May’s top stories: North Korean rocket launch and Syrian arms embargo ended

3 June 2013 (Last Updated June 3rd, 2013 18:30)

North Korea defied international warnings and conducted a fourth short-range guided missile launch, as EU member states voted to end an arms embargo, allowing rebel forces in Syria to be armed. Army-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from May 2013.

May’s top stories: North Korean rocket launch and Syrian arms embargo ended

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Artis's active protection system completes US Government testing

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Artis's active protection system Iron Curtain successfully demonstrated its ability to protect military vehicles from incoming threats in US Government testing, conducted at an undisclosed location.

The system successfully protected vehicles supplied by BAE Systems from a range of threats, and Artis CEO Keith Brendley said the testing not only demonstrated that the system can defeat threats and saves lives, but confirmed that the risk from collateral damage is minimal.

"These accomplishments along with our cost studies show that this system is affordable and ready to integrate today," Brendley added.

Equipped with a C-band radar and distributed optical sensor, Iron Curtain is a low weight system designed to safeguard military vehicles and other assets by destroying a broad spectrum of threats, including rocket-propelled grenades (RPG), inches from the vehicle, resulting in low collateral damage.

US DoD set to cancel UH-72A Lakota programme in 2014

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The US Department of Defense decided to halt the acquisition of UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopters from 2014, a senior EADS North America official revealed.

Defense News quoted EADS North America chairman and chief executive Sean O'Keefe as saying that the decision to scrap the helicopter programme followed sequester budget cuts imposed by the federal government.

The US Army and the National Guard are currently exploring other options to fulfil duties of the UH-72A Lakotas, which may possibly include procurement of additional UH-60 Black Hawk multimission helicopters, O'Keefe added.

As of April, EADS North America had handed over 250 UH-72A Lakotas to the army, having originally intended to acquire a total of 347 of the helicopters under a defence acquisition category (ACAT) I programme by 2016.

North Korea test launches fourth short-range guided missile

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea test fired a fourth short-range missile off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, rejecting calls for restraint from the UN and wider international community.

An unidentified South Korean defence ministry official was quoted by Yonhap News Agency as saying that the missile was successfully launched into the East Sea, but the type of missile was not disclosed.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon dubbed the launch a "provocative action" and urged North Korea to refrain from further launches and resume dialogue with world powers over its nuclear programme.

North Korea frequently carries out short-range missile launches, but has been banned from testing ballistic missiles under new UN Security Council resolutions following its third nuclear test in February this year.

Raytheon to secure multibillion dollar air defence system contract from Oman

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US defence contractor Raytheon signed a multibillion dollar contract with Oman for the sale of its ground-based air defence system during US secretary of state John Kerry's official visit to the country.

An undisclosed senior US State Department official was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying: "In January the Omanis made a decision to buy a ground-based air defence system produced by Raytheon, something that the secretary advocated when he was in the Senate."

Noting that the systems would boost the country's ability to protect its critical infrastructure against unmanned-aerial vehicles (UAVs) and cruise missile attacks, the official said the contract would have an estimated value of $2.1bn, even though final details have yet to be determined.

"Oman has also recently brought a second tranche of F-16s so this is a way of continuing our relationship in the defence arena and will have pluses in terms of interoperability," the official added.

EU ends weapons embargo on Syrian democratic forces

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European Union (EU) foreign ministers decided to lift an arms embargo on Syria, opening up the opportunity for member states to supply weapons to the country's opposition forces.

Speaking after the vote at the EU Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, British foreign secretary William Hague said: "It was a difficult decision for some countries but it was necessary and right to reinforce international efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria."

The decision follows negotiations between the 27 EU member states, the majority of whom were initially against relaxing the embargo, stating their belief that the move would only result in more violence.

Britain has already provided a £13m assistance package, including non-combat armoured 4x4 vehicles and body armour for personal protection, to the Syrian opposition to help end the prolonged humanitarian crisis in the country.

Defence