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Number 30

September 2020

"Lockheed Martin's New Tactical Missile Scores Successful Flight Test."

Defense Update, April 30, 2020

(source cross-checking)

As part of the U.S. Army's Precision Strike Mis sile(PrSM) program, Lockheed Martin has successfully completed the third and final test of its new ground-to-ground missile. Ultimately, taking advantage of the United States' withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that linked it to Russia, the company's objective would be to give the PrSM a range of 60 to 750 km. It will be fired from the M270 multiple rocket launcher or Lockheed Martin's High Mobility Artillery Rocket System(HIMARS). One of the improvements would be the integration of a multi-mode seeker, which would allow the missile to engage targets that are moving or have changed position during flight. The PrSM, which is intended to replace theArmy Tactical Missile System(ATACMS), will be integrated into the American concepts of multi-domain and deep warfare. A first delivery of 30 missiles, out of a total of more than 2,400 units, is scheduled for the end of 2023.

"The US military is equipping 3D desktop printers with a new material".

New plant, May 8, 2020

(single source)

In partnership with the University of Delaware, theU.S. Army has developed a 3D printing filament to print parts in the field that are strong enough for military use. This additive filament deposition manufacturing method addresses a real need for operational printing in remote locations where supply is limited. Until now, such printing has required costly and bulky facilities, the size of two sea containers. The new material, a filament consisting of a star-shaped polycarbonate core coated with ABS, compatible with a standard desktop printer and requiring only 24 to 48 hours in an oven, would be fifteen times more resistant to fracture than traditional moulded parts.

"ACV to get Stryker varying from 30mm cannon"

Marine Corps Times, May 16, 2020

(source cross-checking)

According to Marine Corps Systems Command, the new version of the Stryker familyAmphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems in partnership with BAE Systems and used by the U.S. Marines, will soon be equipped with the MCT-30 medium-caliber turret. Manufactured by the Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, the MCT-30 is a lighter turret than the one fitted to Stryker armoured infantry fighting vehicles (AIFVs) . It would be equipped with an Mk44 gun, regularly used by theUSMC. The system would thus provide very precise firepower and could be remotely operated from a protected position inside the vehicle. Delivery of this new MCT-30 turret specially designed forLCA will begin in early 2021. The British manufacturer BAE has stated that it will complete the first phase of integration of the turret on the new version of the amphibious vehicle next year, with production scheduled to begin in 2023.

"Weapons integration hurdles challenge US Army's IM-SHORAD effort"

Jane's, May 20, 2020

(source cross-checking)

An officialU.S. Army statement announces that the U.S. Army should deploy Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense Launcher (MSL) Stryker A1s in European theaters to respond to the Russian threat. These vehicles would be deployed as part of the Initial Manoeuvre Short-Range Air Defense (IM-SHORAD) capability, enabling the detection and identification needed at the tactical level. However, the integration of the direct-fire Stinger missile system into the overall MSL system would still be problematic. Five of the nine short-range air defence prototypes planned are already being tested on American bases, in order to integrate the M299 launcher and make it compatible with existing platforms.

"AVT releases the latest variant of X-MADIS counter UAV-system".

Defence Blog, 17 May 2020

(single source)

Ascent Vision Technologies (AVT), a U.S. company specializing in precision technologies for the aerospace industry and airborne UAV countermeasures, reportedly completed the design of several units of the X-MADIS mobile integrated air defence system for the Department of Defense (DoD). X-MADIS incorporates advanced technological innovations to enhance mobile UAV capabilities. Thanks to its high zoom capabilities and its electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) imaging system, it allows precise identification of aircraft at long range, day and night, combined with a powerful electronic warfare system designed to neutralize UAV swarms.

"GE building worm-like robots to dig military tunnels"

The Robot Report, 21 May 2020

(single source)

General Electrics Research (GER) is currently developing a robot in the form of an earthworm to dig tunnels for military purposes. The aim of this prototype, supported by the Underminer programme of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is to enable the drilling of tunnels in support of military operations using a remote-controlled robot, designed from the hydrostatic skeleton of an earthworm, allowing it to expand radially to enlarge the tunnel and to lengthen to penetrate further into the ground using artificial hydraulic muscles. The robot is thus able to adapt its movements according to the soil conditions. It can also drill without having to bring the material to the surface. The mechanical worm could move at a speed of 10 cm/sec and dig a tunnel 500 m long and at least 10 cm in diameter. One of the main challenges for ESM is to increase its autonomy, in particular by enabling it to bypass underground obstacles without the help of GPS. This capability is reportedly in the process of being developed from applications using artificial intelligence (AI).

"Morocco signs loan for the new ground-based air defence system".

Jane's, May 22, 2020

(source cross-checking)

The Moroccan head of government announced, in a publication in the Journal Officiel on 18 May, the signing of an agreement with the French branch of the Franco-British equipment manufacturer MBDA Systems, for the supply of anti-missile defence systems. This is in addition to the CAESAR artillery pieces and their ammunition, supplied by Nexter, and the FREMM delivered by Naval Group as part of the five-year plan 2017-2022, which provides for the strengthening of Morocco's regional posture. In total, France will have sold more than €1.8 billion worth of equipment to Morocco over the last decade. These sales thus place France in second place among the countries exporting arms to Morocco, with 43% of exports, behind the United States (57%).

"New ZTL-11 105mm 8x8 assault gun armored vehicle in service with Chinese army"

Army recognition, 17 May 2020

(source cross-checking)

A new version of the ZTL-11 8x8 amphibious armoured infantry fighting vehicle (AIFV) is reported to have entered into service with the Chinese Army. Integrated for the first time in 2015, the amphibious ZTL-11-8x8 corresponds to a new generation of VBCI offering high mobility, conferred by an 8x8 wheeled armoured chassis, a design similar to that of the B1 Centauro manufactured in Italy. It is equipped with a 105 mm gun with computerized fire management, associated with a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun on a turret in the middle of the chassis. The body and turret are made of fully welded armoured steel, which allows the vehicle to withstand 20 mm shells in the front and up to 12.7 mm calibres on the rest of the body. According to Chinese military sources, this version of the VBCI is equipped with a digital battlefield management system, adata-link system and a satellite-based vehicle positioning system.

"French Ministry of Defense doubles capacity for Novadem NX70 micro-UAVs.

Army Recognition, 5 May 2020

(source cross-checking)

The French Armament Procurement Agency (DGA) has ordered twenty additional NX70 micro-UAV systems from the company Novadem (cf. Eclaireur n°15 and n°19). As each system comprises two UAVs, the French land forces will eventually be equipped with around 100 NX70 micro-UAVs. In December 2018, the DGA placed an initial order to meet the urgent operational needs of troops deployed in OPEX, to which the NX70s provide detection capabilities. Building on ten years of RETEX, the NX70 « Block 2 » has a radius of action of more than 3 km and a range of 45 minutes. It can carry out observation missions in difficult weather conditions. Weighing less than 1 kg, reducing its logistical footprint, the NX70 protects its data by encryption. The first part of the additional micro-UAVs was delivered to the DGA on April 3, with the rest of the order to be delivered before the end of the summer.

"TheA400M is now capable of dropping paratroopers through the side door.

Ministry of the Armed Forces, 18 May 2020

(single source)

In a press release dated 18 May 2020, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces announced that the Air Force's A400M Atlas transport aircraft is now capable of dropping paratroopers through the side door, not just the rear ramp. This announcement follows the first operational self-drop training carried out on 12 May, which marks an important step in the ramp-up of theA400M Atlas' airdrop capabilities. Indeed, such a capability consolidates a real operational advantage in that it will allow, as of next year, the simultaneous release of airborne troops equipped with self-opening parachutes through both side doors. On the occasion of the delivery of the 17th aircraft, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, recalled that it was «essential to Operation Barkhane... » and called him «"indispensable for our freedom of action ».

" VIRTUAL MAP, experimentation by land forces of a virtual command post around a 3D map "

Defence Innovation Agency, 29 May 2020

(single source)

Virtual reality is now one of the attributes of the augmented soldier. This technology allows immersion in a virtual scene that reproduces as closely as possible the reality on the ground, encouraging reflection and dialogue between the players involved. Technical advances have made the use of this technology more intuitive and have helped to mitigate the shortcomings associated with virtuality. The handling of this platform, developed by Thales, is now easier; it provides real added value for training because it allows immediate perspective of the field during briefings. Virtual reality reproduces the sensations of both the "natural 3D" environment and the terrain being studied.

"Building Resilience Together: Military and Local Government Collaboration for Climate Adaptation".

RAND Corporation, April 2020

(single source)

The study by the Rand Corporation emphasizes the role that the armed forces could play in a resilient posture in the face of climate change. It reviews experiments and reports commissioned by the Department of Defense (DoD) on five major risks: rising water levels, repeated floods, droughts and desertification, forest fires and thawing permafrost. Joint initiatives are being carried out in the Hampton Roads area (Virginia) to reduce the impact of military installations on the environment or to limit the effects of climate change by restoring the anthropogenic balance. Civil-military cooperation requires a long-term partnership that takes into account budgetary imperatives. However, ecodesign, as carried out in France, is not envisaged in the United States. As the study proposes a very wide range of technical means to be implemented, such an experiment would be difficult to carry out in France on the same scale. Nevertheless, this document represents a real source of inspiration.

"The basics of power. Geopolitical and strategic stakes of advanced military bases".

IFRI Studies, Strategic Focus N°97, May 2020

(single source)

According to this study by Morgan Paglia's Ifri, advanced military bases are a double-edged sword for the state that deploys them. They make it possible to establish a position on allied territory close to an opposing country, but are intrinsically carrying a risk of isolation. The Americans have retained their network of advanced bases, while Russia has greatly reduced its network since the end of the Cold War. However, the changing strategic landscape raises the question of a decline in the need for advanced bases. Indeed, operations conducted from the mainland are confining support points to the role of logistical support. Strategic threats remain mainly of two kinds: intrusions or direct threats on enclaves with short to medium range means by harassment. To counter these threats, the study proposes a simplified operation as well as training in multi-milieu manoeuvres in order to guarantee the security of the bases of sovereignty and abroad.

"The Future of Warfare Will Continue to be Human"

Peter L. HICKMAN, War on the Rocks, May 12, 2020

(single source)

Certain technological innovations could revolutionize the art of warfare, thus giving a decisive advantage to the user. For the adversary, however, any technological backwardness can be compensated for by the exploitation of the terrain and by strategic, operational and tactical innovation. According to the author, out of sixteen conflicts fought between 1956 and 1992, technological superiority would only have been a guarantee of victory on eight occasions. As a result, the US national defence strategy, which emphasises the military potential of new technologies, especially artificial intelligence (AI), would underestimate the importance of human creativity in victory. Yet, despite the undeniable technical advances of the last few decades, the data suggest that we are and will remain until 2035 in a period of evolution, rather than technological and capability revolution. Moreover, while AI is emerging as a valuable tool for tomorrow's warfare, it cannot replace human invariants as an effective doctrine and appropriate tactical decisions for a successful campaign. Major Peter L. Hickman of theU.S. Air Force also believes that the key to success lies in innovative force employment. This requires enhancing virtual training for joint forces and focusing it on the tactical dilemmas and multi-domain operations (MDOs) that would be required in an even-handed confrontation. Here, AI can be used to prepare soldiers without exposing them to the ever-increasing lethality of modern weapons. The author also advocates reducing the US presence in the Middle East in order to concentrate US military resources on operational readiness for conflict with a major power such as China or Russia.

"Changes, ambitions and limits of contemporary Russian strategic culture".

IFRI Notes, June 3, 2020

(single source)

Pavel Baev states in this article that Russian strategic culture has gradually evolved since the end of the Cold War to adapt to its environment. Ambitions of power and hegemony vis-à-vis the West have increased and taken on a more maritime character. The nuclear arsenal, for its part, has seen an upsurge in power in the recent period. The corruption inherited from the Soviet system has not ceased and is hampering the implementation of the initiatives taken by certain military leaders. Personal loyalties and links with defence consortia have led to malfunctions, mainly during the conflict with Ukraine. Russian power also tends to extend beyond its usual circle of influence, as was the case with its involvement in Syria. This conflict finally marked a turning point in military practice with the use of private military companies.

"Army IBCS: Joint, Up To A Point"

Breaking Defense, May 15, 2020

(single source)

As Western militaries grapple with concepts related to multi-domain operations (MDO), theU.S. Army is testing the ability to link the Command and Control (C2 ) of its missile defence with the U.S.Air Force , U.S.Navy and U.S. Marine Corps , using a future system called the Integrated Air & Missile Defense (IAMD) - Battle Command System (IBCS ). To that end, theU.S. Army has already conducted joint exercises in which theAir Force F-35 fighter aircraft and the Marines ' G/ATOR radar provided targeting data to theIBCS. In addition, theArmy is currently in discussions with the Navy to test the IBCS system with the air and missile defence fleet. No costed and dated programme for the implementation of such a system has been made public to date, but theArmy is already planning to incorporate three types of radar, including the LTAMDS , which will replace the Patriot . Nevertheless, theIBCS poses many difficulties from the outset. Firstly, the radars were not designed to share data with each other. Second, it would require a large amount of data that the speed cameras are currently unable to provide. Third, having the ability to decide which anti-aircraft weapon is best suited to eliminate a target, will the other components of the armed forces be willing to relinquish control of their radars and weapons to theU.S. Army? However, the IBCS control software will not have total control and the decision to engage fire will remain a human prerogative.

"America takes a clean path to protect its borders."

Share America, May 7, 2020

(source cross-checking)

The US administration has just changed again the rules on the import and export of components, some of which were manufactured on US soil or with US materials. This new change in the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) comes after the revelation of backdoors in 5G systems developed by Huawei and accepted by the U.S. government. for a while by the British. The British belong to Five Eyes and are the United States' main intelligence partners in Europe. Because of the differences between London and Washington concerning the sensitive parts of 5G, the Rivet Joint aircraft and the fleet of American intelligence aircraft should be repatriated to the United States.

"80th Anniversary of the Battle of Montcornet

Ministry of the Armed Forces, 17 May 2020

(source cross-checking)

The battle of Montcornet (Aisne) on May 17, 1940 was part of the French campaign and contributed to developing the aura of General Charles De Gaulle. It was a French counter-offensive that aimed to block the road to Paris to General Kirchner's German divisions. Colonel Charles De Gaulle then commanded the4th armoured division, which comprised four poorly trained tank units with neither radios nor sufficient air support. This battle ended in a dismal failure. Indeed, despite German casualties greater than French, 23 tanks out of the 86 available were destroyed and the division had to withdraw, not preventing the continuation of the German breakthrough to Cambrai. Victory was, however, moral, despite a fragmented and fragmented command and a faulty supply chain.

"The Origin of Military Parachuting"

Sky-diving France, July 29, 2019

Parachute Museum, 2020

(source cross-checking)

Although the first parachute jump was made by a Frenchman in Paris in 1797, it was not until much later that the discipline acquired its letters of nobility in the army. Inspired by the Soviets, who developed military parachuting as early as 1930, France sent officers to Moscow in 1935 to learn the first skills which led to the creation of the Parachuting Training Centre in September of the same year. In October 1936, Minister Pierre Cot signed the decree officializing the formation of parachute units, the Air Infantry Groups. The GIA are: "intended to transport by plane and land by parachute infantry detachments in enemy territory". During the major manoeuvres of the summer of 1937, two hundred parachutists captured the Mirabeau bridge and a few weeks later a divisional command post. France then had the 601° GIA based in Reims and the 602° in Algeria. At the beginning of the Second World War, the parachute weapon was not yet operational. The parachutists were divided into four Groupes Francs and fought in the Vosges alongside the Alpine Hunters. The two GIA were disbanded shortly afterwards under the Vichy regime. This dissolution did not mark the end of military parachuting in France. From England, General De Gaulle organized the parachutists of Free France. The air infantry companies served alongside the British SAS before becoming the "chasseurs parachutistes". For its part, the Central Bureau of Intelligence and Action (BCRA) recruited elements and integrated them into the "Jedburgh". These two entities were the first to parachute into France in order to structure, advise and guide the resistance groups in preparation for the landing. At the end of the war, these units were reorganised and then sent to Indochina.

L'Éclaireur is a watch on subjects of interest 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 bi-monthly overview of information disseminated in the media and likely to be of interest to the defence community. 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.