Biden's Africa policy set to focus on key hotspots

by Duncan Woodside

Since assuming office on 20 January, US President Joe Biden has repeatedly underscored that the United States is returning to the forefront of multilateral diplomacy, reversing the global withdrawal under his predecessor, Donald Trump. Addressing the African Union Summit on 5 February, Biden promised to “rebuild partnerships around the world and re-engage” to confront destabilising issues ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic to the continent’s multiple conflicts.

One of Biden’s first acts in office was to sign an executive order overturning Trump’s visa restrictions on countries including Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, and Tanzania. His administration also rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement and World Health Organization – both abandoned by Trump.

In a further departure from Trump – and also from former president Barack Obama’s administration (2009–16), when Biden was vice-president – the Biden administration is reviewing Washington’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) strike operations, a military tactic that proliferated under both his predecessors and provoked controversy owing to persistent civilian casualties. This move feeds into a wider drive to enhance accountability and a strong rhetorical emphasis on human rights, exemplified also by Biden’s promise of a ‘Summit for Democracy.’

Principal areas of US concern in Africa (© 2021 Janes)

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USMC stands up first operational CH-53K unit

by Gareth Jennings

A CH-53K King Stallion (foreground) and a CH-53E Super Stallion (background) are staged during a redesignation ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, on 24 January. The squadron received its first CH-53K King Stallion, and the ceremony signified the beginning of the US Marine Corps' modernisation from the legacy CH-53E to the CH-53K in support of the expeditionary warfare vision for future-force employment. (US Marines)

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has stood up its first operational unit for the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter, the service announced on 15 January.

Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 461 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River, North Carolina, has been formally redesignated as the first fleet CH-53K unit, trading in its CH-53E Super Stallions.

“The CH-53K will allow the quick massing of combat power, agile manoeuvre, resilient logistics, and predictive maintenance, and be used in the Marine Corps' execution of expeditionary advanced base operations, a key component of the commandant of the [US] Marine Corps' force design,” the USMC said.

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NATO bolsters enhanced air policing mission

by Gareth Jennings

Two of the F-16s that Denmark is contributing to NATO's enhanced air policing mission. (NATO Allied Air Command)

NATO has bolstered its enhanced air policing (eAP) mission, with nations providing additional aircraft as concerns over Russian military action in Ukraine grow.

The alliance announced on 26 January that US Air Force (USAF) Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles and Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons were being dispatched to Estonia and Lithuania respectively to supplement the current Baltic Air Policing mission.

“[USAF] F-15s have landed at Amari Air Base, Estonia, [on 26 Janaury] and [RDAF] F-16s will arrive at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, [on 27 January] to bolster the forces already deployed under the long-established NATO Air Policing mission,” NATO Allied Air Command said. “Danish F-16s will arrive in Siauliai to work alongside the Polish F-16s that deployed there on 1 December 2021 to conduct Baltic Air Policing. The US F-15s landed at Amari to integrate with the current detachment of Belgian F-16s; both detachments will execute the enhanced Air Policing mission.”

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IAV 2022 – Metravib eyes new PEARL shot detector with smaller form factor

by Amael Kotlarski

Metravib PEARL. (Giles Ebbutt)

Metravib Defence aims to develop a new version of its Personal Equipment Add-on for Reactive Localization (PEARL) weapon-mounted acoustic shot detector, Janes has learned.

Speaking at the International Armoured Vehicles 2022 conference in London, a company representative told Janes that the next evolution of the PEARL technology would be a smaller and more compact array, able to be directly integrated to the back of the soldier's helmet, or other wearable pieces of equipment.

Although smaller and lighter, this solution would likely come with the trade-off of less precision in the detection of the elevation of the incoming shot.

PEARL is essentially a scaled-down version of Metravib Defence's flagship system, the PILAR V, and was revealed in 2012. PEARL consists of an array of four microphones housed in a single unit. The unit itself weighs around 400 grams and is designed to be mounted to the host weapon via a MIL-STD-1913 ‘Picatinny' rail interface.

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