28 Feb 06. A Captain and a Private from 2nd Bn The Parachute Regiment, attached to The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, were killed by a roadside bomb in Al Amarah on 28 Feb 06. The number of UK deaths since the start of hostilities thus rose to 103 (six from natural causes, 37 accidentally (including three possible suicides), six from friendly fire and 54 killed in action). British commanders believe that they may have broken a terrorist cell operating within the Iraqi Police Service in Basrah. (Soldier, March 2006.) Comment: In a television interview (4 Mar 06), the Prime Minister said that he believed that God and “history” would judge him for his decision to invade Iraq. Such an affirmation appears politically inept but, in the words of the ‘Daily Telegraph’s’ Editorial (4 Mar 06): “Mr Blair has always combined permissiveness and priggishness.” (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0610, 06 Mar 06)
06 Mar 06. The German government apparently fears Austria’s withdrawal from the Eurofighter programme. The neighbouring country ordered 18 of the jets valued at over 1.9bn euros almost three years ago. They are to be put into service as of May next year – in a variant that can also attack targets on the ground with bombs and missiles. However, as the manufacturer consortium cannot deliver the aircraft on time, Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy now want to let the Austrians have six Eurofighters in the fighter variant, whose equipment is to be supplemented later. “This is to prevent Austria from terminating the contract, to which it is entitled,” says a confidential report of the Berlin Defence Ministry to the Bundestag. Moreover, there are negotiations with Vienna on “comprehensive” German “help”, for example, with the “inspection and registration” of the aircraft and the training of Austrian pilots and technicians. (Source: Der Spiegel, Hamburg, in German 6 Mar 06/ BBC Monitoring Service – United Kingdom/FT.com)
05 Mar 06. Dutch withdraw from MRAV. The Dutch have decided to withdraw from the Pan-European MRAV programme, a move that signals the death knell for this troubled Program. Citing costs as the reason, the Dutch will now start a competition for replacement vehicles that includes CV-90 and Piranha. This move is ironic considering that the Dutch pleaded to become part of the Program after the French withdrawal. The collapse of another pan-European Programme should serve as a warning to those in the MoD pushing the FRES Programme to a Pan-European solution.
08 Mar 06. Problems for FIST? Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the Thales-led FIST Future Infantry Programme has run into problems. The MoD funded Thales to the tune of a suggested £35m to fund a demonstration. Our source suggested that sub-contractors were required to fund their own demonstrations within the Thales Team, thus creating aggravation and annoyance within the team. It is believed that networking problems with the radios caused ITT in particular to add more weight to the Team. We are also led to believe that ITT decided to run its own demo of FIST technology outside the Thales team which met with great approval from the MoD where new soldier technology, developed by ITT in the U.S. under its Soldier Waveform Program. Watch this space!
07 Mar 06. John Reid challenged his EU colleagues today to improve strategic airlift capability across Europe. Mr Reid has issued a discussion paper challenging individual Member States to be able to lift and sustain their rapid reaction forces by air themselves. This capability would then be available when operating under either NATO or the EU. Mr Reid said that events such as the tsunami, the Pakistan earthquake and Darfur continue to highlight the long-term importance of Europe having sufficient strategic lift capability to enable us, both as nations and when working within international organisations, to respond to crises and disasters. Mr Reid said that Europe has made some good progress in pro