January's top stories: University of Coimbra develops demining robot, UK announces last set of armed forces redundancies

This month UK MoD has announced last set of armed forces redundancies while University of Coimbra is developing demining robot.


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University of Coimbra develops new demining robot

The University of Coimbra's (UC) Institute of Systems and Robotics researchers are developing a new robotic platform for life-threatening humanitarian demining missions.

The system is being developed under the Partnerbot Grant Program, which is being sponsored by the Canadian robotics maker, Clearpath Robotics, through supply of its Husky A200 unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) as the mobile robotic base.

University of Coimbra senior lecturer and academic liaison for the project, Lino Marques, said the minesweeping is an extremely dangerous and time-intensive process.

Plextek develops advanced optical navigation solution for soldiers

Plextek Consulting developed a battery-powered, video-based tracking technique to help soldiers track their movements within a GPS-denied environment.

With support from the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory's (dstl) Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE), the company created a flexible tracking system that can either be used on its own or networked with a legacy inertial navigation systems (INS) to yield a highly accurate solution to navigation in global navigation satellite systems (GNSS)-denied environments.

Plextek Defence and Security director, Nicholas Hill, said the project has resulted in an innovative, advanced defence technology that will address the precise requirements of soldiers operating in a difficult and high-risk environment.

UK MoD announces last set of armed forces redundancies

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) set out the size and scope of the fourth and final set of armed forces redundancies, moving a step closer towards restructuring the military.

A part of the armed forces redundancy programme announced in the strategic defence and security review (SDSR) in October 2010, the final tranche puts an end to the uncertainty the UK military personnel have faced over the past few years.

The latest set of redundancies consist of up to 1,505 personnel, including a maximum of 1,425 soldiers, ten medical officers from the Royal Navy and 70 medical personnel from the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Northrop and Trex partner to integrate celestial navigation in soldier targeting systems

Northrop Grumman signed a licensing agreement with Trex Enterprises to integrate the celestial navigation technology into precision targeting systems provided to the US military and allied forces.

As part of the agreement, Northrop will produce and integrate the celestial navigation capability into ground targeting systems that offer greater accuracy to soldiers during location of targets.

Trex has already developed and matured the core technology to offer a highly accurate celestial navigation subsystem for use in military products and other scientific applications.

Sweden investigates Norway's withdrawal impact on Archer project

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The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) and the Swedish armed forces are conducting a joint analysis of the impact of Norway's withdrawal from the FH77 L52 Archer artillery system development programme.

Norway, which was associated with the project since December 2007, pulled out in December 2013, citing non-performance to the contract terms.

Norwegian Department of International Relations headquarters command staff head, Peter Fredriksson, said Norway's cancellation of research cooperation was surprising and a setback.

China plans to establish first joint military command system

The Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China is planning to establish a joint operational command for a more coordinated and combat-capable force to efficiently respond to a crisis.

China Daily cited the ministry as saying that the joint operational command system establishment is a basic requirement in an era of information, and that the county has therefore initiated positive pilot programmes in this regard.

The new joint operational command will be set up in due course, the state media reported, amidst rising PLA's disputes over territorial claims in the region, according to Press Trust of India.

DARPA develops new technology to break language barriers

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The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) scientists are developing advanced language processing technologies with improved speed and accuracy to offer analysts an advantage in a range of military and non-military scenarios.

The natural language processing technologies are designed to locate, identify and organise information from an array of sources and in at least 15 different foreign languages.

Speaking during the DARPA Congressional Tech Showcase in Washington, US, DARPA Human Language Technologies programme manager, Dr Bonnie Dorr, said the scientists are interested in collection of information from the huge volumes that come through in foreign languages.

Saudi Arabia to provide $3bn military grant to Lebanese Army

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud reportedly pledged to give a $3bn grant to the Lebanese army to boost its warfighting capabilities, marking the largest aid offered in Lebanon's history.

Announced in a televised statement, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman revealed that the funding would enable the Lebanese army to procure military equipment from France, as well as allowing the army to 'confront terrorism' and suspend the proliferation of weapons.

"The king of the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is offering this generous and appreciated aid of $3bn to the Lebanese army to strengthen its capabilities," Suleiman said.

Defence link