Posts Tagged ‘drones’

Australia To Use U.S. Drones to Watch South China Sea — Angering China

June 30, 2018

AUSTRALIA will invest nearly £4billion in surveillance drones to patrol and spy on the activity in surrounding waters and specifically the disputed South China Sea, in a bid to increase its maritime security.


Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he will spend £3.875 billion (AU$6.9 billion) on long-range surveillance drones.

The government’s plans are set to cost Australia more than double the original estimated price.

The decision to spend over £3.8billion is aimed at enhancing Australia’s “anti-submarine warfare and maritime strike capability”.

Along with protection and making the “region more secure”.

The multibillion-dollar military investment was announced on Tuesday, with Canberra declaring they will buy six Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircrafts from the US Navy.

Australian Minister for the Defence Industry Christopher Pyne backed the investment, even though it is now costing the Australian taxpayer more than double the estimated amount which was first released in 2016.

Mr Pyne told MPs: “One of the most important things we do as a nation as part of the Five Eyes is the reconnaissance and surveillance of the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, South East Asia and of course to Antarctica.”

The Australian Minister also told Sky News the operational area of the drones will cover the South China Sea.

He added Australia insists on its rights for free movement in the region.

China has continued to reject the claims as Beijing considers the waters of the South China Sea its national territory.

Mr Pyne added: “Australia’s responsible for about 10 percent of the world’s surface into the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, down to Antarctica up into the South China Sea.”

In addition to spying over the South China Sea, the drones will also be used to monitor vessels in Australian waters, including other countries’ naval vessels, watch out for illegal fishing activity. and people smuggling.

The Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton has the same wingspan as a Boeing 737 and can remain airborne for over 30 hours a time.

This will enable the aircraft enough time to monitor an area of around 40,000 square kilometres.

The Sydney Morning Herald said: “The aircraft will easily be able to complete a lap of the South China Sea after taking off from the Northern Territory.”

The Australian government expects to see the aircraft in service by 2023.

While the full fleet is hoped to be in use by the end of 2025.

The six Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton’s are set to join the Australian Air Force’s existing fleet of P-8A Poseidon aircrafts.

Australian Minister for the Defence Industry Christopher Pyne backed the investmentYOUTUBE

Australian Minister for the Defence Industry Christopher Pyne backed the investment

A government statement said the new aircrafts will “undertake a range of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks.”

China’s claims over the region are challenged by several other countries, including Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

However, earlier this week China’s leader Xi Jinping said: “We cannot lose even one inch of the territory left behind by our ancestors.

“What is other people’s we do not want at all.”

The US, which Australia views as its “most important defence” ally, is adamant about the freedom of navigation in the area and often orders its warships to sail through the disputed waters.


German army expected to lease arms-capable Israeli drones

June 14, 2018

Germany’s army is set to fly arms-capable Heron drones for the first time in history, after a parliamentary committee approved leasing the aircraft from Israel. The project would cost Germany over $1 billion.

Heron TP drone (Getty Images/D. Silverman)

Lawmakers in the Bundestag’s budget committee backed leasing a fleet of Israeli-made Heron-TP drones on Wednesday, allowing the German army to operate drones capable of carrying missiles for the first time.

The controversial decision marks “an important signal” to the German army, said Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who has been pushing for the step since early 2016.

The German army already flies its own small drones, as well as Israel’s middle-sized Heron 1 surveillance aircraft in countries such as Mali and Afghanistan. With a wingspan of 16.6 meters (54 feet 5 inches), however, Heron 1 is too small to be equipped with weapons.

Read more: Why is Germany leasing armed drones?

Netanyahu rejoices

On Wednesday, the committee earmarked €895 million ($1.05 billion) to lease the more advanced Heron-TP model, which boasts a wingspan of 26 meters and can be used as an attack aircraft. The drones will be leased from Israel Aerospace Industries.

Heron TP in flight south of Tel Aviv (Getty Images/AFP/J. Nackstrand)Heron TP is capable of 36 hours of continuous flight and can reach an altitude pf 12,500 meters (41,000 feet)

Defense Minister Von der Leyen said the Heron-TP could deliver images with better video resolution and fly longer distances, therefore offering better protection to German soldiers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the decision. “This enormous deal is emblematic of the strategic partnership between Germany and Israel,” he wrote on Twitter. “And it is proof of what Israel’s industry can produce for countries such as Germany.”

‘Farce’ or serious debate on arming drones

Many German voters vehemently oppose the extrajudicial drone killings conducted by the armies of their allies such as the US, and the German government is wary of this strong criticism.

For this reason, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) opposed the initiative to lease arms-capable drones during last year’s election campaign. Eventually, the SPD, in the agreement made with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats to form a grand coalition government, agreed to the move on the condition that actually putting weapons on drones was not part of the deal. This step would need to be approved after a comprehensive evaluation.

Read more: What Germany’s first armed drones could do

However, opposition lawmakers decried this as a “farce”, noting that the plan already has €50 million earmarked for weaponizing drones.

“The big promised debate about the arming of the drones is a farce given what’s already included in this contract,” said Greens lawmaker Tobias Lindner, a member of the budget committee.

The Israeli-made drones serve as a stop-gap measure before a European-based system is introduced in mid-2020s.

dj/se (Reuters, dpa)

India: Indigenous technology prototype ready to kill drones

June 7, 2018

A working prototype of India’s first indigenous technology to search, track and kill enemy drones is ready in Bengaluru.

With an ever-increasing threat perception — in 2015, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) issued alerts of drone attacks in Delhi and in 2016, the IAF Southern Command had reports of drone and other types of attacks by aerial vehicles — drone attacks cannot be ruled out.

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Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), which has the prototype, is now in talks with user agencies for demonstrations even though no request for proposal (RFP) or request for interest (RFI) has been floated.

At Kalghatgi, former BEL director (R&D), who retired last week, told TOI that BEL has approached user agencies and the first field demo could happen within two months.

While the first potential users of this ground-based system that can be deployed at airstrips, border areas and hilly regions could be the armed forces, it could also be deployed in airports and strategic places like the Parliament. The portable prototype uses a radar, and electro-optical and electromagnetic sensors. “Since it’s a prototype, we developed a low-range product that works in the range of 3-5km. But we can change the radar and increase the range depending on user requirements,” Kalghatgi said.

While it can search and track drones, killing or disabling them is a challenge. Bringing down a drone using fire power isn’t an option as it can be launched even in cities or densely populated areas.

Kalghatgi says: “We have a soft-kill prototype ready and BEL is working closely with Defence Research & Development Organisation on the hard-kill option.”

The soft-kill option has a jammer that can interfere with the drone’s electronics and radio frequency. As these are piloted remotely, they rely on signals from the pilot and jamming prevents her from communicating with the drone. “Our technology can disable a drone in the range of 50 metre to 3km. This can be enhanced based on user needs,” he said. The hard-kill option uses lasers. The DRDO has a classified programme focused on developing laser-based weapons and this is part of it.

K Ramachandra of the National Mission for Micro Air Vehicles (MAV), who is among the scientists working on similar technology since November 2016, said: “This is a great leap. So far we have Israeli and US technologies but BEL’s achievement is good. We’ll try and leverage it.”


Israel pounds Gaza in another round of retaliatory strikes

May 30, 2018

Israel said Wednesday it had struck 25 more Hamas “military targets” in air raids in the Gaza Strip overnight in response to rocket and mortar fire, part of the worst military flare-up since a 2014 war.

Targets included drone sheds, a rocket-making workshop and “military compounds,” a military statement said.



Footage of air strikes that were carried out last night

Israel had said Tuesday it hit more than 35 militant targets in the Palestinian enclave after a barrage of rocket and mortar fire from Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, and Islamic Jihad.

It said late Tuesday about 70 rockets and mortars had been fired at Israel throughout the day. A number of them were intercepted by air defence systems.

Three Israeli soldiers were wounded. There were no immediate reports of casualties in Gaza.

Sirens and explosions continued into the night after Tuesday’s eruption.

© Thomas Coex, AFP |Smoke billows from the Gaza City skyline after an Israeli air strike on May 29, 2018.

Late Tuesday, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad said a ceasefire agreement had been reached to restore calm, though the Israeli army declined to comment.

In a rare joint statement, Hamas and Islamic Jihad declared shared responsibility for the rocket and mortar fire, saying it was in retaliation for Israeli attacks targeting their positions.

The exchange of fire comes after weeks of deadly protests and clashes along the Gaza-Israel border. Three members of Islamic Jihad were killed in an Israeli strike on Sunday.

Violence has soared along the Gaza frontier in recent weeks during which 116 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire at mass demonstrations calling for Palestinians’ right to return to ancestral lands now in Israel.

A Hamas spokesman defended Tuesday’s attacks as a “natural response to Israeli crimes”. An Islamic Jihad spokesman said “the blood of our people is not cheap”.

Amid international condemnation for its use of lethal force at the mass demonstrations that began on March 30, Israel said many of the dead were militants and that the army was repelling attacks on the border fence. Palestinians and their supporters say most of the protesters were unarmed civilians and Israel was using excessive force against them.

Organisers of the Palestinian border protests launched a boat from Gaza on Tuesday in a challenge to Israel’s maritime blockade of the enclave.

“I want to make a future for myself, I want to live,” said Ehab Abu Armana, 28, before he and 14 other protesters boarded the boat. The Israeli military said it would not allow the vessel to break the blockade, but hours after it set off gave no details about whether it had been intercepted.

More than two million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal enclave. Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but, citing security concerns, maintains tight control of its land and sea borders, which has reduced its economy to a state of collapse.

Egypt also restricts movement in and out of Gaza on its border.

(FRANCE 24 wtih AFP and REUTERS)

Explosives-laden drone from Gaza discovered in Israel

May 28, 2018

UAV found last week in northern Negev was designed to injure security forces patrolling border, army says

Times of israel
May 28, 2018
Illustrative: A drone belonging to the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, flies over Gaza City on December 14, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/MAHMUD HAMS)

Illustrative: A drone belonging to the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, flies over Gaza City on December 14, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/MAHMUD HAMS)

The IDF announced Sunday that an explosives-laden drone flown over the border from the Gaza Strip was discovered in Israeli territory last week.

The army said the drone was found in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, in the northern Negev, “several days ago,” and that it was flown over the border from Gaza with the intention to injure Israeli soldiers patrolling the area.

The army said the drone was recovered whole, and an investigation into the incident had been opened.

The announcement came hours after after the IDF discovered an improvised explosive device placed along the Gaza security fence. The army said the IED targeting IDF troops was disguised to look like a set of bolt cutters.

In response to that discovery, Israel fired on an Islamic Jihad position in the southern Gaza Strip, killing three people. A spokesperson for the Iran-backed terrorist group confirmed the men were members of its military arm.

In February, four Israeli soldiers were injured by an IED that was made to look like a flagstaff, which was fixed to the security fence. When the soldiers tried to take down the object, it was detonated.

Sunday morning’s exchange was the latest in a series of cross-border incidents over the weekend.

Late Saturday night, Israeli aircraft carried out a series of strikes against Hamas positions in the southern Gaza Strip late Saturday night, in response to a border breach earlier in the day, the army said.

Palestinian media reported that the airstrikes hit a number of Hamas positions in the areas of Rafah and Khan Younis. The Gazan health ministry said it had not received any reports of injuries.

As a matter of policy, the Israeli army considers Hamas, which rules Gaza, to be responsible for any attack emanating from the beleaguered coastal enclave.

On Saturday morning, IDF soldiers spotted four Palestinians who crossed the security fence into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip.

According to the army, the four threw a firebomb, and left a tent inside Israel with the message: “March of Return: Returning to the lands of Palestine.”

An improvised explosive device, disguised to look like a set of bolt cutters, found at the Gaza security fence on May 27, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The soldiers arrived at the scene moments later and opened fire at the individuals, who in turn fled back to the Palestinian side of the fence. No injuries were reported in the Saturday morning incident.

The infiltration was one of numerous attempts over the weekend to breach and damage the border fence, the IDF said.

Dozens of burning kites were flown from Gaza across the border over the weekend, sparking several fires in Israeli fields, Hadashot TV news reported Saturday night. In the past month, 300 “attack” kites have been flown across the border, the report said, setting off 100 fires.

Since March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians have taken part in weekly protests which Israel says are orchestrated by Hamas and used as cover for attempted terror attacks and breaches of the border fence.

The violent demonstrations were meant to end on May 15, but Hamas leaders have said they want them to continue. Over 10,000 Gazans took part in the demonstrations in the course of Friday and Saturday, the army said.

Palestinians burn tires along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Khan Younis, on May 25, 2018. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

The demonstrations came to a head on May 14 when the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem and at least 60 Palestinians were killed in clashes — almost all of them Hamas members, the terror group has acknowledged.

On Friday, strong winds hampered efforts to control fires which broke out at three points near Kibbutz Kissufim along the Gaza border, after incendiary kites were flown into Israel from the Palestinian coastal enclave.

Military planners have begun implementing new measures to combat the assaults, including lethal options drawn from the IDF’s responses to rocket launches and other terror attacks.


Germany struggles to find ways of spending extra cash on defence

May 18, 2018

Doubts emerge over how quickly military can absorb extra money

Image may contain: 8 people

Staff shortages, inefficiencies and administrative bottlenecks mean that the German defence ministry already struggles to spend its current procurement budget in full © FT montage; Getty Images

Tobias Buck in Berlin

The German government is facing growing pressure both at home and abroad to spend more money on its armed forces. In Berlin, however, officials and analysts have started to debate an altogether different question: if the money is found, can it actually be put to use?

Four years ago, Angela Merkel, the chancellor, signed up to a new Nato target committing member countries to spending 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence. The call to raise military spending has now gained additional urgency, amid a flurry of alarmist reports on gaps in staffing and equipment at the Bundeswehr, or German army. The government responded this week with a promise to raise Germany’s military budget from 1.2 per cent of GDP last year to 1.5 per cent in 2025.

The increase would mean billions of additional euros to buy tanks, drones and aeroplanes, and to hire and train thousands of extra soldiers and civilian staff. But the new target would still leave Germany far off the 2 per cent mark, and well below spending levels in the US, Britain, France and most other western countries.

Neither Ms Merkel nor the defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, have so far dared to call into question the Nato commitment. But defence experts warn that Germany’s over-stretched armed forces will find it hard to absorb even the modest increases promised now. Raising defence expenditure to 2 per cent of GDP, meanwhile, is widely seen as unrealistic, even if the political will was there to open the taps.

“Germany spent €37bn on defence last year. If we wanted to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence by 2024 that would mean almost doubling the budget to around €72bn,” said Hans-Peter Bartels, the armed forces commissioner of the German parliament. “We cannot just double the size of the Bundeswehr. How is this going to work?”

Marcel Dickow, a defence expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, makes a similar point: “The Bundeswehr cannot spend that kind of money. It does not have the procedures in place, and it wouldn’t even know what to spend it on.”

With much of the defence budget fixed (more than 20 per cent is spent on rents and pensions alone) the important variable is the portion set aside to buy weapons and equipment. Yet staff shortages, inefficiencies and administrative bottlenecks mean that the defence ministry already struggles to spend its procurement budget in full. Last year, for example, it was supposed to buy arms and equipment worth €5.9bn. In the end, some €600m went unspent — despite glaring holes and shortfalls across the entire military.

Part of the problem lies with Germany’s defence procurement office in Koblenz, a notoriously slow-moving and understaffed body known by its unwieldy acronym BAAINBw. On paper the office has a staff of 6,500, but 1,100 of those posts are unfilled, putting a brake on procedures and programmes. A deeper concern, say critics, is the BAAINBw’s over-bureaucratic approach towards buying defence goods. It issues highly detailed specifications even for simple products such as garments for soldiers. For more complex equipment, the list of official requirements can run to thousands of pages.

“The result is that we are not in a position to defend ourselves properly because the things we need urgently we simply cannot acquire urgently,” said Christian Mölling, a defence expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Twenty-five years of budget cuts have left their mark on German defence suppliers, argued Mr Mölling. “Manufacturing sites have been closed, and many producers have shifted towards a just-in-time model. That means that in some areas, the supply chain for spare parts has broken down. With some military aircraft, for example, spare parts are simply no longer being produced.” He added: “There are things that you cannot simply fix with more money.”

The situation has grown so dire that several crucial weapons systems are barely usable. According to the latest assessment by Mr Bartel’s office, only 95 out of 255 Leopard II tanks were in service last year. Such shortfalls, moreover, often have a direct impact on the Bundeswehr’s ability to recruit and maintain staff. “Planes are grounded so pilots don’t get enough flying hours, which makes their job less attractive and they leave. But it also makes it harder to train new pilots. Everything is connected with everything,” said Mr Bartels.

For much the same reason, defence experts see little point in pushing for a quick spending spree. In many cases, the Bundeswehr does not even have the technical staff to validate and certify new equipment for use.

“The easiest thing would be to just buy lots of new equipment, but in the end it all comes down to personnel. For every new A400M [transport aircraft] you need to hire and train a lot of new people. You can’t do that overnight. These are processes that take 15 or 20 years,” said Mr Dickow. At a time when Germany is close to full employment, moreover, the Bundeswehr is finding it increasingly difficult to attract the soldiers and workers it needs.

Analysts and officials agree that a German defence budget worth 2 per cent of GDP will remain little more than a lofty ambition for years to come. But a gradual increase towards 1.5 per cent as proposed by Ms von der Leyen strikes most of them as both realistic and desirable. “You don’t have to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence to meet the tasks the Bundeswehr has set itself,” said Mr Mölling. “But we do have to spend a lot more than we do now — so let’s start doing it.”

China Rapidly Building Advanced Arms for Use Against U.S.

May 12, 2018

Space weapons, drones using artificial intelligence priority in Beijing military buildup

China Holds Military Parade To Commemorate End Of World War II In Asia

Getty Images


China is rapidly building space weapons and other advanced arms infused with artificial intelligence capabilities as part of Beijing’s bid for military dominance, according to a congressionally sponsored study.

Anti-satellite missiles and orbiting killer satellites, swarms of attack drones, hypersonic missiles, maneuvering warheads, lasers, and high-speed rail guns are key systems China is fielding in the coming years in a bid to leap ahead of the U.S. military supremacy.

“All of China’s advanced weapons systems are moving forward at ‘full speed’ and are all seen as ‘priorities given [China’s] overarching emphasis on finding a vulnerability in the U.S. armor,'” the report warns, quoting a 2013 Chinese military strategy.

The advanced weapons are part of a shift in Beijing’s military focus from deploying high-technology “informatized” weapons to “intelligentized” arms—revolutionary capabilities boosted by artificial intelligence and machine learning, the report said.

The study examined five advanced arms being developed by China: space weapons, unmanned vehicles, maneuverable missile warheads, directed energy weapons, and electromagnetic railguns.

“Past history and existing potential point fairly clearly to the likelihood that these systems will become a feature of the strategic landscape in a decade. Or less,” states the report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

The report was produced by five analysts for the defense contractor Jane’s IHS Markit and made public Thursday.

Publication of the congressional report comes as the Trump administration has undertaken a strategic shift that recognizes China as one of the major nation state threats facing the United States.

The advanced weapons systems will destabilize the Asia-Pacific region by upsetting alliances as China seeks to control the area and will increase the danger of regional conflicts.

The report also concludes the United States is falling behind China in the development of advanced weapons and will have to hurry to avoid being overtaken.

“The United States has a small window, only a decade at most, to develop new capabilities and concepts for countering China’s advanced weapons programs,” the report said.

According to the report, China’s space warfare efforts are currently the highest priority. China has demonstrated all components of its weaponry. They include direct ascent anti-satellite missiles, lasers, and high-powered microwave guns and other beam weapons, weaponized orbiting satellites, and cyber anti-satellite capabilities.

Other Chinese space warfare support systems include a hyper-spectral imaging satellite designed to detect stealth aircraft and a quantum satellite for secure communications.

The strategic competition between China and the United States, from Beijing’s view, is designed to counter what China perceives as regional efforts to “contain” Chinese hegemony, the report said.

“China views its role as capitalizing on the opportunities presented by globalization and the informatization of society to propel itself forward economically, socially, and technologically,” the report said.

A key capability the Chinese military is pursuing is artificial intelligence—the fusing of masses of data with high-speed computing to produce weapons capable of reacting very quickly without human intervention.

“Artificial intelligence stands out as an especially powerful catalyst of the development of ‘gamechanging’ military capabilities,” the report said. “China recognizes that AI will transform warfare.”

AI weapons will greatly help intelligence operators to know the strategic and operational environment, spot patterns and imminent threats, and track enemies very rapidly.

Pilots and vehicle drivers also will be relieved by AI systems in mundane tasks of interpreting data streams allowing greater focus on missions of flying or driving.

“Drone swarms, autonomous (or semi-autonomous) munitions and cognitive electronic warfare systems all pose new challenges to even the most technologically advanced militaries,” the report said.

China’s development of quantum computing and encryption also will hamper military intelligence collection, a key advantage of the U.S. military.

Quantum computing involves the use of emerging technology known as quantum bits that operate differently than digital electronics based on electronic transistors.

Quantum computers are expected to be extremely powerful and will assist in the use of AI for both military and civilian purposes.

Chinese advanced manufacturing and materials, robotics, and cloud computing also “are improving China’s military capabilities as well as the proficiency of China’s industry to design and build more advanced capabilities,” the report said.

Among the potent asymmetric weapons China is expected to deploy in the future are large numbers of AI-managed swarm or cluster deployments of unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles and hypersonic glide vehicles.

Hypersonic vehicles are launched atop ballistic missiles or from aircraft and travel at speeds of 7,000 miles per hour or greater, making them difficult to counter with air or missile defenses.

China’s drone weapons are progressing quickly and its defense industry is shifting from copying western drones to developing indigenous systems. Air, land and underwater drones are being developed.

Its maneuverable strategic arms include warheads capable of changing course to avoid defenses and a hypersonic glide vehicle that has been tested seven times since 2014.

Directed energy arms are primarily for use against satellites, and development of Chinese electromagnetic rail guns has progressed slower than other advanced arms.

The study urges the United States to fortify a “quadrilateral” alliance in Asia to counter China, with key allies Japan, Australia, and India.

“The appropriate response must gather these overlapping interests and bundle them to American and allied advantage, notably via deliberate plans to understand and counter China’s destabilizing moves,” the report said.

“China does not stand ten feet tall. It remains vulnerable to internal stresses and discord. Adversaries can play on China’s anxieties and phobias.”

Utilizing limitation agreements and playing on Russian fears of China also should be exploited by the United States.

For example, because China’s hypersonic missiles are destabilizing strategic weapons that will be deployed in the not too distant future, the study urges the Pentagon to build hypersonic weapons.

“Given the progress in China’s hypersonic research, and an expectation of future production and deployment by late in the next decade, the United States and its technologically competent defense partners, have little choice but to regain superiority in hypersonic glide vehicle capability,” the report said.

Countering hypersonic missiles also should be stepped up, including the use of electro-magnetic rail guns that fired non-explosive projectiles at high speeds and more advanced missile defenses.

The study recommended improving U.S. intelligence capabilities by gaging China’s comparative strengths and vulnerabilities with that of the United States to create strategies to maintain U.S. military superiority.

The report makes several references to an authoritative 2013 Chinese military report called “The Science of Military Strategy.”

The strategy says the threat of a large-scale ground invasion is minimal but that the major threat will be an attack from the Pacific.

“The most severe war threat is a large-scale strategic sudden attack launched by a strong adversary, which aims at destroying our war potential to force us to surrender,” the strategy says. “The most probable war threat is a limited military conflict from the sea. The war we need to prepare for, particularly given the background of nuclear deterrence, is a large-scale and highly intensive local war from the sea.”

China is stepping up efforts to steal or buy foreign technologies related to artificial intelligence and big data analytics.

Other targets include the Internet of Things, virtual reality and augmented reality, smart sensors, 3D and 4D printing, robotics and unmanned systems, smart materials, quantum computing and encryption, semiconductors and energy capture, and storage technologies.

Hamas Engineer ‘Negotiated Arms Deals With North Korea, Assassinated by Mossad’ in Malaysia

April 26, 2018

Report in The New York Times cites intelligence officials saying Palestinian Fadi al-Batsh was killed in Malaysia as part of Mossad attempt to stop Hamas operations overseas, reveals ties to North Korea

A kid holds a poster of Palestinian Fadi al-Batsh portrait at a mosque in Selayang, on the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 25, 2018.
A kid holds a poster of  Palestinian Fadi al-Batsh  portrait at a mosque in Selayang, on the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 25, 2018. Sadiq Asyraf/AP

Fadi al-Batsh, the Hamas engineer gunned down in Malaysia last week, was reportedly involved in talks with North Korea on arms intended for Gaza, The New York Times reported Thursday.

According to the report, Batsh was killed as part of an alleged operation by Israel’s Mossad spy agency to take out Hamas scientists and engineers training abroad to gather “know-how and weaponry to fight Israel.

“That claim has been confirmed by Middle Eastern intelligence officials,” The New York Times reported, claiming the “broader operation” was ordered by the Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen.

Regarding North Korea, the joint report, by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman and Hannah Beech, the paper’s Southeast Asia reporter, claimed that “Western and Middle Eastern intelligence officials said that Batsh may have been involved in negotiating North Korean arms deals through Malaysia.”

Mossad has also been particularly interested in Hamas’s progress in unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles, officials told The Times, which could be used to attack Israeli targets more effectively than Hamas’s rockets used during its last wars with Israel.

>> From Malaysia to Tunisia: Troubles in Gaza are pushing Hamas to overseas operations <<

Batsh, who co-wrote a 2013 paper on drone applications, was sent to Malaysia to research and acquire weapon systems and drones for Hamas, the intelligence officials told The Times.

The report said that Egypt recently captured a shipment of “communications components used for guided munitions destined for Gaza” from North Korea. It was also reported that according to an intelligence official, Batsh was involved in negotiating that deal.

The Times also cited a UN report claiming that Pyongyang had set up a shell company to circumnavigate sanctions and conduct sales of “military-grade communication systems” through Kuala Lumpur.

This image released by Royal Malaysia Police shows a suspect in the killing of a Hamas engineer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 25, 2018.
This image released by Royal Malaysia Police shows a suspect in the killing of a Hamas engineer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 25, 2018./AP

The two men suspected of killing Batsh in Kuala Lumpur were still in the country, Malaysian police said on Wednesday, as theyreleased a fresh image of one of the men. Hamas have accused Mossad of assassinating Batsh, who they say was a member of their group.

Two men on a high-powered motorcycle fired at least 14 shots at Batsh, an engineering lecturer, outside his apartment building on Saturday, killing him on the spot.

A Kawasaki motorcycle was found abandoned near a lake about nine minutes from the scene, from which police were able to trace a photo of one of the suspects, Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun told reporters.

The suspects were believed to have entered Malaysia sometime in late January, but it was not known what nationalities they were or where they had traveled from, said Mohamad Fuzi.

“We believe the suspects are still in the country,” he said.

>> From Malaysia to Tunisia: Troubles in Gaza Are Pushing Hamas to Overseas Operations >>

Authorities had originally released computer-generated photographs of the suspects, who witnesses described as well-built and light-skinned, possibly Middle Eastern or European.

A new photo of one of the suspects shows a light-skinned man with dark, wavy hair and a prominent goatee.

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Saturday the suspects were believed to be Europeans with links to a foreign intelligence agency.

Speaking on Israeli radio on Sunday, Defense Ministry Avigdor Lieberman said of the allegations: “We heard about this on the news. There’s a tradition at this point among terrorist organizations of blaming Israel for every settling of accounts.”

Mohamad Fuzi said the killing appeared “very professionally done”, but declined to comment on reports it was a Mossad operation or that it was carried out by trained assassins.

Batsh was a lecturer at Universiti Kuala Lumpur, specializing in power engineering, according to the university. According to the Hamas affiliated news agency SPA, Batsh also involved with Islamic organizations, including MyCARE.

His funeral ceremony is currently taking place in Selayang, on the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur. Batsh’s body will be returned to Gaza via Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Cairo, Egypt on Wednesday evening, after the funeral procession in Kuala Lumpur, Palestine’s ambassador to Malaysia, Anwar Al Agha, told Reuters.

Mossad has been accused of several high-profile killings involving Palestinians around the world, although Israel has consistently denied the accusations.

Numbered markers are seen on a bullet-riddled wall at the scene where Palestinian scientist Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh was gunned down April 21 in what his family claim was an assassination by Israel's Mossad spy agency, in Kuala Lumpur on April 22, 2018.
Numbered markers are seen on a bullet-riddled wall at the scene where Palestinian scientist Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh was gunned down April 21 in what his family claim was an assassination by IsraelMOHD RASFAN/AFP

Germany May Consider Defense Spending Increase — Many have called Germany’s military spending “scandalously low”

April 24, 2018

German military spending falls far short of the 2 percent of national GDP targeted by NATO — So Germany’s under-equipped military, the Bundeswehr, wants to spend hundreds of millions on new weapons. Some of the money will go toward leasing drones from Israel, but first the government needs a new budget.

Heron TP drone (U.S. Army/J. Ruiz)

Amidst criticism that the Germany’s military hardware is fast becoming obsolete, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen will ask the government for a massive cash injection to update its equipment.

According to a list obtained by two German newspapers, von der Leyen is requesting 450 million euros ($553 million) for 18 separate items. A defense ministry spokesman said the Bundeswehr would present its procurement requests to the Bundestag “soon.”

“We hope that the material situation of the Bundeswehr will be improved,” Defense Ministry spokesman Holger Neumann said at the government’s Monday press conference.

Read moreUS approves $2.5b drone sale to Germany

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kappeler)Germany’s defense minister wants more money

Part of the money is intended for upgrades to Germany’s Puma tanks and maintenance of its NH90 helicopters. Money would also go toward a nine-year contract to lease Heron TP drones capable of carrying arms — all in all the cost of this deal will be one billion euros.

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Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle

Read moreA guide to military drones

Plans for the future

The coalition agreement signed between the conservatives and the Social Democrats in March sanctions the leasing of the Israeli drones as a stop-gap measure until the development of a European drone within the framework of the European Defense Union.

Read moreWhat Germany’s first armed drones could do

The coalition agreement foresees investments of 10 billion euros to modernize the Bundeswehr, but von der Leyen has said she doesn’t think that sum will be sufficient. The latest request for funds will have to be approved by the government when it draws up its budget for 2018.

Earlier this year, an internal Bundeswehr document that was leaked to the press questioned whether the German military was well enough equipped to fulfill its duties — a situation termed “scandalous” by members of the opposition.

Infographic Bundeswehr equipment problems

Germany spent around 37 billion euros on defense in 2017 — the ninth highest defense budget in the world. That sum is scheduled to increase to 39 billion euros in 2018. But German military spending falls far short of the 2 percent of national GDP targeted by NATO.


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Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Threaten Israel: ‘Finger’s on the Trigger, Missiles Ready for Launch’ — “The United States has been defeated.”

April 21, 2018

Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami says ‘Israel is surrounded and you have nowhere to escape to except to fall into the sea’

.Iran's President Hassan Rohani reviews a military parade during the 37th anniversary of Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran, September 22, 2017.
Iran’s President Hassan Rohani reviews a military parade during the 37th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran, September 22, 2017.Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

A senior commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guardsthreatened Israel with destruction on Friday. “The finger is on the trigger and the missiles are ready at any given moment that the enemy conducts something against us, and we will launch them,” said Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, before Friday prayers in Tehran.

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Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami,

As for the American presence in Syria, “We have learned the formula of how to overcome the enemy and can harm his strategic interests anywhere,” added Salami. “The United States has been defeated in Syria because the Americans did not have a clear strategy and policy, and every action they take makes them look ridiculous, like the operation they did a few days ago, because they have no strategy. Today we are much stronger than ever before in all areas.”

>> Why Israel needs to escalate its threats against Iran – right now | Opinion >>

Concerning Israel, Salami added: “We know you very well, you are exposed to great harm because you have no depth, you are surrounded from every direction and you have nowhere to flee except to fall into the sea. Don’t put faith in your military bases because they are in firing range and we can attack them and prevent them [from operating].”

“You are living from the mouth of the snake and the resistance today is much stronger that what it was in the past. Don’t think that the new wars will be like the Second Lebanon War. You saw what the axis of resistance did to the heretic groups [in Syria] and how we succeeded in uprooting them. Don’t place you hope in the United States and Britain, when they arrive you will already have disappeared and so don’t make incorrect calculations,” said Salami.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the treats from Iran saying, “We are certain of our capabilities to protect ourselves with our own power.” Netanyahu made his remarks at a special cabinet meeting held in honor of Israel’s 70th anniversary at Independence Hall in Tel Aviv.

“Israel’s soldiers are prepared for any development and we will fight anyone who tries to harm us,” said Netanyahu. “We will not be deterred by the price, and those who want to kill us will pay the price. The IDF is ready for its mission, and the people will rise up to it.”

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel targeted an advanced Iranian air-defense system at the T4 base in Syria the week before in addition to attack drone deployment. Haaretz previously reported that the strike apparently targeted armaments aside from the drones, which could have reduced the Israel Air Force’s freedom of operation in Syrian airspace.

Earlier in the week, a senior Israeli military official admitted to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that Israel targeted T4, adding that “it was the first time we attacked live Iranian targets – both facilities and people.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Iran began bolstering air defenses following an escalation triggered by Iran sending an armed drone into Israeli airspace. Israel shot down the drone and retaliated with strikes in Syria, during which an Israeli F-16 war plane was downed.

The Israeli official told the New York Times that the incident “opened a new period,” adding that “this is the first time we saw Iran do something against Israel – not by proxy.”