April’s top news stories

7 May 2019 (Last Updated June 30th, 2020 14:30)

The US DoD’s ‘controversial’ transgender policy came into effect, New Zealand voted to ban semi-automatic firearms and the US Army awarded contracts for FARA build prototype. Army-Technology.com wraps up key stories from April 2019.

April’s top news stories
US DoD to proceed with the implementation of the new policy on military service by transgender persons. Credit: Spc. Joseph A. Wilson.

US DoD’s ‘controversial’ transgender policy comes into effect

The US Department of Defense’s (DoD) transgender policy, which places limits on the military service of transgender individuals, officially came into effect.

The latest decision on the transgender policy comes nearly two years after US President Donald Trump tweeted that he wanted to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military.

Trump’s move created uncertainty about the fate of several transgender service members. The announcement drew opposition from rights groups and some lawmakers as politically motivated discrimination. However, conservative activists and some Republicans welcomed the move.


New Zealand to ban semi-automatic firearms

New Zealand voted to ban most semi-automatic weapons, including firearms, magazines, and parts that can be used to assemble prohibited guns.

Under the law, it is illegal to possess prohibited weapons in New Zealand.

The changes are aimed at ensuring that banned items are not exported to other countries where they would pose a similar risk. It will also no longer be permissible to import the items solely for the purpose of re-export.


US Army awards contracts for FARA build prototype

The US Army awarded contracts to five competitors to design, build and test Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) prototypes.

The five partners that received other transaction authority (OTA) contracts for the programme are AVX Aircraft, Bell Helicopter Textron, Boeing, Karem Aircraft and Sikorsky Aircraft.

US Army Contracting Command-Redstone executive director Joseph Giunta said: “This is not procurement as usual. The OTA capability gives us flexibility, allowing us to be more responsive to the timelines in order to meet specific requirements.”


Raytheon conducts static test of DeepStrike missile rocket motor

US-based Raytheon Company completed a critical static test of the new DeepStrike missile rocket motor.

With the completion of the trial, the maiden flight test of the advanced surface-to-surface weapon is expected to be conducted later this year.

Raytheon, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, US, is offering the DeepStrike missile for the army’s Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) programme to replace the Army Tactical Missile System.


US Army selects Collins for Future Vertical Lift development

The US Army selected United Technologies’ unit Collins Aerospace Systems to provide critical expertise in the development of Future Vertical Lift (FVL).

Collins will serve as a mission systems integrator (MSI) for the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Mission Systems Architecture Demonstration (MSAD) programme, which will provide critical information to the Department of Defense to develop a strategy for FVL.

FVL is expected to eventually replace every army helicopter in the US.


Williams creates F1-inspired tech for lightweight military shelters

Williams Advanced Engineering is developing 3D lightweight military shelters for troops, using innovative composite technology derived from Formula One (F1).

The engineering company is working in collaboration with the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) to speed up delivery of the protective, yet lightweight military shelters.

Williams Advanced Engineering managing director Craig Wilson said: “Lightweighting is a key principle of motorsport and the use of carbon fibre has been crucial to the ongoing development of racing and on into more mainstream applications.”


Australian Government inspects first Boxer multi-purpose vehicle

The Australian Government inspected the first Boxer multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) during an official ceremony held in Kassel, Germany.

Set for delivery in the next few months, the first Australian Boxer vehicle is being shipped under the government’s LAND 400 Phase 2 programme.

Rheinmetall’s Boxer 8×8 combat reconnaissance vehicle (CRV) was selected for the Phase 2 programme after it completed rigorous trials.


Northrop Grumman gets $194m US Army contract for ammunition

The US Army awarded a $194m contract to Northrop Grumman’s wholly owned subsidiary Alliant Techsystems Operations for the supply of small-calibre ammunition.

Intended for supporting the US and allied troops, the ammunition will be produced at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant located in Independence, Missouri, US.

The contract involves orders for 5.56mm, 7.62mm and Cal 50 cartridges.


Biosurveillance device being developed to find harmful bacteria

A portable biosurveillance device is being developed to detect harmful bacteria and their potential to cause harm under the US DARPA Friend or Foe programme.

Information provided by the device will assist the future development of medical countermeasures and improved screening tools.

Biosurveillance technology being developed by Raytheon will be able to detect bacterial pathogens as soon as or before they pose a threat to the military and homeland.


Danish Army receives new generation of wheeled armoured vehicles

The Royal Danish Army officially received the first PIRANHA 5 and EAGLE 5 armoured wheeled vehicles, marking their entry into operational use with the service.

Delivered by General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS), the new generation of wheeled armoured vehicles were initially handed over to the Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO) last year.

Danish Defence Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen was quoted by Jane’s as saying: “Our soldiers need modern equipment that meets the demands of the future battlefield … With these vehicles, I am confident that we can stand up in the future.”