IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Dec 29, 2020

The Department of Defense “political leadership” is being accused by president-elect Joe Biden of “irresponsibility” for what he says its frustration of preparations for the transition out of President Donald Trump’s administration, an accusation the Pentagon denies. He also says that critical security agencies had suffered “enormous damage” under Trump.

Dec 28, 2020

President Donald Trump has ended a political deadlock in the U.S. by signing off on a $900 billion pandemic relief package designed to support businesses and individuals while averting a government-wide shutdown. However, he continues to complain that the package approved by Congress includes “wasteful” spending.

Dec 28, 2020

The U.S. Army is preparing for a “shoot off” between 50-kilowatt laser weapons developed by Raytheon and Northrop Grumman and mounted on Stryker infantry fighting vehicles. The test is scheduled for sometime in the spring.

Dec 26, 2020

Three UN peacekeepers from Burundi have been killed in the Central African Republic amidst growing tension between government and rebel forces. The UN says the attack by unidentified assailants also injured other peacekeepers and could constitute a war crime.

Dec 26, 2020

President Donald Trump's recent decision to pardon four former U.S. mercenaries who were imprisoned after 14 Iraqi civilians were killed in 2007 has been condemned by the UN Commission on Human Rights. It has warned that Trump’s initiative would embolden others to commit similar crimes.

Dec 24, 2020

When a U.S. Air Force officer answered a red telephone in December 1955, at what was then Continental Air Defence Command in in Colorado Springs in December 1955, he expected to hear that World War III had begun. Instead, he heard a boy asking, “is this Santa Claus?” That’s how NORAD’s annual Santa Claus tracking tradition began.

Dec 24, 2020

The Canadian Armed Forces has taken away the uniform of an officer cadet who, while on medical leave and pending his release from the military, called on personnel to disobey an “unlawful order” to assist in distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Leslie Kenderesi was dressed in his uniform when he appeared at an early December anti-lockdown rally in Toronto and called the vaccine a “killer.”

Dec 24, 2020

President Donald Trump’s decision to veto the latest U.S. defence appropriations bill has drawn a sharp response from the Aerospace Industries Association, which is urging a Congressional override. “There is no more essential duty for the American government than to ensure the safety and security of its people,” the AIA says. “The President’s veto undermines our national security preparedness and jeopardizes the jobs of Americans who make up our defense industrial base at a time when the country is in crisis. It is also a letdown for our troops and their families.”

Dec 24, 2020

Prosecutors in The Netherlands have been asked by their ministry of defence to look into allegations that Dutch soldiers may have killed Afghan civilians in 2007. The ministry is responding to a veteran’s report that he had been ordered to carry out an artillery attack on a cluster of homes his superiors suspected housed Taliban forces.

Dec 24, 2020

President Donald Trump’s decision to pardon four mercenaries convicted of killing civilians in Iraq has been widely criticized in U.S. military circles but the average American evidently has what is described as “a relatively high tolerance for war crimes.” One analyst says it’s “a damn shame” that this is a new battleground “in the ever-expansive culture war between left and right, liberals and conservatives, that seems to have enveloped modern politics rather than becoming matters of human dignity in their own right.” 

Dec 24, 2020

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has waded into a political debate in Germany over the proposed use of armed aerial drones to provide ground support. Insisting that they would be used accordance with international law, the former Norwegian politician says the drones would not only protect troops but also reduce the number of pilots “we send in harm’s way.”

Dec 24, 2020

Two Robotic Combat Vehicle-Light unmanned ground vehicle prototypes have been delivered to the U.S. Army ahead of schedule by a U.S.-U.K. partnership. The companies were initially awarded a contract to deliver four prototypes as part of the Army’s push to acquire various types of airborne as well as ground platforms.

Dec 23, 2020

Vice-Admiral Art McDonald appointed to the position of Chief of the Defence Staff today by Prime Minister Trudeau. Admiral McDonald will replace General Jonathan Vance, who announced his retirement in August.

Dec 23, 2020

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by Health Canada, clearing the way for imminent delivery of thousands of doses. Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved earlier this month, the Moderna alternative does not require storage at ultra-low temperatures so can be distributed more easily.

Dec 23, 2020

With Egypt’s permission, an Israeli submarine capable of carrying nuclear weapons, transited the Suez Canada recently enroute to the Persian Gulf. Israeli media are reporting that its military has been preparing for a U.S. action against Iran.

Dec 23, 2020

Syria’s central bank, several businesses and members of President Bashar al-Assad’s family are among the targets of a new round of U.S. economic sanctions designed to push his government back to UN-led talks to end a nearly decade-old civil war. “The  United States will  continue to seek accountability for those prolonging this conflict,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Dec 23, 2020

South Korea scrambled fighters this week when it was learned that four Chinese bombers and 15 Russian bombers and surveillance aircraft would be entering its air defence zone. Korea says its launch was in preparation for “accidental situations” while Russia and China insisted they had followed international law and regulations.

Dec 23, 2020

New York’s state government has struck a deal with Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy on a $406-million plan to clean up underground contamination on Long Island, the legacy of its years as an aerospace manufacturing hub. The company will pay $104 million directly and, with the Navy, will do the remediation work. The state had threatened legal action.

Dec 23, 2020

The latest iteration of the M1 Abrams tank, which first entered U.S. Army service in 1980, is being procured from General Dynamics Land Systems through a $4.62-billion contract. Weighing in at 7.12 tons fitted with new technologies, it provides what the Army says is the “survivability and fightability necessary to defeat advanced threats well into the future.” More than 2,100 are to be delivered over eight years.

Dec 23, 2020

A new artillery weapon being developed by the U.S. Army has struck a target at 70 kilometres on the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. The Excalibur extended-range shell manufactured by Raytheon is fired with supercharged propellant through a 58-calibre 30-foot gun tube mounted to an M-109A7 howitzer.

Dec 22, 2020

A $900-billion COVID-19 relief bill designed to provide economic relief to individuals and business, and approved by Congress after months of politicial deadlock, has been rejected by President Donald Trump. Withholding his signature, he has demanded increased payments to individuals and wants Congress to remove “wasteful and unnecessary” elements which included several defence procurements and foreign assistance programs.

Dec 22, 2020

President Donald Trump has pardoned 15 persons, including two convicted of lying to the FBI during an inquiry into his 2015 election campaign and four private security contractors involved in a 2007 civilian massacre in Iraq.

Dec 22, 2020

A protracted political crisis revolving around Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legal troubles has brought down his “unity” coalition government with Benny Gantz after just seven months. The country’s fourth general election in two years is set for March 23.

Dec 22, 2020

Four Turkish-built corvettes have been sold to neighbouring Ukraine as part of an agreement to enhance bilateral defence procurement. The agreement also involves technology transfer and coproduction of Turkish-made armed drones.

Dec 22, 2020

More than 70 students at one of the U.S. military’s top schools, West Point, have breached the institution’s honour code by cheating on recent exams conducted remotely due to COVID-19. Fifty-five who admitted cheating have been sent on a rehabilitation program. More than 153 cadets were expelled or resigned from the academy in 1976 for cheating on an exam.

Dec 22, 2020

An Ohio-class guided-missile submarine, accompanied by two other warships, recently passed through the shallow Strait of Hormuz in what the U.S. Navy calls a demonstration of its “commitment to regional partners and maritime security.” The submarine is armed with 154 cruise missiles and can carry up to 66 special operations personnel.

Dec 22, 2020

One of the RCN’s four submarines purchased from Britain in 1998 is to remain in dry dock for a further year after a leak was found in a main ballast tank. DND says the problem was traced back to improper drainage and that the added cost is being covered by the maintenance company.

Dec 22, 2020

Looking to replace its five CC-150 Polaris transports, Airbus A310s acquired from Canadian Airlines nearly three decades ago, the RCAF is once again considering the used aircraft market. While the plan apparently has been in the works for several years, the government is looking at options presented by carriers having had to ground fleets due to COVID-19’s impact on airline travel.

Dec 21, 2020

China's expanding global footprint, unpredictability and its refusal to play by the rules are “significant” concerns for Canada and its allies, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says in a year-end interview. While stressing the importance of a credible military response, he declined to characterize China as adversarial and underscored the importance of dialogue and diplomacy in dealing with Beijing.

Dec 21, 2020

The U.S. Army’s latest request for proposals for its optionally-manned fighting vehicle evidently creates more opportunities for foreign companies. It also foregoes a requirement for bidders to delivery actual vehicles which had limited initial response to only one company

Dec 21, 2020

For the ninth year in a row, the Japanese government has approved increased defence spending, totalling ¥5.34 trillion (US$51.7 billion) for the fiscal year beginning in April. It represents a 1.1 per cent increase from the current year. Among other things, it includes funding for stealth fighter development and aircraft carriers.

Dec 21, 2020

Saudi Arabia is continuing to trim its defence budget with a 2021 total of 175 billion Riyals, (US$46.62 billion), down 3.8 per cent from 2020. The budget covers 19 government bodies.

Dec 20, 2020

Canada has joined a growing list of countries which have halted flights from Britain in an attempt to contain a more contagious variant of COVID-19. The restriction does not apply to cargo flights, aircraft landing for safety reasons or transiting without passengers disembarking.

Dec 20, 2020

Members of the U.S. Space Force, currently comprised mainly of former Air Force personnel, are to be formally known as Guardians, Vice-President Mike Pence has confirmed. “Guardians is a name with a long history in space operations, tracing back to the original command motto of Air Force Space Command in 1983, ‘Guardians of the High Frontier’,” the Space Force explained.

Dec 18, 2020

Seventy-seven companies, mainly in China, have been added to a U.S. list of companies the Department of Commerce considers a threat. More than 275 Chinese companies were already on the list and two of the most prominent additions are drone manufacturer DJI and SMIC, a chip manufacturer the U.S. says has worked on military programs.

Dec 18, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that “it’s possible” that Canada will be able to accelerate its timeline for vaccinating Canadians against COVID-19. The government has a September-December target for vaccinating everyone who wants their shots, but the PM says that’s a conservative timeline. Canada has guaranteed access to 214 million doses with the option of an additional 200 million.

Dec 18, 2020

The European Commission has granted Estonian robotics company Milrem the equivalent of nearly $50 million to lead development of a standard architecture for military unmanned ground vehicles. Companies in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia and Spain also are involved.

Dec 18, 2020

Days after it was confirmed that Russian hackers had exploited a software flaw to attack several U.S. agencies, the Government Accountability Office has released the results of an audit which showed that 23 agencies are failing to manage risks in their IT supply chains. However, the GAO’s team leader acknowledges that even with “robust” management, “most likely this particular attack would have happened because of the level of sophistication that was involved.”

Dec 18, 2020

An autonomous Bell Textron drone with a 110-pound payload has completed an eight-mile route over the company’s test site in Texas. There now are plans for a series of demonstration flights for potential civilian and military customers in 2021.

Dec 18, 2020

In the first deployment of its kind in the U.S. Air Force, a drone-based perimeter security system has been activated at a California base. The unarmed Easy Aerial platforms are designed to “enhance strategic deterrence and foster full-spectrum readiness,” the USAF says.

Dec 17, 2020

Companies and organizations involved in supplying and distributing COVID-19 vaccines are being warned by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that foreign interests could target their employees. “The Canada supply chain in particular has been the interest of many foreign actors, and perhaps bad actors,” Pina Melchionna, president of the Canadian Institute of Traffic and Transportation, said in confirming the CSIS warning. “They are targeting people already working within companies who either have vulnerabilities or who may be sloppy because of the tight deadlines.”

Dec 17, 2020

The Royal Canadian Navy plans a board of inquiry into how a crewman went overboard off the coast of California while HMCS Winnipeg was returning to B.C. 14 Dec. from a deployment. Last seen around 5 a.m., Master Sailor Duane Earle of Winnipeg was declared missing when he failed to attend a meeting eight hours later. The search was called off late 16 Dec. after 30 hours.

Dec 17, 2020

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says U.S. sanctions against his country over its procurement of a Russian air defence system is a move to obstruct growth in Turkey’s domestic defence industry. They are the first such U.S. sanctions against a NATO partner.

Dec 17, 2020

The U.S. says “Russia has made space a war-fighting domain by testing space-based and ground-based weapons intended to target and destroy satellites.” Space Command was commenting on the second test this year of a direct-ascent kinetic weapon. “This fact is inconsistent with Moscow’s public claims that Russia seeks to prevent conflict in space,” says Space Command’s head, Gen James Dickinson. “It is a shared interest to create the conditions for a safe, stable and operationally sustainable space environment.”

Dec 17, 2020

The U.S. Army has completed initial operational testing of a new mobile assault bridge. Built on an M1 Abrams chassis, it uses hydraulics to deploy the Heavy Assault Scissor Bridge across 60 feet and replaces an earlier unit on the slower Chrysler-designed M60A2 main battle tank chassis.

Dec 17, 2020

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's initial trials of a Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transport as a “mothership” for drones didn’t go as well as expected. None of nine attempts at in-flight recovery of three Dynetics X-61A Gremlin Air Vehicles were successful. “Relative movement was more dynamic than expected and each GAV, ultimately, safely parachuted to the ground,” DARPA says.

Dec 17, 2020

BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems have delivered light tank prototypes for at least five months of testing at Fort Bragg, NC. The companies were selected two years ago to build 12 prototypes each to provide “mobile, protected, direct, offensive fire capability.”

Dec 17, 2020

Frustrated at having its troops deployed to the Middle East for the past couple of decades, U.S. Army Alaska is turning its attention to cold-weather operations. Preparations are under way for training with Indian Army troops in Alaska next year and then in the Himalayas in 2022.

Dec 17, 2020

Boeing, General Atomics and Kratos have been chosen to produce prototypes for the USAF Skyborg program. First deliveries are expected in May 2021 and flight tests two months later.

Dec 17, 2020

The U.S. Air Force reports that it has succeeded in linking Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35 fighters with a Kratos XQ-58A “attritable” drone, sharing “actionable operational data” while flying in formation. However, connectivity was lost shortly after the drone took off and the rest of the test was completed with a ground-based system.

Dec 17, 2020

The Japanese Space Agency says examination of a first sample rock and dust returned to earth from its Hyabusa 2 asteroid mission appeared to be larger in volume than expected. Two other sampling chambers had yet to be opened.

Dec 17, 2020

Having successfully returned lunar rock samples to Earth with its Chang'e 5 robotic probe, China is preparing for missions which could lead to a manned base on the moon, retrieval of samples from Mars and exploration of the asteroid belt.

Dec 17, 2020

Semi-autonomous quadrupedal unmanned ground vehicles (Q-UGV) made by Ghost Robotics have been deployed at Tyndall AFB in Florida. Monitored by an NCO, the “robodogs” will patrol a specific route around strategic installations.

Dec 17, 2020

Vehicle manufacturer Oshkosh Defense will acquire Pratt Miller, a Michigan-based engineering company which specializes in artificial intelligence, autonomy and robotics and which recently won U.S. Army contracts for a prototype light robotic combat vehicle and integration of a new weapons system for the Stryker combat vehicle. The $115-million buy will see PM retain its name, team, facilities and branding.

Dec 16, 2020

The search has been called off for a Royal Canadian Navy Master Sailor, Duane Earle of Winnipeg, believed to have fallen overboard from HMCS Winnipeg in turbulent seas more than 900 kilometres off the California coast. The frigate was returning to its B.C. base from an Asia-Pacific deployment.

Dec 16, 2020

A Canadian Space Agency astronaut is scheduled to participate in a U.S. lunar orbital mission in 2023 with another to follow at an unspecified later date in a mission to a planned Lunar Gateway space station. Industry Navdeep Bains announced the plans during a news conference with astronauts Jeremy Hansen, David Saint-Jacques, Joshua Kutryk and Jenni Sidey-Gibbons. Canada also will contribute a new robotic arm for construction of the orbital station.

Dec 16, 2020

A Russian nuclear submarine launched four intercontinental ballistic missiles with dummy warheads on the weekend. The defence ministry says the missiles, launched underwater in the Sea of Okhotsk, struck the target range some 5,500 kilometres away in the northwest Arkhangelsk region.

Dec 16, 2020

Turkey’s installation of a Russian air defence system in July 2019 has resulted in the U.S. sanctioning its NATO ally, the first such action under the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The U.S. had already removed Turkey from the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter program, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says it had been “made clear to Turkey at the highest levels and on numerous occasions that its purchase . . . would endanger the security of U.S. military technology and personnel and provide substantial funds to Russia’s defense sector, as well as Russian access to the Turkish armed forces and defense industry.”

Dec 16, 2020

The federal government’s use of polygraphs in security screenings has been questioned by the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency. It focuses in a new report on the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment, flagging limited oversight of polygraph use and warning that the tests could have “profound negative impacts on an employee's mental health if not used appropriately.”

Dec 16, 2020

As part of its expanded military reach in the Middle East and North Africa, Russia plans to set up a naval base in Sudan, capable of housing four ships and up to 300 personnel at Port Sudan on the Red Sea. A 25-year agreement with the Sudanese government also permits Russia to use the country’s airports to ship “weapons, ammunition and equipment” to the base.

Dec 16, 2020

Former federal cabinet minister Ralph Goodale, a special advisor to the Prime Minister on the Iran military’s downing of Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752 last January, says Iran should not be the lead investigator. “The party responsible for the situation is investigating itself, largely in secret,” he says in his report. “This undermines the investigation's credibility and enables a sense of impunity in avoiding essential questions.” A total of 157 crew and passengers, many with Canadian connections, were aboard the Boeing 737-800 when it was struck by two missiles shortly after takeoff from Tehran International Airport.

Dec 16, 2020

More than a decade after then President Barack Obama said he would shut down the notorious Guantanamo prison at a U.S. Navy base in Cuba, it remains a headache for Washington. Deteriorating infrastructure at the complex, where 1,500 military personnel guard 40 prisoners, has become a serious issue. The fact that 14 are Central Intelligence Agency detainees evidently has been a significant complication. The facility is estimated cost $13 million per prisoner annually.

Dec 16, 2020

A Coast Guard Reauthorization Act built into the latest omnibus U.S. defence spending legislation includes funding for new Polar Security Cutters for the USCG. The service has two icebreakers but a fire in August put one out of commission. A third icebreaker currently under construction is not expected to be completed until 2024.

Dec 16, 2020

South Korea is buying 12 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters, opting for the U.S. aircraft rather than the multi-mission Leonardo AW159 Wildcat as configured for the British military. The $878-million contract calls for phased delivery by 2025.

Dec 16, 2020

Boeing has been awarded a $109-million contract through the U.S. Navy to train Royal New Zealand Air Force crews on the company’s 737-based P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. The technology will enable flight crews and maintainers to conduct up to 70 per cent of all Poseidon-related training in a simulated environment.

Dec 16, 2020

Although partnered with Lockheed Martin, Japan is counting on extensive domestic expertise as it plans to spend more than ¥5 trillion (C$62.5 billion) on development of a next-generation stealth fighter. Its timeline envisions a prototype in 2024, first flight in 2028, series production beginning in 2031 and entry into service in 2035.

Dec 16, 2020

The U.S. Defense Department is looking for open-source software with access to at least 50 million websites and the ability to ingest social media data for real-time analysis. Its latest initiative is focused on Twitter archives and prospective suppliers are being asked to provide the capability of handling data in at least 150 languages.

Dec 15, 2020

The Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimates that China now has 350 nuclear warheads, which would be more the “low 200s” estimated by the U.S. Defense. It says the higher number was arrived at by adding warheads still in development for new delivery platforms to the 272 believed to be operational.

Dec 15, 2020

An unprecedented defence-sharing agreement between Canada and six other countries, the first multilateral effort focused on cooperation in cold high-latitude locations, is seen as an overdue response to the growing competition in polar regions between various superpowers.

Dec 15, 2020

The European Union, dependent on inadequate secure video-conferencing capabilities as its member states try to deal with COVID-19, evidently is eyeing NATO’s sophisticated communications setup. German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer says both organizations have major facilities in Brussels but only the military alliance is equipped to handle sensitive on-line discussions. “I have . . . wondered why EU institutions aren’t just going there,” she says.

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