside our current listings, please enquire as to whether we can accommodate your request.

  • Digital video and digital still photography: available in a variety of formats and resolutions
  • High speed video: all cameras are digital and immediate analysis of data allows for on the spot decisions to govern the trial, reducing unnecessary and costly range time
  • Flash X-ray: dual head Scandiflash 150kV flash X-ray Wet film 410mm x 300mm is processed onsite allowing for immediate analysis of the event
  • Blast overpressure: Kistler Piezotron pressure transducers giving up to 24 channels and a pressure range up to 10,000psi
  • Accelerometers: capabilities range from 250g up to 20,000g and can be used in conjunction with blast over pressure and force measurements
  • Temperature logging thermal cameras: in excess of 32 channels are available using type K thermocouples with a range up to 1100°C. A PI 160 thermal camera is also available for complex video-based analysis
  • Velocity measurement: Sky screens, Doppler radar and high-speed video are the primary methods used to measure velocity at COTEC. Available equipment allows more than 256 individual channels to be recorded for each event
  • Doppler Radar: Terma and Weibel Doppler radar facilities are both capable of measuring projectiles for a distance of approximately 50,000 times the diameter of the projectile.