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The Pathfinder N°33

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Issue 27 - February 3, 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.



"FDI: A Breakthrough in the Development of Laser-Based Weapon Systems."

Israel Defense, January 12, 2020

(source cross-checking)

The Israeli Ministry of Defence has announced a major breakthrough in research on directed energy weapons. The improved accuracy of electric lasers would now enable them to hit a target at long range by overcoming atmospheric interference. The Israeli companies Rafael and Elbit Systems have been commissioned to exploit this development by developing demonstration programmes for three laser weapons for missile interception. One of the prototypes should be mounted on a land vehicle to contribute to the very low-level ground-to-air defence of deployed forces. Laser air defence has several advantages, including complementing kinetic technologies and being capable of countering all types of threats (drones, rockets, shells and anti-tank guided missiles).


"New Pentagon team will develop ways to fight enemy drones"

Military.com, January 15, 2020

(source cross-checking)

After declaring that it would make UAV countermeasures (LAD) a priority in 2020, the Pentagon has just announced the creation of a 60-person body specifically dedicated to this objective within the Department of Defense (DoD), with the U.S.Army at the head of the project. The DoD is thus aiming to develop several complementary LAD systems in the near future, in order to be able to apprehend the diversity of threats (NATO class 1, 2, 3 air UAVs and land UAVs , alone or in swarms) over the entire range of American theatres of operations.


"Warloc: a GPS Alternative on your boot"

Breaking Defense, January 17, 2020

(source cross-checking)

The American company Robotic Research has received $16.5 million from theU.S. Army to equip four infantry brigades with its new geolocation system, called Warloc. The process offers the advantage of using an inertial navigation system (INS) rather than a GPS system. The aircraft emits a weak and intermittent signal at short range and is not very sensitive to enemy radar jamming and the constraints of high-density areas. It is attached to the ankle of the fighter, making it difficult to detect. By interconnecting the aircraft of the same fighting unit, Robotic Research has been able to compensate for the inaccuracy of INS systems and offers the disembarked fighter the possibility of determining his position within the group. The Warloc system could also equip vehicles and drones.


"Gremlins Program Completes First Flight Test for X-61A Vehicle

DARPA, 17 January 2020

(single source)

The X-61A UAV made its first flight last November as part of the U.S. "Flying UAV Carrier" project called Gremlins. It aims to perfect the launching of drones, alone or in swarms, from an aircraft, in this case a C-130 Hercules, and their recovery in the air at the end of the mission. In addition to the lower cost generated by such a launch, this programme makes it possible to extend the range of UAVs and enhance their safety and reliability. However, the recovery phase, which is still under study, suffers from some difficulties since one of the five UAVs used during the test was lost. For the initiators of the Gremlins programme, this phase was not one of the main expectations of this first test, and DARPA is planning a second test in the spring of 2020.


"US Army cancels current effort to replace Bradley vehicle"

Defense News, January 17, 2020

(cross-referenced source)

TheU.S. Army has cancelled the bidding process to replace its Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles under the Optionnaly Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) program. The OMFV program was designed to replace a large portion of theU.S . Army's existing armor stock by 2026 through the acquisition of teleoperable, high firepower, 30-ton vehicles. Thus, after the German industrialist Rheinmetall's Lynx KF-41 infantry combat vehicle was eliminated in October 2019, only the Griffin III of the American industrialist General Dynamics remained in the running. Faced with this situation, theU.S. Army preferred to temporarily suspend the program.


"Army's New Sighting System Could Lead to Reckless Shooting and Fratricide, Experts Say"

Military.com, January 14, 2020

(source cross-checking)

The Combat Team of the1st Infantry Division of theUS Army has been equipped with a new remote aiming system, which according to experts has several drawbacks. The system is based on Rapid Target Acquisition(RTA) wireless technology, which transmits the M4A1 rifle sight to the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular(ENVG-B) binoculars ' display screen. Combining thermal and infrared vision, the RTA technology was successfully tested in September 2019, but its use could progressively lead to a degradation of shooting skills and increased reliance on the technology by soldiers. Thermal spectrum detection would also increase the risk of fratricidal fire.


"Malian Army receives new armour"

Jane's, January 20, 2020

(source cross-checking)

On 16 January 2020, the first seven Russian Typhoon-type 4x4 armoured vehicles were delivered to the Malian army. These mine- and FDI-reinforced vehicles are part of an order for 130 vehicles purchased by the United Arab Emirates for the Malian Army. They can carry up to 10 soldiers. As a reminder, the Malian army currently has at its disposal Russian BTR-60 and BRDM-2 type vehicles, as well as 4x4 armoured Bastion vehicles, manufactured by the Frenchman Arquus and acquired as part of the European Union funding for the G5 Sahel.


"Rheinmetall books €110 million-contract to extend the service life of the Marder infantry fighting vehicle for the Bundeswehr".

Rheinmetall, 20 January 2020

"Germany extends service life of Marder IFV."

Jane's, January 22, 2020

(source cross-checking)

The Bundeswehr has signed a contract with the German industrialist Rheinmetall to extend the service life of the Marder infantry combat vehicles, which have been in service with the German Army since 1971. As a reminder, the Marder has already undergone several modernizations, including the integration of laser-guided anti-tank missiles (MELLS). It should gradually be replaced by the Puma infantry combat vehicle, which has been in service since 2015. Produced by Rheinmetall and KMW, the latter is armed with a 30 mm gun, as opposed to the 20 mm Marder. A total of 350 Puma vehicles have been ordered by the Bundeswehr.


"Trump reverses Obama-Era restrictions on military use of land mines."

Military.com, January 31, 2020

(source cross-checking)

In a January 31 statement, U.S. President Donald Trump lifted restrictions on the use of anti-personnel mines by the U.S. military. Although the country is not a signatory to the 1999 Ottawa Convention, which prohibits their use, their use had been drastically restricted by the Obama administration. The White House is committed to the use of new-generation weapons that are less dangerous to civilians, in particular those with the capacity to self-destruct within 30 days. The NGOs, which are highly critical, nevertheless denounce the failure rate inherent in this type of equipment. This statement is in line with what the US President had already decided in 2017 regarding the use of cluster munitions. In both cases, the operational drawbacks of the restrictions are pointed out, in particular the endangerment of American soldiers engaged in theatres of operation.



"Delivery of the 92th Griffon at the DGA "

Arquus, 31 December 2019

(single source)

The temporary consortium (GME) in charge of the production of the multi-role armored vehicle (VBMR) Griffon, made up of Nexter, Arquus and Thales, has reached its delivery target for 2019. In accordance with the 2019-2025 military programming law (LPM), the 92th Griffon vehicle was delivered before the end of 2019. In total, the SCORPION program calls for the delivery of 1,872 Griffon vehicles to the French Army, 936 of which will be delivered by 2025.

Availability: 2019-2030


"The DGA is receiving the first terrestrial micro-robots of the SCORPION program.

Ministry of the Armed Forces, 15 January 2020

NERVA-LG data sheet (2th TO KNOW MORE)

Nexter Robotics

(single source)

The French Armament Procurement Agency (DGA) has received the first micro-robots for the French Army, produced by Nexter and ECA as part of a global order for 56 robots. The delivery of the five NERVA-LGs is part of the SCORPION programme. These micro-robots, which can be remotely operated at a maximum distance of 1 km, have an SRI (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capability and are capable of carrying out certain missions autonomously. Weighing 5 kg and with a range of two hours, NERVA-LGs can reach 13 km/h on all types of terrain and operate in a network. They would improve the protection of landed combatants thanks to their capacity to detect IED and CBRN threats.


"The Defense Factory"

The Defense Factory, site of the Ministry of the Armed Forces

(single source)

On 17 and 18 January 2020, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces organised "La Fabrique Défense", an event open to the general public with the aim of promoting the spirit of Defence among young people, strengthening the Armed Forces-Nation link and fostering the emergence of a European strategic culture. Announced by Madame Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, in her closing speech at the 17thth edition of the Université d'été de la Défense (Sept. 2019), this unprecedented event brought together a large number of French and European defence stakeholders: institutions, associations, think-tanks, universities and companies. The initiative will continue in the coming months with the organisation of other events in the regions and in six other European Union countries.



"La Fabrique Défense: discover the MOS Energy Balls".

Ministry of the Armed Forces, 15 January 2020

(single source)

On the occasion of the event "La Fabrique Défense", visitors were able to discover and taste the Energy Balls of the French startup Military Optimized Superfoods (MOS). The first range of healthy, high-performance snacks, these small balls, made entirely of natural ingredients, offer a quick and effective energy boost, while maintaining a balanced nutritional profile. Marketed in chocolate/nut and dried fruit versions, they would withstand extreme temperatures and could be stored for up to four weeks. The company would already be supplying special forces in several countries.



Creation of a new defence innovation investment fund

Ministry of the Armed Forces, 23 January 2020

(source cross-checking)

In her address on Wednesday 22 January, the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly announced the creation of a Defence Investment Fund. Named "Definnov", the project was entrusted to the Defence Innovation Agency (AID), supported by Bpifrance. This sovereign investment fund will provide financial support to French players in the sector, in particular SMEs and start-ups. It could lead to a rationalisation and simplification of the national defence innovation financing system. Mrs Florence Parly hopes to involve major French defence industrialists in the project in the coming months.



"Scorpion: notification of the ''onboard mortar for contact support'' programme (MEPAC)

Thales, 24 January 2020

(source cross-checking)

In accordance with a decision taken in July 2019 by the French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly at a Ministerial Investment Council, the DGA notified Arquus, Nexter and Thales on 30 December 2019 of a sixth amendment to the contract concerning the SCORPION programme. Of the 1,872 Griffon multi-role armoured vehicles (VBMR) intended for the French Army, 54 will have to be equipped with an artillery capability called "on-board mortar for contact support". (MEPAC). The rear compartment will be adapted to allow the installation of a 120 mmrifled onboard mortar, the 2R2M ( Rifled, Recoiled, Mounted, Mortar) from Thales. The 2R2M is distinguished by its semi-automatic loading system, which enables it to fire up to 10 rounds per minute, and by the precision of its rifled tube.

Availability : 2023-2027




"Guerrillas, propaganda and commandos: a history of irregular warfare in the 20th century.th century"

Élie Tenenbaum, IRSEM, Le Collimateur, January 31, 2019.

In this IRSEM podcast, Ifri researcher Élie Tenenbaum offers a historical perspective on the foundations of irregular warfare. This is a necessary step in order to appreciate the prism through which Western powers have been confronting each other since the beginning of the 20th century.th century, to asymmetrical wars in distant theatres of operations. So-called "regular" warfare is indeed a Western concept with specific historical origins. It influences the way democratic states and their military forces approach warfare in an era of local conflicts with global resonance. This is still evident today in their positions, particularly in their stances against international terrorism. Often presented as a new phenomenon, international terrorism would benefit from being understood in the light of counter-insurgency doctrines, the relative oblivion of which would testify to the embarrassment of Western democratic societies with regard to "irregularity".



" What is the arms race? »

Benjamin Hautecouverture, FRS Podcast, 21 January 2020

Benjamin Hautecouverture, a researcher at the FRS, discusses the challenges of an overused concept. The "arms race" is a concept whose origin precedes the Cold War. It is therefore necessary to question this conceptual heritage in order to assess its relevance to characterise international relations today. We must already remove from the concept the dramatic character it acquired during the tensions of the Cold War. But what is essential is to render the complexity of the mechanism of "escalation" that it suggests a priori. Thus, a detailed analysis of the relationship between the United States and the USSR reveals a less predictable pattern. This includes misperceptions of the real capabilities of the adversary, diplomatic ties, voluntary inaction by one of the actors, but also national institutional games and bureaucratic and budgetary dynamics. Thus we obtain a less intuitive but more realistic scheme: the action of one does not necessarily lead to the reaction of the other, and the destabilisation of the balance by the "qualitative leap" of an adversary is no longer an obvious hypothesis.



" Israel's strategy in the face of the strengthening of Hezbollah: the centrality of intelligence "

Olivier Passot, IRSEM, 28 January 2020

In this research note, Colonel Olivier Passot, associate researcher at IRSEM, underlines the crucial role of military intelligence in the Israeli strategy against Hezbollah. The conflicts of 2006 and 2008-2009 revealed to the Israeli forces their shortcomings in this area. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have therefore adapted both in terms of means and doctrine. Previously highly centralised, military intelligence has become a prerogative of the tactico-operative level, with the provision of all sensors at brigade level for the Galilee Division, in charge of the border area with Lebanon. The application of theintelligence-based warfare concept also gives the tactical commander greater decision-making autonomy through easier access to intelligence capabilities. This new organisation, which is also based on an advanced mastery of new information and communication technologies, has enabled the IDF to achieve successes, particularly in the field of ballistic counter-proliferation and the identification and destruction of tunnels between Lebanon and Israeli territory. According to the author, however, these achievements require considerable investment and are conditioned by the high degree of tension between Israel and its neighbours.




"The German A7V tank

Yves Buffetaut, The Great Tank War, Éditions Ysec, 2019

The Sturmpanzerwagen A7V, designed by theAllgemeine Kriegs in Department 7 at the end of 1916, was 7.35 m long, 3 m wide and 3 m high. 20 examples of this 33-ton steel fortress were put into service between October 1917 and November 1918, as the German General Staff only became interested in the development of tanks at a late stage. Equipped with a 57 mm gun and 6 MG 08 machine guns, theA7V could reach 16 km/h on the road and 6 to 8 km/h off-road, making it the fastest and most powerful tank of the First World War. With a range of 60 km, it carried 18 to 22 men, protected by 30 mm armour in front. Despite its archaic appearance and its reduced crossing capacity, theA7V won several tank duels, notably on 24 April 1918 against the British Whippet tanks. It also achieved tactical successes in the battles of Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918 and Matz in June 1918.


"The Battle Ration

CDEC, Studies and Foresight Division

The reheatable individual combat ration (RICR), nicknamed "rasquette", has acquired a solid reputation with foreign armies: during Operation Desert Storm (1991), a French ration was exchanged for five American rations. Taking the form of a 1.5 kg rectangular box, it is available in 14 different menus (from cassoulet to paella and baeckeoffe), covering the daily food needs of a combatant when circumstances exclude a traditional diet. Able to withstand temperatures of up to 55°C and to withstand a parachute drop, its dishes can be kept for up to 4 years. From the "rolling kitchens" of the Great War to the famous "K ration" (named after Dr. Keys), intended for American airborne troops during the Second World War, the meals served to soldiers on operations have undergone several changes. In France, the first individual rations appeared in 1946: the R20 (individual) and R21 (collective) rations were then composed of 3 menus and contained wine, brandy, cigarettes and the famous "war bread". In 1986, they were replaced by the RICR, in which alcohol and cigarettes disappeared. Today, about 2 million RICRs are checked and shipped each year by the Angers Combat Rations Packaging Centre (ESCAT).


 


 
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