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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IAV 2022: FN and Thales demonstrate RWS rocket capability

by Andrew Galer

FN Herstal has been working with Thales Belgium to demonstrate a guided rocket capability that could be added to the FN deFNder Remote Weapon Station (RWS) system.

Speaking at the International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) conference being held in London from 24 to 27 January, an FN spokesperson noted that proof of concept tests were initially conducted with Thales France in 2020 using a 68 mm unguided rocket, before they joined with Thales Belgium to use a 70 mm guided rocket in test firings in March 2021. This was understood to have used the Thales FZ275 and incorporated a semi-active laser seeker; the tests were reported to have achieved an accuracy of 1 m at a range of up to 7 km.

The rockets are launched from pods of two but, depending on customer requirements, could have a second pod added and are intended to complement the existing 12.7 mm machine gun and modular deFNder RWS. This will add precision and range from 2 km up to 7 km and therefore well beyond the machine gun's effective range.

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IAV 2022: Boxer bulks up

by Nicholas Fiorenza

A 41 tonne Boxer without a mission module mastered a 1 m vertical step during trials in December 2021. (Artec)

Rheinmetall Landsysteme-Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) joint venture Artec conducted trials in December 2021 with a Boxer armoured vehicle weighing 41 tonnes, Janes learned at the International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) 2022 conference being held in London on 24–27 January.

Artec managing director Stefan Lischka revealed during a presentation at IAV 2022 on 25 January that the Boxer, without a mission module, traversed gaps up to 2.2 m, climbed a 60° slope, and mastered a 1 m vertical step during the trials. He said there was no actual customer requirement for such a heavy Boxer but placed the trials in the context of armoured fighting vehicles gaining 20–30% more weight within 20 years of first being introduced because of protection enhancements.

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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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