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The Pathfinder N°33

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Issue 26 - January 20, 2020

The Pathfinder is a subject-oriented watch for prospective studies on air-land operations, currently conducted by the Command Doctrine and Training Centre (CDEC).

This document is based solely on unclassified sources. Its purpose is to provide a quick fortnightly overview of the information disseminated in the media and likely to be of interest to the world of defence. The briefs collected are limited to raw summaries of the documents analysed and cross-checked whenever possible by interviews conducted by its editors. It is therefore up to each reader to contextualise this information, particularly when it comes from official foreign sources, according to the use he or she wishes to make of it and the nature of the conclusions that he or she must draw from it.


"Russia reveals its updated Marker UGV".

Jane's, December 17, 2019

(single source)

The Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects has unveiled an improved version of the Marker land drone. Its wide chassis could be used to mount weapons with greater firepower than the model finalised in February 2019, equipped with a Kalashnikov 7.62 mm machine gun and anti-tank guided missiles. The new version, tested in October 2019, would have the special feature of having a launch module for small reconnaissance airborne drones, which can operate alone or in swarms. Five ground-based UAVs would be under development. The Marker 's ability to engage a target autonomously should be evaluated in the first quarter of 2020.


"Turkey to Receive Machine Gun Drones."

Israel Homeland Security, 21 December 2019

(single source)

The Turkish company Asisguard has developed the first multi-rotor UAV equipped with a machine gun, called Songar. Firing accuracy would be improved by various systems compensating for the recoil effect. Controlled remotely by a pilot, the weapon could hit a 15-centimetre target at a distance of 200 metres. The Songar would carry 200 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition and would operate over a 10-km perimeter, day and night, including in swarms of three drones. The Songar is intended to contribute to the close security of soldiers during their patrols and to protect convoy transports. Its autonomy is not yet known.

Availability: 2019


"Armenian Armed Forces acquire new Tor M2KM missile systems."

Armenpress, 21 December 2019

"Armenia receives Tor-M2KM SAM systems."

Jane's, December 24, 2019

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyana announced that the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia have received their first batch of new-generation Tor-M2KM(SA-15D Gauntlet) anti-aircraft systems. This Russian system, mounted on an 8x8 KamAZ-63501 vehicle, would be effective against cruise missiles, guided air bombs and UAVs. The number of Tor-M2KMs delivered to Armenia is not known.



"Russia Deploys Hypersonic Weapon, Potentially Renewing Arms Race"

The New York Times, 27 December 2019

(source cross-checking)

On 27 December 2019, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Choigou announced the commissioning of the first regiment equipped with the new Avangard hypersonic gliders (HGV). One year after the success of the first test, this new system launched by an SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile would now be operational. Capable of carrying conventional or nuclear warheads, it would be able to thwart current anti-missile systems by gliding over the upper layers of the atmosphere. Finally, according to Moscow, it could reach a maximum speed of Mach 27, or about 33,000 km/h, and could be capable of carrying conventional or nuclear warheads. A second regiment should be equipped with the Avangard system by 2027.

Availability: 2019-2027


"Top brass to set up 3 new military units armed with Ratnik combat gear in Russia's west."

Tass, December 31, 2019

(source cross-checking)

The Russian Army plans to equip three new infantry units, stationed in the Western Military District, with the second-generation Ratnik combat system in 2020. The Ratnik is a system of advanced protective, communication and armament equipment. It improves the soldier's connectivity and enables him to be constantly informed about the situation in the combat zone. The third generation of the Ratnik system is also reportedly under development. This new version would consist of an exoskeleton and a helmet with an integrated target designation system.

Availability: 2020


"2,000 Drones Light up Night Sky in Shanghai to welcome New Year"

CCTV Video News Agency,1 January 2020

(source cross-checking)

For New Year's Eve 2020, Shanghai has decided to replace the traditional fireworks with a show of Ghost 2.0 drones flying in swarms and forming various patterns. The technique had already been used at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018. Engineers from the Ehang company, in charge of this demonstration, programmed the 2,020 flying machines using a single central computer. This computer synchronized the entire fleet with the help of precise satellite positioning based on Real Time Kinematic (RTK) technology. The company pre-recorded the performance of the drone swarm on December 28, before broadcasting it on television on New Year's Eve. Also in Singapore, 500 UAVs performed a live performance with a similar system in conjunction with fireworks. These technical feats call for reflection on ways to detect, identify and neutralize this type of fleet.


"Russia proposes Iraq its S-400 air defense system"

Army Recognition, 7 January 2020

"Russia re-ups offer to arm Iraq with S-400 air-defenses as relation with the US sour"

The Drive, Warzone, 7 January 2020

According to the Russian press agency RIA Novosti, quoting the Russian Defence Ministry, Russia has offered to supply Iraq with S-400(SA-21 Growler) anti-aircraft defence systems with a range of 200-400 km. Faced with the destabilisation of the region following the assassination of the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Russia has also reportedly offered to supply short- and medium-range ground-to-air missile systems Tor-M2 (SA-15D Gauntlet ) and Buk-M3 (SA-17 Grizzly ), with a range of 16 and 70 km respectively. . As a reminder, Iraq had already considered the purchase of S-400s in May 2019, before abandoning it. To date, the country has Pantsir-S1 (SA-22 Greyhound) medium-range anti-aircraft vehicles, also Russian-made, with a range of 20 km.


"Drones help PLA detect enemy behind walls"

Global Times and China Military Online, 8 January 2020

(single source)

According to the Chinese daily Global Times, Chinese snipers are now equipped with mini reconnaissance drones enabling them to locate a target hidden behind a wall more accurately. Operated by the pair's observer, this UAV would indicate to the sniper the precise location where to carry out the shot. Easily transportable with a backpack, this mini UAV would be of real interest in an urban environment. It has already been tested during an exercise at the end of December.


"American soldiers deployed in the Middle East deprived of smartphones and tablets"

ZDNet, January 13, 2020

(single source)

The paratroopers of the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division, recently deployed in the Middle East, were ordered before their departure to leave their means of communication (smartphones, tablets and computers) at home. This new rule aims to prevent soldiers from putting themselves in danger by exposing details of operations on social networks. The risks of theft of these devices by the enemy or kidnapping of soldiers are also important. At the end of 2017, the Strava physical activity tracking service, used by some American soldiers during their sports sessions, , had revealed the location of secret military bases, highlighting the real capacity of these technologies to compromise the confidentiality of military operations.


"The fighter of the future"

Ministry of the Armed Forces (Youtube), 15 December 2019

(single source)

The Journal de la Défense (JDEF) dedicates its December issue to innovation in the Armed Forces. By focusing on the work of those who are preparing for tomorrow's combat, it urges us to dispel some preconceived ideas. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, robotics and hyperconnectivity offer real opportunities for optimising equipment, engagement methods and even training methods. From 730 million in 2018, the budget dedicated to innovation should increase to more than one billion euros from 2022, in accordance with the LPM 2019-2025, which has made it a priority.


"The DGA is launching CI-AILE, a defence technical innovation cluster in the field of aeromobility.

Ministry of the Armed Forces, 20 December 2019

(single source)

On 19 December 2019, the Directorate General for Armaments inaugurated a cluster of defence technical innovations in the field of aeromobility at its centre of expertise and technical aeronautical tests in Balma. Called CI-AILE, this group of private and public players near Toulouse was created by bringing together four founding regional partners: the DGA, the French Army, ISAE-SUPAERO and the defence community of the Aerospace Valley cluster. Its objective is to detect, direct and experiment the innovations brought by regional players in order to develop new technological solutions in the field of military aeromobility, in conjunction with the Defence Innovation Agency.


"The Ministry of the Armed Forces selects the new precision rifle for the French military".

Ministry of the Armed Forces, 7 January 2020

" SCAR-H: The Army's new precision rifle."

SIRPA Earth, January 8, 2020

The Belgian company FN Herstal won the tender for the acquisition of semi-automatic sniper rifles (FPSA) for the Army. The contract covers the purchase of 2,600 FPSAs and 1,800 light-intensifying sights, as well as thermal imaging devices and ammunition. The rifle selected is the SCAR-H PR, an improved version of the SCAR assault rifle in service with the Belgian Army. With a calibre of 7.62 mm, it offers remarkable shooting performances, day and night, up to a distance of 800 metres. It will replace the FR-F2 sniper rifles in service in the Belgian Army since 1986.

Availability: 2020-2022


"TheAK-47: A weapon to master"

SIRPA Earth, 7 January 2020

(single source)

At the beginning of December, ten combat fire instructors (ISTC) were trained in the handling of theAK-47 at the Operational Readiness Centre of the 51ᵉ infantry regiment in Mourmelon. This course was designed to familiarize instructors going on short or long term missions abroad with this extremely popular assault rifle, especially in countries with limited financial resources. This first formal training course is part of the new training programs requested by the Commandement de l'Entraînement des Écoles du Combat Interarmes (COME2CIA) and the Centre de Partenariat Militaire Opérationnel (CPMO). In 2020, 51ᵉ RI plans to organize more such courses to accustom soldiers to the use of weapons used daily in the field, such as the M16 assault rifle.


"Communiqué: the Ministry of the Armed Forces renews semi-automatic pistols for French forces".

Ministry of the Armed Forces, 6 January 2020

"The Army's new guns are coming."

Sirpa Earth, 8 January 2020

The Ministry of Armed Forces has announced that it has awarded the contract for the replacement of the PA MAC 50 and PAMAS G1 semi-automatic pistols to the Austrian company Glock. 75,596 semi-automatic pistols have been ordered by the Directorate General of Armament (DGA) and should be delivered by the end of 2022, of which about 80% to the Army. The model selected is the Glock 17 Gen 15, already in use by special forces and certain units.

Availability: 2020-2022



"Technological Innovation in China's Power Strategy"

IRSEM, December 16, 2019

Two IRSEM researchers, Océane Zubeldia and Malcolm Léon-Zytnicki, are currently conducting a study on Beijing's ambitions in terms of technological innovation, which ultimately aim to gain the upper hand over its competitors, especially the Americans. To this end, China is taking advantage of the synergy offered by civil-military links in key sectors such as artificial intelligence, drones and space. It does so all the more easily because the force of its political decisions is irrevocable on its territory. Here, as elsewhere, China shows an impressive capacity to project itself onto these sectors of innovation and shake up the markets, to the point of having become, in two decades, a major player in the sector. Beyond the mere confrontation of their respective know-how, competition between the United States and China could be based on the prices that each of the two powers would be able to offer on the market.



" Libya: a new theatre of "proxy war"  ? »

IRIS, December 23, 2019

David Rigoulet-Roze, associate researcher at IRIS, proposes an analysis of the balance of forces and foreign influences on Libyan theatre. After more than five years of civil war, Libya has two opposing camps: that of President Fayez al-Sarraj, which a priori enjoys the support of the international community, and that of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libyan National Army (ANL), supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia. While Tripoli and Ankara signed, at the end of November 2019, a "military and security cooperation agreement" opening the way for Turkish intervention in Libya, Marshal Haftar launched a few days later the "final battle" for control of the capital. In this context, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on 5 January the start of the deployment of Turkish troops in Libya, thus complicating the game of foreign interference.



"CSIS Bad Idea: Assuming the 'Small Wars' era is over"

Breaking Defense, December 31, 2019

Two American researchers, Alexandra Evans(RAND Corp) and Alexandra Stark (New America Foundation), warn against the almost unanimous analyses in the United States of the return to the " clash of the great powers" and high-intensity conventional conflicts. Whether well-founded or not, fears of a return to brutal competition between major powers should not obscure the persistence of threats of asymmetric conflict. Indeed, it is through the latter that the beginnings of open warfare between great powers would be played out. Good management of these conflicts would therefore be the best way to avoid escalation and to maintain the state of relative peace of recent decades. This is why it is crucial to preserve and strengthen the skills acquired in dealing with asymmetric conflicts.



"The 2020s: Predicting the Future of Defense and Global Conflict".

Military.com, 31 December 2019

What strategic trends will shape the next decade? According to the American military historian Joseph V. Micallef, armed conflicts will become increasingly anonymous. By 2030, the United States will mostly wage proxy wars against non-state actors, probably equipped with air, land and sea-based UAV fleets. As a result, the line between armed conflict and criminal activity, civil space and military theatres of operations, will become blurred. Secondly, China and Iran are expected to spread their authoritarian political models through the sale of arms, support for local militias and the export of means of state control based in particular on artificial intelligence. Finally, economic wars, which are less costly in terms of men, resources and collateral damage than the use of force, should become more widespread.



"Defence Ethics Committee Launched."

Ministry of the Armed Forces, 10 January 2020

The Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, opened the first session of the Defence Ethics Committee on 10 January. Made up of 18 members from the civilian and military worlds, its mission is to provide the armed forces with a permanent structure for reflection on the ethical challenges of new technologies. The Minister welcomed the launch of this committee, which is a first among the major military powers, and set two priorities for reflection: the augmented soldier and autonomous lethal weapon systems (ALWS). The committee's initial conclusions should be delivered in the summer of 2020 with the aim of strengthening France's position on these subjects.




"The Arms Trade Treaty is celebrating its 5th anniversary "

Ministry of the Armed Forces, 20 December 2019

On the occasion of the five years of its entry into force on 24 December 2014, France reiterates its strong commitment to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Nearly five years of negotiations were necessary for the ratification of this treaty, which at the time was particularly defended by France and the United Kingdom. It aims to better regulate the international market in conventional weapons, which today represents a total of nearly $100 billion. The treaty now has 105 signatories and is one of the major texts of the last two decades in terms of the international framework for arms transfers and disarmament.


"The origin of the Molotov cocktail".

CDEC, Studies and Foresight Division

The principle of the Molotov cocktail is ancient: the first combustible grenades, called "Greek fire", were used by the Byzantines in the 7th century. The Molotov cocktail in its modern form appeared in 1937, during the Sino-Japanese war, before being used in 1938 in the middle of the Spanish War by the Franks as a substitute for anti-tank weapons. The expression "Molotov cocktail" was coined during the Winter War between the USSR and Finland (1939-1940) in reference to War Minister Viatcheslav Molotov, Stalin's right-hand man. During the Red Army bombing of Finland, Molotov claims that the USSR did not launch bombs, but provided supplies by air to starving Finns. In derision, the Finns call the Soviet fire bombs "Molotov's bread baskets". The term "Molotov cocktail" was then used by these same Finnish soldiers to refer to the homemade weapon that was particularly effective in igniting the fuel tanks of Soviet T-26s.



"The Dardanelles Expedition (February 19, 1915 - January 9, 1916)"

Ambafrance.org

January 9, 2020 marked the 104th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Dardanelles between the Allies and the Ottomans. Recommended by the first Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, the expedition was initially limited to a naval assault on the Straits, given on February 26, 1915. It was completed by a land attack on the Gallipoli peninsula, led mainly by Australians and New Zealanders of the British ANZAC Corps and the French Army of the East. Colonel Mustapha Kemal repulses them near Gaba Tepe. Trenches are dug in April and the allied counter-attack on Suvla Bay in August fails. The evacuation took place from 18 December 1915 to 8 January 1916: 147,000 allied soldiers died and 145,000 suffered from disease. The failure of the Dardanelles expedition was due in particular to a lack of naval and land resources and the late dispatch of ground troops. This serious setback forced Churchill to resign.


 


 
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