The British Royal Navy's newest offshore patrol vessel is set to deploy to the South Atlantic in late 2019. HMS Forth was commissioned in April 2018 but had to return to port for rectification work that summer after issues were identified during initial trials. The Forth class, also known as the River class Batch 2, is larger and more capable than its predecessor. The lead ship is due to replace HMS Clyde in the Falkland Islands as the Royal Navy's permanently deployed patrol ship in the region.
In mid-June, HMS Forth (at left) completed her three-week Flag Officer Sea Training assessment in western Scotland in preparation for her first operational deployment. The follow-on ship, the Medway, was delivered in March and arrived at her homeport of Portsmouth in mid-June. The third ship, Trent, completed initial sea trials mid-month. Two more ships are under construction and due for delivery in 2019. The class features a flight deck that can accommodate an AW101 Merlin helicopter and is armed with a 30-mm DSM-30M Mk 2 cannon.
The Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is working with domestic defense firms to develop a new 155-mm/52-caliber towed howitzer for the army. The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) is intended to supplement the indigenous 155-mm/45-caliber Dhanush howitzers. The Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division and Bharat Forge have each developed prototype systems, which are now being evaluated. The winning design will enter production, with the government having approved the procurement of 150 guns in August 2018.
The ATAGS (at right) is a lightweight system designed to be deployed in mountainous regions. It has a range of 25 miles (40 km), depending on the ammunition. Ranges of up to 36 miles (58 km) have been demonstrated in thinner mountain air. The gun is mounted on a four-wheel carriage for improved stability. It is equipped with an all-electric drive and a six-round magazine, which enables the firing of five rounds in 30 seconds. Communications and command systems are integrated.
Argentina is trying to revive its domestic aerospace industry with the development of a new basic trainer. The IA-74 is intended for the Argentinean air force as well as the civilian market. It features a low-wing monoplane design, a full glass cockpit and is constructed primarily from composite materials. Military aircraft will have retractable landing gear, while civilian planes will have fixed gear. It is powered by a 180-hp Lycoming IO-360 piston engine driving a two-bladed propeller. A Garmin avionics suite is fitted.
The IA-74 is an evolution of the IA-100 demonstrator (at left), which was built in less than 12 months. It was unveiled at the FIDAE exhibition in Chile in March 2016 and made its first flight in August 2016. That same month, the manufacturer, FADeA, began work on the production IA-74. The aircraft is intended to support military ab initio training requirements at lower procurement, maintenance and operational costs than competitors such as the Grob 120TP and Tucano.
France Eyes Domestic Sonobuoys
Another new record this month is the SonoFlash combined active/passive sonobuoy, which is being developed for the French navy. Other naval updates include the Swedish Gotland-class submarines, two of which have recently completed a mid-life upgrade; the Brazilian Tikuna-class submarine; and the Finnish M2004 bottom influence mine.
Also made current this month are the Belarusian P-18T/P-19T radar systems; French Ground Alerter radars; Russian 120-mm 2S23 Nona-SVK and 2S31 Vena self-propelled guns; and the South Korean Daewoo 20-mm Vulcan air defense system.
The latest variant of the Russian Tu-22M bomber made its first flight in December 2018. The first modernized bombers are expected to enter service in 2021. The Gnat 750 unmanned aerial vehicle record has also been updated, as has the record on Mustard/Lewisite blister agent.
Lashkar-e-Tayyiba Remains A Threat In Kashmir
Terrorist record updates this month include Lashkar-e-Tayyiba in Pakistan and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The order of battle for Cuba has been brought up to date.
Protesters Face Off With Military In Sudan
With the fall of President Omar Bashir, in power for nearly 30 years, Sudan faces an uncertain future as the military and protesters face off. Nations Editor Kevin Ivey considers the situation in "Fall of a Despot."
Tensions have been on the rise between Iran and the U.S. since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the multinational nuclear deal reached by his predecessor. Washington escalated the pressure in April when it designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, the first time that the U.S. had so defined a foreign government body. Andy Oppenheimer takes a look at the IRGC's role in the region and broader concerns in "Targeting Tehran."