10 Jan 14. MoD awards £51m contract for new homes for returning troops. A £51m contract to build new homes in Stafford for soldiers and their families returning from Germany has been announced today by Defence Minister Andrew Murrison. The contract will see the construction of 346 homes for soldiers based at Beacon Barracks in Stafford and is a step towards establishing the town as one of the Army’s seven major concentrations of manpower. It follows the announcement in October 2013 of a £100m contract to carry out a major redevelopment of the barracks. Stafford will be the new home of two Signals regiments returning from Germany, bringing three Signal regiments together on one site. The homes should be complete by summer 2015 when troops from 16 Signal Regiment and 1 Armoured Division Signal Regiment will move to Beacon Barracks allowing for the closure of Rhine Garrison by the following March. The contract was awarded to Lovell Partnerships Ltd by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which manages and maintains land and property for the Ministry of Defence. The investment is in addition to the £1.8bn announced last March by the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond for the Army Rebasing Plan, which will see 15,000 personnel return to the UK from Germany by 2020, £20m of which will be spent in the West Midlands. Under the Basing Plan, Stafford will become one of seven major Army concentrations along with Salisbury Plain, Edinburgh and Leuchars in Scotland, Catterick in North Yorkshire, Aldershot, Colchester and the East Midlands.
06 Jan 14. China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier completes sea
trials. China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier battle group has completed a series of sea trials in the South China Sea and returned to a People’s Liberation Army’s naval base in Qingdao, in the Shandong province of China. The Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, left its home port Qingdao on 26 November 2013. The aircraft carrier was anchored at a naval base in Sanya, Hainan province, it started mission training on 5 December 2013 and carried out tests as well as training exercises off the coast of Hainan Island for 37 days. The Liaoning’s sea trials were performed along with aircraft, naval vessels and submarines. Xinhua reports the Chinese navy as saying in a statement, that during the mission, the Liaoning conducted over 100 drills and training exercises. The statement further said the carrier completed its first comprehensive combat training during the mission and performed a formation drill with other Chinese ships and submarines in the battle group, another first for the Chinese navy. The Liaoning was supported by the navy’s two missile destroyers, the Shenyang and Shijiazhuang, and two missile frigates, the Yantai and Weifang, which participated in the mission. The use of four ships led military observers to speculate that the navy’s carrier battle group has taken shape with the Liaoning as its core, according to the news agency. (Source: naval-technology.com)
04 Jan 14. Babcock successfully completes first-of-class MSC installation on Vengeance. Installation and initial power-up of new Main Static Converters (MSCs) has been completed on HMS Vengeance during the current Long Overhaul Period and Refuel (LOP(R)) being undertaken by Babcock at Devonport Royal Dockyard, marking both a key milestone in the LOP(R) and a first-of-class implementation of Vanguard class life extension measures. The MSCs replace the traditional 650kW Motor Generators (MGs); an essential part of the submarine’s onboard electrical power system. The MSCs provide a fixed, solid state power electronics alternative that avoids the need for rotating machinery, with huge advantages over MGs, being significantly more reliable and with considerably reduced through-life maintenance requirements. Replacing the MGs with the MSCs will improve submarine availability to perform the at-sea deterrence role. This first-of-class project