What's New

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New Ships Protect France's Caribbean Holdings

The French navy has fielded a class of patrol ships to monitor the waters of its Caribbean territories. The La Confiance class has replaced aging L'Audacieuse-class patrol craft in the region. The three vessels are intended to monitor the approaches to the Guiana Space Center at Kourou, protect fisheries, enforce maritime laws, protect trade, combat criminal activity and help control pollution. Two of the ships are based in French Guiana, with the third stationed in Antilles. The first two vessels in the class were commissioned in 2017 and the third in 2019.

The 700-ton ships are equipped with two rigid-hull inflatable boats and berths for 14 personnel in addition to the 24-person crew. A stern ramp is provided for the launch and recovery of the boats. Armament includes a 20-mm Narwhal remotely operated turret, two 12.7-mm machine guns and a water cannon. Anti-pollution equipment can be carried. Powered by two diesels developing 7,720 hp, the La Confiance-class patrol ships have a top speed of 21 knots. The vessels have a range of 3,500 nm at 12 knots.

Russian EW System Targets American Comms

Russia's Northern Fleet has been equipped with a new electronic warfare system designed to disrupt HF communications. The Murmansk-BN system, in Russian service since 2014-2015, was fielded with the Northern Fleet in May 2019 as part of a new electronic warfare center. The system was developed to disrupt the U.S. HF Global Communications System (HFGCS) and can interfere with tactical, operational and strategic communications. The system can cover an area of 247,100 square miles, with a conditions-based range varying from 3,110 miles to 4,970 miles.

The Murmansk-BN consists of four 105-foot telescoped antenna masts that are linked to create a single, large array. Each antenna group can operate independently or be integrated into a broader electronic warfare command-and-control system. The Murmansk-BN is mobile and can be transported on seven KAMAZ or Ural trucks. The system takes about 72 hours to set up. The EW equipment operates in an amplitude modulation mode with a bandwidth of 5.5 kHz enabling the capture of signals in the upper side band and frequency shift keying signals.

Poland Buys Domestic Drones For ISR Missions

The Polish army is acquiring domestically developed drones for short-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The PGZ-19R Orlik uncrewed aircraft has an 18-foot wingspan and weighs about 200 pounds, including a 44-pound sensor payload. The baseline configuration includes an electro-optical sensor with day and thermal cameras, a laser rangefinder and a laser designator. A synthetic aperture radar is available as an option. The PGZ-19 can cruise at speeds of 75-112 mph and has a 12-hour endurance.

A Polish consortium was launched in 2017 to develop an uncrewed aerial vehicle for the Polish army's Orlik requirement. WZL-2, PIT-RADWAR and PGZ received a US$209 million contract for eight PGZ-19 systems, each with five air vehicles, in November 2018. Deliveries are scheduled to run from 2021 to 2023. The deal includes options for four more systems, which would be handed over between 2023 and 2026 if purchased. An Orlik system also includes a mobile launcher, logistics vehicle, ground station and video terminals.

Israeli TIGR Targets IEDs
There have been several new additions to the weapons database. These include the Israeli Transportable Interoperable Ground Robot (TIGR), in service in Israel and New Zealand; Turkey's Atmaca anti-ship missile; the Iranian Bavar 373 air defense system based on the Russian S-300; the U.S. Aklus Shield biological defense system; and Morocco's Bir Anzaran-class offshore patrol vessel.

Aviation updates this month include the U.S. E-11 communications relay aircraft, the German Do 28 Skyservant utility transport, the Luna and TigerShark UAVs and the 420K tethered aerostat.

Missile records made current include the Chinese C-701 anti-ship missile, in Iranian service as the Kosar; the Russian ABM-3 Gazelle missile defense and SA-4 and SA-6 surface-to-air missile systems; the Israeli Spyder air defense system; and the Chinese Sky Dragon medium-range SAM.

Truck-Mounted Howitzers Provide Heavy Fires At Light Weight
Artillery systems brought up to date include the French Caesar, Slovak Eva and Swedish Archer truck-mounted howitzers and the British AS90 and South African G6 tracked howitzers. Other gun system updates include the U.S. GAU-12 aircraft Gatling gun and the Ukrainian BAU-23 turret system.

Naval records have not been neglected, with the latest information now available for the Dutch Karel Doorman-class support ship; U.S. 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin-class and Guam-class sealift ships; British Hunt-class minehunters; and the Colombian Intrepido-class and Spanish Isaac Peral-class submarines.

Kyiv Seeks To Modernize Amid Conflict In East
The orders of battle have been brought up to date for Ukraine, the Philippines, Kenya, New Zealand and Bolivia. The latest information on the U.S. Coast Guard has also been made available.

Terrorist group updates include Colombia's National Liberation Army (ELN), which has taken advantage of the peace deal between Bogota and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to expand its operations.

Marines See New Future Without Tanks
The Marine Corps made headlines in March when it announced that it was eliminating its tank units as part of a major reorganization designed to better prepare it for conflicts with peer adversaries. Weapons Editor Brody Ladd takes a look at the service's plans in "Marine Corps Goes Light."

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to dominate headlines around the world. Andy Oppenheimer reviews the assistance being provided by the British and U.S militaries to help fight this deadly virus in "Combating COVID-19."

Tensions are rising in East Africa as Ethiopia plans to begin filling a new dam on the Blue Nile River, which feeds the Nile River that Egypt depends on for much of its water needs. Nations Editor Kevin Ivey has the story on this long-brewing standoff in "Battle for the Nile."

Finally, the latest variant of the venerable AH-64 attack helicopter has been winning orders around the world. Reuben Johnson has the latest on potential new customers for the aircraft in "Apache Re-Arms for New Conflicts."