Exoskeletons: Race of the super soldiers

The military in the USA, China or even Germany uses motorised exoskeletons in logistics, while Russia is said to have already tested them in war.

Russian defence company Rostec is working on an armoured exoskeleton that would cover a soldier’s entire body and provide ballistic protection against fragments. Embedded in fourth-generation combat equipment, human energy consumption could also be significantly reduced in this way. With the new suit, soldiers should be able to hold loads of up to 20 kilograms in their hands for longer periods of time. With the help of the frame strapped to the body, even up to 60 kilograms can be carried. According to Rostec, the accuracy of automatic weapons is also increased.

The deputy general director of Rostec, Vladimir Artyakov, made a corresponding announcement about the motorised body armour to the state news agency RIA Novosti on the occasion of the recent Forum Army-2022. The company had already exhibited the system made of lightweight composite materials for „soldiers of the future“ at the annual sales fair in Moscow last year. „Exoskeletons: Race of the super soldiers“ weiterlesen

Hypersonic weapons: China tests aircraft carrier killer in the desert

The People’s Liberation Army is firing at dummy US warships in the Uighur region. The ability to deliver a sensitive first strike to enemy fleets is being tested.

The Chinese military is testing mid- and long-range missile attacks on warships in the desert, which are modelled on US Navy units in terms of their dimensions. The existence of such dummies in the Gobi Desert was reported by some media outlets as early as 2013. More recent installations in the Taklamakan Desert were discovered last year in the Uighur region of Xinjiang in the northwest of the country by USNI, a military portal specialising in the navy.

High-resolution satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies now points to other test centres where the military simulates aircraft carriers and other warships the size of destroyers. Some of these are equipped with full-scale piers that are probably meant to replicate ships in port, USNI reports. „Hypersonic weapons: China tests aircraft carrier killer in the desert“ weiterlesen

Hypersonic weapons: All the hype about the new technology

Russia’s military had deployed a new offensive weapon, the Kinshal, for the first time. It is the harbinger of a new arms race in which China and North Korea are also leading the way.

Three weeks ago, the Russian air force attacked the village of Delyatin in western Ukraine with a Kinzhal („Dagger“) hypersonic missile, and another attack took place in the south of the country in the Mikolayiv region. So much for the undisputed facts; opinions differ as to whether an underground weapons depot was really hit in the west and a fuel depot in the south, and whether the Kinzhal is indeed a wonder weapon.

But it is also true that this was the first time the missile was used in combat operations after Russian President Vladimir Putin proudly presented it four years ago. The two hits were probably also intended as a gesture of superiority with regard to NATO missile defence. Putin thus made good on his threatening gesture that Russian hypersonic weapons would „hit like a meteorite, like a fireball“. „Hypersonic weapons: All the hype about the new technology“ weiterlesen

China: Algorithm law for „positive energy“

The government in Beijing has passed a globally unique regulation for consumer protection on the internet

China installed a new law on Tuesday to rein in algorithms on the internet. The hitherto unique regulation covers applications that make further purchase or reading recommendations to their users based on their behaviour. In future, it will be forbidden to entice customers to excessively spend money or to make them dependent on an internet service. Software-based pricing, if it is to the detriment of consumers, will therefore also be prohibited. After all, operators must prevent fraud and unfair competition, as well as ensure that no false or illegal content is published. The apps should instead „promote positive energy“.

The law affects a wide range of companies, including internet marketplaces such as Alibaba, which has now become a mega-corporation with numerous integrated apps. Delivery service providers must also now revise their technology. The law furthermore addresses the social networks TikTok or Douyin, which are popular among young people and bombard their users with ever new content. „China: Algorithm law for „positive energy““ weiterlesen

War in Ethiopia: Armed drones could be again a gamechanger

In a surprise move, the Ethiopian military was able to stop the advance of attacking Tigray rebels on the capital, according to international media reports, with the help of armed drones. Allegedly „Bayraktar TB2“ ordered in Turkey have not been sighted anywhere so far. However, competitors from China and Iran have been documented.

Ethiopia has been in a civil war with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for 14 months. The rebels from the region bordering Eritrea are discontent with the policies of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. After taking office in April 2018, the 43-year-old lifted the state of emergency, released prisoners and promised to fight corruption. As a result, the TPLF, which had been powerful until then, also lost political influence.

Only a few weeks ago, the Tigrinese rebels were on the verge of entering the capital Addis Ababa, but the tide has now turned decisively. On 20 December, the TPLF surprisingly announced a ceasefire and peace talks in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and promised to withdraw back to the north. Both warring parties are accused of serious human rights violations, and the UN Human Rights Council now wants a to investigate this with an independent commission. „War in Ethiopia: Armed drones could be again a gamechanger“ weiterlesen

Unrestrained killer robots in Geneva

A UN convention on lethal autonomous weapons systems is not in sight

For more than seven years, several dozen states have been discussing a possible ban on autonomous killer robots at the United Nations (UN). So far, the talks have not led to any concrete negotiations; above all, the major military powers – the USA, China, Israel and Russia – are putting on the brakes. It is also unclear how a joint treaty within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) could be structured.

Lethal autonomous weapons are systems that pursue a target and – with the help of artificial intelligence, for example – decide on the best time to attack. They can be drones in the air, on land or at sea. Such systems can also identify the people to be killed on the basis of their appearance, stature or biometric data. „Unrestrained killer robots in Geneva“ weiterlesen

Missiles and sensors: German technology for the Turkish drone war

Turkey’s best-selling armed drone is equipped with cameras from German company Hensoldt, a spokesperson confirms. The device could guide missiles developed with German help to a target. The government in Berlin also has a stake in the defence company. Turkey uses the drones for attacks that violate international law.

For almost two decades, companies from the USA and Israel were the undisputed market leaders for armed drones, but now China and Turkey can count more and more exports in their favour. The Turkish „Bayraktar TB2“, which has been used by the government in Ankara since 2016 in the Turkish, Syrian and Iraqi parts of Kurdistan in violation of international law, is particularly attracting attention. In the four-month Operation Olive Branch in Kurdish Rojava alone, the „TB2“ is said to have scored 449 direct hits and enabled fighter planes or helicopters in 680 occasions to do so.

The drone with a payload of 65 kilograms is manufactured by Baykar; its namesake and founder is Selçuk Bayraktar, who is now also the son-in-law of the Turkish president. The „TB2“ has also flown attacks on enemy troops for the Tripoli government in Libya and on behalf of Azerbaijan; it may even have been decisive in the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. After Qatar, Ukraine, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkmenistan, Baykar is to sell the drone as the first NATO country to Poland, interest is also reportedly coming from Lithuania. „Missiles and sensors: German technology for the Turkish drone war“ weiterlesen

The Turkish Drone War over Nagorno-Karabakh: Gamechanger for more unmanned armament?

Video lecture 11 March at 7 pm (CET)

The lecture in English was simultaneously translated into German. See it on YouTube in original language.

The war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in autumn 2020 is considered the first inter-state conflict won through the use of armed drones. Turkey supported Azerbaijan’s fighting with its „Bayraktar TB2“. Compared to the drones of the previous market leaders from the USA and Israel, these are smaller and considerably cheaper. Germany supplied technology for the production of ammunition. The deployment was preceded by attacks in Syria, Kurdistan and Libya.

After the USA, Israel and China, Turkey now also wants to become an armed drone power. This arms race serves as an argument for many states to also acquire unmanned weapon systems. In the military, however, their increasing proliferation is also prompting new efforts to modernise air defences.

We therefore look into the question of how armed drones have already changed today’s warfare.

Chris Cole, co-founder of the Dronewars UK initiative
Bahruz Samadov, PhD student and author from Azerbaijan
Gevorg Mnatsakanyan, journalist and conscript from Armenia
Kamaran Othman, human rights observer for the Christian Peacemaker Team in Iraqi Kurdistan

Moderation: Matthias Monroy

Image: Bayraktar TB2 at Victory Parade in Baku (President.az, CC BY 4.0).

 

Big business with throw-away military drones

The defence company Airbus is expected to have produced 2,000 target drones soon, at a unit price in the six-digit range. The Bundeswehr uses them for air defence training. Further missions are testing swarms of drones.

To train air defence forces, the military simulates another aerial vehicle or an approaching missile with so-called target drones. The unmanned aircraft is then not always shot down, sometimes only the detection and tracking of the target is tested.

The Bundeswehr has been using target drones since the 1980s at the latest. Initially, the troops flew a petrol-powered model aircraft, for example the KZD-2 („Kleinziel-Drohne 2“). „Big business with throw-away military drones“ weiterlesen

Ukraine and Serbia are new European drone powers

Four European states now have armed drones, two of which already use them to combat „terrorism“. Another four might consider to weaponize units which have already been ordered, including Germany. All leading manufacturers of unmanned weapons systems from the USA, China, Turkey and Israel could then be represented in Europe.

The Serbian government has received a delivery of armed drones from China. Six CH-92A („Rainbow“) drones and 18 air-to-ground missiles arrived at a military airport near Belgrade a few days ago, according to local media.

The two systems are comprised of three drones each and the respective ground stations. Serbia had ordered a total of nine drones, which together are said to have cost around 27 million Euros. According to reports, a follow-up order for a further 15 drones has been agreed. „Ukraine and Serbia are new European drone powers“ weiterlesen