March’s top stories: Ukraine in crises, Australia funds future tech

The US and Russia have ended emergency talks without finding a suitable diplomatic solution for the Ukrainian crisis, while the Australian Department of Defence is investing up to $13m for development of future technology. Army-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from March.


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US and Russia fail to find diplomatic solution for Ukrainian crisis

The US secretary of state John Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ended emergency talks without finding a suitable diplomatic solution for the Ukrainian crisis.

During the four-hour meeting at the Russian ambassador's residence in Paris, France, Lavrov set out a series of tough conditions, including a demand that the US and its EU partners accept Moscow's proposal for a neutral and federal Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters, Lavrov said Russia does not see any other way for the steady development of the Ukrainian state apart from as a federation.

Australia announces funding for new future defence technology projects

The Australian Department of Defence is investing up to $13m for the development of future defence technology under Round 18 of the Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) programme.

Managed by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DTSO), the CTD programme enhances Australia's defence capabilities by offering the local industry an opportunity to develop and demonstrate new technologies.

Australian Defence Minister Senator David Johnston said that seven technology proposals from Australian companies and universities have been selected to demonstrate possible defence applications in 2014.

UN General Assembly rejects Crimean secession vote

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The UN General Assembly rejected the mid-March referendum held in the Crimean peninsula that led to its annexation by Russia, affirming its commitment to Ukraine's unity and territorial integrity.

The 193-nation assembly adopted a non-binding resolution on the 'territorial integrity of Ukraine', with a vote of 100 in favour to 11 against, with 58 abstentions. The assembly called on states, international organisations and specialised agencies not to recognise any change in the status of Crimea or the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol.

In addition, the assembly urged all parties to immediately pursue a peaceful resolution through direct political dialogue, and to refrain from unilateral actions and inflammatory rhetoric that could escalate tensions.

North Korea test-launches additional short-range rockets

North Korea has test-launched 16 additional Frog short-range rockets into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula on the second consecutive day, South Korea's joint chiefs of staff (JCS) have announced.

The test-firing represents the latest in a series of provocative launches conducted by Pyongyang in an apparent protest of ongoing joint military exercises between South Korea and the US, Yonhap News Agency reports.

North Korea had also test-fired 30 same Russian-made ground-to-ground projectiles from the same location on 22 March, without notifying civilian flights or vessels in the vicinity.

Indian Army to receive Dhanush howitzers by end of year

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India's new domestically manufactured 155mm artillery howitzer, Dhanush, is expected to be ready for use by the national army by the end of the year.

A derivative of the Bofors 155mm gun, Dhanush is scheduled to undergo summer trials in the deserts of Rajasthan, India, to confirm its accuracy, range and rate of fire.

Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chairman MC Bansal said: "We have put together a special project team to look into different aspects of the product, including the cradle, barrel and the hydraulic and electrical systems.

Germany suspends military contract with Russia over Ukrainian crisis

The German Government has ordered defence contractor Rheinmetall to suspend deliveries of combat simulation gear to Russia, in response to the latter's annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy said that the export of the combat training centre to Russia is considered to be inappropriate in the current circumstances.

"The federal government is in contact with the company. At the moment no exports are planned," the ministry commented.

UK Dstl seeks proposals for novel infrared technology development

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The UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) defence science and technology laboratory (Dstl) is seeking support from industry and academia to develop a novel electro-optic and infrared (EO/IR) technology capability.

Run by Dstl's centre for defence enterprise (CDE), the competition is expected to provide up to £600,000 for proof-of-concept research projects.

CDE has already funded Amethyst Research, a small Glasgow-based company under a similar call for proposals, for development of a new IR detector capability.

Sikorsky and Turkey ink S-70i Black Hawk helicopter production agreements

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Sikorsky Aircraft has signed agreements with the Turkish Government and key local aerospace contractors regarding production and assembly of T-70 helicopters, the Turkish variants of Sikorsky's S-70i International Black Hawk helicopter.

The agreements were signed with the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM), Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and Aselsan, under the Turkish utility helicopter programme (TUHP), and licenses for the transfer of certain manufacturing technology to local industry.

Sikorsky president Mick Maurer said: "We have signed contracts that will raise our already strong supplier and customer relationships in Turkey to levels that we expect will endure for decades.