July’s top stories: Gaza conflict, US and Qatar sign $11bn deal

3 August 2014 (Last Updated August 3rd, 2014 18:30)

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has launched a large-scale ground offensive within the Gaza Strip, North Korea continued test-firing of precision-guided missiles, while the US and Qatar signed a $11bn weapons sale deal. Army-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from July.

July’s top stories: Gaza conflict, US and Qatar sign $11bn deal

CP-ISR drone

Israel Defense Forces launch ground operation in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has launched a large-scale ground offensive within the Gaza Strip, after air strikes failed to stop Hamas rocket attacks.

The Israeli military said in a statement: "Following ten days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to de-escalate the situation, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip.

"A large IDF force entered the Gaza Strip. Their mission is to target Hamas' tunnels that cross under the Israel-Gaza border and enable terrorists to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks."

US and Qatar sign $11bn weapons sale agreement

ah-64 apache

The US Government has signed letters of offer and acceptance (LOA) worth $11bn with Qatar for the sale of attack helicopters and air-defence systems.

Signed by the US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Qatar's Defence Affairs Minister Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah, the agreement covers the Boeing-built AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, as well as Patriot and Javelin missile systems.

Pentagon press secretary navy rear admiral John Kirby said in a statement: "Today's signing ceremony underscores the strong partnership between the United States and Qatar in the area of security and defence, and will help improve our bilateral cooperation across a range of military operations."

The deal is reportedly the biggest US weapons sale this year, and is also the first acquisition of Patriot missiles by Qatar.

North Korea continues missile launches into East Sea

North Korea has test launched an additional two short-range projectiles into the sea from a site near the eastern city of Wonsan, Kangwon Province.

A South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) statement was quoted by Yonhap News Agency as saying that the projectiles were believed to be the new 300mm multiple-rocket launcher KN-09 shells, and were fired in a north-eastern direction.

An unnamed JCS official said the rockets flew 180km, and are believed to have landed in North Korea's territorial waters, not international waters.

Obama requests $58.6bn for overseas contingency operations

The US President Barack Obama has asked Congress to provide $58.6bn to the US Department of Defense (DoD) to support overseas contingency operations (OCO), beginning 1 October.

Despite being $21bn less than last year, the 2015 OCO budget request is believed to provide the resources needed to safeguard the US and its interests.

Pentagon press secretary navy rear admiral John Kirby said: "This is nearly $21bn less than last year's OCO request, representing a 26% reduction in OCO funding, as our nation concludes 13 years of war and our mission in Afghanistan transitions to a training, advisory and assistance role post-2014."

US Army develops pocket-sized aerial surveillance device

The US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) is developing a pocket-sized aerial surveillance device for soldiers and small units in challenging ground environments.

Under the cargo pocket intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (CP-ISR) programme, NSRDEC scientists aim to develop a mobile soldier sensor to help increase situational awareness through real-time video surveillance of threat areas.

NSRDEC acting technical director Dr Laurel Allender said: "The cargo pocket ISR is a true example of an applied systems approach for developing new soldier capabilities.

"It provides an integrated capability for the soldier and small unit for increased situational awareness and understanding, with negligible impact on soldier load and agility."

Cameron details £1.1bn investment in UK defence sector

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has detailed a plan to invest £1.1bn in the armed forces' capabilities during the ongoing Farnborough International Airshow in the UK.

The investment includes £800m for an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) package to help extend the range and flexibility of Special Forces capabilities in responding to global terrorism and hostage taking threats.

The remaining £300m is expected to be invested in existing capabilities, including the acquisition of a new E-Scan radar for Typhoon fighter aircraft and the purchase of the ice patrol ship HMS Protector.

US Army scientists develop new ballistic protection system

mbps-x

Scientists from the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) have developed an improved modular ballistic protection system (MBPS-X).

Developed in collaboration with the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine, the system offers increased armoured protection compared with the existing MBPS.

It safeguards soldiers against threats that are most likely to hit a base camp, while providing significantly enhanced protection from direct fire and munitions fragments.

Iraq requests AGM-114K/N/R Hellfire missiles from US

hellfire missile

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified Congress of a potential foreign military sale (FMS) to Iraq of AGM-114K/N/R Hellfire missiles and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support.

Under the estimated $700m sale, Iraq has requested 5,000 AGM-114K/N/R Hellfire missiles, Hellfire missile conversion, blast fragmentation sleeves and installation kits, containers, transportation, spare and repair parts, and support equipment, as well as personnel training and training equipment.

In addition to enhancing the Iraq Security Forces' capability to support current on-going ground missions, the Hellfire missiles are expected to be used in future contingency operations.

US Army receives first multi-year II configured Chinook from Boeing

The US Army has taken delivery of the first multi-year II configured CH-47F Chinook medium-to-heavy lift helicopter from Boeing at the production facility in Ridley Township, Pennsylvania, US, one month ahead of schedule.

The delivery forms part of a $4bn multi-year contract that was awarded to Boeing in June 2013. This covers the supply of 155 CH-47Fs and options for an additional 60 aircraft, with deliveries expected to continue through to 2019.

An upgraded version of the D-model, the CH-47F Chinook features enhanced engines and improved avionics, including the Rockwell Collins common avionics architecture system (CAAS) cockpit and BAE Systems' digital advanced-flight control system (DAFCS), as well as an upgraded airframe.

Chinese Army developing unmanned armoured fighting vehicles

China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) is conducting research to convert its existing armoured fighting vehicles into unmanned platforms for future warfare operations.

PLA Academy of Armoured Forces Engineering president major general Xu Hang was quoted by China Daily as saying: "Unmanned ground vehicles will play a very important role in future ground combat.

"Realising that, we have begun to explore how to refit our armoured vehicles into unmanned ones.

"Though we have yet to develop unmanned tanks, I think it is an irreversible trend that computers will gradually replace humans to control those fighting machines."