* The US, UK, Australia and Canada are establishing [PDF] combined space operations among their armed forces. One concern on the agenda is maintaining operations as satellites are threatened with collisions. It sounds like Five-Eyes (FVEY) is coming back for an encore, with the exception of New Zealand.
* Bloomberg reports that a panel advising the Air Force and Pentagon recommended that they seek a replacement for Russian engines used for space launches.
Russia’s Odd Aviation Plans
* Russia’s brilliant aviation plan: spend huge sums to try expanding share in civil aircraft & helicopters, where market needs intersect with traditional Russian weaknesses. Meanwhile, forecast relative military market decline in a post-American world that will value Russia’s hands-off supplier policies. We don’t really get it, either.
* What comes as less of a surprise – despite instantly obsolete reports of the opposite in various US media – is that Russia and China finalized a mammoth gas contract during talks between presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in Shanghai. The terms are secret, and it seems likely that Beijing took its pound on flesh as it had some pricing leverage. But this, as well as the joint Sea-2014 drill, should put to rest the notion that China was parting ways with Russia following recent events in Ukraine. Kremlin | Gazprom | Reuters.
India’s Acquisition Challenges
* India’s Institute for Defence Study & Analysis (IDSA) has some defense reform proposals for the new Modi government. We applaud the requirements envisioned for the Contract Negotiation Committee and Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). That said, the amount of bureaucratic emphasis in the proposals, versus the lack of focus on concrete outcomes for specific, strategically necessary equipment, helps explain why India keeps finding itself in ridiculous and compromising situations.
* According to the Hindu, India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) intends to hear two governors as witnesses in the ongoing VVIP case. The Law ministry told the CBI they are protected by constitutional immunity. But the real question is whether the outgoing government ever had a case against AgustaWestland in the first place.
Second Tier Cooperation
* The Turkish Navy successfully completed a live-fire exercise in South Africa with help from local firm Denel.
LRU Euro Artillery
* France’s DGA procurement agency greenlighted the lance-roquettes unitaire (LRU) following a successful test late last year, which will lead to deliveries to the 1st Artillery Regiment by the end of the year, in order to comply with the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Lingering Serval; Unraveling Libya
* The French government is lengthening its Serval mission in Mali “by a few weeks”, in light of renewed violence in the country’s north. The operation started in January last year and was originally supposed to be wrapped up within a few months. L’Express [in French].
* Meanwhile US Marines are standing ready in Sicily in case the situation in Libya further degrades to the point where it’s necessary to evacuate American personnel.
* 70 years ago Allied troops finally prevailed at Monte Cassino after months of fighting in Southern Italy’s mountains. This writer’s late grandfather was a lieutenant in the French CEF who fought there alongside American, Polish, and British troops, but sadly there is little on the French Ministry of Defense’s website to commemorate one of WWII’s most brutal battles. Our thanks to the British government for having a more inclusive memory, in the video below: