27 Dec 13. Japanese officials in Okinawa on Friday approved the long-stalled relocation of a controversial US military base, a breakthrough that could remove a running sore in relations between Tokyo and Washington. More than 17 years after the two allies agreed to move the US Marines’ Futenma Air Station from a densely populated urban area, the local government has finally consented to a landfill that will enable new facilities to be built on the coast. The agreement will burnish the credentials of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the US, possibly taking some of the sting out of American criticism of his provocative visit Thursday to a war shrine seen by China and Korea as a symbol of Japanese militarism. The issue has been deadlocked for years, with huge opposition to any new base among Okinawans fed up with playing host to an outsized share of the US military presence in Japan, and who want it moved off the island altogether. Okinawa’s governor Hirokazu Nakaima, long a thorn in the central government’s side, this week met Abe, who pledged a big cash injection into the island’s economy every year until 2021. He emerged from the meeting declaring himself impressed with the package on offer, which includes a pledge to work towards the shuttering of Futenma within five years, and on Friday gave it his formal seal of approval. (Source: Defense News)
11 Dec 13. Technical Training: New Defence College. The MoD announced (11 Dec 13) a £121m contract for the first stage of work on a Defence College of Technical Training at Lyneham. The contract has been awarded to Hercules, a consortium combining Kier and Balfour Beatty. The contract enables technical training for all three Services to be centralised, with the first staff and students arriving in Autumn 2015. When development is complete, it is anticipated that there will be some 2,000 military and civilian personnel based at the new College.
Comment: The development covers the provision of single living accommodation, teaching facilities, an outdoor training area on the former airfield and a museum for the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. Some of the development is to consist of upgrading and refurbishing existing buildings. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 14/01, 30 Dec 13)
30 Dec 13. HMS Duncan, the UK’s sixth Type 45 Destroyer, has entered into service with the Royal Navy four months ahead of schedule.
The ship was scheduled to enter service in early 2014, but thanks to the hard work of both the ship’s company and industry since her arrival in Portsmouth, HMS Duncan is ready to take up duties. The 7,500 tonne vessel will now embark on a programme of trials to prepare the ship and her crew for operational deployment. HMS Duncan is the final Type 45 to enter service with the Royal Navy. Her handover to the Fleet marks the end of a 13 year build programme with BAE Systems to deliver the six ships – Daring, Dauntless, Diamond, Dragon, Defender and Duncan. Armed with the world-leading Sea Viper missile defence system which can neutralise threats up to 70 miles away, the Type 45s are the most powerful air defence destroyers ever used by the Royal Navy. Measuring in at 152 metres in length, HMS Duncan and her sister ships are longer than 16 double decker buses and as tall as an electricity pylon. Her onboard power plant can supply enough electricity to light a town of 80,000 people.
28 Dec 13. Typhoon: New Squadron. The RAF confirmed that 2 (Army Co-operation) Squadron, based at Marham, is to be re-equipped with Typhoon aircraft. The Squadron is currently training for its next tour of duty in Afghanistan early in 2014. On return to the UK, the Squadron will start the process of changing its Tornado GR4 for Typhoon and transferring to a new base at Lossiemouth. The Squadron will formally disband on 31 Mar 15 and re-form the next day, on 1 Apr 15.
Comment: The change is part of the ‘planned realignment’ of