Outgoing US President Trump fires Secretary of Defense Esper 

Just days after losing the 2020 Presidential election, outgoing US President Donald Trump has fired the US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, drawing criticism from the House and the Senate.

Christopher C. Miller, formerly director of the National Counterterrorism Center, replaces Esper as acting Secretary of Defense. Including temporary appointments, Miller is Trump’s fifth Pentagon head in four years.

Esper is the only Defense Secretary to be fired after a president lost an election; usually, Cabinet members are kept on to ease the transition between administrations. He had fallen out of favour with Trump over several issues including his refusal to support Trump’s call to use to the Insurrection Act to deploy active-duty US military personnel on US streets amid the past year’s Black Lives Matter protests.

National security figures have raised concern at Trump’s decision to fire Esper so close to the end of his presidency, with many saying it threatens the smooth transition of power to the incoming Biden administration.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Representative Adam Smith said: “It is well known that periods of presidential transition leave our country exposed to unique threats. Dismissing politically appointed national security leaders during a transition is a destabilising move that will only embolden our adversaries and put our country at greater risk. President Trump’s decision to fire Secretary Esper out of spite is not just childish, it’s also reckless."

In an interview with Military Times, Esper expressed concern about his successor's appointment, saying: “I could have a fight over anything, and I could make it a big fight, and I could live with that — why? Who’s going to come in behind me? It’s going to be a real ‘yes man.’ And then God help us.”

Miller is likely only hold the job until Biden's inauguration in January. Biden is widely expected to nominate Michele Flournoy to lead the Pentagon, potentially making her the first female Secretary of Defense.


Israel supplies first Iron Dome multi-mission radars to US Army

Israel has delivered the first multi-mission radars (MMRs) for Iron Dome Defense System batteries to the US Army.

The delivery comes more than a month after Israel delivered the first of two Iron Dome Defense System batteries to the US Army.

Under a contract finalised a year ago, the US Army agreed to procure two Iron Dome missile defence system batteries to enhance its short-range missile defence capabilities.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the procurement included 12 launchers, two sensors, two battlement management centres and 240 interceptors.


BAE Systems eyes role in Japan’s future fighter programme

BAE Systems has outlined its support proposal for Japan’s F-X future fighter jet programme, offering the country a package of integration support.

The company responded to a request for information from the Japanese Ministry of Defence's Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency.

In its response, BAE outlined “technical capabilities across a range of key areas” that it could provide to support the development of the future jet.

BAE is also currently involved in the UK’s Team Tempest to develop a future combat air system.


Royal Navy tests experimental equipment in Cyprus

The Royal Navy’s Littoral Strike Group has trialled experimental equipment, such as drones, autonomous systems, quad bikes, jet skis and new communications systems, off the coast of Cyprus.

In September, over 1,000 sailors and Royal Marines sailed for a three-month deployment in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and North Africa, to test Future Commando Force (FCF) and Littoral Strike Group (LRG)concepts.  

The FCF is a modernisation project that aims to change the mode of operation of the Royal Marines in the 21st century.  

Commando Forces will be used for Littoral Strike capability. They will be used from a sea-base to tackle targets in politically delicate or high-risk areas. This is expected to provide an ‘agile and lethal capability’ to the UK, which will be ready for missions across the world at short notice.  

The teams used the Malloy T-150 quadcopter drones that had resupplies of over 60kg of ammunition in Cyprus. They also experimented with military jet ski-style vehicles that can drop small teams and supplies secretly ashore, as well as communications technology that provides live imagery to the ground.


US DoD releases December 2019 Selected Acquisition Reports

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has released details on changes to major defence acquisition programme cost, schedule and performance for December 2019.

The previous estimate of the programme costs in the reporting period for December 2018 was $2,023bn for 87 programmes. The estimate for 2019 period is $2,020bn for 86 programmes.

The data is based on the annual Selected Acquisition Reports in the first quarter of this fiscal year, according to the president’s fiscal year 2021 budget. Total programme costs for the US Army have decreased by $1,053.8m from $216,595.7m to $215,541.9m.


German Parliament commits to acquisition of 38 Eurofighters

The German Parliament has announced its commitment for the acquisition of 38 new Eurofighter Tranche 4 jets for the air force.

A budget of €5.5bn has been released for the contract award, which is expected to be signed in the next few days.

Under the Tranche 1 Replacement Programme (Project Quadriga), the newly built Eurofighter will replace the existing German Tranche 1 fleet.

The first-generation Eurofighters have been operational since 2004 and can be used only for aerial combat. The Tranche 4 jets feature more advanced technology, including ESCAN radar. They are expected to be delivered by 2025.


UK, France to sign autonomous minehunting production contract

The UK and France will sign a production contract for the joint Maritime Mine Counter Measure (MMCM) project later in November, aiming to deliver the first operational capabilities for the project in 2022.

The two countries been working together on the project to develop an autonomous minehunting capability. Recent trials off the coast of the UK and France proved the ability of the system to detect sea mines.

MMCM is a ‘system of systems’ including uncrewed surface vessels, uncrewed underwater vessels, sensors, command and control systems, and mine neutralisation systems.

The UK and France revealed news of the impending production contract in a joint declaration by UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his French counterpart Florence Parly, published by the two countries on the tenth anniversary of the Lancaster House Treaty’s signing.


General Dynamics wins US Navy Columbia submarine contract

General Dynamics Electric Boat has received a $9.474bn contract from the US Navy for the construction of the first two Columbia-class submarines of a planned fleet of 12.

GDIT to replace US DoD's legacy IT office applications

General Dynamics Information Technology has won a $4.4bn, ten-year contract to replace the existing DoD IT office applications with a standard Cloud-based solution for unclassified (IL5) and classified (IL6) environments around the world.

US Army hands out prototype contracts to small businesses

The US Army has awarded contracts to nine small businesses and research institutions for the development of technologies that will help to tackle challenges faced by the military. Each team receives up to $1.1m funding to develop a demonstration prototype.

Rheinmetall to deliver aiming devices for German Marder IFVs

Rheinmetall has received a €27m contract from the German armed forces to deliver Saphir 2.6 MK thermal imaging aiming devices for Marder infantry fighting vehicles unader a life extension programme for the fleet.

US Army selects Empatcia for Covid-19 early detection wearable

The US Army Medical Research and Development Command and Empatica have partnered to deploy a wearable solution for early detection of Covid-19. The project will use Empatica’s Aura algorithm with medical smartwatch EmbracePlus.

Viasat to provide SATCOM for Royal Navy's Type 31 frigates

Viasat UK has received a contract to provide ultra high-frequency satellite communications (UHF SATCOM) for the Royal Navy's new Type 31 frigates. UHF SATCOM will provide secure integrated voice and data services for communication between vessels and headquarters.


US Navy plans to use UAS for cargo transport

The US Navy is assessing the feasibility of using uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) for cargo transport between vessels or from ship to shore. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division has acquired a logistics UAS prototype to demonstrate the transfer of cargo over long ranges. The vehicle will be tested and upgraded for military sealift requirements.

Naval Group delivers first Suffren-class submarine to French Navy 

French shipbuilder Naval Group has delivered the first of six Suffren-class nuclear attack submarines for the French Navy. This delivery marks an important milestone in the Barracuda programme, which upgrades the submarine component of France's nuclear deterrent.

Iran unveils domestic ballistic missile launcher

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps has reportedly unveiled a domestically built ballistic missile launching system. Tasnim news agency reported that the air force manufactured thdine automated system, which is used for launching long-range ballistic missiles.


Australian Navy tests robots for counter-disaster operation

The Royal Australian Navy has tested robots in a simulated counter-disaster operation. As part of exercise Autonomous Warrior Genesis, the navy tested uncrewed land, air and sea vehicles in response to a simulated humanitarian relief scenario.

US and Japan complete exercise Keen Sword 21 

US Indo-Pacific Command units and the Japan Self-Defense Force have completed exercise Keen Sword 21, a joint-bilateral field training exercise in Japan. It involved maritime and air operations, amphibious landings, missile defence exercises, resupply, cyber and space operations.

Royal Air Force concludes Exercise Crimson Warrior 

The Royal Air Force has concluded Exercise Crimson Warrior, a three-week training operation involving fast jets, helicopters and unmanned air systems with involvement from the British Army, US Air Force and US Marines. Exercise Crimson Warrior has been adapted from Cobra Warrior with missiodinns being added to support the F-35B and helicopters that form part of the Carrier Strike Group Air Wing.

In brief

Fabri-Kal launches Recycleware Containers to expand sustainability

Food packaging solutions provider Fabri-Kal has expanded its sustainable product offerings with the launch of its new Recycleware Containers. Manufactured in the US, the products contain a minimum of 20-50% post-consumer recycled PET material and are recyclable.

Burger King and TerraCycle’s Loop to pilot new reusable packaging 

Fast-food chain Burger King has partnered with TerraCycle’s circular packaging service, Loop, to pilot new reusable packaging. The partnership is part of the brand’s Restaurant Brands for Good framework to help reduce packaging waste.

Stora Enso launches take-away bowls for food service packaging 

Pulp and paper manufacturer Stora Enso has partnered with wholesale company Tingstad to market its new food service take-away bowls, PureFiber. The packaging is designed to replace plastic on-the-go food packaging. It is free from plastic and PFAS.

H&M presents new Looop garment-to-garment recycling system

Swedish clothing-retail company H&M is introducing a garment-to-garment recycling system that helps transform old textiles into new ones. Known as Looop, the container-sized machine promotes circularity in fashion and keeps unwanted garments from turning into waste.