The Wars of the Near Future (II)

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - At the International Aerospace Exhibition (ILA), which opens today in Berlin, the Bundeswehr is demonstrating its ability to wage wars of aggression. The program includes various "troop proficiency demonstrations," performing, for example, the "evacuation" of German nationals from a "crisis zone" for the audience at the Air Show. The demonstration calls for the use of elite combat units, particularly assault helicopters, considered generally by the military as the ideal weapon for anti-guerilla operations. The ILA management has installed a central area on the fair grounds for the aerospace industry to provide information on special helicopters for police and military missions. The event is again also focusing on the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) - or drones. The Bundeswehr, alone, will introduce four different types of UAS, which had been used in Afghanistan to reconnoiter enemy positions in preparation of targeted attacks. At the US Air Force stand, the MQ-9 "Reaper" combat drone will be on display, which is being used around the world to illegally assassinate so-called terrorist suspects, regularly causing large numbers of civilian casualties.

Brand Essential Military

The German Armed Forces contend that they again are "the largest individual exhibitor" at the International Aerospace Exhibition (ILA), which opens today in Berlin. It will not only present itself as an "attractive employer," but also as a "hi-tech army" with an "impressive array of capabilities." It will also seek to demonstrate its "successful, cooperative collaboration with the aeronautics industry to ensure the operational capability of the Bundeswehr's aircraft."[1] The management of the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI), which is largely responsible for organizing the Air Show, explicitly considers the ILA to be the "showcase for military aviation." "Defense" is an "important brand essential," explain its organizers. "Essential technology and solutions for today's and tomorrow's security challenges" will be offered.[2]

Combat Rescue

The Bundeswehr has announced its intention to use so-called proficiency demonstrations at the ILA fair grounds to illustrate future "security policy challenges." Alongside assault actions by diverse fighter jets - "Tornados" or "Eurofighters" - ILA participants will be shown "military evacuation operations," also using "CH-53" helicopters. According to the military, this helicopter is capable of "transporting personnel and material anywhere in the world" - "in nearly all climatic zones, even under the most adverse weather conditions, by day and night and at all threat levels." The Bundeswehr explains the scenario behind its presentation as follows: "In a region of crisis, the political situation is getting out of hand. German nationals must be evacuated. An Airbus A400M was fired upon and badly damaged shortly after takeoff, requiring an emergency landing in an inaccessible area." They "call in" Helicopter Wing 64 - the "combat rescuers," based at the Holzdorf Airbase, located between Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt. "With two CH-53s they fly at low altitude over the crash site and assess the situation. While one helicopter provides cover from the air, the other hovers and lands. Then everything goes very quickly. Combat rescuers leave the helicopter and secure the area, while the wounded and the unharmed are brought up the loading ramp into the helicopter."[3]

Counter-Insurgency

With another ILA "proficiency demonstration," the Bundeswehr shows that this so-called military rescue operation has less in common with a charitable measure, than with counter-insurgency. As the Bundeswehr explains, paratroopers penetrate an "enemy area" declared a "hot zone," to liberate a group of people. "The element of surprise debilitates the enemy." Here too, helicopters serve as the essential means of transportation. They are also carrying attack dogs to the theatre of operations, to "run down" escapees.[4] The ILA management seems to share the German military's preference for the helicopter - as the essential instrument for anti-guerilla operations. On the fair grounds, a "central venue" - the "Helilounge" - was created for the entire "rotorcraft branch," where the theme covers both "border control and police force" applications as well as "combat search and rescue."[5]

Drone Warfare

Unmanned aerial vehicles - also known as Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or drones - are another focus of this year's ILA. The Bundeswehr alone, will display four different UAS models at this year's Air Show - the aerial surveillance drones, MIKADO, LUNA, and ALADIN along with the KZO - "the small aircraft for locating targets." They have already been battle-tested in Afghanistan, where they were used to seek out enemy positions in preparation for targeted attacks. The "surveillance system" KZO, produced by the arms manufacturer Rheinmetall, also can be coupled with the WABEP combat drone for "pinpoint accuracy in combating stationary and mobile targets." (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6]) It is not without pride that ILA organizers point to another exhibit: the MQ-9 "Reaper," produced by the General Atomics arms manufacturer. The US Army uses it to kill so-called terrorist suspects around the world. Evidently, the ILA management is not interested in the fact that these killings are in violation of international law and regularly result in a large number of civilian casualties. They would rather euphemistically speak in terms of "air support."[7]

Stealth UAS

The ILA organizers see the "Sagitta" (Latin for "arrow") drone project that the German Aeronautics and Space Research Center (DLR) presents to the public at ILA, as an especially innovative contribution to the "further development of the unmanned aircraft technology."[8] At the initiative of the German-European Airbus Defence and Space Company, the DLR, the Technical University of Munich, Munich's Bundeswehr University, the Technical University of Ingolstadt and the Technical University of Chemnitz assumed the task of developing a prototype of a stealth UAS. According to DLR, "Sagitta" can perform its military "missions" not only "autonomously," but also "without detection," due to a "minimized radar signature." This was accomplished with "a form bearing a minimum of edges and openings" and by being able to "fly long distances on its back."[9]

Negligible

In spite of all their demonstrative commitments to military "innovations," the ILA managers, however, still prove to be conscious of tradition. In their press statement, the organizers celebrate not only regaining Germany's "air supremacy," lost since World War II and the founding of the Bundeswehr in 1955,[10] they also announce a historical "highlight" of this year's Air Show - a flight performance of the Messerschmitt ME 262, "the first series-built jet engine aircraft."[11] The fact that concentration camp detainees had built the Nazi Wehrmacht's only jet fighter, seems negligible, and therefore remained unmentioned.

[1] Die Bundeswehr präsentiert sich auf der Berlin Air Show 2016. www.bundeswehr.de 02.05.2016.
[2] ILA 2016: Schaufenster für die militärische Luftfahrt. www.ila-berlin.de.
[3] Ein Transporthubschrauber für alle Fälle. www.bundeswehr.de 26.05.2016.
[4] Quickstop in der heißen Zone. www.bundeswehr.de 30.05.2016.
[5] ILA Berlin Air Show 2016 präsentiert sich als Innovationsplattform der globalen Aerospace-Industrie. www.ila-berlin.de 30.05.2016.
[6] See Die Ära der Drohnen (I).
[7], [8] Innovative Entwicklungen beim unbemannten Fliegen. www.ila-berlin.de 09.05.2016.
[9] SAGITTA - Open Innovation. www.dlr.de.
[10] 107 Jahre Spiegelbild der Luft- und Raumfahrtgeschichte. www.ila-berlin.de 27.05.2016.
[11] Ready for Take Off: ILA Berlin Air Show 2016 präsentiert modernstes Fluggerät mit innovativen Technologien. www.ila-berlin.de 23.05.2016.