UK announces nearly GBP400 to enhance RAF airlift capabilities

by Gareth Jennings

The MoD has announced an investment of nearly GBP400 million in the RAF's heavy airlift capabilities, which includes defensive aids upgrades for a portion of the Chinook helicopter fleet. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The United Kingdom has announced almost GBP400 million (USD553 million) in additional funding to boost the heavy airlift capabilities of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The investment announced by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 12 September covers enhancements to the RAF's rotary- and fixed-wing heavy transport fleets, with both the Boeing CH-47 Chinook and Boeing C-17 Globemaster III earmarked for upgrades over the coming five-years.

“The investment builds on commitments outlined in the Defence Command Paper earlier this year, which confirms an operational obligation to both aircraft as part of the Integrated Force 2030 approach. This is further supported by the GBP24 billion increase in defence spending over the next four years, announced by the Prime Minister in November 2020,” the MoD said.

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IRGC unveils UGVs

by Jeremy Binnie

Most of the UGVs that were displayed were EOD robots. (

Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) shed some light on its robotics programmes when it displayed dozens of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) during a ceremony to hand over equipment to explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams on 20 September.

More than 30 UGVs were seen displayed in photographs of the event, most of which were a tracked type configured as an EOD robot with a manipulator arm fitted with a camera and disruptor. The same type was also seen configured with a different sensor package and labelled as the ‘Hafez fire-fighting robot'.

Several more of this type of UGV were displayed without sensors or effectors and one was mocked-up with two small forward-firing rockets or missiles.

A much larger eight-wheeled UGV labelled as the ‘Qasim' was positioned as the centrepiece of the display. This was shown carrying a multicopter unmanned aircraft but was sufficiently large that it could potentially be used to carry weapons, casualties, or supplies.

A smaller tracked robot with flippers to enable it to travel over obstacles was labelled as the ‘Fajr cameraman robot'.

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DSEI 2021: British Army demonstrates progress with HED-powered prototypes

by Peter Felstead

A HED-equipped Jackal 2 high-mobility patrol vehicle and Foxhound protected patrol vehicle demonstrating silent running outside the ExCel Centre at DSEI 2021. (Janes/P Felstead)

Evidence that the power and mobility advantages of vehicles powered by hybrid electric drive (HED) are approaching real-world utility on the modern battlefield was in evidence at this month's DSEI exhibition in London in the form of three vehicles demonstrated by the British Army.

The three vehicles – a Jackal 2 4×4 high-mobility patrol vehicle, a Foxhound 4×4 protected patrol vehicle and a MAN SV 4×4 6-tonne tactical truck – each featured various commercially available HED systems supplied by UK firm Magtec. The Jackal, for example, has a four-cylinder Cummins diesel instead of the original vehicle's six-cylinder powerpack; a 150 kW electric generator; a 60 kW/hr battery; and four traction motors each rated at 50 kW driving the wheels.

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France to cut Sahel force by up to 3,000 in two years

by Jean-Marc Tanguy

Task Force Sabre, France's special operations force in the Sahel, will remain largely untouched by the cuts. (Jean-Marc Tanguy)

French officials have revealed new details of the planned drawdown in the Sahel region that was announced by President Emmanuel Macron in June.

France currently has about 5,500 troops committed to Operation Barkhane: its mission is to counter Islamist militants in the Sahel since 2014. This number will be cut to “between 2,500 and 3,000” by 2023, according to Colonel Pascal Ianni, the spokesperson for the French Armed Forces Staff. But the reduction could be accelerated after France's presidential election in April 2022, depending on who is elected.

Most of the personnel to be withdrawn will be ground forces, with the presence in Mali effectively reduced from three battalions to one.

The drawdown is now under way, with a source close to French Defence Minister Florence Parly telling Janes that Macron ordered it to be completed by the end of this year.

The three main bases in northern Mali (Timbuktu, Tessalit, and Kidal) are being evacuated and will be transferred to the UN mission in Mali and Malian Armed Forces (FAMa).

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