Category Archives: Security

Galileo four satellites launch

This week four more Galileo satellites were successfully launched from the European spaceport in French Guiana on the European launcher Ariane-5. Now with a constellation of 26 satellites, the EU’s global satellite navigation system will provide a more precise signal across a range of valuable services.

Galileo has been a supplier of  positioning and timing services to around 400 million users since December 2016. The latest launch brings the constellation close to completion in 2020, which is when Galileo will reach full operational capability. Once complete and with a record precision of 20cm, Galileo will be the most precise satellite navigation system in the world.

Space may be far away but its technology, data and services have become indispensable in our daily lives, be it in rescue searches, connected cars, smart watches, farming or plane navigation. The European space industry is strong and competitive, creating jobs and business opportunities for entrepreneurs. For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission is proposing to bring all existing and new space activities under the umbrella of one single €16 billion ‘EU Space Programme‘.

 “Another milestone towards the full operational capability of Galileo in 2020! Space is becoming a new economic frontier, as it is vitally linked to a growing number of sectors and driving their profound modernisation. In fact, 10% of the EU’s GDP is dependent on space-related services. We therefore need to strive for Europe’s global leadership and strategic autonomy“, vice-president of the Commission Maroš Šefčovič said.

We can be very proud of our successful space activities. Europe has become a true space power. From the start of the mandate I had clear goals: develop the infrastructure on time and on budget, deliver first services and ensure rapid market uptake”, said Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, who led the European Commission delegation to Kourou (French Guiana).

 Galileo currently provides three types of satellite navigation based services

  • Galileo Open Service: a free service for positioning, navigation and timing. The timing service is increasingly robust, accurate and fast (in order of nanoseconds) compared to other location systems. It enables the eCall system, which has been mandatory in all new cars in the EU since 31 March 2018, to communicate the vehicle’s location to emergency services.
  • Galileo’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Service: localisation of distress signals from an enabled beacon. With the start of Galileo initial services in December 2016, the time it takes to detect a person lost at sea or in the mountains after a distress beacon is activated was reduced from up to 4 hours to about 10 minutes . The accuracy of localisation has improved too, from 10 km without Galileo to less than 2 km with Galileo. As of next year, the service will also send back a signal informing the person in danger that the distress signal has been picked up and localised.
  • Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS): an encrypted service designed for public authorities for security sensitive use, for instance military operations. PRS aims at ensuring service continuity, even in the most adverse environment. It offers a particularly robust and fully encrypted service for government users during national emergencies or crisis situations, such as terrorist attacks.

Anyone with a Galileo enabled device is able to use its signals for positioning, navigation and timing. Galileo services are based on highly accurate signals, but during the current initial phase they are not available all the time and therefore are used in combination with other satellite navigation systems such as GPS. Every addition to the constellation gradually improves Galileo availability and performance worldwide. Once the constellation reaches 30 satellites in 2020, Galileo will be fully operational and independent, meaning that a position could be established autonomously everywhere and anytime using Galileo satellites only.

Galileo is a civilian system under civilian control, which provides accurate positioning and timing information. Galileo aims to ensure Europe’s independence from other satellite navigation systems and its strategic autonomy in satellite navigation. Europe’s autonomy in this sector will boost the European job market, help the EU step up its role as a security and defence provider, and support emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, drones, automated mobility and the Internet of the Things.

ESA celebrates Asteroid Day

Asteroid Day is a global campaign to increase awareness about asteroids and the threats and opportunities they pose. Celebrated each year on 30 June, Asteroid Day marks the largest asteroid impact event experienced on Earth in recorded history, the 1908 Tunguska event. People, animals and territory of forest were destroyed in seconds by ‘Firebird Agdy’, as Evenks, the natives of Siberia baptised the phenomenon.

The explosion near Tunguska River flattened some 500,000 acres (2,000 square kilometers) of Siberian forest (pictured). Scientists calculated the Tunguska explosion could have been roughly as strong as 10 megatons to 20 megatons of TNT — 1,000 times more powerful than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

 

European Space Agency (ESA) has long supported the Asteroid Day movement and has been playing a leading role in the global hunt for risky near-Earth objects, such as asteroids, that might one day cross our path in a way that is a bit too close for comfort.

As an example, ESA’s proposed Hera mission, planned to venture out to a double asteroid system to assess the success of a partner NASA mission’s attempt to shift the smaller body, is being put forward as part of ESA’s new Space Safety and Security activities.

Building on the previously proposed Asteroid Impact Mission, Hera would reach the double asteroid system Didymos in 2026, a few years after the NASA DART spacecraft has collided with the smaller of the two asteroid bodies, dubbed Didymoon.

By this time, the dust will have settled and the changes in Didymoon’s orbit will be fully measurable without any danger to the Hera spacecraft.

Hera will also gather crucial scientific data on asteroids as a whole by carefully surveying the exterior and interior properties of both bodies in the system – exploring two asteroids for the price of one.

In addition, Hera would deploy Europe’s first deep space CubeSats to test intersatellite links and close-proximity operations in the near-weightless asteroid environment. In doing so the mission would gather valuable knowledge and experience of benefit to the nascent asteroid mining sector, which is being championed by the Luxembourg government.

 

As a prime example of asteroid research, the Hera mission is now featured on the Luxembourg Post stamps and postcards to be released on 30 June. Copies will be available for purchase from the Luxembourg Post website.

Europe strengthens its security

“Europe must take greater responsibility for its own security and underpin its role as a credible and reliable actor and partner in the area of security and defence. The Union is therefore taking steps to bolster European defence, by enhancing defence investment, capability development and operational readiness. These initiatives enhance its strategic autonomy while complementing and reinforcing the activities of NATO, in line with previous conclusions. The European Council:

  • calls for the fulfilment of the PESCO commitments and the further development of the initial projects and the institutional framework, in a way that is fully consistent with the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence and the revised Capability Development Plan adopted within the European Defence Agency. A next set of projects will be agreed in November 2018. It invites the Council to decide on the conditions for third State participation in PESCO projects;
  • welcomes progress on military mobility in the framework of PESCO and EU-NATO cooperation, expects the military requirements under the EU Action Plan on military mobility now to be finalised, and calls on Member States to simplify and standardise relevant rules and procedures by 2024. These efforts, which should fully respect the sovereignty of the Member States, be mutually reinforcing and follow a whole-of-government approach, will be reviewed yearly on the basis of a report by the Commission and the High Representative, starting in spring 2019;
  • calls for the swift implementation of the European Defence Industrial Development Programme and for further progress on the European Defence Fund both in its research and capability windows;
  • welcomes the work undertaken to strengthen civilian CSDP and calls for an agreement on a civilian CSDP Compact by the end of this year, thus providing a new EU framework for civilian crisis management and CSDP missions, with ambitious commitments at EU and national level. It recalls that military and civilian aspects need to be addressed in a comprehensive manner with a focus on concrete deliverables;
  • welcomes the Joint Communication on Europe’s resilience to hybrid and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear-related threats and calls for the adoption as soon as possible of a new EU regime of restrictive measures to address the use and proliferation of chemical weapons. Following the extraordinary Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the EU commits itself to supporting the implementation of its outcomes;
  • invites the High Representative and the Commission to present, in cooperation with the Member States and in line with the March 2015 European Council conclusions, an action plan by December 2018 with specific proposals for a coordinated EU response to the challenge of disinformation, including appropriate mandates and sufficient resources for the relevant EEAS Strategic Communications teams;
  • stresses the need to strengthen capabilities against cybersecurity threats from outside the EU and asks the institutions and Member States to implement the measures referred to in the Joint Communication, including the work on attribution of cyber-attacks and the practical use of the cyber diplomacy toolbox;
  • calls for further coordination between Member States and, as appropriate, at EU level and in consultation with NATO, to reduce the threat from hostile intelligence activities;
  • calls for further deepening of EU-NATO cooperation, in full respect of the principles of inclusiveness, reciprocity and decision-making autonomy of the EU, including through a new Joint Declaration, building on the progress made in implementing the 2016 Joint Declaration and the related proposals for action;
  • welcomes the intention of the Commission to present a legislative proposal to improve the detection and removal of content that incites hatred and to commit terrorist acts.

ISIS claims responsibility for Liège attack

Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group  has claimed responsibility for the shooting in the city of Liège (Belgium) where two police agents (pictured) and one civilian were killed. The ISIS informed via related news agency, that the attack in Liege was carried out by a ‘soldier of the Caliphate’.

The Amaq news agency passed the message, revendicating the actions of Belgium citizen Benjamin Herman, and acknowledging him as their “soldier of the Caliphate”,  however no evidence was given to proof any previous contacts between an assailant and the group.

 

 

 

Liège attack: two policemen shot dead

According to the Liège (Belgium) police, a man shot two policemen and took a cleaning woman as a hostage at Waha High School, located in the heart of the vibrant and busy city.

It was in the morning hours, around 10:30 on Tuesday (29/05) when gunshots were heard in the city center of Liège. According to  information local media obtained from the police, the alleged perpetrator shouted “Allahu akbar!“. The attacker shot two police officers and took a cleaning woman hostage at Waha High School, located in the busiest part of the city. As follows the rapid reaction of police the attacker was neutralised.

II. 12:45

According to preliminary reports, a man fired this morning on two policemen near the Cafe des Augustins, in the street of the same name in the city center of Liege. The two officers died, and a third, a member of the Anti-Banditry Squad (PAB), was reportedly injured during contact with the suspect.
A civilian, present in his car at the time of the events, also died.

Afterwards the attacker rushed to Waha High School, where he took a cleaning woman hostage. A rapid police intervention allowed to neutralize the culprit on the 6th floor of the school according to the RTBF news channel.

The Liège police will organize a press conference in the coming hours. Currently, there is still a large security perimeter organized around the premises. The police and rescue forces are massively present at the spot. A helicopter still flies over the scene.

The children of Waha High School are well and are safe under police protection and are supported by the PMS services. The burgomaster of Liège, Willy Demeyer, went to the scene and is in contact with the chief of police corps. The federal crisis center is following the situation, tweeted the Minister of the Interior, Jan Jambon, who said that his thoughts are with the victims of this “horrible act”.

Belgium King, Prime minister, and the other officials are in Liège.

EU-UN to enhance counterterrorist cooperation

Federica Mogherini the EU top diplomat, and UN Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov met in Brussels to discuss the cooperation between the European Union and United Nations in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism, as well as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ efforts to reform and strengthen the UN’s counter-terrorism work.

Federica Mogherini and Vladimir Voronkov spoke of possible steps the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism (UNOCT) could take in further developing global counterterrorism policy, and in coordinating capacity-building efforts undertaken by the various UN entities in support of UN Member States. The EU top diplomat Mogherini confirmed the European Union’s commitment to the fight against terrorism both internally and globally, with full respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law. She underlined the European Union´s resolve to continue to work closely together with UNOCT and the wider UN system in strengthening multilateralism and global governance. Mr. Voronkov confirmed UNOCT´s commitment to play a central role in strengthening the partnership between the EU and the UN system based on shared values, common objectives and priorities.

Their encounter took place on the occasion of the first high-level EU-UN Leadership Dialogue on Counter-Terrorism. The Dialogue initiated a new spirit of practical collaboration aimed at strengthening multilateral coordination efforts in counter-terrorism and the prevention of violent extremism.

Discussions centered on collaboration between the UN and the EU in areas of common concern such as addressing the challenges of retuning/relocating foreign terrorist fighters, counter-terrorism capacity building efforts in Central Asia, South and South-East Asia, the Sahel region and Lake Chad Basin as well as promoting a whole-of-UN approach in preventing and countering terrorism. Both sides agreed on the need to adopt an “all of society” approach to preventing violent extremism and to include civil society organizations, the private sector, think tanks, as well as with governments at national and local levels in the process.

The dialogue was co-convened by UN Under-Secretary-General Mr. Vladimir Voronkov and Mr. Pedro Serrano, the Deputy Secretary General for Common Security and Defence Policy at the European External Action Service (EEAS) with the participation of Sir Julian King, the European Commissioner for Security Union, Mr. Gilles de Kerchove the European Union Counter-Terrorism Coordinator. Accompanied by Mr. Jürgen Stock the Secretary-General of INTERPOL, Mr. Voronkov led a delegation of representatives of 6 UN agencies including CTED, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICRI, and UNLOPS.

Kadyrov blames “Western” orders to Chechen terrorists

Four militants who tried to abdicate visitors of the Orthodox Church of St. Michael Church have been neutralised, Chechnya’s head Ramzan Kadyrov informed reporters on Saturday (19/05/2018). The families of victims will receive aid.

“The militants entered St. Michael Church, intending to abdicate churchgoers,” he said. “All four militants were neutralized in a special operation.”

A policeman died from injuries, and one churchgoer was severely injured, Kadyrov continued. (Some media sources indicated two killed policemen).

“According to the latest information, the militants received the order from a Western country,” Kadyrov said.

The leader of Chechnya added that he immediately arrived at the scene of the incident, where he “directly controlled the special operation, which took just a few minutes.”

“Measures are taken to identify the neutralised militants, and the incident site was cordoned off by law enforcement officers,” Kadyrov said.

A Chechen law enforcement source informed that one churchgoer was killed and the other seriously injured, and at them moment is in intensive care. The police cordon around the church was lifted soon after the end of the special force operation.

 

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