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  • Synthetic biology raises risk of new bioweapons, US report warns

    21 juin 2018 | International, Sécurité

    Synthetic biology raises risk of new bioweapons, US report warns

    Ian Sample Report warns that swift progress in our ability to manufacture viruses is making us vulnerable to biological attacks The rapid rise of synthetic biology, a futuristic field of science that seeks to master the machinery of life, has raised the risk of a new generation of bioweapons, according a major US report into the state of the art. Advances in the area mean that scientists now have the capability to recreate dangerous viruses from scratch; make harmful bacteria more deadly; and modify common microbes so that they churn out lethal toxins once they enter the body. The three scenarios are picked out as threats of highest concern in a review of the field published on Tuesday by the US National Academy of Sciences at the request of the Department of Defense. The report was commissioned to flag up ways in which the powerful technology might be abused, and to focus minds on how best to prepare. Michael Imperiale, chair of the report committee, and professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan, said the review used only unclassified information and so has no assessment of which groups, if any, might be pursuing novel biological weapons. “We can’t say how likely any of these scenarios are,” he said. “But we can talk about how feasible they are.” In the report, the scientists describe how synthetic biology, which gives researchers precision tools to manipulate living organisms, “enhances and expands” opportunities to create bioweapons. “As the power of the technology increases, that brings a general need to scrutinise where harms could come from,” said Peter Carr, a senior scientist at MIT’s Synthetic Biology Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. More than 20 years ago, Eckard Wimmer, a geneticist at Stony Brook University in New York, highlighted the potential dangers of synthetic biology in dramatic style when he recreated poliovirus in a test tube. Earlier this year, a team at the University of Alberta built an infectious horsepox virus. The virus is a close relative of smallpox, which may have claimed half a billion lives in the 20th century. Today, the genetic code of almost any mammalian virus can be found online and synthesised. “The technology to do this is available now,” said Imperiale. “It requires some expertise, but it’s something that’s relatively easy to do, and that is why it tops the list.” Other fairly simple procedures can be used to tweak the genes of dangerous bacteria and make them resistant to antibiotics, so that people infected with them would be untreatable. A more exotic bioweapon might come in the form of a genetically-altered microbe that colonises the gut and churns out poisons. “While that is technically more difficult, it is a concern because it may not look like anything you normally watch out for in public health,” Imperiale said. The report calls on the US government to rethink how it conducts disease surveillance, so it can better detect novel bioweapons, and to look at ways to bolster defences, for example by finding ways to make and deploy vaccines far more rapidly. For every bioweapon the scientists consider, the report sets out key hurdles that, once cleared, will make the weapons more feasible. One bioweapon that is not considered an immediate threat is a so-called gene drive that spreads through a population, rewriting human DNA as it goes. “It’s important to recognise that it’s easy to come up with a scary-sounding idea, but it’s far more difficult to do something practical with it,” said Carr. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jun/19/urgent-need-to-prepare-for-manmade-virus-attacks-says-us-government-report

  • Here’s what the Czech military wants to buy with its record $4.5B modernization program

    21 juin 2018 | Aérospatial, Terrestre, C4ISR

    Here’s what the Czech military wants to buy with its record $4.5B modernization program

     Jaroslaw Adamowski  WARSAW, Poland — Lt. Gen. Ales Opata, the chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, has unveiled plans by the country to spend 100 billion koruna (U.S. $4.5 billion) on what he called the largest military modernization program in the Czech Republic’s history. By 2027, the Czech military is to acquire 210 infantry fighting vehicles, 50 self-propelled howitzers, 12 multipurpose helicopters, two transport aircraft, and short-range air defense systems and combat drones, among other materiel. The purchases are to allow the Czech Armed Forces to replace a decisive share of its Soviet-designed gear. “Soldiers must feel that the Czech military budget is rising, and that the situation is starting to improve,” Opata said, as quoted in a government statement. The government also plans to acquire new 3-D radars. However, the pending purchase of eight ELM-2084 multimission radars from Israel’s Elta Systems, a subsidiary of IAI, is currently under investigation by the Czech military police. The procedure was initiated on the request of Defence Minister Karla Slechtova amid concern over the equipment’s interoperability with NATO infrastructure. This year, Prague’s defense expenditure is to total 58.9 billion koruna, up 12 percent compared with 2017, according to government figures. https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2018/06/20/heres-what-the-czech-military-wants-to-buy-with-its-record-45b-modernization-program/

  • Brussels May Delay Future Fighter Selection

    21 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Brussels May Delay Future Fighter Selection

    Tony Osborne LONDON—Brussels may delay a decision on its selection of a future fighter to examine proposals from France and options to upgrade its existing F-16 http://aviationweek.com/awindefense/brussels-may-delay-future-fighter-selection

  • How the Army will plan cyber and electronic warfare operations

    21 juin 2018 | International, C4ISR

    How the Army will plan cyber and electronic warfare operations

    Mark Pomerleau   With cyber playing a critical role in conflict going forward, the Army has begun to recognize the need to have organic cyber planners within a brigade’s staff to offer commanders options related to cyber as well as electronic warfare. Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities, or CEMA cells, have been stood up in each brigade acting as planners to provide targeting options and capabilities to get at commander objectives just as an artillery planner would offer the commander choices related to their field for a pending operation. At the tactical level, these two disciplines – cyber and electronic warfare – have become intertwined. “When I talk to Army commanders and staffs, I try to make the point that I want you to worry less about whether it’s a cyber or EW effect,” Lt. Col. Christopher Walls, deputy director for strategy and policy, at the Army’s Cyber Directorate within the G-3/5/7, said at the C4ISRNET Conference in May. For example, Walls said for a river crossing mission, a commander might say he needs to buy a few hours to get a battalion across. The CEMA cell, in turn, would look across the capability sets in its portfolio and come up with a course of action. These cells potentially have the ability to allow the commander to target local internet service providers or local routers and prevent opposing forces from using them. The teams may also have an electronic warfare capability that can jam local area network protocols. Finally, these teams might know where mobile switching centers are by digitally geolocating them allowing physical strikes to take them out, Walls said. “I don’t want the commander to worry about which of those three things, I just want him to talk to me in terms of desired objective and effects and then us, along with the staff, will determine which capability makes sense,” Walls said. “That’s kind of the way we’re thinking about the tactical fight.” The best choice comes down to understanding the commander’s objectives and intent in order to offer the best solution. “What I would do is understand his intent, what effect he wants and what I’ll do is submit that in a formal request and I’ll let the higher echelons determine if they can provide that effect,” Capt. Daniel Oconer, brigade CEMA officer, told C4ISRNET during a recent visit to the National Training Center. “In general, all I really need to know for my planning processes is understand what the maneuver force wants to do,” he added. “How do tanks and Bradleys [move], how are the troops on the ground moving. Then, what is their mission? What is their objective? What is the commander’s intent? Once I understand that I throw some CEMA flavor, so to say, onto it and then enable them to accomplish their mission.” Oconer is currently billeted as a 29 series electronic warfare officer. The Army will begin to transition these individuals into the cyber branch, or 17 series, so they will all eventually be cyber planners in the CEMA cell. “The way that we’re transforming our electronic warfare professionals is they will become cyber operators. They will be the face inside our brigade combat teams and our maneuver formations for cyber operational planning,” Maj. Gen. John Morrison, commander of the Cyber Center of Excellence, said during a May speech. “They’re complimentary. You cannot look at electronic warfare professionals and cyber operators in isolation.” https://www.c4isrnet.com/electronic-warfare/2018/06/20/how-the-army-will-plan-cyber-and-electronic-warfare-operations/

  • Australia seeks industry input on infantry fighting vehicle project

    21 juin 2018 | International, Terrestre

    Australia seeks industry input on infantry fighting vehicle project

    Jon Grevatt Key Points Australian DoD seeks industry advice on tender timeline for Land 400 Phase 3 procurement project Industry feedback intended to support better planning and to reduce the cost of tendering The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) is looking to engage with local industry on the schedule to issue a tender in support of a multi-billion dollar programme to procure close combat capability under Project Land 400 Phase 3. The DoD said on 20 June that it is inviting local companies to review and comment on the timeline for project through which it will replace the Australian Army’s M113AS4 armoured personnel carriers (APCs) with up to 450 modern infantry fighting vehicles and 17 manoeuvre support vehicles. A draft request for tender (RFT) document for the programme has also been issued as part of the engagement. According to the DoD’s 2016 Integrated Investment Program, which identifies defence investments in the decade to 2026, the Land 400 Phase 3 acquisition is worth between AUD10-AUD15 billion (USD7.4-USD11 billion). The DoD issued a request for information (RFI) for the project in November 2015, while government gave ‘first pass’ or preliminary approval for the procurement in March 2018. Commenting on the decision to seek industry’s advice on the tender schedule, Australia’s Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said that it would lead to a better informed tender process and reduce the cost of tendering for local industry. “The proposed tender timeline identifies key milestones in the tender evaluation,” said Pyne. “We welcome industry’s feedback on the timeline to better enable both industry and [the DoD] to plan for this significant boost to capability.” The DoD indicated that the move to seek industry advice on the Land 400 Phase 3 tender timeline was requested by local companies during the programme to acquire more than 200 combat reconnaissance vehicles under Land 400 Phase 2. http://www.janes.com/article/81187/australia-seeks-industry-input-on-infantry-fighting-vehicle-project

  • Pentagone : La Turquie recevra des avions F-35 jeudi

    20 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Pentagone : La Turquie recevra des avions F-35 jeudi

    Le porte-parole du Pentagone, Mike Andrews, a déclaré que la cérémonie d’inauguration se tiendra au Fort de Lockheed au Texas, comme prévu le 21 juin. Les Etats-Unis s’apprêtent à livrer le premier lot de deux avions de chasse F-35 à la Turquie lors d’une cérémonie qui se tiendra jeudi au Texas, malgré l’adoption par le Sénat d’un projet de loi bloquant la livraison, a annoncé mercredi le Pentagone. Dans son communiqué, le porte-parole du Pentagone, Mike Andrews, a annoncé que la cérémonie d’inauguration se déroulerait au Fort Lockheed, au Texas, le 21 juin, en précisant que les deux avions de combat F-35 seraient transférés à Luke Airforce Base, en Arizona où des pilotes turcs devraient recevoir une formation sur le pilotage des jets tout au long de 2019. Au total, 12 pays ont participé au programme de fabrication de F-35. Parmi les neuf pays qui ont participé au développement conjoint de l’avion de combat, tous les États ont déjà commencé à recevoir les avions à réaction F-35 à l’exception de la Turquie, du Canada et du Danemark. Le Sénat américain a adopté lundi dernier un projet de loi sur la politique de défense d’un montant de 716 milliards de dollars, bloquant ainsi la livraison d’avions de combat interarmées F-35 à la Turquie. Le projet de loi affirmait que l’achat du système de missiles S-400 en provenance de Russie augmentait les tensions et les risques pour l’alliance de l’OTAN. Il exige également la libération du pasteur américain Andrew Brunson, qui fait face à des accusations de terrorisme en Turquie. Avant de pouvoir être légiféré, le projet de loi doit être concilié avec celui déjà adopté par la Chambre des représentants. Cette mesure de compromis doit ensuite être adoptée par les deux chambres et signée par Trump. https://www.redaction.media/articles/pentagone-turquie-recevra-avions-f-35-jeudi/

  • Thanks To NATO Infighting, the Future of the F-35 Is Shrinking

    20 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Thanks To NATO Infighting, the Future of the F-35 Is Shrinking

    PATRICK TUCKER The U.S. Senate wants to revoke Turkey’s license to buy the jet, while other European governments are looking to get a competitor off the ground. The most sophisticated fighter jet in the world, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, will play a smaller role in the future of European security than originally conceived. On Monday, the Senate amended its version of the 2019 defense authorization act to block the sale of the fifth-generation fighter jet to Turkey. The reason: the NATO ally’s purchase of the Russian S-400, a radar and missile battery with a lethal range of 250 km. In routine operation, the sensor- and transmitter-packed jet exchanges electronic data with friendly anti-air systems and sensors, and if Turkey were to do this, data collected by the Russian-built weapon might find its way back to Moscow.  The House version of the bill also expresses concerns about the S-400 and Turkey and requires a report 60 days after the bill’s enactment to assess Turkey’s purchase of the system and possible consequences to U.S. aircraft. Turkey inked the S-400 deal last year, over strenuous objections from the U.S. and other NATO-member governments concerned about an ally using Russian air defense systems. “A NATO-interoperable missile defense system remains the best option to defend Turkey from the full range of threats in the region,” Pentagon spokesperson Johnny Michael told CNBC last fall. Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called Monday’s decision“lamentable.” It’s also very inconvenient for Turkey’s political elite, coming just days before Turkish elections. The U.S. military has gotten up close and personal with the S-400 over Syria, where the Russian military has deployed to aid the Assad regime. Its deadly presence reshaped how the U.S.-led coalition flies air ops, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigan told reporters in September. “‘We are consistently monitoring them to see if something changes their intent because we have to manage that and respond quickly…We look at it every day. It’s an everyday discussion to make sure our force can manage that risk.” Strained Atlantic relations aren’t just affecting today’s jet sales and development today, but potentially decisions far off as well. France and Germany have agreed to work together on a sixth-generation fighter, the so-called Future Combat Air System, or FCAS, to begin to replace the Tornado by 2040. The previous chief of the Luftwaffe, Lt. Gen. Karl Müllner, had been in favor of replacing the Tornado with the F-35. Partly for that reason, he was dismissed in May.   Going with the F-35 would “eliminate the need for a next-gen European fighter and possibly cripple Europe’s capacity to develop such a system for years to come,” said  Ulrich Kühn, a German political scientist and senior research associate at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. The move has ramifications far beyond what new jets are sitting on the tarmac in Western Europe in ten years. “Since Germany takes part in NATO nuclear sharing, a new platform would have to be certified by the U.S. to deliver U.S.B61s,” thermonuclear gravity bombs, Kühn pointed out on Twitter. He was responding to an article that ran Sunday in the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. “But [the] new fighter should be nuke capable,” says Kühn.  “Now, German Airbus officials have started asking the Gretchen Question: what nukes shall the FCAS carry? U.S. or French ones?” Kühn argues that the question of how to develop the FCAS as a nuclear capable jet will be one of the most important decisions that Germany will take in the next few years and could have ramifications for the future of the nuclear umbrella over Europe. What was supposed to be a unified, highly interoperable American weapons web could become more fractured, less under American control. “The decision about the FCAS as a nuclear platform will have wide-ranging repercussions on Germany, the EU and NATO,” he says. The U.S. military has been pushing allies to buy the F-35 not just to expand America’s weapons reach but because the jet is a flying intelligence fusion cell as much a bomb-dropper. One of its core selling features is its  ability to transmit rich targeting intelligence to nearby drones or faraway jets or even Aegis warships rigged for missile defense miles away. That interoperability is key to the Pentagon’s vision of future wars. As alliances with Western partners fray, those plans may need revision. https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2018/06/thanks-nato-infighting-future-f-35-shrinking/149136/

  • US Army test-fires Belgian-made gun amid plans for Stryker upgrade competition

    20 juin 2018 | International, Terrestre

    US Army test-fires Belgian-made gun amid plans for Stryker upgrade competition

    Pierre Tran  PARIS ― The U.S. Army’s test-firing of a 30mm gun turret from CMI Defence is seen by the Belgian firm as putting it in a privileged position for an upcoming tender for greater firepower for the Stryker combat vehicle, a company spokesman said. “We’re in pole position, “ Xavier Rigo, communications manager of CMI Defence, told Defense News on June 18. “That does not mean we will win the race, but it puts us in a very good position. We are very proud to have been selected for tests, a real recognition for our team and our equipment.” That test-firing stems from a cooperative research and development agreement CMI signed in 2015 with the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, which is seeking a lethality upgrade for the Stryker. CMI adapted the turret to fit the U.S. requirement for linkless ammunition, he said. ATK supplies the 30mm gun, which CMI fitted to its turret. The Belgian company also supplies a 105mm gun turret for a bid led by SAIC in the U.S. tender for the Mobile Protected Firepower program. CMI has fielded its Cockerill 3105 turret, which uses its turret and 105mm cannon, with the latter built in a factory in northern France. A Cockerill 3105 turret was among the products on display at the CMI stand at the Eurosatory trade show, which ran June 11-15. The stand at the show two years ago used the Cockerill brand name. BAE Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems and SAIC are the competitors in that Mobile Protected Firepower competition, Rigo said. The next step is a down-select to two bidders, which will be asked to build and supply 12 prototype vehicles for tests. In Europe, CMI is ”in discussion with the Belgian government“ in its search for a role in Belgium’s planned €1 billion (U.S. $1.2 billion) acquisition of the Griffon and Jaguar armored vehicles from the French Army Scorpion program. Those talks are exploring the possibility for CMI to participate in local production and maintenance of the Scorpion vehicles, he said. The Belgian project, dubbed Capacité Mobilisé, or CAMO, sparked debate, as the planned acquisition boosted French contractors Arquus, Nexter and Thales, but left CMI turrets by the wayside. CMI has delivered 130 gun turrets and is building some 20 turrets per month to supply GDLS, which has a contract with a Middle Eastern country, he said, declining to identify the client nation. Those turrets are based on four modules, armed with 30mm, 90 mm, 105 mm, and both 105mm and 30mm guns. There are both manned and unmanned versions of the turret. Canadian broadcaster CBC reported March 19 that GLDS Canada has sold to Saudi Arabia combat vehicles armed with 105mm and 30mm guns for ”heavy assault,” anti-tank and direct-fire support. CMI conducted a firing demonstration of its six Cockerill gun turrets June 15 at the French Army Suippes firing range, eastern France. Some 60 representatives of foreign army delegations attended, the company said in a statement. The Belgian company had been one of the bidders for Arquus, the then-Governmental Sales unit of Volvo Group, until the Swedish truck maker canceled the sale. Nexter had been the other bidder. https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/eurosatory/2018/06/19/us-army-test-fires-belgian-made-gun-amid-plans-for-stryker-upgrade-competition/

  • France, Germany kick off race for ‘quantum leaps’ in aircraft and tank tech

    20 juin 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Terrestre

    France, Germany kick off race for ‘quantum leaps’ in aircraft and tank tech

    Sebastian Sprenger  COLOGNE, Germany ― The defense ministers of Germany and France have inked new agreements for the joint development of a new combat aircraft and a next-generation tank, key programs that could shape the European defense landscape for decades to come. Ursula von der Leyen and Florence Parly signed the letters of intent on the sidelines of a bilateral Cabinet meeting in Berlin on Tuesday. The documents are meant to provide the necessary guidance to set up a program of record for the Future Combat Air System and the Main Ground Combat System. A defense spokesman in Berlin told Defense News the agreement calls for the examination of potential management structures, for example through OCCAR, a European collective for joint weapons acquisition and management. The core members of OCCAR include France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and Belgium, though other nations can partake in individual projects. By: Sebastian Sprenger According to a German Defence Ministry statement, the signed documents establish the two governments’ “left and right boundaries” for the programs. “Industry is now requested to fill the space,” the statement reads. “Both projects ... stand for technological quantum leaps that shall be approached together while integrating the strengths of each nation’s industries.” Led by France, the Future Combat Air System aims to replace the Eurofighter Typhoon in Germany and the Rafale aircraft in France. The Main Ground Combat System, helmed by Berlin, will succeed the German Leopard 2 tanks ― used widely in Europe and beyond ― and the French Leclerc. The new aircraft are envisioned to hit the skies by 2040, while the the new tanks are pegged to roll in the mid-2030s. Connected to the tank effort is also an artillery replacement plan, named Common Indirect Fire System. While both projects initially are exclusively German and French, partner countries will have an opportunity to join once a “strong foundation” is established by the two lead nations, the German Defence Ministry said. KNDS, a joint venture by German tank-maker Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and France’s Nexter, unveiled a European Main Battle Tank as an interim step toward the future tank program at the Eurosatory defense trade show in Paris last week. The next-generation combat aircraft project, which officials said will include a sizable unmanned component, is slated to enter a concept-study phase by the end of the year, according to the German ministry. Both efforts are still some time away from formulating concrete military requirements, to which companies eventually can tailor their offers. That cooperation process is expected to be thornier than the agreement on political pronouncements so far that paint Germany and France as the motor of Europe’s new defense ambitions. Absent from Tuesday’s joint statement was any mention of cooperative work on a new air-to-ground missile and modernization of the Tiger attack helicopter to a Mark 3 version. The two ministers had announced at the ILA Berlin air show in April that the two countries would cooperate on the airborne weapon and the midlife upgrade of the combat helicopter. A common weapon for both French and German Tiger helicopters would cut down integration costs for the missiles. https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2018/06/19/france-germany-kick-off-race-for-quantum-leaps-in-aircraft-and-tank-tech/

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