UAE's Mars Hope Probe plans to reach Mars by 2021

 The UAE Space Agency and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) have announced that 85 percent of the Hope Probe project has been completed.

In a joint statement, the two organizations confirmed that most of the main parts of the project have been completed and are currently undergoing testing.

The probe has already entered an intensive testing phase to ensure its readiness before the launch date, with less than 500 days are remaining for the launch, the statement added. It is planned to reach Mars by 2021, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE.

Several aspects related to the design, assembly of the structure, cameras and control have been verified. So far, the team has checked the probe’s systems and components, as well as its ability to communicate with the ground station.

The scientific devices the probe will be using, including The Emirates eXploration imager (EXI), Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS), and the Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS), are also ready.

These devices are key to achieving the objectives of the scientific mission, which is a deeper and wider understanding of the Martian atmosphere, and the study of climate change and its relationship to atmospheric erosion.

Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said, “The Emirates Mars Mission’s Hope Probe is almost complete. The UAE is on the verge of making history, after turning its dream of becoming the first Arabic and Islamic country to send a spacecraft to Mars into reality.

"This monumental endeavor is the culmination of the efforts of a skilled and experienced team of young Emiratis, who with the support of the nation and its visionary leadership will secure the UAE’s position at the forefront of space exploration and the international space sector.”

Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, director general of MBRSC, said, “Completing 85% of the Hope Probe in this short period was a great challenge that we overcame through the guidance of our wise leadership and the efforts of our youth.”

MBRSC is responsible for the implementation and supervision of EMM – Hope Probe, and its various scientific, educational and awareness initiatives.

The center is also responsible for the execution and supervision of all stages of the design, development and launch of the Hope Probe in 2020.

The UAE Space Agency is funding and supervising procedures and necessary details for the implementation of this project.


UAE Space Agency committed to ‘bridging the space divide in emerging countries’ at GLEC2019

 The UAE Space Agency participated in the Global Conference on Space for Emerging Countries 2019 (GLEC 2019), organized under the theme ‘Bridging the space divide in emerging countries’ that was held between 24 – 26 April in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Key representatives attended the conference from the UAE Space Agency, led by His Excellency Dr. Eng. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, and Chair of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2020 Local Organizing Committee.

During the three-day conference, the Agency highlighted the benefits of space applications and the importance of educating and encouraging youth to study science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM), as expertise in such fields directly contributes to the enhancement of space capabilities within emerging countries.

H.E. Dr. Eng. Al Ahbabi participated in two panel discussions during the conference alongside a number of senior space leaders and decision-makers. The panelists extolled the importance of space programs and activities in contributing to sustainable development in emerging countries.

Commenting on the UAE’s role in motivating, educating, and training young professionals by launching ambitious space projects to provide a promising future for youth in the region, H.E. Dr. Eng. Al Ahbabi said, “The UAE Space Agency’s participation in the Global Conference on Space for Emerging Countries reaffirms our commitment to supporting the growth of the global space sector and engaging with international partners to exchange knowledge and expertise. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to share our experience of developing a national space program with regional and international experts.

“Recently, we announced the formation of the Arab Space Coordination Group, which aims to promote space research, share expertise, and develop opportunities for increased regional collaboration.  We are keen to collaborate with African countries and work with them to unlock the socio-economic benefits of space, added H.E. Dr. Eng. Al Ahbabi”.

H.E. Dr. Eng. Al Ahbabi added, “Space is an excellent vehicle with which to engage with youth across the region and the world to inspire them to study STEM subjects and consider entering the space sector. We continue to highlight opportunities for young people within the sector and look forward to welcoming the international community to Dubai in 2020 for the 71st International Astronautical Congress”.


Dubai-based students launch rockets as part of space education program

 More than 150 aspiring astronauts took the first step in realizing their dreams when they launched their model rockets into the clear blue Dubai sky recently.

Donning blue NASA space suits, excited students from schools across the UAE — accompanied by their eager parents — gathered at the sprawling parking lot of Dubai Parks and Resorts, which served as the launch station for 164 rockets built and fired by the students.

Part of a space education program for children ahead of the UAE’s launch of its first astronaut into the International Space Station (ISS) in September, the event was organized by the Space and Rocketry Academy UAE (SARAUAE), part of Compass International.

Supported by the UAE Space Agency, the region’s biggest model rocket launch was the culmination of SARAUAE camps held over the last 10 months that exposed students to the workings of space missions, creating mission patch, while allowing them to taste real space food.

The children also constructed their very own model rockets, equipped by solid fuel rocket motor engines.

The model rockets were built under the guidance of Michael Flachbart, a NASA expert in model rocketry. “I am really excited to be part of this camp. I joined the camp a few months ago and learnt to build a rocket and also other things about rocket science and space. Rocket science always excited me but before this camp I didn’t know much about it, now I am definitely going into the space sector for higher education,” said Adam Ali, a grade 10 student who was one of the 164 students who launched rockets.

Two types of model rockets were flown: Research Express, a single stage rocket and Sky Metra, a two-stage model.

The rockets were powered by single use, low power pre-packed motors, generally used for basic rocketry. The students built these based on a design approved by the National Association of Rocketry. “It was a really cool experience and I believe this will really help me in the future as I look forward to being an astronaut,” said Noura Al Fardan, a 12-year-old Repton School Dubai student.

Going by the degree of excitement among children for space and rocket science, it seems a significant future population will be in space at any given time and the authorities are happy to channelize the energy.

“We are delighted to support the Space and Rocketry Academy UAE and collaborate with Compass International to raise awareness among students, teachers and parents of the importance of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and space exploration by inviting international experts to the UAE to share their knowledge and experience. Through events, initiatives and activities such as these camps we aim to build national human capacity and inspire the next generation of space pioneers,” said Dr Mohammad Al Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency.


SpaceX successfully launches cargo mission for NASA

 SpaceX has successfully launched a cargo mission for NASA to the International Space Station (ISS), its fifth launch of the year, after being delayed by a few days due to a couple of issues.

The Falcon 9 rocket was lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. On board was an uncrewed Cargo Dragon spacecraft carrying 2,500 kilograms (5,500 pounds) of supplies for the astronauts on the ISS as part of the CRS-17 mission.

“If you have to be up, I can’t think of a better reason than to see one of these launches — it was absolutely spectacular,” Kenny Todd, ISS Operations and Integration manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, said after the launch in a press conference. “We’re really excited to get Dragon on board in a couple of days.”

About eight minutes after launch, the first stage of the rocket landed successfully on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You several miles out in the Atlantic Ocean.

The launch had originally been scheduled to take place earlier this week. But an electrical problem on the ISS caused the mission to be pushed back while the problem was resolved. 

The Dragon spacecraft used on this flight has flown before, on the CRS-12 mission back in August 2017.  But the Falcon 9 rocket itself was brand new – although recovery was important, as NASA are hoping to use the first stage booster of the rocket again on another one or two missions.

Dragon was carrying a variety of supplies and experiments to the ISS, including one that will investigate the possibility of using microalgae for food on long-duration spaceflights, and another that will watch cells make DNA repairs in the micro-gravity environment on the ISS.

When it returns to Earth in four weeks, Dragon will bring back about 1,900 kilograms (4,200 pounds) of experiments, hardware, and supplies. Until then the spacecraft will remain attached to the space station.

“We had a beautiful launch today; it was really great,” Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s Vice President of Mission Assurance, added at the press conference. “Dragon is on the way, the orbiter is great — it’s right on the money.”


More women needed in strategic positions in aviation industry, states Ledwaba

 Despite support at grassroots level from organizations like the Airlines Association of Southern Africa, the environment in the aviation industry is not yet enabling for women, according to Refilwe Ledwaba, founder of the organization Women & Aviation.

Apart from being a social entrepreneur, she is a qualified helicopter and fixed-wing pilot, and passionate about aviation youth development and women empowerment in Africa.

"Women are not given opportunities in positions where they would make strategic decisions in the aviation industry," Ledwaba told Fin24 on the sidelines of the AviaDev aviation development conference in Cape Town.

"Less than 3% of CEOs in the global airline industry are women, for instance. A lot of women work in HR (human resources) in the aviation industry and I am not saying that is not a good career, but there are not enough women in strategy positions, otherwise they would be seen at aviation events like AviaDev."

For her the small percentage of women attending an event like AviaDev shows that the industry is still dominated by men.

"That makes it so important to get more women exposed to taking part and making presentations at aviation events," said Ledwaba.

She suggests that one should start at grassroots level to inspire girls to take subjects like maths and science - to equip them for careers in the technical side of the aviation industry.

"Unfortunately, there are still not enough role models for girls in this regard. At the same time, men are still getting used to women being able to be as good as they are in the aviation industry, while many women still have a perception that they cannot be as good as men in the industry."

She was given the opportunity at AviaDev to share the stage with three young "AviaDev Ambassadors" - young people in the aviation industry in SA.

"If we do not innovate, there will not be any companies left to innovate for," said Ledwaba. "It is very important to start inviting young leaders in the industry to platforms like this to discuss future solutions for challenges in aviation."

Some of the other "AviaDev ambassadors" also shared views on the challenges in the industry.

Kutloana Sebetlela, one of the young AviaDev ambassadors, said many companies do not properly invest in their pilot development plans.

"We are faced with the need to train better pilots faster by using better training systems," she told the audience.

"It is very important to ensure the vetting criteria for candidates for pilot training select the most suitable candidates. Employees must also be equipped with the best data to make sure they can stay relevant."

Kgomotso Mokwena, another one of the young AviaDev ambassadors, explained that Africa has only 3% of the air traffic in the world. She emphasized that two important challenges to address are to create increased air connectivity and explore the contribution secondary airports can make. 

The third young AviaDev ambassador, Shingai George, suggested airlines look into how it can reduce fuel usage, and therefore fuel costs, by removing certain items from the duty-free selections on planes.

He also suggested that the African aviation industry works together to develop a carbon emissions scheme more suitable for the continent.


CAE introduces American Airlines as partner of the CAE Women in Flight scholarship program

 CAE recently made an announcement at the World Aviation Training Symposium its fifth partner for the CAE Women in Flight scholarship program, American Airlines.

“We are very excited to collaborate with American Airlines to offer a scholarship to aspiring female pilots in the US,” said Nick Leontidis, CAE’s Group President, Civil Aviation Training Solutions. “The program encourages passionate and exceptional women to accomplish their goal of becoming professional pilots and inspire a new generation of female pilots.”

CAE is a training provider of the American Airlines Cadet Academy, delivering training at the CAE aviation academy located in Phoenix, Arizona. This first-of-its-kind scholarship program provides an opportunity for future pilots to become first officers at one of American Airlines’ three wholly owned regional carriers, with the opportunity to eventually fly larger aircraft at the airline.

The CAE Women in Flight scholarship recipient will receive a full tuition scholarship that will cover the entire cost of training in the American Airlines Cadet Academy program at CAE, including accommodations and travel. Additionally, the recipient may have the opportunity to become a certified flight instructor (CFI) and work at the CAE aviation academy in Phoenix to gain the number of hours required for certification.

American Airlines joins four other global airline partners who offer CAE Women in Flight scholarships to cadet pilots: Aeromexico, AirAsia, Cityjet and easyJet. CAE will unveil the first scholarship recipients this summer.


Tayaran aviation academy opens in KSA’s KAEC

 The National Aviation Academy of Saudi Arabia (Tayaran) was inaugurated at its headquarters at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) recently by Prince Sultan bin Salman, head of its board of trustees.

The prince said Tayaran had been established to train talented individuals pursuing careers in various aeronautical fields in accordance with the highest international standards, and would provide sustainable employment opportunities for young Saudi citizens. 

“The academy will strengthen the Saudi economy and the aviation industry. With the Kingdom’s strategic position and strong economy, it continues to make great progress in aviation, with the largest airports, the largest freight jets, and many significant international aviation conferences and forums,” he said.

Tayaran’s general manager, Capt. Mohammed Al-Subaiei, said the academy would support 1,650 trainees annually, including 1,200 in aircraft maintenance and 450 pilots, making it the largest center of its kind in the Middle East. There are also programs to sponsor talented students unable to fund themselves.

“We have 35 male sponsored students. We accept sponsored applicants who pass our admission tests regardless of their gender,” he said, adding that Tayaran would eventually open its doors to international students.

“In three years, the academy will accept students from around the world. Such an ambitious project will initially begin with around 5 percent of the total number of applicants.”

He added that Tayaran would also conduct courses at their center in Al-Thumamah from September 2019, focusing on piloting aircraft and operating drones.

“As a science, aviation is a sophisticated field of study, not only for the safety and security conditions it demands, but also for the high cost of the training equipment it requires to ensure the best educational outcomes. Students can finish their maintenance program in 36 months.”

Al-Subaiei said the Kingdom’s expanding civil and military aviation sectors would need about 8,800 pilots and 11,700 technicians over the next seven years.

“The academy is committed to utilizing the best technologies and teaching internationally accredited programs to prepare its members to become pioneers,” he said. “The academy will provide job opportunities for young people who, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said, are our foremost resource.”

The International Air Transport Association expects airline passenger demand to double over the next two decades, requiring up to 460,000 new commercial pilots by 2031. A Boeing outlook report published in 2012 indicated that 601,000 new commercial technicians and engineers would also be needed. Meanwhile, the Emirates Flight Training Academy (EFTA), the world-class flight training facility developed by Emirates Airlines, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Tarayan to share their expertise and jointly promote their training programs and facilities.

Signed in Riyadh, the MoU was agreed by EFTA Vice President Capt. Abdulla Al-Hammadi and Al-Subaiei, in the presence of Prince Sultan and the governor of Riyadh, Prince Faisal bin Bandar.

This collaboration reflects the shared interests between the two academies and the strong bond between the Kingdom and the UAE.

“The EFTA is very pleased to partner with Tayaran. This collaboration will help develop the talent pool supporting the future growth of the aviation industry in our region,” Al-Hammadi said.

He added that he looked forward to working closely with Al-Subaiei to provide expertise and share technology, as well as to create a platform for a mutually beneficial exchange program between the two sides.


AeroGuard announces pilot training agreements with Korean partners

 AeroGuard Flight Training Center proudly announces that they have reached a new pilot training agreement with The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MOLIT) of the Republic of Korea, Uljin Flight Academy of the Republic of Korea, Korean Aviation College (KAC), and Korea Aerospace University (KAU).

As international leaders in commercial pilot training, AeroGuard Flight Training Center was selected by MOLIT, KAC and KAU as their preferred US-based training partner due to its superior quality training, outstanding safety record, exceptional student experience, and extensive track record training international cadets from all over the world.

The newly signed agreement between AeroGuard Flight Training Center and its international partners from the Republic of Korea marks the renewal of an existing long-term partnership. The new Agreement will extend until 2024 and will see Korean cadets training at AeroGuard’s headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, its new campus in Austin, Texas, and other flight school locations.

Over the course of the new agreement, AeroGuard will train hundreds of new Korean pilots, helping to meet the continuing increase in demand from commercial airlines. Boeing projects that nearly 800,000 new pilots will be needed worldwide within the next 18 years. The Asia-Pacific region will be at the forefront of global demand requiring approximately 261,000 newly trained pilots.

AeroGuard CEO, Joel Davidson, spoke enthusiastically about the new training agreement,

“AeroGuard is thrilled to sign a long-term agreement to partner with MOLIT, KAU, and KAC to train Korean pilots in the US AeroGuard has provided excellent quality training for Korean student pilots for many years, and we are thrilled to continue this great partnership.  The new agreement will provide an outstanding pilot training experience for all Korean students, and we look forward to a growing and prosperous partnership with MOLIT, Uljin Flight Academy, KAU and KAC for many years to come.

Through superior quality training, laser-focus on safety, and providing an optimal student experience, AeroGuard Flight Training Center is uniquely positioned to help meet the exponential demand for pilots, internationally and domestically.  


JetBlue Airways readies for new A220 entry-into-service with CAE

 CAE announced at the World Aviation Training Symposium the sale of two Airbus A220-300 CAE 7000XR Series full-flight simulators (FFSs) and two CAE 500XR flight-training devices (FTDs) to JetBlue Airways, which is preparing the entry-into-service of its new aircraft.

“We are pleased to extend our long-standing partnership with CAE,” said Steve Forte, Vice President JetBlue University. “These state-of-the-art training devices will help us develop industry leading training programs to ensure a smooth launch of the A220.”

“The Airbus A220 is a key component of JetBlue’s growth strategy and we are thrilled to be part of this airline’s journey,” said Nick Leontidis, CAE’s Group President Civil Aviation Training Solutions. “We have been partners with JetBlue for over 15 years, and the purchase of these new FFSs and FTDs is yet another testament to the value CAE brings to its airline partners.”

The two CAE 7000XR Series FFSs will be equipped with the innovative CAE Tropos™ 6000XR visual system. The first FFS and FTD will be delivered in the first half of 2020 at JetBlue University, located in Orlando, Florida.

With this addition, CAE has sold a total of eight A220 full-flight simulators to operators worldwide.

CAE and JetBlue Airways share a training relationship with the Gateway Select pilot-provisioning program. To date, more than 60 aspiring pilots have started training in the Gateway Select Program. CAE also holds an exclusive training center operations services agreement to support the airline’s growth at JetBlue’s University in Orlando.


Turkish Technic signs five-year extension agreement with Unison Industries

 Turkish Technic has signed a five-year extension on their Material Services Agreement with Unison Industries. The agreement extends through 2023 and covers both new Unison LRUs as well as external engine component repairs.

“We are very pleased to continue this relationship with our strategic partner, Turkish Technic, on this long-term agreement. It is a win-win for both our respective companies.”

Turkish Technic’s rapidly expanding capabilities in aircraft and engine MRO requires strategic partners that bring even more value to their portfolio of products and services. This agreement continues to demonstrate Unison’s ability to support Turkish Technic’s requirements for quality, technical excellence, delivery, and value.

As partners, Turkish Technic and Unison will leverage each other’s strengths in the areas of exchange programs, upgrades, and repairs. The shared goal is to reduce maintenance costs for Turkish Technic and their MRO customers. Unison Industries President, Tom Hoferer commented, “We are very pleased to continue this relationship with our strategic partner, Turkish Technic, on this long-term agreement. It is a win-win for both our respective companies.”

Turkish Technic is a wholly owned subsidiary of Turkish Airlines and performs MRO activities on various aircraft, engines and systems. Unison Industries is a wholly owned subsidiary of GE Aviation and is a global supplier to the aviation and energy industrial sectors for electronic/ignition components, power generation, fluid distribution, repair and systems integration.


Commercial MRO market to grow at 4.35% during the forecast period

 Global Commercial Aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Market report presents an in-depth analysis of the major Commercial Aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) industry leading players along with the company profiles and strategies adopted by them. This enables the buyer of the report to gain a telescopic view of the competitive landscape and plan the strategies accordingly. A separate section with Commercial Aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) industry key players is included in the report, which provides a comprehensive analysis of price, cost, gross, revenue, product picture, specifications, company profile, and contact information.

The commercial aircraft MRO market is estimated to register a CAGR of 4.35% during the forecast period, 2019 – 2024.

With the growing air traffic, carriers are more inclined toward maintaining the health of their current fleet, going for new aircraft only if they have no other option, since the cost of buying a new aircraft is considerably higher than the cost for the maintenance of the current fleet. Different airports have introduced improvement processes to enhance efficiency, and several are using new technological systems to gain additional upgrades and prepare for the bigger data requirements of next-generation aircraft, and this shall lead to the growth of the market in the near future.

Governments have started various initiatives to encourage airports to support MRO as a strategic activity. Various holistic approaches are now being undertaken by the governments to ensure that adequate space is mandatorily allocated at various airports within the country for MRO, and this shall lead to an enhancement in terms of commercial aircraft MRO in the years to come.

Scope of the Report

Aircraft MRO refers to overhaul, inspection, repair, or modification of an aircraft or its component. The market study covers the MRO services only for commercial aircraft, not for military and general aviation aircraft.

Currently, the field maintenance segment has the highest share out of all the segments. Field maintenance has to deal with very different tasks. These operations are performed simultaneously to lower the ground time, to increase aircraft productivity. Thus, management strongly emphasizes the time-efficiency of ground operations delivered either by themselves, the independent companies, or the airport authority. The time efficiency makes the task even tighter for field maintenance staff, and their efficiency depends on technically advanced equipment, information support systems, and coordination of staff. Thus, the focus is currently on this segment, which is the reason for its expected high CAGR.

At present, Asia-Pacific is generating the highest revenue in the commercial aircraft MRO market. Singapore dominates the MRO market in Asia. In the recent years, several other Asian countries have also increased their investment in MRO facilities, trying to replicate the success of Singapore and Hong Kong in this sector. Low-cost carrier, to some extent, has changed the face of civil aviation in Asia. In tandem with the rise, the market for aircraft maintenance is also changing, as companies in countries like Indonesia and Thailand are also entering the market to challenge the dominance of established Singaporean players. Government policy also plays a key role, and the Singaporean government has been very forward-looking in supporting the aerospace industry. With the growing frequency of flights to and from the Asian countries, the demand for MRO centers is expected to rise in this region in the coming years. Moreover, due to the huge potential of the Asia-Pacific aviation market, several global players are establishing new centers in the region to cater to the growing demand.

The commercial aircraft MRO market is highly fragmented, with only a handful of players controlling the market. TAP M&E is currently the largest player in the market, followed by Pratt & Whitney, Lufthansa Technik, ST Aerospace, and Rockwell Collins. The MRO operation per aircraft is expected to decrease in frequency compared to older aircraft, due to improvement in technology and advancement in the engine and structural design of aircraft. The long aircraft order backlog will force older aircraft to run longer shifts and as population rises, globally, the active aircraft fleet will find it difficult to cater to the required capacity demand. Commercial airline MRO is expected to be active during the forecast period, as airlines compete to bring in more passengers and provide better facilities inside the aircraft cabin. Joint ventures between the players can help the companies strengthen their market presence.


FAI Technik achieves FAA approval for EASA MRO license

 FAI Technik GmbH, announces that it has now received FAA approval for its EASA Part 145 license. With the certificate in place, the company is fully authorized to perform maintenance; repair and overhaul on US registered business aviation aircraft at its Albrecht Duerer Airport headquarters in Nuremberg. This latest license follows similar approvals from the Nigerian authorities in October 2018 and from the Cayman Islands and Bermuda in 2017.

Siegfried Axtmann, Founder and Chairman of the FAI Aviation Group, comments: “This latest approval from the FAA is yet another milestone for FAI Technik as it continues to see growing demand. We look forward to serving some of the many US-registered aircraft operating in Europe and on the African Continent as we continue to extend our remit and capabilities and deliver excellent results for our customers.”

Last month, FAI Technik started work on its sixth in-house Global Express cabin refurbishment which marked one of the most extensive refurbishment projects for the type.  Named ‘Project Pearl’, the Bombardier BD700 will include 60, 120- and 240-month inspections and feature Collins Aerospace’s latest VenueTM cabin management system and high definition entertainment system.

FAI Technik provides MRO services for Bombardier Learjet, Challenger and Global Express aircraft, including the FAI rent-a-jet AG operated fleet. It also supports FAI´s dedicated fleet of air ambulance jets. Some 60 full time staff supports the division.

New Defense report sheds light on how China organizes its information warfare enterprise

 The Department of Defense’s annual report on China’s military and security developments provides new details about how China’s military organizes its information warfare enterprise, an area that has been of particular interest to US military leaders.

In 2015, the People’s Liberation Army created the Strategic Support Force, which centralizes space, cyber, electronic warfare and psychological warfare missions under a single organization. The Chinese have taken the view, according to the DoD and other outside national security experts, that information dominance is key to winning conflicts. This could be done by denying or disrupting the use of communications equipment of its competitors.

The 2019 edition of report, released in May, expands on last year’s version and outlines the Chinese Network Systems Department, one of two deputy theater command level departments within the Strategic Support Force responsible for information operations.

“The SSF Network Systems Department is responsible for information warfare with a mission set that includes cyberwarfare, technical reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and psychological warfare,” the report read. “By placing these missions under the same organizational umbrella, China seeks to remedy the operational coordination challenges that hindered information sharing under the pre-reform organizational structure.”

A new report released by the Defense Intelligence Agency explains why the Chinese military could target command and control systems before any conflict begins.

As described in previous Pentagon assessments, Chinese military leaders hope to use these so-called non-kinetic weapons in concert with kinetic weapons to push adversaries farther away from its shores and assets.

“In addition to strike, air and missile defense, anti-surface, and anti-submarine capabilities improvements, China is focusing on information, cyber, and space and counterspace operations,” the report said of China’s anti-access/area denial efforts. This concept aims to keep enemies at bay by extending defenses through long range missiles and advanced detection measures, which in turn make it difficult for enemies to penetrate territorial zones.

This year’s report includes two subtle changes from last year’s edition regarding China’s cyber activities directed at the Department of Defense.

While last year’s report documents China’s continued targeting of US diplomatic, economic, academic, and defense industrial base sectors to support intelligence collection, the latest edition points out that China’s exfiltration of sensitive military information from the defense industrial base could allow it to gain a military advantage.

In recent years, China has been accused of leading major hacks on defense contractors and the U.S. Navy, leading an internal review by the Navy to assert that both groups are "under cyber siege,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Additionally, this year’s report points out that taken together, the cyber-enabled campaigns threatened to erode military advantages, a trope often heralded by top leaders.

New strategies and approaches from the US military seek to be more assertive in the defense of US interests from such cyber probes.


US State Department clears FMS sale to Bahrain

 The State Department has cleared a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of the Raytheon-made Patriot air-and-missile defense system to Bahrain worth an estimated price tag of $2.5 billion.

Bahrain would be a new Patriot customer, joining the ranks of 16 countries to include the United States.

The deal would include 60 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles, 36 Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missiles (GEM-T) missiles with canisters, nine M903 launchers, two AN/MPQ-65 radar sets, control stations and other associated equipment.

Recent new customers include Poland, Romania and Sweden. Other Middle Eastern customers are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

The State Department also approved a possible FMS to the UAE for 452 PAC-3 MSE missiles and related equipment for approximately $2.7 billion in a separate posting.

Raytheon has seen a relative windfall in new Patriot customers over the past couple of years totaling roughly $18 billion, but all of those new customers have been European, responding to Russian aggression in the region.


Rocket Lab launches three military satellites

 A Rocket Lab Electron rocket successfully launched three-technology demonstration satellites for the Defense Department as part of an effort by the military to demonstrate responsive launch.

The Electron rocket lifted off from Rocket Lab’s launch site on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand’s North Island. The launch was delayed a day in order to perform additional checks of the vehicle’s payload of three satellites. Those satellites were released by the rocket’s kick stage nearly 55 minutes after liftoff.

“Perfect flight, complete mission success, all payloads deployed!!” Peter Beck, chief executive of Rocket Lab, tweeted shortly after payload deployment.

The rocket was flying a mission for the Defense Department’s Space Test Program called STP-27RD, in cooperation with the Defense Innovation Unit. The three satellites had a combined mass of 180 kilograms, the heaviest payload launched by an Electron to date. The company said that conservative margins for earlier missions, as well as launching to a lower inclination, enabled the heavier payload.

The largest of the three satellites is Harbinger, a 150-kilogram satellite built by York Space Systems for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. The spacecraft will demonstrate synthetic aperture radar imaging capability and high-bandwidth downlink capabilities in a small satellite. The satellite is the first one built by York, a Denver-based smallsat manufacturer, to reach orbit.

Also on the launch is Space Plug and Play Architecture Research CubeSat-1 (SPARC-1), a six-unit cubesat sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory in cooperation with the Swedish military to test modular spacecraft avionics. The third satellite is the Air Force Academy’s Falcon Orbital Debris Experiment (Falcon ODE), a one-unit cubesat that will release two stainless steel ball bearings that will serve as calibrated radar and optical targets for ground-based space situational awareness sensors.

The launch is the first for the Air Force’s Rapid Agile Launch Initiative (RALI) program, an effort to make use of commercial launch providers and rapid procurement to provide faster access to orbit for military payloads. Air Force officials said last month they are planning to launch 21 payloads on five missions this calendar year through RALI, including the STP-27RD flight as well as a launch later this year by Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne.

The STP-27RD launch, nicknamed “That’s a Funny Looking Cactus,” was the second Electron mission this year and the sixth overall for Rocket Lab. Beck said in an interview last month that the company is planning to move into a monthly cadence of launches for the rest of this year, including demonstrating the ability to perform launches two weeks apart by the end of the year. He added that the company’s 2019 manifest is full.


US Air Force deploys stealth fighters to the UAE

 The US Air Force has deployed F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters to the Middle East for the first time.

The jets arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi in April and are ready to be sent on missions across the region.

The aircraft, which cost about $90 million (Dh330m) each, are undetectable by radar. The F-35s are equipped with advanced weapons systems, which mean they do not have to be pointing at its target. They also have the capability to launch electronic warfare attacks on enemies.

Advanced sensors allow the jets to “gather and distribute more information than any fighter in history”, according to its manufacturer.

Crews have been prepared and trained for deployment in the area covered by US Central Command, which covers 20 nations, from northeast Africa across the Middle East to Central and South Asia, the US Air Force said.

The deployment represents a “natural evolution of increased US capability and firepower in the Gulf region”, said Danny Sebright, President of the US-UAE Business Council.

“This deployment means US forces are better positioned to carry out more nimble, precise and lethal missions at greater distances,” he said.

“Hopefully, the deployment to Al Dhafra in the UAE, a steadfast and reliable US coalition partner, also means that the US is making progress in its deliberations to eventually releasing the technology to our closest Arab partners.”

The total number of F-35As sent to the UAE from their base in Utah is being kept confidential for security reasons.

A variant of the F-35, the F-35B, has previously been deployed in the region, with aircraft under the control of the US Marine Corps carrying out the first American F-35 air strike in Afghanistan in September last year. The aircraft would go on to fly more than 100 combat sorties against ISIS and Taliban targets.

However, it is the first time US Air Force F-35As have been sent to the region. Previously, they have been deployed to the UK and Japan.

“We are adding a cutting-edge weapons system to our arsenal that significantly enhances the capability of the coalition,” said Lt Gen Joseph T Guastella, US Air Forces Central Command commander.

“The sensor fusion and survivability this aircraft provides to the joint force will enhance security and stability across the theatre and deter aggressors.

“We look forward to demonstrating the full range of the F-35A’s capabilities while it increases the interoperability of our forces throughout the region.”

The F-35s have been designed for multi-purpose use. They are able to fly surveillance and reconnaissance missions, as well as launching air-to-ground and air-to-air attacks.

The development of the aircraft by arms company Lockheed Martin has at times proved controversial due to the cost of the program and questions about effectiveness. Although the first flights were in 2006, it only became fully operational in 2015.

The US has 200 F-35s and hundreds more on order. Other nations that have bought, or plan to buy, the F-35 include Japan, South Korea, Australia, Singapore, Turkey, Italy, the UK and Israel.


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