EU tracks Chinese and Russian vaccine disinformation campaigns

by Brooks Tigner

China and Russia have shifted their pandemic-related disinformation strategies against the West from distortions about face-masks and the Covid-19 virus itself to Europe’s “failed” public health campaigns and alleged attempts to suppress non-Western vaccines, according to the EU’s European External Action Service (EEAS). In its 28 April analysis of fake news about the virus and its impact, the EEAS stated, “Since the beginning of 2021 state-sponsored disinformation has intensified, targeting in particular Western-developed vaccines. ‘Vaccine’ diplomacy has fully replaced ‘mask’ diplomacy.”

The report, entitled ‘Short Assessment of Narratives and Disinformation Around the COVID-19 Pandemic’, is the EEAS’s sixth since the global spread of the disease began in early 2020. “What we see is a new tendency of an extremely hyper-aggressive promotion of those two countries’ national vaccines, which is often combined with equally aggressive denigration or undermining of the other [Western] side,” a senior EU official told Janes just before the report’s release. “Trolling and very targeted campaigns aimed at suppressing social media dialogue are a big red line that has been crossed in recent months.”

High Representative of EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell (far right, seated) attends an event as part of the 10th anniversary of the European External Action Service (EEAS), in Brussels, Belgium, on 1 December 2020. An EEAS task force has been central to the EU’s efforts to monitor Chinese and Russian disinformation campaigns. (Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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France orders camouflage nets from Saab

by Nicholas Fiorenza

The DGA ordered 3,000 multispectral camouflage nets from Saab Barracuda on 21 January. (DGA)

The Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA), France's defence procurement agency, announced on its website on 27 February that it had ordered 3,000 multispectral camouflage nets from Saab Barracuda on 21 January under its Filet écran radar-IR (Fenrir) procurement programme.

Under the EUR30 million (USD32.4 million) contract, the French Army and Air and Space Force will receive multispectral camouflage nets between 2024 and 2026, which the DGA expects to “significantly improve” the ability to conceal division, brigade, combined joint force, and vehicle command posts, masking their visible, infrared, and radar signatures so they blend more easily into the environment. They will be provided for four different environments: northern Europe, southern Europe, desert, and snow.

The camouflage nets were developed over two years by Saab and the Section Technique de l'Armée de Terre (STAT), the French Army's Technical Section, to meet French forces' requirements.

Saab has subcontracted the French small- and medium-sized enterprise Solarmtex in Vierzon to manufacture and assemble the camouflage nets in a new factory.

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General Atomics XQ-67A Off-Board Sensing Station conducts first flight

by Zach Rosenberg

The XQ-67A in flight (location unknown). (GA-ASI)

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has flown the XQ-67A unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the first time, the company announced on 29 February.

“Flight demonstration of this system is a major first step towards showing the ability to produce affordable combat mass,” said Trenton White, Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL's) Off-Board Sensing Station (OBSS) programme manager, in a statement announcing the flight.

The flight took place on 28 February at GA-ASI's Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility, outside Palmdale, California.

It comes a year after the AFRL selected GA-ASI to build the XQ-67A under the OBSS programme, intended to result in a UAV that could fly ahead of manned aircraft and pass data back, effectively extending their ability to detect and track targets.

“OBSS is the first aircraft type built and flown using a common core chassis developed by GA-ASI that promotes commonality across multiple vehicle types,” said Michael Atwood, GA-ASI vice-president of advanced programmes.

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Poland to acquire IBCS for Wisla and Narew air-defence systems

by Olivia Savage & Meredith Roaten

Poland signs an agreement for IBCS air and missile defence C2 capability for phase two of the Wisła programme and the Narew short-range air-defence system. Pictured is the interior of the IBCS Engagement Operations Centre, which Poland will receive under phase two of Wisła. (Northrop Grumman)

Poland has signed a USD2.53 billion agreement with the US government for the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).

Spanning from 2024 to 2031, the impending contract will involve integrating the IBCS with Poland's Narew and Wisła air and missile defence systems, the Polish Armaments Agency announced on 29 February.

Northrop Grumman spokesperson Jarrod Krull told Janes on 29 February that the company expects to receive Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract from the US government in the coming months to further deliver the IBCS to Poland.

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