February's top stories: Islamic State AUMF, Yemen crisis

US President Barack Obama asked Congress to authorise the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State, the UK Government announced plans to provide additional non-lethal support to Ukraine, while militants linked to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula captured a key military base in southern Yemen. Army-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from February 2015.


Scout SV

Obama asks Congress to authorise use of force against IS

US President Barack Obama submitted a draft resolution to Congress to authorise the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State (IS), which controls large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

If approved, the resolution will grant the Obama administration the authority to fulfil the objective of destroying the terror group over the next three years.

Obama said: "The resolution we've submitted today does not call for the deployment of US ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria."

GD completes CDR for UK Army's Scout reconnaissance vehicle

Scout SV

General Dynamics (GD) UK completed the critical design review (CDR) for the UK Army's Scout Specialist Vehicle (SV) reconnaissance variant.

Covering platform hull design, the Lockheed Martin UK-developed turret, electronic architecture, onboard software solutions, sub-systems and variant-specific products such as the primary sight, the CDR is the final variant-specific review ahead of the planned Scout SV system CDR.

The Scout SV system CDR is expected to examine all aspects of each platform under a single review.

Raytheon and NIMR partner to integrate Talon rockets onto UAE's NIMR vehicle

Raytheon partnered with NIMR Automotive to integrate Talon laser-guided rockets (LGRs) onto NIMR wheeled armoured vehicles.

A total of 16 Talon LGRs will be integrated on NIMR 4x4 light tactical vehicles, which use Raytheon's remote weapons station and are currently operated by different units of the UAE Armed Forces.

Raytheon Land Warfare Systems vice-president Michelle Lohmeier said: "Integration onto the NIMR vehicle further demonstrates the versatility of Talon."

UK unveils new non-lethal support package for Ukraine

Soldiers

The UK Government announced plans to provide additional non-lethal support to Ukraine.

Under the new plan, the UK Ministry of Defence will send advisory and short-term training teams that will provide medical, logistics, infantry and intelligence capacity building training to Ukrainian soldiers.

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "In light of continued Russian-backed aggression, the UK is committed to providing additional non-lethal support to Ukraine to help them deal with the pressures they are facing.

"Today's announcement builds upon the work that we have already undertaken through Nato and bilaterally."

Afghan civilian casualties up 22% in 2014, UNAMA says

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by 22% in 2014, a report from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) revealed.

The 2014 Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict documented 3,699 deaths and 6,849 injuries, which are the highest such numbers recorded since 2009.

Prepared in coordination with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the report stated that civilian deaths and injuries from ground operations rose by 54%.

Al-Qaeda militants capture army base in southern Yemen

Militants linked to the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) reportedly captured a key military base in southern Yemen, amid escalating violence in the country.

In a statement posted on its Twitter account, the Ansar al-Sharia group confirmed that its fighters seized the Yemeni Army's 19th Infantry Brigade Base, which is located in the Bihan region of Shabwa province.

The group also posted images of its members in captured armoured vehicles, although authenticity could not be verified.

Nato to establish new Spearhead Force

Nato

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, the 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."

US considers shipment of arms to Ukrainian Armed Forces

Ukraine crisis

The US Government reportedly considered options to send lethal weapons and equipment to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, amid an escalation in fighting in the east of the country.

The move followed Russia's alleged support for rebels through the provision of heavy weapons and soldiers, despite months of international economic sanctions and peace talks.

To date, the US has supplied non-lethal military equipment such as counter-mortar detection units, body armour, binoculars, small boats and other equipment to Ukraine.

Harris to acquire Exelis for $4.75bn

US defence contractor Harris signed a definitive agreement to acquire Exelis in a cash-and-stock deal valued at approximately $4.75bn.

Exelis shareholders will receive $16.625 in cash and 0.1025 of a share of Harris common stock, based on the latter's closing price as of 5 February, for each share of Exelis common stock.

Following the transaction, Harris shareholders will own nearly 85% of the combined company, with the remaining 15% held by Exelis shareholders.

India conducts first canister-based trial of Agni-V ballistic missile

Agni-V

The Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully conducted the first canister-based trial of the Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast.

Launched from a canister mounted on a road-mobile launcher from the integrated test range's launch complex-IV, the nuclear-capable missile climbed to a height of more than 600km in its parabolic trajectory and accurately hit the designated target point in the Indian Ocean after 20 minutes.

The missile's parameters were monitored by radars and electro-optical systems, while the ships located in mid-range and at the target point tracked the vehicle and witnessed the final event.

DRDO Missiles and Strategic Systems director general and Agni programme mission director Dr VG Sekaran said: "All mission objectives have been achieved, down-range ships have confirmed final splashdown, the mission is a great success and it is a momentous occasion."