States advance on agreeing international norms in cyber operations

by Aude Gery

On 15 April 2021, the United States sanctioned several Russian entities for their involvement in the SolarWinds hack, a cyber-espionage operation that it attributed to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (Sluzhba vneshney razvedki: SVR). Washington denounced the attack on the supply chain and the undue burden on the private sector and invoked Russia’s past behaviour as an argument for strongly responding to the cyber operation. However, it is less clear why the US adopted sanctions for this particular cyber-espionage campaign, as many other examples exist. As explained by Robert Chesney in a blog post on Lawfare on 15 April 2021, it is difficult to establish “what normative line did Russia cross”.

The SolarWinds hack and other malicious cyber activity also refocus attention on international efforts to establish norms for regulating behaviour in cyberspace. The United Nations Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on information and communication technologies (ICTs), in the context of international security, adopted its final report (UN document A/75/816) on 12 March 2021, offering an opportunity to review past agreements made at the UN level and to ask what they might mean for current and future intelligence agency operations in cyberspace.

General Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency, addresses a hearing of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems in Washington, D.C., on 14 May 2021. He took questions regarding the Department of Defense’s preparations for action to prevent future cyber attacks. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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Hypersonix, Kratos, team to develop and fly DART AE hypersonic vehicle

by Richard Scott

The blueprint of the DART AE multimission hypersonic drone technology demonstrator. (Hypersonix Launch Systems)

US contractor Kratos Defense & Security Solutions is to provide the rocket booster motor for the DART AE multimission hypersonic drone technology demonstrator being developed by Australian company Hypersonix Launch Systems.

Announcing the agreement on 25 January, the two companies said they were aiming for a first flight of DART AE in 2023.

DART AE is being developed by Hypersonix as a multimission, hypersonic vehicle fully 3D-printed from high-temperature alloys and powered by a hydrogen-fuelled SPARTAN scramjet engine. Designed to operate at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 12, SPARTAN is described by Hypersonix as a “fifth-generation, zero-emission, clean hydrogen scramjet engine with a publicly disclosable range of 500 km”.

Amiga Engineering has previously been contracted by Hypersonix for the additive engineering build of the SPARTAN scramjet. Manufacture is being undertaken under an Australian government grant, awarded in August 2020, covering the build of a flight-ready scramjet engine and fuel system.

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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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On 15 April 2021, the United States sanctioned several Russian entities for their involvement in the...

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