Loitering munition: Rheinmetall sells first kamikaze drones to NATO state

In the present wars, the military is increasingly using remote-controlled warheads. The German defence ministry calls such weapons „worrying“. But after similar plans a decade ago, the Bundeswehr is again considering to procure them.

For the first time, the arms manufacturer Rheinmetall has won an order for its loitering munition. According to a press release from last September, the unnamed customer is a special forces unit of a NATO state. Rheinmetall states the value of the order to be in the „single-digit million euro range“. Delivery is scheduled until 2023.

The NATO buyer, which according to speculation could be Hungary, has ordered the HERO-30. This is the smallest version of the HERO family of „loiter-capable munitions“, which can circle over their target for up to 30 minutes. It is launched from a tube using compressed air, unfolds its pivoting wings in flight and is powered by a silent electric motor. „Loitering munition: Rheinmetall sells first kamikaze drones to NATO state“ weiterlesen

Criticism over research: EU Commission funds platform to predict „migration flows“

In an Open Letter, eleven organisations criticise the creation of an infrastructure for predictive migration technologies. The tool, which is also supposed to anticipate „tensions“, is based on „artificial intelligence“. It could therefore contradict a forthcoming EU regulation.

To prevent or at least control unwanted migration, the European Union has various tools at its disposal to support its member states. Central to this is the border agency Frontex, which monitors the EU external borders with satellites, aircraft and drones. Frontex also conducts regular reconnaissance of the „pre-frontier area“ far from European shores. With 30 African states, the agency has started its own network for this purpose, which also processes intelligence information.

Now the EU Commission wants to go one step further. With the help of data from various sources, a so-called EUMigraTool is to predict and control „migration flows“ in Europe. The modelling and prediction is to be carried out using „deep learning“. In its first stage, theEUMigraTool is not intended to support the deterrence, but the reception, resettlement and relocation of refugees. Several civil society organisations and individuals nevertheless demand in an open letter that the project be stopped. „Criticism over research: EU Commission funds platform to predict „migration flows““ weiterlesen

Plans for more data exchange: EU agreement with Interpol delayed

So far, only EU states and Europol are allowed to access databases at Interpol, but soon Frontex and the new public prosecutor’s office will be allowed to do so as well. The EU Parliament has drawn red lines for the negotiations.

As an intergovernmental organisation, Interpol aims to facilitate international police cooperation in the field of terrorism and serious crime. With 195 member countries, it is the largest organisation of its kind in the world, run by the General Secretariat in Lyon, France. However, it is an informal, i.e. private association, because Interpol is not linked to any other international organisation.

Interpol already cooperates with law enforcement agencies of the European Union at various levels and in various projects, including „integrated border management“ in addition to the organisation’s actual areas of responsibility. This cooperation is now to be carried out under a new agreement. The EU Commission already presented a proposal for this in the spring of last year. However, the negotiations are at a standstill. „Plans for more data exchange: EU agreement with Interpol delayed“ weiterlesen

German Air Force in Afghanistan and Mali: Drone operator talks on his severe trauma

For the first time, a German „Master of a Drone System“ reports heavy stress disorders and depression just from watching from the air. With the upcoming introduction of armed drones, the phenomenon is likely to get worse.

After about a decade of „drone debate“, the German Bundestag decided in April to arm drones for the Bundeswehr. Beforehand, the Ministry of Defence had invited a few critical voices to hearings, in addition to many supporters. Among other things, they warned of the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for pilots, but especially for the personnel operating the sensor technology. This was also reported by former members of US drone squadrons – but outside the official events of the German Ministry of Defence, which deliberately refrained from inviting them.

The 45 year old André Hassan Khan is the first German Armed Forces drone operator to speak out about his PTSD, which he says has taken a severe course. Since its introduction twelve years ago, he has operated the optical and radar-based cameras of the Israeli Heron 1 reconnaissance drone with the air force in Afghanistan and later in Mali. Khan is a „Tactical Operator Master of a Drone System“. That is the name of the training course at Tactical Air Force Squadron 51 „Immelmann“ in Schleswig-Holstein, which operates the Bundeswehr drones. „German Air Force in Afghanistan and Mali: Drone operator talks on his severe trauma“ weiterlesen

Equipment and training: Germany supports police build-up in Croatia

The Croatian police are known for their brutality and human rights violations at the country’s external borders, yet the German governments continues to train them. Number plate scanners, thermal imaging cameras and vehicles could be used for pushbacks in violation of international law.

Croatia has been an official member of the European Union since 2013. Until then, the Western Balkan state has received the usual financial „pre-accession aid“ to get fit for joining the Schengen area. However, the country is still denied full application of the Schengen acquis because of concerns raised by France and the Netherlands about the lack of rule of law. Therefore, internal border controls with neighbouring EU states Slovenia and Hungary continue.

However, one reason for the blockade of full Schengen application by individual EU members could also be Croatia’s function as a bulwark on the so-called „Balkan route“. Many refugees cross the country to reach wealthier EU states and apply for asylum there. Maintaining internal border controls with its northern neighbours could make this unwanted migration more difficult. „Equipment and training: Germany supports police build-up in Croatia“ weiterlesen

Criticism also of COP 27: Egyptian blogger still on hunger strike

Egyptians in exile are currently protesting for the release of blogger and democracy activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah. A Berlin based solidarity group has also criticised Germany, which is an important trading partner of the regime in Cairo and wants to import „green energy“.

The Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abd el-Fattah is considered one of the faces of the 2011 revolution, but the government keeps imprisoning him. He has been on hunger strike since 2 April, eating only 100 calories a day. Alaa also has British citizenship, so his supporters are protesting in front of British consulates and embassies. The new solidarity group OccupyCOP27 from Berlin responds about this. „Criticism also of COP 27: Egyptian blogger still on hunger strike“ weiterlesen

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

End of Berlin model project: Politicians, police dispute about tasers

Since the turn of the millennium, German special forces have been equipped with „distance electric pulse devices“, and more and more states now allow them in patrol duty. Within three years, six people died in Germany after being shot. The use of this weapon is contested in Berlin.

For five years, the police in Berlin have been testing tasers in everyday service. The Berlin tabloid B.Z. reported last week that this trial run, which has already been extended by one year, is to end without continuing, citing an email from State Secretary Torsten Akmann (Social Democratic Party, SPD). His party colleague and superior Senator of the Interior, Iris Spranger, contradicts this today in a press release that begins with the words „The taser must stay“. The Social Democrat had already made similar statements to the dpa press agency. „End of Berlin model project: Politicians, police dispute about tasers“ weiterlesen

Sea rescue off Libya: Flight bans by Tripoli violate international law

The Scientific Services of the German Bundestag consider it against two international conventions that Libya prohibits a private rescue organisation from flying over high seas. The Berlin government agrees, but does not change the problem. Therefore, the International Civil Aviation Organisation cannot intervene either.

The ban on civilian flights for sea rescue in the central Mediterranean by Libyan authorities violates international law. This had already been confirmed by the Scientific Services of the Bundestag in an assessment at the end of June. Now the German government agrees with this assessment. The demand for permission to fly outside state territory is „contrary to the principle of freedom of overflight on the high seas“, according to the answer to a parliamentary question.

According to the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, the Libyan aviation authority oversees a Flight Information Region (FIR) that extends outside the twelve-mile zone over large parts of the southern Mediterranean. Before entering a FIR, pilots must register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and declare their destination. However, the central Mediterranean is considered uncontrolled airspace where no such declaration is required. Aviation authorities are not allowed to impose restrictions there, at best, they can only provide indications and information, the Bundestag assessment explains. „Sea rescue off Libya: Flight bans by Tripoli violate international law“ weiterlesen

Military reconnaissance: German drones in use in Ukraine

The German Ministry of Defence is supplying a total of 43 unarmed aerial drones to its partner in Ukraine, as well as various technology to defend against such systems. In addition, there is talk of up to 20 naval drones.

The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine has received a first delivery of reconnaissance drones from Germany. They come from the company Quantum Systems, which has its headquarters in Gilching near Munich. According to a press release, some of the drones are already in use. The handover of further aircraft is said to be „in preparation and processing stage“.

Unmanned systems are playing an increasingly important role in the Ukraine war. Armed drones from Turkey have caused major losses for the Russian military; due to the lack of its own assets, the government in Moscow is now relying on imports from Iran. Both sides also use so-called kamikaze drones, which circle above the enemy with a warhead and swoop down on the target when the opportunity is right. „Military reconnaissance: German drones in use in Ukraine“ weiterlesen