EU launches new strategic airlifter effort

by Gareth Jennings

With the Strategic Airlift Capability (pictured) one of a number of existing NATO and European pooled airlift programmes, the EU is now looking to develop an outsized airlift capability via the SATOC effort. (NATO)

The European Union (EU) has launched an effort to develop a new strategic airlifter to fill a critical capability shortfall.

The European Council's Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) fund will support the development of such a capability under the Strategic Air Transport for Outsized Cargo (SATOC) project, included as part of a wider list of 47 existing and new projects announced on 16 November.

“The five-nation Project SATOC aims to fill the critical shortfall for strategic transport for outsized and heavy cargo, a crucial enabler for military missions and operations,” the European Defence Agency (EDA) said. “SATOC involves a gradual three-step approach, firstly by identifying a sufficient number of project members – with possible third state participation – harmonising requirements, and finally identifying and agreeing on a common European solution for the transport of outsized cargo.”

As noted by the EDA, the five nations involved in SATOC comprise Germany (project co-ordinator), the Czech Republic, France, Netherlands, and Slovenia.


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Austria receives Rheinmetall C-UAS system for evaluation

by Nicholas Fiorenza

Austria has received a Rheinmetall C-UAS platform for six months of evaluation and testing. (Rheinmetall)

Austria has received a Rheinmetall Air Defence counter-unmanned aerial system (C-UAS) platform that defends against small unmanned aerial vehicles for six months of evaluation and testing, the German company announced in a press release on 23 May.

Rheinmetall said the system has two shelter units that can be rapidly deployed by standard trucks and trailers. The sensor unit elevates automatically and can be equipped with detection systems including X-band and S-band radar, a passive emitter locator, and ADS-B receiver, with verification and tracking provided by an integrated, stabilized 360° electro-optical pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) sensor. The command-and-control shelter is based on the Oerlikon Skymaster system, providing sensor data fusion, threat evaluation, and operational functions including integrated target cueing, weapon assignment, and links to higher command levels.


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China, Russia fly bombers to ‘counter' Quad summit

by Akhil Kadidal

A Tu-95 bomber of the Russian Air Force flies over the Sea of Japan on 24 May 2022. (Japan Ministry of Defense)

Japan and South Korea scrambled its fighters to intercept a “provocative” joint exercise by four Chinese and two Russian strategic bombers in the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea on 24 May.

The exercise appears to be a show of force by Beijing and Moscow pointed at the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad), which was taking place in Tokyo on that same day. The meeting was attended by the leaders of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States.

Two Chinese Xian H-6 bombers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) were detected flying from the East China Sea to the Sea of the Japan in the morning. The H-6s were joined by two Tupolov Tu-95 strategic bombers of the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) in the sea of Japan.

The four bombers proceeded on a southwestern course. In the afternoon, two new PLA H-6s replaced the earlier two H-6s in the formation. The aircraft then flew through the Miyako Strait between Okinawa and Miyakojima islands, into the Western Pacific.


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Quick-fielding contracting model touted for US Navy Task Force 59 unmanned systems in the Middle East

by Michael Fabey

The US Navy Task Force 59 is experimenting with Saildrone platforms. (Saildrone)

The contracting model employed by US Navy (USN) Task Force 59 (TF 59) makes it possible to field, test, and evaluate unmanned systems quickly in the Middle East, according to Michael Stewart, USN Unmanned Task Force lead.

“Task Force 59 is using a fee-for-service contracting model,” Stewart said on 25 May during a media roundtable update on unmanned systems' work. “They can get stuff out there really quick. They see it, lease it, get it into the theatre and test it.”

Established by the US 5th Fleet in September 2021, TF 59 works closely with members of industry and academia as well as other experts to provide operator feedback and help drive the innovation process forward for unmanned systems.

TF 59 is testing the limits of commercial technology, Stewart noted. “They are trying to get to the leading edge of commercial [technology] and see what the gaps are.”

In particular, he cited the task force's work with Martac unmanned surface vessels (USVs) and Saildrone unmanned platforms.


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The European Union (EU) has launched an effort to develop a new strategic airlifter to fill a critic...

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