US DoD pushes for domestic production of critical, rare earths

by Carlo Munoz

MP Materials is building a rare earths separation facility in Mountain Pass, California. (MP Materials)

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is pushing for increased domestic production of lithium and nickel, agreeing to funnel a total of USD110.6 million to support the reopening of US-based mining operations for the critical materials.

The USD90 million lithium production initiative is being spearheaded by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Industrial Base Policy, and funding for the effort was pulled from the Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act, which was approved by the US Congress in 2022.

As part of the deal, DoD's Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization (MCEIP) office will provide the finds to North Carolina-based Albemarle Corporation “to support the expansion of domestic mining and production of lithium”, according to an initial 12 September Pentagon statement.


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US Marine Corps pinning tactical vehicle budget decisions on infantry experiment

by Meredith Roaten

The US Marine Corps ACV is designed to deploy off the back of a ship and swim in open waters as well as operate in littoral environments. (US Marine Corps)

Amphibious combat vehicles (ACVs) and other tactical vehicles find themselves with an uncertain future until after the US Marine Corps (USMC) finishes its Infantry Battalion Experimentation (IBX), service officials said in January.

The USMC first released its Ground Combat and Tactical Vehicle Strategy (GCTVS) in 2021, but service leaders have since incorporated the vehicle strategy into the budgeting process, said Kevin McConnell, deputy director for fires and manoeuvre at USMC Ground Combat Element division. The ACV, Ultra-Light Tactical Vehicle (ULTV), and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) will be part of the USMC's analysis of IBX “to see if that is going to warrant reprioritisation of our vehicle procurements”, he told Janes in an interview on 18 January.


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EU explores harnessing Copernicus for military applications

by Olivia Savage

Sentinel‐1A, launched in 2014, was the first Earth-observation satellite built for Europe's Copernicus programme. (ESA)

The European Union (EU) awarded separate contracts to two consortiums led by Telespazio and OHB System on 23 January to explore the feasibility of exploiting the Copernicus Earth-observation constellation for defence.

The two contracts were awarded as part of the Earth Observation Governmental Service (EOGS), which seeks to bolster the defence and security of the EU member states. The selected consortiums will now compete to explore how best to deliver and implement the service under two simultaneous 12-month long studies.

Work will commence in the first quarter of 2024 and may include the development of new satellite-based reconnaissance capabilities at the European level. The aim is to make the service available to the EU and its member statesin the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework (2028–34).

Germany-based OHB System is leading one of the studies in conjunction with French CS Group and OHB Digital Connect. The contract is valued at EUR2.4 million (USD2.6 million) and includes additional partners: Geosystems, OHB Digital Services, Tekever, Geo4i, OHB Sweden, Officina Stellare, and Bird & Bird.


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Pakistan launches retaliatory strike on Iran

by Akhil Kadidal

Pakistan's retaliatory strike on 18 January was in response to an Iranian attack on 16 January. PAF assets at Shahbaz airbase and Turbat International Airport were possibly used in the strike. (Janes)

Pakistan's military conducted a retaliatory airstrike on Iran on 18 January in response to Tehran using missiles and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on alleged insurgents in western Pakistan on 16 January.

Pakistan military's Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate said on 18 January that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had struck targets inside Iran using “UAVs, rockets, loitering munitions, and stand-off weapons” that morning.

According to the ISPR, the targets were strongholds and hideouts of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF). These groups seek greater autonomy in southwestern Pakistan's Balochistan region. Islamabad identifies both groups as terrorist organisations.

Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said on 18 January that the attacks were conducted on locations in the Sistan-o-Baluchestan province in eastern Iran. An MoFA spokesperson said that the PAF strikes were conducted “in light of credible evidence of impending large-scale terrorist activity against Pakistan”.


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The US Department of Defense (DoD) is pushing for increased domestic production of lithium and nicke...

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