2015: The year's biggest Army Technology stories

First Nato alliance ground surveillance (AGS) aircraft unveiled, North and South Korea resolve tensions, and US intends to deploy special force to combat ISIL in Iraq. Army-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from 2015.


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Northrop unveils Nato's first alliance ground surveillance aircraft

Northrop Grumman unveiled the first Nato alliance ground surveillance (AGS) aircraft during a ceremony at its facility in Palmdale, California, US.

The aircraft is a wide area surveillance Global Hawk, and is a part of a broader system of systems solution that will advance the alliance's evolving joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) requirements during Nato missions.

Missions include protection of ground troops and civilian populations, border control and maritime safety, counter terrorism operations, as well as crisis management, and humanitarian assistance in natural disasters.

North and South Koreas sign agreement to resolve tensions

North and South Korea reached an agreement aiming to resolve escalating tensions across the Korean Peninsula.

Signed after days of intensive high-level talks in the border village of Panmunjom, the agreement would see Seoul halt its loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts into North Korea.

The broadcasts were started by the country after a landmine explosion, which took place on the south side's area of the demilitarised zone (DMZ) along the military demarcation line (MDL), wounded two of its soldiers.

Indian Army Air Defence inducts Akash missile system

Akash missile

The Indian Army Air Defence Corps formally inducted the indigenously built Akash supersonic missile during a ceremony at the Manekshaw Centre in Delhi, India.

The induction came more than three decades after the project was initiated in the mid-1980s, and was expected to boost all round capability enhancement and operational effectiveness of the army in negating enemy air threats.

Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and Bharat Electronic Limited as part of the integrated guided missile development programme, the Akash missile is an all-weather surface-to-air missile system capable of engaging aerial threats up to a distance of 25km.

US to deploy specialised expeditionary targeting force to combat ISIS in Iraq

The US Department of Defense (DoD) was set to deploy a specialised expeditionary targeting force to combat ISIS.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said: "On President [Barack] Obama's orders and the chairman's and my advice, we're sending special operations forces personnel to Syria to support the fight against ISIS."

The expeditionary force will leverage the already established infrastructure in Afghanistan, the Levant, East Africa and Southern Europe into a unified capability to counter transnational and transregional threats.

Lockheed completes CDR for UK Army's Warrior vehicle upgrade programme

Warrior IFV

Lockheed Martin UK completed a critical design review (CDR) for the upgrade of the UK Army's Warrior infantry fighting vehicle (IFV).

After live firing trials in Scotland with the new turret and cannon, the CDR represented the final stage of the design and development phase of the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme.

The programme aimed to enhance the combat capability of 245 of the army's fleet of Warrior vehicles with a new turret, cannon and electronics.

Massive manhunt for Paris terror attackers on track

The French Police issued a photograph of a French national allegedly connected to the Islamist group that killed 129 people in Paris on Friday.

Brussels-born Salah Abdeslam, the key suspect named by the police, reportedly rented the Volkswagen Polo believed to have been used by the attackers.

The officials revealed him to be one of the three Belgium-based brothers linked to Friday's attacks.

Nato to establish new Spearhead Force

Nato defence ministers agreed to establish a new Spearhead Force during a meeting at Nato headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

During the Nato summit in Wales in September 2014, member states agreed to create a force that can deploy at very short notice in response to crises in their territories.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: "We decided that this very-high readiness force will consist of a land brigade of around 5,000 troops.

UN adopts resolution to endorse road map for peace process in Syria

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2254, endorsing progress towards peace in Syria.

The resolution allows the UN to facilitate talks between the government and opposition members in January, and to begin moving towards nationwide ceasefire.

The council has also reconfirmed its previous 'Vienna Statements' endorsement, which supported the implementation of the 2012 Geneva Communiqué as the basis for a Syrian-led political transition.

Thales receives €820m Hawkei production contract from Australian Defence Force

Hawkei vehicle

Thales Australia received an A$1.3bn (€820m) contract to supply domestically manufactured Hawkei protected mobility vehicles (PMVs) to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Under the contract, the company was to deliver 1,100 Hawkei blast-proof armoured vehicles, as well as more than 1,000 trailers to strengthen the ADF's fleet and improve protection for soldiers, while enabling them to operate in high-risk areas.

Claimed to be the ADF's only helicopters-transportable PMV, the Hawkei is also expected to pioneer a next-generation communications management system to be developed in Australia by Thales.

Britain to meet Nato defence spending target of 2% over next five years

The UK Government outlined plans to maintain Nato's defence spending target of 2% of the gross domestic product (GDP) over the next five years.

The commitment will be accompanied by a 0.5% rise, above inflation, in the Ministry of Defence's (MoD) budget every year up until 2020 to 2021.

The MoD will also receive up to an additional £1.5bn a year by the specified timeframe to fund increased spending on military and intelligence agencies.

US GAO dismisses Lockheed's protest for Oshkosh US Army contract

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) dismissed Lockheed Martin's formal protest concerning a $6.75bn deal between Oshkosh Defense and the US Army.

The deal being protested was for the production of joint light tactical vehicles (JLTV) for army use.

US GAO said in a statement: "Our office will not decide a protest where the matter involved is the subject of litigation before a court of competent jurisdiction.

US DoD opens military combat positions for women

The US Department of Defense (DoD) opened all US military combat positions for women.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said: "They'll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat.

"They'll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers, and everything else that was previously open only to men."