Morning Defence News Briefing 31 January 2020

Morning Defence News Briefing 31 January 2020

Morning Defence News Briefing 31 January 2020

DEFENCE & SECURITY NEWS AT A GLANCE

Europe

  • Spain, General Dynamics will not appeal against cancellation of the Dragon armored contract.
  • Ukraine-Poland, authorities discuss future security cooperation.
  • Lupo, (Leonardo Poland), interested in modernization program of the Polish armed forces.
  • Poland-USA, Prime Minister Morawiecki meets US ambassador, focus on defense and the Middle East.

EMEA

  • Saudi Arabia, “WSJ”, air defense system has intercepted missiles against Aramco plants.
  • Iraq, two soldiers killed in an Islamic State attack on Kirkuk.
  • Syria, Russian general Borenkov Syrian army has freed 27 settlements in the Idlib area.

Africa

  • Algeria, foiled suicide attack against demonstration in Algiers.
  • Libya, Italian MFA Di Maio, Sophia’s mandate needs to be changed to enforce the arms embargo.
  • Libya, new clashes in Trek al Matar in Tripoli.
  • Libya, Haftar spokesman, “3,000 Syrian mercenaries from Turkey, some migrate to Europe”.

Americas

  • US, the House today votes on measures that would block money for military action against Iran that isn’t authorized by Congress and repeal the 2002 Iraq War authorization used by the US adminustration to justify a drone strike against Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

GEOPOLITICS

US Navy deploys new “low-yield” nuclear warhead: The US Navy has reportedly deployed a new “low-yield” nuclear warhead known as the W-76-2, according to a piece of analysis published by the Federation of American Scientists. The new nuclear warhead, which is part of the US efforts to boost its nuclear deterrent by providing commanders with more flexible strategic options, was fitted to the US Trident missiles before the ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee deployed from Georgia in late 2019. Members of the democratic party unsuccessfully sought to kill the new weapon in Congress, calling it destabilizing. According to the report “There is no firm evidence that a Russian nuclear decision regarding the risk involved in nuclear escalation is dependent on the yield of a US nuclear weapon,” it said. “Moreover, the United States already has a large number of weapons in its nuclear arsenal that have low-yield options — about 1,000 by our estimate. This includes nuclear cruise missiles for B-52 bombers and B61 gravity bombs for B-2 bombers and tactical fighter jets.”

US, Pentagon issues new guidance to soldiers abroad as coronavirus outbreak spreads: The Pentagon has issued guidance to its personnel abroad as a growing number of countries around the world evacuate their citizens from China. The aims is reducing the potential threat of the coronavirus to US troops. The guidance comes a day after the State Department elevated its travel advisory for China to a Level 4.  “I approved a directive apprising our forces about precautions they should take, how to recognize the signs and symptoms of the virus,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement. “The Department of Defense continues to work closely with our interagency partners as we monitor the situation and protect our service members and their families, which is my highest priority.” The Defense Secretary added that U.S. military commanders in affected geographic commands will be issuing specific guidance to their forces. While the majority of confirmed coronavirus cases are in mainland China, the virus has also been identified in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Nepal, Hong Kong, Macao, Cambodia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, France, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Australia, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, United States and the United Kingdom.

White House ‘disappointed’ by UK’s decision to allow Huawei access to 5G networks: The White House has expressed disappointment after London announced it would allow Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei limited access to some British 5G mobile networks. In 2018, the Pentagon halted sales of Huawei and ZTE mobile phones and modems on military bases around the world due to potential security risks.

Russia discovered 33 spy aircraft, UAVs and drones near its border in the past week: The Kremlin has reportedly spotted over two dozen foreign aircraft as well as eight drones on ISTAR missions near its border in the past week, Russian local media reported citing Moscow’s Defense Ministry (MoD). “According to the defense ministry, 25 foreign aircraft and eight unmanned aerial vehicles conducted reconnaissance near Russian borders,” local newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda reported. “Foreign aircraft and drones were monitored by Russian radars,” added the paper, which is affiliated with the ministry, further quoting the military establishment as saying that “violations of Russian airspace were prevented.” Although planes did not have to be scrambled against the reconnaissance missions, Russia’s defense ministry says that “Russian pilots carried out 218 sorties at 68 aerodromes in the past week.”

US lifts restrictions on landmines: US President Donald Trump has lifted US restrictions on deployment of landmines, saying a new generation of high-tech explosives would bolster security. “The Department of Defense has determined that restrictions imposed on American forces by the Obama administration’s policy could place them at a severe disadvantage during a conflict against our adversaries,” a White House statement said.

DEFENCE & SECURITY SYSTEMS

India advance development of new K-5 submarine-launched ballistic missile SLBM: The K missiles is a family of SLBM developed by India to boost its second strike capabilities and thus augment its nuclear deterrence. The K-4 is an intermediate-range submarine-launched ballistic missile under development by DRDO. It is a 10 m long missile weighing 20 tones, capable of carrying a 2 tone payload up to a range of 3,500 km.

US Army awards S.A.F.E. contract for fall protection platforms for Chinooks: The US Army has awarded a contract to S.A.F.E. Structure Designs for the delivery of fall protection platforms. Platforms are set to be customised for use on Boeing Chinook CH-46 and CH-47 aircraft.

US Army awards Phoenix contract for neutron radiography technology: The US Army has awarded Phoenix, a nuclear technology company, to advance its neutron radiography (N-ray) technology development. Under the $10 million contract the company will work towards demonstrating N-ray and X-ray techniques for munitions inspection. The aims is to help maintain and ensure the quality of ammunition, armaments, or components of weapons and defence systems. N-ray is an NDT technique that detects flaws in missile payloads, ejection mechanisms and other critical components without the need to dismantle the product. This provides unique information to the personnel and saves a significant amount of time and resources.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Can Israel Use its F-35s to destroy Iran’s cruise missiles?

Israel has recently been exploring the possibility of using F-35 to defend its territory from Iran’s missiles attacks.

According to F-35 developer Lockheed Martin, The F-35 radar is the most advanced for fighter jets. “It enables the F-35 to be capable of identifying and intercepting airborne threats flying at a low altitude and at high speeds,” Lockheed Martin spokesman said. The F-35’s radar can play a critical role in neutralising Iran and Iranian-backed groups such as Hezbollah missiles threats.

Israel’s F-35s have been operational since 2017 and by 2019, it had received 16 of the 50 it will receive by 2024.

DEFENCE EVENTS AND CONFERENCES

Mobile Deployable Communications (30-31 January 2020 – Warsaw, Poland)

Yesterday’s Edition

Matteo Natalucci

Matteo Natalucci is a geopolitics expert working as an Editor in London covering all aspects of international affairs and technology. Matteo previously worked for the United Nations, the European Commission, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, IHS Markit, and Global Data. Get in touch with the author: matteo.natalucci@internationalinsider.org

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