New Czech defence minister sets her priorities

by Nicholas Fiorenza

The Czech procurement of 210 tracked IFVs is one of the priorities of new Defence Minister Jana Černochová. The contenders (from left to right) are the BAE Systems Hägglunds CV90 Mk IV, Rheinmetall Lynx KF41, and GDELS ASCOD 42. (Czech MoD)

New Czech Defence Minister Jana Černochová presented her ministry's priorities during a press conference on 10 January. This includes meeting the NATO goal of spending 2% of GDP on defence in 2025, as agreed by the new Czech government that was inaugurated in mid-December, and setting up a special defence fund for strategic modernisation projects as early as 2023 or in 2024.

Černochová expects the defence fund to provide greater predictability and flexibility, with funding secured for individual years. “Once the acquisition process begins, virtual funding will be deposited, and when the process nears completion, the Finance Ministry will transfer the necessary amount,” she explained.

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Australian, New Zealand defence forces launch Tonga relief operations

by Jon Grevatt & Ridzwan Rahmat

The Royal Australian Navy's landing helicopter dock ship HMAS Adelaide pictured departing Sydney in support of disaster relief efforts in Tonga. (Commonwealth of Australia)

Australia and New Zealand have dispatched vessels and surveillance aircraft to assist with recovery and relief efforts in Tonga, which was hit by a tsunami caused by an underwater volcano eruption in the South Pacific on 15 January.

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) told Janes on 18 January that Australian Defence Force (ADF) assets to have been deployed in surveillance operations include a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and a C-130J transport aircraft.

A DoD spokesperson said that the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is also preparing to launch an aid mission supported by its Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) ship HMAS Adelaide.

The spokesperson said, “At the moment, we are surveying the damage. HMAS Adelaide is on its way from Sydney to Brisbane with the aim to launch an aid mission for Tonga. But at this moment we don't yet know the full extent and scope of what that aid will be.”

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Update: Bulgaria receives special forces vehicles

by Aleksandar Mladenov & Krasimir Grozev & David Ing & Nicholas Fiorenza

The Bulgarian MoD received the first batch of 45 armoured vehicles for its JSOC on 21 December 2021. (Bulgarian MoD)

The Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on its website on 21 December 2021 that it had received the first batch of 45 armoured vehicles from Samel-90 for its Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that day. The MoD said 98 vehicles would be built in 10 different versions, with deliveries to be completed by the end of 2022.

The MoD signed the urgent procurement contract for the vehicles with Samel-90 in December 2020. The Bulgarian manufacturer has a joint venture with the UAE-based International Armored Group (IAG), which has the design authority for the vehicles, with final assembly and customisation taking place at Samel-90's new factory in Samokov, southwest of Sofia.

JSOC commander Major General Yavor Mateev told Bulgarian military TV on 21 December 2021 that the first vehicle is intended for major tactical employments, with the up-armoured Toyota Land Cruiser 70 series to be employed when greater mobility is required. He added that both models had undergone major customisation work to meet a specific set of Bulgarian MoD requirements.

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US Army moves ahead with Stryker-based 50 kW-class laser weapon test plan

by Ashley Roque

A US Army DE M-SHORAD prototype. The service plans to host an upcoming round of prototype testing to further refine the design before providing soldiers with an initial version in September 2022. (US Army)

The US Army will continue testing Stryker vehicles integrated with 50 kW-class lasers in anticipation of sending the weapon to the first unit in September, according to a service leader.

Lieutenant General Neil Thurgood, the army's director of hypersonics, directed energy, space, and rapid acquisition, participated in a Center for Strategic and International Studies event on 12 January and fielded questions about a range of development capabilities including the Directed Energy Manoeuvre-Short Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) programme, which is now dubbed the Guardian. Service officials announced last year that a Raytheon-backed team had been tasked with progressing the development effort after a Northrop Grumman prototype was forced out because of technical challenges. Kord Technologies is the programme's prime contractor and was overseeing both teams.

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New Czech Defence Minister Jana Černochová presented her ministry's priorities during a press confer...

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