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France and Germany allocation of workload for the development of next-generation tanks

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Berlin—OOn March 22, the defense ministers of Germany and France made an announcement regarding the equitable allocation of work in the development and production of a forthcoming tank.

The Main Ground Combat System agreement, which will be officially established in late April as a memorandum of understanding, concludes years of negotiation regarding national preferences for the two primary industry participants: the collaboration between France’s Nexter and Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, referred to as KNDS; and Germany’s Rheinmetall.

The agreement stipulates that KNDS will play a pivotal role in the project.

At the joint news conference held in Berlin on Friday, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and his French counterpart Sébastien Lecornu made an announcement regarding the agreement. They commended the pact as “historic,” as it unites two nations with similar and rival defense sectors within a unified and significant defense program.

Lecornu observed that the collaborative efforts between the two states, which are both members of NATO and occupy the same continent, result in a state of “interoperability.”

In September, Pistorius stated that Italy, the Netherlands, and other countries have shown interest in participating in the MGCS initiative. This information was shared during a meeting with Lecornu to deliberate on the project.

The ministers stated that manufacturers will create the tank from the ground up, incorporating drones and directed-energy weapons to enhance the platform. The aforementioned supplementary technologies for the tank are presently in an experimental phase.

The objective of the program is to substitute Germany’s Leopard tanks and France’s Leclerc fleet in the 2040s, with the anticipation of a demonstrator by around 2030. The objective of France is to develop a successor to the Leclerc main battle tank in the vicinity of 2040 rather than 2050.

Lecornu stated that the future system will surpass current tanks and go beyond them. He described the MGCS as a technological advancement that goes beyond the current state of affairs. The MGCS will demonstrate a remarkable level of innovation in areas such as connectivity, electronic warfare, drone integration, armor, and self-defense measures.

The participating nations have reached a consensus on eight fundamental components inside the program, with each component receiving an equal distribution of effort. These components encompass the tank platform, main gun, new weaponry, communication technology, and combat-cloud system.

By the conclusion of the year, Germany is expected to allocate contracts amounting to several hundred million euros for the pre-demostrator phase. The French stake is anticipated to encompass not only Nexter but also Thales, Safran, MBDA, and other smaller corporations. Additionally, German companies outside Krauss-Maffei Wegmann will comprise Rheinmetall and other entities.

France and Germany have jointly announced their intention to establish a unit in Ukraine, known as KNDS, with the purpose of domestically manufacturing ammunition and spare parts for the French and German systems now employed within the nation. According to Lecornu, there is potential for the production of whole systems in Ukraine in the future.

Leopard 2 tanks, the wheeled Caesar 155mm howitzer, the tracked PzH 2000 howitzer, and the Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft gun are among the military tools used by the Ukrainian National Defense Service (KNDS).

 

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

Astronomy

Prepare an ample supply of food, water, and fuel in anticipation of the upcoming total solar eclipse

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The Lorain County Emergency Management (EMA) in Ohio has advised individuals observing the eclipse and residents within the path of totality to ensure they have an ample supply of food, water, and fuel in preparation for the total eclipse on April 8. This recommendation is due to the anticipated increase in visits to the area.

According to those who saw it, the most recent total solar eclipse across the United States was remarkably impressive. It is challenging to imagine any improvements to the scene by the time Monday arrived after looking at the photographs.

However, if we are fortunate and the weather conditions are favorable, we may see something extraordinary since the eclipse aligns with the period of maximum solar activity, and there is a possibility of observing Baily’s beads.

“During the year 2017, the Sun was approaching a period of solar minimum.” Observers of the complete solar eclipse were able to witness the awe-inspiring corona. However, due to the Sun’s lack of activity, the streamers that extended into the solar atmosphere were limited to only the equatorial regions of the star. NASA states that during solar minimum, the Sun exhibits greater magnetic symmetry, resulting in a simpler look.

“During the 2024 eclipse, the Sun will be in or close to solar maximum, a period characterized by a magnetic field that resembles a complex and chaotic structure, similar to a tangled hairball.” It is probable that streamers will be observable throughout the corona. Furthermore, spectators will have an enhanced opportunity to observe prominences, which manifest as vivid, pink spirals or arcs emanating from the Sun.

The eclipse will be visible throughout the whole stretch of land from Mexico to Canada. The path of totality, where a total solar eclipse is visible, is broader in comparison to 2017. This is because the Moon is in closer proximity to Earth as a result of its position in its orbit. Consequently, a larger number of individuals will have the opportunity to observe the Sun’s corona.

NASA stated that there is a possibility of observing a coronal mass ejection, which is a significant release of solar material, if the timing is fortunate during the eclipse.

However, safety considerations usually arise with eclipses. Following the recent eclipse, there was a notable increase in Google queries pertaining to the consequences of directly gazing at the Sun.

Additionally, there are logistical challenges arising from a significant surge in travelers seeking to witness the celestial phenomenon. As a result, the regions situated along the path of totality are presently making preparations to accommodate this rush. Last month, Lorain County officials issued a warning about the potential consequences of the upcoming eclipse. They cautioned that there may be a surge in traffic, longer wait times for facilities like hospitals and gas stations, and challenges in obtaining food and other essential supplies.

According to USA Today, Dave Freeman, the director of Lorain County EMA, “We may experience an influx of unfamiliar crowds.” “Our current infrastructure lacks the necessary road network to support that.”

“Many of the roads in this area consist of two lanes,” Freeman stated, according to Yahoo News. “Unlike cities such as Chicago and Cleveland, our city does not have a large number of wide roads with multiple lanes. As a result, if we experience larger crowds than anticipated, the traffic situation here could become quite severe.”

The EMA is cautioning that the surge of cell phone use in the vicinity may lead to signal loss when the system becomes overwhelmed. The team advises homeowners to proactively fill their vehicles with gasoline, ensure an ample supply of food, and minimize unnecessary travel throughout the next weekend preceding the eclipse.

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It is crucial that you direct your attention towards the eclipse and derive pleasure from it. However, it is imperative that you take precautions to protect your eyes from harm. To do so, please refer to our informative manual on how to properly observe eclipses. If the weather remains unclouded, you may also utilize this guide on how to capture the approaching eclipse in the most optimal manner.

 

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Science

X cautions that you may experience a decrease in the number of followers as it conducts another round of bot detection and removal

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X is notifying users that they might experience a decrease in their number of followers while the company undertakes a comprehensive effort to eliminate spammers and bots from the network. X’s Safety account has announced that the firm will be launching a proactive initiative to delete accounts that breach X’s regulations regarding platform manipulation and spam. This project is described as substantial and aims to take decisive action against such accounts.

X recently made a decision to add two new leaders to its safety team. Kylie McRoberts, who already works at X, has been appointed as the Head of Safety. Additionally, Yale Cohen, who formerly worked at Publicis Media, has joined X as the Head of Brand Safety and Advertiser Solutions.

Elon Musk has shown a strong desire to address the issue of spam at X. In November 2022, he informed staff that his intention was to prioritize the fight against spam in the future.

Nevertheless, the challenge of combating spam has proven to be more formidable than anticipated, particularly due to significant reductions in staff within Twitter’s Trust & Safety team. Additionally, the position of Head of Safety remained unfilled for a period of 10 months following the exits of Ella Irwin and Yoel Roth during Musk’s tenure.

The progress in AI has also increased the challenge of controlling spam.

In a previous investigation by TechCrunch, it was noted that Musk’s attempt to charge customers for verification did not effectively prevent spammers from using the network. Several bots, identified by their Verified Blue checkmark, were discovered responding to posts on X with a modified version of the statement, “I regret to inform you that I am unable to provide a response as it violates OpenAI’s use case policy.” This clearly indicated that these were not human users but rather automated bots.

Furthermore, a recent article by the New York Intelligencer has provided a comprehensive account of the increasing prevalence of spam that promotes adult content. This spam is disseminated through explicit answers, which include links in the users’ bios for others to click on.

Musk’s dissatisfaction with the magnitude of spam on the network was a major obstacle when he initially attempted to withdraw from the $44 billion Twitter transaction. He claimed that the firm had been dishonest about the quantity of bots. However, at present, Musk is promoting the fact that X is experiencing an unprecedented amount of website visitors, but he has not specified if his statistics account for automated programs and unsolicited messages.

As per the release from the X Safety team, the firm plans to take extensive measures to eliminate spam and bots from the network, potentially leading to a decrease in follower counts. This is typical of the regular bot sweeps conducted on its platform.

X also included a link to a form where people who were unintentionally impacted by the bot purge could submit an appeal.

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Ford postpones new EVs once more, demonstrating the necessity for established automakers to embrace a startup mindset

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Ford has officially said that it will postpone the manufacturing of two electric vehicles, specifically a cutting-edge EV truck and a three-row EV SUV. The duo is now scheduled to arrive in 2026 and 2027, experiencing delays of one and two years, respectively. Instead, the company will replace them with hybrids in its entire U.S. range.

The CEO of Ford has been indicating delays for some months. In the previous autumn, it deferred $12 billion in scheduled investments. During a financial conference call in February, CEO Jim Farley indicated that hybrids will have a progressively significant impact on our industry’s shift and will remain a permanent fixture. That is the type of serious discussion that shareholders greatly appreciate.

The decision is expected to be well-received by Wall Street, particularly in light of Toyota’s announcement that its sales in the United States increased by 22% compared to the previous year, driven by high demand for hybrid vehicles. Ford’s strategic move seems to be aimed at enhancing cash flow and immediate profitability, a prudent decision for a firm of its magnitude, particularly during periods of unpredictability.

However, it is worth noting that Ford stands out from other well-established car manufacturers in its ability to excel by adopting a startup mentality, a mindset that it seems to have embraced more lately, despite the delays in electric vehicle production. It achieves greater success when it actively influences the market rather than simply reacting to it.

Recently, Ford showcased its startup attitude through the introduction of the Mustang Mach-E, an all-electric crossover. Initially, the intention was to create a practical crossover vehicle with an electric motor located in the front, when the concept of electric vehicles (EVs) first emerged about ten years ago. The design possessed aerodynamic qualities, although it lacked inspiration to such an extent that one of the company’s exterior designers expressed doubt about its marketability. Based on the appearance of the proposed design, it was reasonable to have misgivings.

However, the then-CEO, Jim Hackett, abandoned the concept and imposed a strict deadline of two years for the team to provide an alternative solution. Ford’s achievement of securing second place in U.S. EV sales for consecutive quarters can be attributed to the successful introduction of a crossover model.

The success of the Mustang Mach-E was not a result of luck or chance. Ford has a history of performing impressive feats or achieving unexpected successes. In the 1980s, when American automakers faced significant competition from Japanese imports, Ford abandoned its bulky and weighty designs and created the Taurus, which was introduced to the market in late 1985. The car, with its elegant design, spacious interior, and reasonable price, was a novelty for American buyers and quickly became popular. In the initial three years, Ford managed to sell one million units of the product, which may be considered a triumph that probably prevented the business from going bankrupt.

After a span of five years, Ford once again changed its direction by introducing the Explorer. Although SUVs were not a novel concept, at that period, the majority of them were two-door vehicles that prioritized practical features such as towing and off-roading. Automobiles continued to be the prevailing preference among customers. However, with the addition of rear doors and a wide range of amenities, Ford successfully converted the SUV into a vehicle that is suitable for transporting families. Although the debut of the Explorer may have negatively impacted the sales of the company’s automobiles, it turned out to be a wise decision. Not only did it drive the company’s growth for another ten years, but it also anticipated a future where SUVs would dominate the market.

Additionally, Ford employed a rapid and efficient strategy in the creation of the initial Mustang, enabling it to establish a completely novel classification of swift and costly “pony cars.” After World War II, the automaker created the ’49 Ford, a vehicle that defied traditional design and propelled the company to the forefront of sales. Additionally, it is important to acknowledge the original Ford assembly line, which, although not a tangible product, was undeniably a result of entrepreneurial innovation.

Farley is currently confronted with various obstacles. His predecessors were essentially combining and selecting designs, platforms, and manufacturing procedures, while the core component of each of those vehicles, the engine, stayed mostly unchanged. Manufacturers are faced with the task of completely rethinking their approach when it comes to electric vehicles, or at the very least, removing the core components without compromising the original vehicle’s exceptional qualities.

Ford has demonstrated exceptional proficiency in several endeavors. The Mustang Mach-E and the F-150 Lightning are widely regarded as not only outstanding electric vehicles but outstanding automobiles in general.

However, these products have not achieved the level of success that Ford had anticipated. One reason for their lack of popularity is their high cost; however, recent price reductions have demonstrated that there is still a desire for them. Another contributing factor is the insufficient development of the charging infrastructure needed to support these vehicles. If the act of charging is impeding Ford’s ability to sell more electric vehicles, perhaps the company should directly confront and resolve this issue. If Ford is unable to price its electric vehicles competitively while maintaining profitability, it may be necessary for the company to explore other cost-effective methods of manufacturing.

The corporation has initiated the process by establishing Skunkworks, headed by former Tesla executive Alan Clarke, with the objective of creating an affordable electric vehicle. If the team successfully introduces a product to the market, there is a possibility that some of the entrepreneurial energy will be present at Ford.

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