April's top stories: Russia-Ukraine crisis and North Korea live-fire exercise
The US and the EU plan additional sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, North Korea started a new live-fire exercise near the disputed Northern Limit Line, and South Korea developed a new long-range ballistic missile to boost its defences. Army-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from April.
The US and the EU are set to impose additional sanctions on Russia, over its role in the political uprisings in Ukraine.
The move comes after pro-Russian activists kidnapped eight Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitors in Sloviansk, although one was freed on medical grounds.
Unnamed sources familiar with the situation were quoted by Reuters as saying that the latest sanctions are in response to Russia's alleged efforts to destabilise eastern Ukraine.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DRPK) is conducting a live-fire exercise near the disputed north-western maritime border with South Korea.
Held in the Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong islands, located near the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea, the exercise involves all three branches of the North Korean military, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
An unnamed South Korean military official was quoted by Reuters as saying that although firing has started, so far no rounds have landed south of the disputed border.
Russia has agreed to hold multilateral talks with diplomats from Ukraine, the EU and the US to find a peaceful solution for the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by ITAR-TASS news agency as saying that the country is ready to consider the multi-party format involving Europeans, the US, Russia and Ukraine, but called for representation from the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine.
Lavrov, who said that ignoring the resentment in the south and east will obstruct progress, did not disclose the date of the meeting, citing the necessity to 'first and foremost understand the format of this event, the agenda and the legal procedures'.
Nato foreign ministers have ordered the suspension of all practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia, in response to its recent annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
During a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, ministers condemned Russia's illegal military intervention in Ukraine, and urged the country to engage in dialogue towards finding a political and diplomatic solution that respects both international law and Ukraine's internationally recognised borders.
Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia, through its actions, had chosen to 'undermine the very foundations upon which our cooperation is built'.
"In light of this, there can be no business as usual," Rasmussen said.
The South Korean Defence Ministry has developed a new long-range ballistic missile to boost its defences against North Korean missile threats, an unnamed South Korea military official has revealed.
The missile, with a range of 500km and a 1t payload, was successfully test-fired by the state-funded Agency for Defense Development (ADD), at a testing range in Taean, South Chungcheong Province late last month, Yonhap News Agency reports.
An official said: "The missiles accurately hit the intended target."
The Indian Army has successfully test launched an advanced version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile at Chandhan field firing range near Pokhran in Rajasthan, India, as part of a routine user trial.
Launched from a mobile-autonomous launcher deployed in full configuration mode with a mobile command post, the missile hit the target approximately 55km away near the Ajasar area, Press Trust of India reports.
Defence spokesperson colonel S D Goswami was quoted by the news agency as saying that the missile successfully hit the designated target on its predetermined trajectory.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has unveiled a new robotic mannequin to test protective suits and equipment for the armed forces.
Designed and built by Buckinghamshire-based i-bodi Technology using advanced lightweight materials developed for Formula One racing cars, the £1.1m robot can walk, march, run, sit, kneel and lift its arms to sight a weapon like an infantry soldier.
It is named 'Porton Man' after Porton Down in Wiltshire, the home of the MoD's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the original site of the UK's chemical weapons research initiatives.
Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract to design, build and test a 60kW weapons-grade-electric laser for the US Army.
Under the $25m deal, which is managed by the Army Space and Missile Defense Command's Technical Center, the company will develop a high-energy fibre laser for integration and testing in the truck-mounted laser mobile demonstrator (HEL MD).
Building on the company's work under the army's current robust electric laser initiative (RELI) contract, the ruggedised laser will be designed to significantly enhance soldiers' ability to counter rockets, artillery, mortars and unmanned aerial threats.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has successfully completed the base-platform critical design review (CDR) of the protected mobility recce support (PMRS) variant, which was developed by General Dynamics UK (GD) as part of the scout specialist vehicle (SV) programme.
Representing the first variant-specific CDR for the SV programme, the review covered the PMRS system architecture, including the physical architecture and software, its sub-systems, such as the running gear and suspension, and auto controls and propulsion.
In addition, the CDR marks a significant step before the planned delivery of the first PMRS pre-production prototype this year. It also included extensive trials to confirm the PMRS's specific design interfaces, including electronic architecture, towing and storage, and command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) equipment.
The US Army has successfully test fired the first fifth-generation tank cartridge M829E4 from an Abrams main battle tank (MBT) at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, US.
The firing was conducted as part of a series of critical trials undertaken prior to the entry of the cartridge into the army's inventory.
Large calibre ammunition assistant product manager major Juan Santiago said: "The M829E4 is the premier fifth generation armour-piercing, fin-stabilised, discarding sabot with tracer cartridge."