This course can be taken as a Short Course for Credit or a Standalone Short Course.

Please go to the 'Upgrade to a professional qualification' section for more information.

The aim of this course is to provide you with knowledge of the threat environment and vulnerabilities of aircraft systems, structures and payloads. It will then introduce the design strategies and technology used to counter such threats.

At a glance

  • Dates
    • 14 - 18 Oct 2024
  • Duration5 days
  • LocationCranfield University at Shrivenham
  • Cost£1,925 Concessions available

What you will learn

On successful completion of the course you will be able to:

  • Describe the key threats to aerial platforms from hostile actions and the technologies or strategies, which may be used to counter them,
  • Evaluate the role of different approaches to enhancing airframe and crew survivability, including threat avoidance, defensive aids, physical protection and damage mitigation,
  • Evaluate the role of electromagnetic detectors and effectors in defensive aids suites,
  • Formulate and critically appraise a system of defence including a range of technologies designed to avoid, defeat or mitigate threats to aerial platforms.

Core content


  •  An introduction to the aerial threat environment and the key responses to threats which will include an overview of military threats and the key operational and technical challenges.

Threats to aerial systems

  • Missiles and smart munitions - an introduction to the threats posed by guided weapons including man portable air defence systems (MANPADS), ship and ground launched guided missiles, and radar-controlled guns,
  • Terminal ballistics - introduction to terminal ballistics covering the key mechanisms of penetration and damage produced by high velocity projectiles including fragments and bullets,
  • Electromagnetic threats - potential threats to aircraft from RF energy and directed energy weapons including laser dazzle, RFI and EMC aspects of vulnerability.

Avoiding the threat

  • Stealth - technology for the reduction of electromagnetic signature (radar thermal, etc.) including design and materials issues,
  • Sensors and threat detection - sensor systems for threat detection and avoidance including enhanced situational awareness, battlefield id (IFF),
  • Defensive aides suites - missile countermeasures; missile counter-countermeasures; missile approach warners; systems (DIRCM).

Resisting the threat

  • Vulnerability assessment - tools and techniques for assessment of aircraft vulnerability, including modelling analysis and optimisation processes,
  • Escape systems - aircraft escape systems including ejector systems, rapid exit creation (MDC etc.),
  • Systems redundancy - systems design against damage and degradation, redundancy and reversion modes, role played by software in reconfiguring aircraft systems in response to attack,
  • Structural survivability - the effect of damage on structural integrity and preservation of airworthiness including redundant load paths and damage tolerance,
  • Lightweight armour systems - lightweight armour systems including composites and spaced armour applications, to absorb or not to absorb?, amour systems versus structural systems.

Upgrade to a professional qualification

When taken as a Short Course for Credit, 10 credit points can be put towards the Military Aerospace and Airworthiness MSc.

Find out more about short course credit points.

Who should attend

This course is suitable for engineers who require the knowledge of the threat environment and vulnerabilities of aircraft systems, structures and payloads.


A limited number of MOD sponsored places are available and must complete the course for credits only. 

Location and travel

Cranfield Defence and Security (CDS) is a Cranfield School based at the Ministry of Defence establishment on the Oxfordshire/Wiltshire borders.

Shrivenham itself lies in the picturesque Vale of the White Horse, close to the M4 motorway which links London and South Wales. It is 7 miles from Swindon, the nearest town, which lies off the M4 at the hub of Britain’s motorway network.

Bath, Cheltenham, Bristol and Oxford are all within an hour’s drive and London less than two hours away by car.

All visitors must be pre-booked in at reception by the person they are visiting on the campus.

For further location and travel details

How to apply

To apply for this course please use the online application form.

Read our Professional development (CPD) booking conditions.