UK launches £1.9bn National Cyber Security Strategy to prevent cyber-attacks

The UK Government launched its new £1.9bn National Cyber Security Strategy, which will set out decisive action to protect the economy and encourage industry to avoid damaging cyber-attacks.

The new plan almost doubles the funding commitments of the first strategy, which ran from 2011, and outlines the way the UK will use automated defences to safeguard citizens and businesses against growing cyber threats.

This plan also supports the country’s growing cyber-security industry and outlines strategies to deter cyber-attacks from criminals and hostile actors.

Hong Kong seizes shipment of Singapore’s armoured fighting vehicles

Hong Kong Customs authorities seized a shipment of the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) Terrex infantry carrier vehicles (ICVs) for routine inspections.

Nine Terrex ICVs were held at Hong Kong’s Kwai Chung Container Terminal while customs officials inspected the permits and declarations of SAF’s shipping contractor, APL.

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The vehicles are to be used by the SAF in routine overseas training.

Ukrainian defence firms to win $600m military infrastructure orders from Pakistan

Ukrainian defence companies will be awarded contracts with a total value of $600m to supply military equipment to the Pakistan Armed Forces.

A Memorandum on Cooperation to this effect was signed between Ukrainian state-owned arms trading company Ukrspecexport and Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) chairman lieutenant general Syed Wajid Hussain.

Ukrspecexport is involved in the export and import of military and special-purpose products, including weapons, ammunition, explosives, spare parts and components.

Australia receives two Hawkei vehicles from Thales

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has taken delivery of two new Hawkei vehicles from Thales, as part of a $1.3bn contract signed in October 2015.

Under the contract, Thales Australia is required to produce 1,100 Hawkei vehicles and more than 1,000 companion trailers.

Australian Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said: “Hawkei production will involve about 170 jobs in the Bendigo region. It’s expected approximately 60 additional jobs will be created in Thales’ supply chain to support the production of the Hawkei vehicle.”

New Zealand to purchase new battle management software for NZDF

New Zealand was planning to purchase battle management software for the army from Danish company Systematic.

The software will give the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) access to new communication systems, providing a complete picture of the battlefield and allows quick sharing of information.

New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said: “The SitaWare Battle Management System and integration consultancy will cost $11m over three years.

“The purchase is part of a programme to digitise the army to provide modern command, communication, battle management and surveillance capabilities.”

Singapore commissions new protected combat support vehicles for army

The Singapore Ministry of Defence (MoD) commissioned new protected combat support vehicles (PCSV) to enhance Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) precision manoeuvre capabilities.

The commissioning of the Belrex PCSVs is in line with the army’s motorisation efforts and the SAF’s transformation into an integrated third-generation fighting force.

Developed by Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and Singapore Technologies Kinetics (ST Kinetics), the vehicles provide combat support forces with enhanced firepower, protection and situational awareness, the MoD said in a statement.

Germany’s Rheinmetall unveils new medium battle tank

German land systems supplier Rheinmetall unveiled a new 105mm medium battle tank at the Indo Defence Expo & Forum, which was held in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The company’s new vehicle was based on the Marder 1 chassis, which is already fielded by the Indonesian Army and equipped with a Hitfact II turret from Oto Melara.

Indonesia was currently modernising its armed forces as part of efforts to project itself as an increasingly important regional power and source of stability in Southeast Asia.

US researchers transform spinach plants into sensors to detect explosives

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US transformed spinach plants into explosive sensors by embedding them with carbon nanotubes.

This demonstration of engineering electronic systems into plants is an approach that the researchers call ‘plant nanobionics.’

As part of the research, spinach plants were modified to detect chemical compounds known as nitroaromatics.

If groundwater sampled by the plant contains one of these chemicals, carbon nanotubes embedded in its leaves release a fluorescent signal, which can be read with an infrared camera connected to a small computer.

UK MoD to use VBS3 software to train soldiers in virtual environment

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) selected Bohemia Interactive Simulations’ (BISim) Virtual Battlespace 3 (VBS3) software as its defence virtual simulation (DVS) solution.

The DVS solution is used as a common virtual simulation tool to provide interoperable, accessible and deployable virtual simulation capabilities across the MoD.

VBS3 is a desktop training package and simulation host based on commercial video game technology.

The simulation will allow military personnel to train for missions and practise standard operating procedures in a virtual environment.

Raytheon wins $225m contract to upgrade Patriot missile system

Raytheon received a $225m contract to provide additional Patriot missile defence capabilities for an undisclosed customer.

The customer is one of 13 nations using the Patriot integrated air and missile defence system.

Raytheon Integrated Air and Missile Defence vice-president Ralph Acaba said: “Our customer chose to continue investing in Patriot because Patriot saves lives.

“That added capability will strengthen our customer’s protection against the evolving threats of tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and enemy aircraft.”