* With President-elect Donald Trump scheduled to take the White House, the head of NATO has assured allies that it will defend and protect any member that comes under attack unconditionally. Trump had made comments during his campaign that allies who did not pay their fair share on defense could be abandoned. While the rhetoric delighted many at home, it has unnerved the ex-Soviet Baltic states wary of an increasingly aggressive Russia. Speaking at a news conference, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said “NATO’s security guarantees a treaty commitment and all allies have made a solemn commitment to defend each other and this is something which is absolute and unconditioned.”
* A fire that erupted in the weapons bay of a USMC F-35B in late October is being investigated. The Naval Safety Center revealed that two systems were at fault, the Honeywell-made integrated power package (IPP) and a hydraulics system. Sensors onboard the aircraft detected the fire and failures of the IPP and a hydraulics system while the aircraft was flying in the airport’s landing pattern. While the fire is being classed as a Class A mishap, an IPP fire in 2011 on board an F-35A grounded the F-35 test fleet.
* BAE Systems has won a $13.3 million DARPA contract as part of the Adaptive Radar Countermeasures (ARC) program. Research currently being conducted aims to give future US jamming systems the ability to react in real-time to counter unfamiliar radar signals. ARC uses BAE’s cognitive electronic warfare technology, including advanced signal processing and machine learning techniques. Those technologies would allow ARC to identify even those dynamic, virus-like radars across the frequency spectrum and form a countermeasure. Early versions of the technology could become available as a software and firmware upgrade for US fighters after 2018.
Middle East & North Africa
* Israeli navy officials are evaluating fixed-wing extremely short take-off and landing (ESTOL) UAV ideas to eventually deploy on their four new Saar 6 corvettes and existing SAAR 5 missile vessels. The ESTOL UAV will be based on propulsive lift technology that will enable it to take off from a very small platform on the navy ship. A decision will be made on the platform in 2017.
* Vessels on busy shipping lanes between Yemen and Somalia run the renewed risk of piracy and terrorism following two attempted attacks last month. The European Union’s counter-piracy naval force (EUNavFor) confirmed last week six armed men attacked chemical tanker CPO Korea 330 nautical miles east of Somalia on October 22, the first reported attack on a major vessel off the country for two and a half years. Another attack on October 25 saw shots fired on a gas tanker off Yemen, in what some analysts believed to be a potential suicide attack.
* Negotiations between China and Zambia are underway for the provision of additional fighter and other aircraft types. The African nation is currently receiving delivery of six Chinese L-15 fighter-trainers, bought in 2014 at a cost of $100 million. Speaking at the recent Airshow China exhibition, Zambian Air Force commander Erick Chimese said the L-15 had been chosen over competitors like the Yak-130 and M-346 due to its lower operating and acquisition costs.
* Lithuania has received new British-made sniper rifles worth $1.4 million. Manufactured by Accuracy International, the AXMC sniper rifles are the first sniper rifles to be used by the Lithuanian Land Force, who until now, used FN SCAR-H PR semi-automatic precision rifles instead. AXMC sniper rifles double the effective range of the FN’s 1,968 feet allowing for the destruction of targets from 1.5-kilometere (nearly 1 mile) away both during the day and at night.
* An Indonesian Air Force CN-235 has been fitted with Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s SAGE sensor system. The modification program was led by PT Dirgantara Indonesia and US company Integrated Surveillance and Defense with collaboration from Leonardo. Currently in use by South Korean maritime helicopters and to be introduced by Brazil next year, SAGE operates by identifying the location of radio frequency emitters – such as surface-to-air missile fire-control radars – from a single aircraft, enhancing situational awareness.
US and UK test MK18 MOD 2 UUV to detect mines: