05 Sep 13. The unmanned aircraft system (UAS) base on the Iranian island of Qeshm has undergone significant development in recent years, as revealed by DigitalGlobe satellite imagery. Located in an ideal position to monitor shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, the airfield may support the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps Navy base less than 2 km to the northeast. Several fast attack boats are based at this facility, which also has a covered docking area that some analysts believe is a hardened shelter for Iran’s midget submarines. The development of the airfield was underway by March 2011, when work to extend the runway by 800m could be seen. This was completed in 2012 and the runway is now over 1,600m long. According to Jane’s, while this could indicate an intention to operate larger UAS such as the Shahed 129 that was unveiled last year, the aircraft seen at the base in satellite imagery taken on 7 March is around 5 m in length: not much larger than the rail-launched Mohajer series that has been in Iranian service for many years. Two new hangars were constructed at the same time, suggesting more aircraft are now based at the airfield. A new building with a communications antenna at the western end of the airfield could be a ground-control facility. There is also a new paved area where a mobile air-surveillance radar can be seen parked in recent satellite imagery. This probably provides information that helps UAS operators avoid collisions with civilian airliners using the nearby Qeshm International Airport. It could also be used to monitor foreign military aircraft that might be a threat to the UAS and possibly guide ones armed with air-to-air missiles towards targets. Earlier this year, Iran displayed UAS carrying missiles taken from a man-portable air-defence system, giving them a short-range air-to-air capability. (Source: UAS VISION/iHLS)
19 Aug 13. The Old War Office: Sale Confirmed. The MoD confirmed (19 Aug 13) that the Old War Office “is now surplus to requirements and is to be sold”. The building is to go on open market sale and is expected to attract significant interest from developers. During 2014 MoD staff will move out of the Old War Office and all operations are to transfer to the MoD Main Building.
Comment: In July 2001 the MoD produced an interesting booklet giving the history of The Old War Office Building. In the Foreword to the booklet, the then Defence Secretary drew attention to “….the work that we do
to preserve our heritage and to look after the historic buildings that we occupy”. Self-evidently the present Defence Secretary cares little for “our heritage” and another piece of Whitehall history will pass to developers. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/34, 02 Sep 13)
29 Aug 13. Cyprus: Garrison Strengthened. The MoD announced that six Typhoon aircraft were being deployed to Akrotiri on 29 Aug 13. The move was described as “a precautionary measure, specifically aimed at protecting UK interests and the defence of our Sovereign Base Areas at a time of heightened tension in the wider region”.
Comment: The UK has two Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus: at Akrotiri, where the Typhoon are now based, and at Dhekelia. There are about 2,600 UK Service personnel on the island: 30 RN, 1,700 Army including two
Infantry Battalions and 880 RAF with a helicopter Squadron of four Bell 412 Twin Huey. In addition, there are some 130 personnel serving with the UN Peace Keeping Force (OP TOSCA). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 13/34, 02 Sep 13)
03 Sep 13. The Pakistan Navy on 3 September formally inducted the last of the four F-22P frigates purchased from China in a contract worth US$700m. PNS Aslat was entirely built at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW) under a technology transfer contract, according to senior Pakistani officials. The previous three ships were built either entirely or partially in China. Pakistan’s recently elected prime minister,