Global Defence Technology: Issue 68

In this issue: The tech behind exercise Unmanned Warrior, trends in the world’s nuclear arsenals, Germany’s ambitious defence plans, spider silk armour for the US Army, the RAF’s future air capabilities, new trouble with Gerald R. Ford, and more.


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New data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows that while the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world continues to decline, none of the nuclear weapon-owning states are prepared to give up their stockpile and many are indeed modernising their weapons. We find out more about the world’s nuclear arsenals.

Also in this issue, we ask whether Germany has the budget and equipment to fulfil its ambitious plans to take on a leading role in global conflicts, take a look at new ballistic shoot packs for the US military made from spider silk based fibres, and hear from the Royal Air Force’s how it is preparing for future air conflicts in the digital age.

Plus, we take a look inside the Royal Navy’s Unmanned Warrior exercise which is happening throughout October and explore some of the technologies involved, and investigate the issues plaguing the US Navy’s Gerald R Ford carrier.

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In this issue

Dancing Around the Status Quo
New data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows that while the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world continues to decline, none of the nine nuclear weapon-owning states are prepared to give up their arsenals, with a host of modernisation programmes underway. Claire Apthorp reports.
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Germany Gears Up for a New Era
The German Federal Ministry of Defence’s 2016 White Paper came with some sober assessments on the state of European and wider international security challenges. As Claire Apthorp finds out, peace and stability are no long a matter of course in Europe.
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Weaving a Web of Protection
The US Army is testing body armour made with fabric woven from super-tough spider silk, which is produced by genetically engineered silkworms. Berenice Baker speaks to the biotechnology experts behind the Dragon Silk fibre about their journey to commercial-scale production.
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Information in the Age of Digital Warfare
Digital systems since the dawn of the information age have transformed the way the UK’s armed forces plan for and fight in conflicts. Katie Woodward finds out what this means for the Royal Air Force.
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Inside Exercise Unmanned Warrior
This month the Royal Navy is hosting a large-scale demonstration of maritime autonomous systems, which will see 40 participants from industry, academia and defence operating unmanned and autonomous vehicles. Katie Woodward finds out more about the Unmanned Warrior exercise from project leader Commander Peter Pipkin.
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Unmanned Warrior: the Technologies
From cloud-based planning to unmanned raceboats and from aerial support to autonomous mine hunting, Katie Woodward takes a look at some of the technologies that will be demonstrated at the Royal Navy’s Unmanned Warrior exercise this month.
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Gerald R Ford: Ready or Not?
The US Navy’s $12.9bn Gerald R Ford carrier is suffering from a number of issues which could affect major areas of flight operations, rendering it “not ready for warfare”, according to a leaked Department of Defense memo. Claire Apthorp finds out more.
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Next issue preview

The British Army has admitted that Russia could outgun British troops on the battlefield in a leaked report assessing the firepower and technology developed by the country. A report seen by The Times warns that Russian weapons are more powerful than their British equivalents, and that a planned fleet of British armoured vehicles would be “disproportionately vulnerable” to Russian mortar and rocket fire in the event of a war. So how exactly did Putin’s army gain the edge, and what can the British MoD do to keep up?

We also look into the growing trend of military allies sharing bases and logistics infrastructure, hear from QinetiQ about the threats to GPS-guided weapons, and find out how General Motors and the US Army are using commercial automotive technology to develop military electric vehicles. Plus, we explore the contenders for the US Air Force’s T-X jet trainer programme and ask what lessons defence contractors can learn from the recent data breach at DCNS which leaked secret information about the combat capabilities of a French submarine.

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