IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Jan 02, 2020

Legislation which enable the Turkish government to deploy military personnel as advisors and trainers to Libya has been approved by Turkey's parliament. Egypt immediately denounced the measure, warning that it would “negatively affect” regional stability.

Jan 02, 2020

Lockheed Martin closed out 2019 with $2.35 billion in five new Department of Defense contracts for the F-35 program. One contract, worth $1.9 billion, is for domestic and export customers’ recurring logistics services.

Jan 02, 2020

Australian naval ships and aircraft have been deployed to help communities ravaged by wildfires which have driven thousands of residents and tourists to southeast coastal areas. At least 15 deaths have been reported and hundreds of homes destroyed in the region which is expected to experience continued record high temperatures in the days ahead.

Jan 02, 2020

Gen Shen Yi-ming, Taiwan’s chief of general staff, was among at least eight persons who died in the 02 January crash of a Blackhawk helicopter when its crew attempted an emergency landing in mountainous terrain. They had been flying to an army base in northeastern Taiwan for an inspection tour.

Jan 01, 2020
Demonstrators outside the US embassy in Baghdad have withdrawn after a tense standoff which began when the compound was attacked by a crowd angered by U.S. air strikes against Iranian-based Iraqi militia. The standoff continued into a second day 01 January as U.S. military personnel fired tear gas in response to thrown rocks.
Jan 01, 2020

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, indicted in November on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, said 01 January that he was asking Parliament to grant him immunity from prosecution. His announcement comes as the country faces its third general election in 12 months.

Jan 01, 2020

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has terminated a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests and while he is promising to unveil “a new strategic weapon”, he also says he is open to more dialogue with the U.S. Its last nuclear test was in 2017 but North Korea has continued to test its missile capabilities.

Jan 01, 2020

The Canadian and British operations of MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates, the company behind Radarsat and the Canadarm robotics on the International Space Station, are being acquired by a Toronto-based investment group led by Northern Private Capital with backing from former BlackBerry executive Jim Balsillie. MDA’s corporate headquarters is being returned to Canada from the U.S.

Dec 31, 2019

William Krumholz, a fellow at Defense Priorities, a Washington-based foreign policy think-tank, has suggested that criticism during the recent NATO summit of the long-standing U.S. role in the Middle East is an argument for letting France take the lead in the region. He says the Middle East is more relevant to French security and that if Paris wants to “take the reins,” Washington should be grateful.

Dec 31, 2019

The U.S. Marine Corps is testing new boots designed for intense cold-weather operations. They would replace 1960s-vintage rubberized footwear generally denigrated in the ranks as the “Mickey Mouse” boot. Two companies are competing for an initial order of up to 50,000 pairs with a contract expected in mid-2020.

Dec 31, 2019

A Senate committee is asking for a report that could radically alter the “roles and missions” of the U.S. military, especially the Army and the Marine Corps. Among other things, it has been suggested that the Marines could take over counterinsurgency missions from the Army, eliminating newly-deployed Security Force Assistance Brigades.

Dec 31, 2019

Washington Democrat Adam Smith, chairman of the House of Representatives armed services committee, hopes to revisit legislation which permits transgendered persons to join the military. The House had approved aspects of the annual defence budget bill which would have overridden President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender recruits but the proposal was dropped during negotiations and the final policy bill included only some new studies on the potential impact.

Dec 31, 2019

Africa's largest mobile operator, MTN, is reviewing allegations that it paid protection money to militant Islamist groups in Afghanistan. The allegations are part of a complaint, filed in a US federal court, that MTN had violated U.S. anti-terrorism laws. It says the company bribed Daesh and the Taliban to avoid having to invest in security for their transmission towers and that the funds underwrote a Taliban-led insurgency that led to the attacks in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2017.

Dec 31, 2019

Lockheed Martin delivered 134 F-35 fighters in 2019, three more than planned, and including 30 for export customers. In reporting the latest numbers 30 December, the company said it expects to deliver a total of 141 in 2020. The most common F-35A variant now costs $77.9 million.

Dec 31, 2019

Tear gas was used to repel dozens of protesters who broke into the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad 31 December, angered by recent U.S. air strikes on Iranian-backed Iraqi militia. President Donald Trump said Iran would be “held fully responsible” for the protest while Tehran said the U.S. attacks on the militia were a “clear example of terrorism.”

Dec 31, 2019

More Russian troops, aircraft and weapons, including S-400 air defence systems, represent a significant buildup in Crimea since mid-2018. Intelligence sources say this gives Moscow more control of the Black Sea and puts additional resources closer to the Middle East.

Dec 30, 2019

U.S. air strikes against Iran-backed militia in Iraq and Syria 29 December were successful and senior officials say “additional actions” are possible. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters the U.S. “will not stand for . . . actions that put American men and women in jeopardy.”

Dec 30, 2019

As external pressures limit access to overseas markets and technology, Russia and China are deepening and expanding their economic, military and technological ties. Moscow is trying to wean itself off western imports while the partnership gives Beijing more access to Russia’s engineering and mathematical expertise.

Dec 30, 2019

U.S. military personnel are being cautioned against using widely-advertised consumer DNA kits due to concerns about security risks such as mass surveillance and potential tracking. Joseph Kernan, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, says in a memo that the test are largely unregulated and could expose personal and genetic information with unintended security consequences.

Dec 30, 2019

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter says that while the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter program was a “poster child for poor program management,” a reorganization forced by his department resulted in improved cost controls which he suggests benefitted not only the manufacturer but also U.S. taxpayers.

Dec 30, 2019

A U.S. research panel is expected to publish in 2020 the results of a year-long study of how mefloquine and other anti-malaria drugs used by military and civilian personnel concerned about physical and mental debilitation. Requested by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the study involves a detailed review of existing literature.

Dec 30, 2019

There are concerns about the integrity of a massive concrete dome over a Cold War nuclear test site on Runit Island in the western Pacific, one of 48 islands in the Enewetak Atoll. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillete has been given until late June to report back to Congress on the dome’s status. The President of the Marshall Islands, which include Enewetak, has expressed concern about the dome’s vulnerability to rising sea levels.

Dec 30, 2019

The Ukraine Ministry of Defence has confirmed a second purchase of Raytheon/Lockheed Martin Javelin FGM-148F anti-tank missiles and launchers. Contracts evidently were signed in the fourth quarter of 2019 but no other details were given. The first shipment, worth approximately $47 million, were delivered in April 2018 after the U.S. State Department approved the sale.

Dec 30, 2019

An artificial intelligence-controlled unmanned aerial system capable of identifying and tracking targets and maybe even supporting search and rescue missions is the goal of a new U.S. Defense Department program. The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has issued a request for information to determine whether AI developers and drone swarm builders can collaborate on development.

Dec 30, 2019

As Taiwan prepares for presidential elections amid heightened tensions with China, the latter has sailed its new aircraft carrier, the Shandong, into the Taiwan Strait, accompanied by frigates.

Dec 30, 2019

At least 75 people died in Mogadishu 28 December when a car bomb was detonated during the morning rush hour. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but al-Shabab militants have carried out similar attacks in areas around the Somali capital.

Dec 30, 2019

A Chinese national who managed to get around a perimeter fence at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Key West 26 December has been charged by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. He told investigators that he was trying to photograph the sunrise but the images on his camera included some of a base facility.

Dec 30, 2019

Lockheed Martin has secured a seven-year contract worth an estimated $1.5 billion to upgrade the Greek air force’s fleet of General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons. Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told his parliament that 84 aircraft would be upgraded, the schedule determined by how many are needed to maintain operational availability.

Dec 30, 2019

The Taliban say they have agreed to a temporary nationwide cease-fire in Afghanistan, possibly setting the stage for a peace agreement which would enable the U.S. to wind up its 18-year military presence. The U.S. has said any deal must include a promise by the Taliban that Afghanistan would not be used as a base by terrorist groups.

Dec 30, 2019

The U.S. Army is optimistic that new rifle marksmanship qualification standards will reduce shooting times while simulating some aspects of real combat situations. The initiative is part of a training regimen unveiled last summer and covering not only rifle and carbine marksmanship but also pistols and other individual weapons. Training is broken down into preliminary instruction and evaluation, pre-live fire simulation, magazine and shooting position, grouping and zeroing, practice qualification, and final qualification.

Dec 30, 2019

Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tankers operated by the U.S. Air Force are fully operational again after a three-month ban on carrying cargo and passengers. The ban was put in place after cargo locks were deemed deficient.

Dec 30, 2019

A General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper has been used by French forces in Mali to kill 33 terrorists. The attack was carried out just two days France confirmed it would be deploying the remotely-piloted aircraft.

Dec 30, 2019

The Boeing MH-139A helicopter, dubbed Grey Wolf, will be used by the U.S. Air Force to provide roving security for the more than 440 Minuteman III missile silos in five states as well as in the Washington, D.C., area. Boeing won a $2.38 billion contract to build up to 84 militarized versions of the “off the shelf” AW139s. The first aircraft has been delivered for testing and the USAF expects operational deployment to begin in 2021.

Dec 30, 2019

Russia's first regiment of Avangard hypersonic missiles has been put into service and President Vladimir Putin says they are invulnerable to interception by “any existing and prospective missile defence.” He says the nuclear-capable missiles can not only exceed Mach 20 but also are highly manoeuverable. A test a year ago evidently saw the weapon strike a target at a range of 6,000km.

Dec 24, 2019

Canada’s top naval officer, VAdm Art McDonald says new frigates, expected to enter service in the mid-to-late 2020s, are being designed with ballistic missile defence in mind, even though successive governments have avoided the U.S. program. He says while they likely will not have the capability initially, design decisions will facilitate the installation if there’s a federal policy shift.

 

Dec 24, 2019

Estonian Defense Minister Juri Luik says the U.S. has allocated $175 million next year in military aid for the Baltic states, its NATO allies bordering on Russia. The total includes $125 million in general military aid and $50 million earmarked for air defence capabilities of Latvia and Lithuania as well as Estonia.

Dec 24, 2019

The fledgling U.S. Space Force is being decried by China as a “direct threat to outer space peace and security.” A foreign ministry official says his country is “deeply concerned about it and resolutely opposed.” The U.S. said last February that China and Russia had begun a major push to develop technologies that could allow them to disrupt or destroy western satellites.

Dec 24, 2019

China, Japan and South Korea have agreed to promote dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea as political rhetoric between the two continues to frustrate efforts to wind down North Korea’s nuclear program. The announcement was made by South Korean President Moon Jae-in after a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Dec 23, 2019

Manuel Marrero Cruz, formerly Cuba’s minister of tourism, the country’s economically-critical source of foreign revenue, has been confirmed as its first prime minister since 1976, when the position was scrapped by Fidel Castro. Marrero, whose appointment was ratified unanimously the National Assembly, will take on some of the responsibilities held by President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Dec 23, 2019

The Conservative Party of Canada has rescheduled its national convention to November from April and opted for Quebec City rather than Toronto, preferring to focus on the process of replacing Andrew Scheer as leader. No date for a leadership convention has been decided.

Dec 23, 2019

After an abortive mission to the International Space Station, the CST-100 Starliner transport capsule designed by Boeing Defense, Space & Security has returned safety to earth, landing in New Mexico 22 December, two days after its Florida launch. Managers are reviewing data to determine whether another unmanned mission is needed before the capsule can be used to deliver crews to the ISS. The problem with the latest test was that the module’s intrernal clock did not synchronize with the Atlas V booster.

Dec 23, 2019

During a recent political rally in Michigan, U.S. President Donald Trump diverted from his script to talk about Lockheed-Martin’s F-35 stealth fighters – and the aesthetic attributes of their pilots. “Honestly, they’re better looking than Tom Cruise,” he said at one point, referring to the star of the upcoming Top Gun movie sequel. “These guys are so good looking. . . . Just like central casting.”

Dec 23, 2019

The Japanese cabinet has approved a record ¥5.31-trillion (nearly $6.37 billion Cdn) budget, up 1.1 per cent from 2019 but still subject to legislative approval by the Diet. The seventh consecutive annual increase, it represents 13 per cent growth since Shinzo Abe took office as Prime Minister in 2013.

Dec 23, 2019

Dennis Muilenburg has stepped down as president and chief executive officer of The Boeing Company, the latest fallout from the 737 MAX mess. Board Chairman David Calhoun is to succeed him 13 January with Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith serving as interim CEO.

Dec 23, 2019

Russia’s and China’s use of their UN Security Council veto to block cross-border aid for Syrian refugees is being condemned by Canada and other countries. The veto came as Russian-backed Syrian forces have gained ground against the last opposition enclave in Syria's northwest and thousands of Syrian refugees fled into Turkey.

Dec 23, 2019

The first two Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships scheduled for delivery to the Royal Canadian Navy in 2020 could be spending as much time in the Caribbean as they do in the North, according to RCN Commander VAdm Art McDonald. He says planners see a role for the ships in providing disaster relief as hurricanes in southern waters grow in size and intensity.

Dec 23, 2019

NATO’s operation of its new Alliance Ground Surveillance drone fleet in Europe’s regulated airspace will rely on Italian rules. The “military type” certification for the Northrop Grumman Global Hawks, five of which are to be based in Italy in 2020. evidently includes no information about certification for operation alongside civilian aircraft, or whether they are authorized to fly in Italian airspace at all.

Dec 23, 2019

Key elements of the Royal Canadian Navy’s proposed new patrol frigates have been questioned in an unsolicited industry critique presented to the senior officials overseeing the program. Among other things, it questions the Department of National Defence’s preferences for the ship’s radar as well as its main deck gun and anti-missile system.

Dec 20, 2019

U.S. Army Gen Mark Milley, the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is defending the 18-year war in Afghanistan in the face of criticism that senior military commanders presented a rosier public assessment of the conflict than was evident on the ground. “There’s an assertion out there of some sort of coordinated lie,” he said 20 December. “I find that a bit of a stretch. More than a bit of a stretch, I find that a mischaracterization.”

Dec 20, 2019

An uncrewed demonstration flight of Boeing’s new Starliner capsule, designed to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, had to be cut short 20 December when excessive fuel consumption prevented it from leaving earth orbit. Launched from Florida, it is expected to land in New Mexico in two days.

Dec 20, 2019

CAE Elektronik GmbH has signed a contract with the NATO Support and Procurement Agency to provide the German Navy with a comprehensive training solution for its fleet of 18 NH90 Sea Lion search and rescue helicopters. The contract calls for a full-mission simulator as well as cockpit procedures, operational tactics and winch/hoist trainers in a purpose-built facility.

Dec 20, 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's agenda for Britain to quit the European Union at the end of January moved closer to fruition 19 December with a 358-234 first-reading vote in the House of Commons of his EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. It also would also ban an extension of the transition period, during which the UK adheres to many EU rules, beyond 2020. Parliamentary debate on the bill resumes 7 January.

Dec 20, 2019

The Belgian Army got less than it bargained for in a €31-million upgrade of its 13-year-old fleet of 44 Austrian-built Pandur armoured vehicles - less interior headroom, that is. Overall interior volume has been reduced but the maximum height of a driver or gunner now is less than 1.7m, a problem in a country whose citizens are among the tallest in the world on average. 

Dec 20, 2019

There were no surprises in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s year-end CBC interview. Among other things, he discussed “regional dynamics” within Canada as well as climate change, energy options and NATO as well as the new North American trade pact awaiting ratification and the potential for one with China.

Dec 19, 2019

Palestinians’ right to self-determination has received new backing from Canada in a UN General Assembly vote. The 17 December resolution was endorsed by 166 other countries while the United States, Israel and three other states voted against it. Canada’s support has been relatively consistent for more than a decade.

Dec 19, 2019

Tina Kaidanow, a State Department veteran who moved to the Pentagon last year, stepped down 16 December as senior adviser for international cooperation. She is the fifth high-level Department of Defense official in a single week to either leave or announce plans to do so. Michael Vaccaro, the DoD’s director for international armaments cooperation, will be her acting successor.

Dec 19, 2019

Majid Jowhari, a Toronto-area Liberal MP first elected to the House of Commons in 2015 and re-elected in October, is flatly denying allegations by an Iranian-language television network that he has worked with and accepted money from the Iranian government. The unsubstantiated allegations were aired on the U.S.-based Iran-e-Farda network by a freelance journalist described as a close collaborator with Masoud Molavi, a former Iranian intelligence agent who was shot to death 14 November in Istanbul.

Dec 19, 2019

U.S. Air Mobility Command officials met 17 December with 14 companies for an “industry day” to discuss how the U.S. Air Force could use civil refueling aircraft on certain missions, freeing up its own fleet for more training and operations. The Command faces an equipment shortage as it tries to bring long-delayed Boeing KC-46 aircraft into service.

Dec 19, 2019

The Government Accountability Office says the U.S. Air Force must do a better job of managing deployments of the Air National Guard and Reserves personnel it relies on to support Special Operations missions. USAF Special Operations Command as well as the wider USAF community have increasingly relied on these personnel for operational needs, including warfighting, rather than mainly in support roles. The GAO says they need more predictability and preparation to be seconded from their civilian careers.

Dec 19, 2019

The U.S. Department of Defense is being advised by the Rand Corp. to adapt artificial governance structures which would permit a more coordinated scaling up of AI use. A new study of AI issues also prompted the respected think-tank to recommend, among other things, a five-year road map for the project and close working relationships with the corporate and academic sectors.

Dec 19, 2019

>Even as South Korea struggles to deal with a U.S. demand that it pay more toward maintaining American military there, it was among the top 10 customers for U.S. manufactured weapons in the last five years. A recent report by the Defence Agency for Technology and Quality puts South Korea’s 2014-2018 imports from the U.S. at $6.28 billion, good for fourth place behind Saudi Arabia at $13.5 billion, Australia at $7.8 billion and the United Arab Emirates at $6.92 billion<

Dec 19, 2019

Estonia, Latvia and Finland have signed a letter of intent to pursue a joint purchase of new armored vehicles. The two Baltic states are NATO members while Finland is a NATO partner, but they all share their borders with Russia.

Dec 19, 2019

As a nonaligned NATO partner sharing more than 1,300km of border with Russia, Finland is keenly aware of the need to keep its national defense in top shape. Defence Minister Antii Kaikkonen talked about a range of issues and challenge during a recent U.S. visit, including the growing use of artificial intelligence as well as “traditional” military technologies such as planned replacements for the air force’s 62 Boeing F-18 Hornets.

Dec 19, 2019

Even as some U.S. Defense officials say they’re unhappy with efforts by the European Union to play a larger role in regional security, NATO’s top officer says the alliance’s working relationship is yielding benefits. U.S. Air Force Gen Tod Wolters, a four-star who is Supreme Allied Commander Europe, says he consults with the EU Military Committee’s chairman, Gen. Claudio Graziano, Chief of the Italian Defence General Staff, as often as he does with NATO’s military chairman, British Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach.

Dec 19, 2019

Prototypes for improved combat boots are being assessed by the U.S. Army with a view to making the footwear lighter, more flexible and easier to break in.

Dec 19, 2019

A new session of the British Parliament opened 17 December with a Speech from the Throne through which Queen Elizabeth, on behalf of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s majority government set out plans for quitting the European Union, among other things. Top priority is being given to a Withdrawal Agreement Bill which must be passed before 31 January if Johnson is to meet his declared timetable.

Dec 18, 2019

As expected, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 18 December to impeach President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the third president in history to be so charged. The two votes were divided along party lines in the Democrat-controlled house; the votes were 239-197 on the abuse of power and 229-198 on obstruction. The situation now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate for a formal trial, expected early in the new year, with Senators functioning as ostensibly impartial jurors.

Dec 18, 2019

Kate Purchase, executive director of communications and planning in the Prime Minister's Office, leaves this week after more than six years as a senior adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She is moving to a position with Microsoft.

Dec 18, 2019

SNC-Lavalin Construction has been fined $280 million, to be paid over five years, after pleading guilty to fraud over $5,000 in relation to its dealings with Libya, notably the son of the country’s now-deceased leader, Moammar Gaddhafi. In a statement of fact presented in a Montreal courtroom, it was agreed that the company paid $127 million to two shell companies between 2001 and 2011, including $47 million to Saadi Gadhafi for helping it to secure construction contracts.

Dec 18, 2019

Tensions between Turkey and Greece, both members of the NATO, continued to rise this week as Turkish F-16 fighters crossed into Greek territory and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threated to have naval vessels conduct exercises in the area.in the Aegean Sea. The latest air incident occurred 17 December when Greek fighters engaged in 16 mock dogfights to drive the Turkish aircraft out. The violations apparently were a response to Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos’ declaration that his country has military supremacy in the Aegean.

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