Sea, air and land updates

French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle

Sea State

Last week the destroyer USS Donald Cook visited Turkey’s Aksaz naval base on Turkey’s southwest coast for joint Turkey–US exercises. Elements of the Turkish naval force present included submarines, surface and air defence units.

Meanwhile in Paris, the French presidency  announced that it will deploy its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to boost French operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The Charles de Gaulle is the largest warship in Western Europe, and the only nuclear-powered aircraft outside of the US fleet. It can support as many as 40 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. According to French President Francois Hollande the aircraft carrier will bolster Paris’ firepower in the region amid international efforts to launch Syrian peace talks’.

A week after the USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of China’s artificial islands, US Defence Secretary Ash Carter visited US aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea, The aircraft carrier sailed ‘about 150 to 200 nautical miles from the southern tip of the Spratlys’. While attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defence Ministers Plus meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Carter took the opportunity to visit the vessel alongside Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. Carter told reporters that accompanied him on the vessel that ‘there’s a lot of concern about Chinese behaviour out here.’

Flight Path

The Boeing–Lockheed team bidding for the contract to build the US Air Force’s next generation Long Range Strike Bomber have filed a formal protest asking the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the decision to award the US$80 billion contract to Northrup Grumman on the basis that the selection process was fundamentally flawed. Breaking Defense takes a look at the protest and the for-and-against cases here.

Israel is looking to boost its air fleet with more F-15 Strike Eagles rather than additional F-35s. The National Interest reports that as part of a ‘compensation package’ for the lifting of sanctions on Iran, Israel has submitted a request for a squadron of F-15s and V-22 Osprey tilt-rotors. This request might reflect Israel’s misgivings about the cost, performance and capabilities of the F-35s, as well as whether they actually meet Israel’s ongoing needs in terms of range, payload and manoeuvrability

On 2 November, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) received its eighth and final C-17 Globemaster airlifter. Defense Industry Daily explores the history of the acquisition here, as does Australian Aviation who also have some pictures of the RAAF C-17s in action.

Rapid Fire

Texas-based firearms manufacturer TrackingPoint has announced the release of two new ‘smart rifles’ for military action—the M600 5.56 Service Rifle and M800 7.62 Designated Marksman Rifle. The rifles make use of RapidLok technology, which automatically targets and tracks an enemy, and can adjust the velocity of fired rounds to maximise accuracy. The rifles can even shoot around corners if the user has ShotGlass—wireless glasses that connect to the rifle’s camera. TrackingPoint are claiming up to ‘89% First Shot Success Probability (FSSP) out to 800 yards.’ They’re even offering 10 free rifles to any US organisation that can legally employ the weapons in the fight against ISIS. Smart weapons aren’t without their hazards, however. Regular readers may remember that, back in July, hackers managed to disable TrackingPoint’s sniper rifle by exploiting its wireless network—a feature which the new squad rifles retain.

Thales Australia are looking to supply the Hawkei 4×4 light mobility vehicle to the Polish armed forces. The Australian-designed Hawkei (aka baby Bushmaster) was recently announced as the winner of a contract to supply 1,100 vehicles to the Australian Army. Although the Australian vehicles will be built in Bendigo, Thales have said that they’re open to working with local industry for the Polish vehicles.

US Army have deployed Stryker armoured combat vehicles to an outpost in the Arctic Circle for the first time as part of the Arctic Pegasus exercise. Arctic Pegasus isn’t nearly as large as Russia’s Arctic exercises, but signals US acknowledgement of the growing strategic relevance of the region.