12 Jul 13. Internal politics in Italy have prompted Alenia Aermacchi and Lockheed Martin to dash long-held plans for a ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Italian final assembly and checkout (FACO) facility for the stealthy F-35 fighter. The event — which was to be attended by senior Italian air force and defense ministry officials, top industry executives, and U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the F-35 program manager in the Pentagon — was slated for July 18 (AW&ST, June 17). But the companies recently decided not to conduct such a conspicuous event, in light of past political wrangling over the expensive F-35 program in Italy, according to program officials. They requested anonymity because of sensitivity over the decision. The Italian parliament voted June 26 to approve spending for the planned purchase of 90 F-35s, but directed that any changes to those plans must be directly approved by future parliaments. This was a compromise made to quell concerns of opposition to the program; detractors cited the F-35’s high cost and development delays as a reason to consider scrapping the effort in favor of buying more Eurofighter Typhoons. (Source: Aviation Week)
16 Jul 13. Trident Alternatives Review: Publication. In a Written Statement (16 Jul 13), the Prime Minister announced publication of the Trident Alternatives Review. The Review is in two parts. Part I sets out an analysis of the alternative systems which might be available in the mid-to-late 2030s. Part 2 addresses the ‘deliverability’ of the shortlisted options.
Comment: The Prime Minister confirmed that the UK is to maintain a continuous deterrent and is “proceeding with the programme to build a new fleet of ballistic missile submarines”. A 58-page unclassified version of the Review is available on the Prime Minister’s Office page at the Government web portal (www.gov.uk) under recent announcements. The Review was debated in the House of Commons on 17 Jul 2013 and is recorded in Hansard, starting in Column 1219. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/29, 22 Jul 13)
18 Jul 13. The UK’s submarine capability has taken a significant step forward with work beginning on the assembly of Agamemnon, the Royal Navy’s sixth Astute Class submarine. The keel, which is the first part of the boat to be built, was unveiled at a ceremony at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness by Defence Minister Philip Dunne. It comes as the MoD announces that the first two of the seven Astute Class submarines, HMS Astute and HMS Ambush, are nearing completion of their extensive sea trials and have been handed over to the Royal Navy to begin to prepare for operations. The seven Astute Class submarines are being built for the Royal Navy to replace the Trafalgar Class submarines. The Astute Class has greater firepower, state of the art communications equipment and advanced stealth technology making them quieter than their predecessors and harder to detect. HMS Astute and HMS Ambush are the first submarines in Class accepted by Navy Command, which is responsible for operating all of the Royal Navy’s vessels. The next three submarines in the Class: Artful, Audacious and Anson are all at varying stages of build and the keel laying for Agamemnon marks the next key milestone for the programme. BAE Systems Maritime Submarines (BAES (MS)) is responsible for delivering all seven Astute Class submarines and for the design of the successor to the Vanguard class, which will carry the UK’s nuclear deterrent. The MoD has agreed a new contract with BAES (MS) that will not only help to sustain the thousands of highly skilled defence jobs based at Barrow-in-Furness but drive down the costs of building future submarines. Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne signed a new contract will deliver £380m of savings over the next eight years. This will ensure that the Royal Navy’s submarine capability is delivered efficiently and