Israel is developing its first wheeled armored personnel carrier based on lessons learned from operations in the Gaza Strip in 2014. The Eitan 8 x 8 vehicle is intended to be lighter and provide greater strategic and tactical mobility than the tracked Namer APC. It can carry up to nine troops and is armed with a remotely operated turret with a 30-mm cannon and Spike anti-tank missiles. A 60-mm mortar is also equipped. The Eitan features NATO STANAG Level 5 protection at the front of the vehicle and Level 4 everywhere else. The Iron Fist active protection system is fitted.
The Eitan (at left) also features a 360-degree situational awareness system, which is linked to a touchscreen within the vehicle. A number of potential variants are under consideration, including self-propelled mortar; combat engineering; armored recovery; and armored ambulance. Production of the first prototype began in 2015. The Eitan was formally unveiled for the first time in 2016. The Israeli government approved the production of hundreds of vehicles in 2018. About 60 percent of the vehicle's components are being produced in the U.S. to comply with U.S. Foreign Military Financing requirements.
The Canadian government launched a program in 2008 to build a new heavy icebreaker for the coast guard capable of unrestricted operations throughout the Arctic for nine months of the year. The program has since suffered several delays and it remains unclear when construction will begin. Initial industrial work for the John G. Diefenbaker, named after Canada's 13th prime minister, began in 2010, with detail design work to be completed over the following 18-24 months. Initially assigned to Vancouver Shipyards, in June 2019, Ottawa decided to transfer the construction program to a different, as yet unspecified, yard.
The John G. Diefenbaker (at right) is expected to meet Polar Class 2 requirements, meaning it can operate year-round in moderate, multiyear ice conditions. The ship is to be capable of breaking up to 8 feet (2.5 m) of snow-covered ice. The Diefenbaker will also have several spaces for scientific research, including ice and snow labs, a seawater-sampling area and a moonpool for the deployment of underwater vehicles. There are three control rooms for overseeing multiple missions. The ship can accommodate a variety of vehicles and has a large flight deck that can carry up to two medium helicopters or a single large helicopter for refueling.
The U.S. Air Force is developing a new presidential transport aircraft. The VC-25B, based on the 747-8i will replace the existing VC-25A 747-200 aircraft that have been in service since the early 1990s. The aircraft will be modified to support the transport of the president and their entourage, including military-grade GPS navigation, IFF and communication systems to handle 70 simultaneous voice and data connections. Defensive systems will be fitted along with hardening to withstand electromagnetic pulses and nuclear explosions. A medical suite is also provided.
In 2017, the Air Force purchased two previously built 747-8s instead of new-build aircraft as part of efforts to cut costs. Plans to integrate an aerial refueling capability on the VC-25B (at left) were also canceled to save money. A preliminary design review was completed in February 2019. The aircraft were transferred to a Boeing facility in San Antonio, Texas, in September 2019, where they would be prepared for modification. Work is expected to begin in early 2020.
K-4 SLBM Still Awaits Deployment
India has yet to field its new K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile, despite its first ballistic missile submarine making its initial patrol in 2018. Other missile records have been updated this month, including the Iranian Ghadr-101 family of ballistic missiles; the Russian Kh-101 cruise missile, which has been employed on operations in Syria; and North Korea's in-development KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile.
Artillery systems have also been brought up to date, including the Kazakh 122-mm Semser, based on Israeli technology, and the Chinese SH2 and SH3 self-propelled howitzers. Air defense weapon updates include the U.S. M42 Duster, which remains in service in several countries; Czech M53/59 Praga; and the U.S. 12.7-mm M55 quad gun.
Taiwan Keeps Aging Subs Going
Taiwan has been upgrading its aging submarines as it also prepares a project to build new replacements domestically. The records for the Hai Lung class, based on the Dutch Zwaardvis class, and the Hai Shih-class World War II-era boats have been updated. The Russian Kuznetsov-class and Indian Vikramaditya-class aircraft carrier records are also now current.
Bogota Continues To Battle Militants
Despite reaching a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016, Colombia continues to face domestic threats from FARC dissidents and other militant groups as well as security concerns due to the ongoing unrest in neighboring Venezuela. The order of battle for Colombia has been updated, along with that of Lithuania. The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda record has also been brought up to date.
New Concepts Could Accelerate Air Force Acquisitions
At the Air Force Association conference outside Washington, D.C., in September, Will Roper, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, outlined his ideas for improving acquisition processes to accelerate the fielding of the latest gear. Nations Editor Kevin Ivey has the details in "Shaking Up Air Force Acquisition."
In late August, the Pentagon established a new combatant command for operations in space. The U.S. Space Command is still working out how it will interact with other commands and developing its own plans for operations in the space domain. Weapons Editor Brody Ladd digs into the new organization in "USSPACECOM Stands Up."
Russian President Vladimir Putin touted several new nuclear weapons programs in March 2018, including the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile. The program is extremely challenging and may be dangerous to its operators, as seen in an August explosion involving a prototype. Reuben Johnson reviews the program in "A 'Flying Chernobyl.'"
One can learn a lot from an explosion. Intelligence gathered from a blast site is a critical part of counterterrorism operations, providing information on bomb-makers and their networks. Andy Oppenheimer provides a look at weapons intelligence in "Hunting Bomb-Makers."
Finally, the MAKS air show in Moscow in late August provided a look at Russia's future military aviation plans and raised questions about their feasibility. Reuben Johnson has the story in "Clouded Future For Russian Military Aviation."