March's top stories: Harris $12.7bn radio deal, UN sanctions on North Korea
Harris secures position on US Army's $12.7bn contract for manpack radios, the UN resolves to impose sanctions on North Korea and US DoD approves decision to open military combat positions for women. Army-technology.com wraps up key headlines from March.
Harris Corporation secured a position on a $12.7bn, multi-award contract to provide handheld, manpack and small form-fit (HMS) radios to the US Army.
Under the terms of the five-year contract, the company will supply Harris AN/PRC-158 multichannel radio for dismounted and mounted manpack configurations.
The contract aimed to provide approximately 65,000 HMS radios to the army as part of its manpack radio modernisation programme.
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2270, imposing sanctions on North Korea.
The resolution included mandatory cargo inspections, prohibitions on aviation fuel, rare minerals and embargo on weapons trade with Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
It also banned the import of luxury watches, Jet Skis and snowmobiles from the South Asian country.
The resolution was said to be the toughest set of sanctions enforced by the council in more than two decades.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) approved the landmark decision to open all US military combat positions for women.
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said: "The Defense Secretary Ash Carter formally approved the final implementation plans prepared by the military services and US Special Operations Command to integrate women into all combat roles."
According to a statement released by the DoD, Carter said that the department must handle the change 'the right way, because the combat effectiveness of the world's finest fighting force is paramount'.
The decision will open up nearly 220,000 positions for women in infantry, reconnaissance, and special operations units.
China revealed plans to increase its military spending by 7.6% to $146bn, making it the second largest defence spender after the US.
National People's Congress (NPC) spokesperson Fu Ying was cited by Xinhua as saying: "China's military budget will continue to grow this year but the margin will be lower than last year."
The growth was reportedly the lowest in defence spending in six years, with an increase of 10.1% last year.
According to Fu, this year's increase is said to be 'in line with China's national defence needs and its fiscal revenue'.
South Korea's joint chiefs of staff (JCS) claimed that North Korea had test-launched missiles near the east coast peninsula for the third time in a month, heightening tensions in the region.
The JCS claimed North Korea had fired five short-range missiles from an area south of Hamhung city, South Hamgyong province.
The missiles flew roughly 200km before falling in waters east of North Korea.
The US and South Korea were in discussions over the possible deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defence system, in a bid to increase defence capability in Asia.
Part of the US ballistic-missile defence system, the THAAD missile system is designed to intercept and destroy short, medium, and intermediate ballistic missiles using hit-to-kill technology.
US Army Space and Missile Defense Command commander lieutenant general David L. Mann said: "This is a sensitive issue for the partners throughout the region, and we understand the sensitivities that are involved, especially when you look at South Korea is one of the largest trading partners to China in the region."
The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) unveiled $4m plans to develop an emergency flotation device for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Australian company One Atmosphere will collaborate with Airbus Group Australia Pacific to develop the new Pegasus aircraft buoyancy system.
The new system was expected to offer additional buoyancy to rotary wing aircraft that have crashed into the sea and potentially provide extra time for the aircrew to escape safely.
BAE Systems was to compete for the major Phase 6 upgrade of the Australian Department of Defence's (DoD) Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN).
The JORN defence system is a network of three remote over-the-horizon radars in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
As part of the decision, the company was to submit its tender as a prime contractor for Project Air 2025 Phase 6.
Designed to extend the operational life of JORN beyond 2042, the Phase 6 upgrade is expected to take place in 2018.
General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) completed successful open-range testing of the railgun projectile guidance electronics unit (GEU) at the US Army Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.
During the testing, five projectiles were fired from GA-EMS' 3 Blitzer electromagnetic railgun system at accelerations 30,000 times greater than that of gravity.
All of the GEU components performed as expected during and after launch, and through a period of aero-stable flight.
Raytheon successfully test-fired the newly upgraded Patriot integrated air and missile defence system with the US Army at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, US.
During testing, a PAC-3 missile segment enhancement (PAC-3 MSE) missile successfully detected, tracked and engaged a threat-representative ballistic missile target.
The PAC-3 MSE is an upgraded version of the combat-proven PAC-3 air defence missile, which is designed to destroy incoming tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, as well as aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.