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22 Dec 07. Blair ‘fears’ on Saudi arms probe. Tony Blair raised fears about an investigation into a Saudi arms deal days before it was dropped last year, a newly-disclosed document has shown. The then PM had said the decision to stop the probe into the BAE deal was taken because of national security and was not linked to commercial interests. But in a letter released during a legal case, Mr Blair refers to “concern” over ongoing business negotiations. Downing Street has refused to comment on the letter to his attorney general. The letter from Mr Blair to Lord Goldsmith dated 8 December 2006 was released to the High Court during a case brought by two pressure groups who are challenging the legality of the decision to end investigations into BAE Systems’ dealings with Saudi Arabia. It refers “critical difficulties” that might have affected the major contract for new military aircraft. (Source: BBC)

21 Dec 07. Eurofighter GmbH, the European warplane maker, pulled out of the bidding to supply Norway and Denmark with almost 100 aircraft, saying it was unhappy with the selection process. “The Eurofighter consortium continues to feel ill at ease with the current process and has accordingly concluded that it should suspend its involvement,” Eurofighter shareholder European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. said in a letter to the Norwegian Finance Ministry that was forwarded to Bloomberg by a government spokeswoman. EADS spokesman Theodore Benien said separately that the decision had been taken because of recent adjustments to the timing and structure of the assessment process for awarding the contracts. He declined to elaborate. Norway and Denmark each plan to order 48 modern jet fighters to replace older planes Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16s. As well as an upgraded version of the F-16, the Eurofighter Typhoon competes with Lockheed’s F-35 Lightning II, the Saab AB Gripen, Boeing Co.’s F-15E and Dassault Aviation SA Rafale. (Source: Bloomberg)

10 Dec 07. Key NATO reconnaissance technology passes major test. Powerful new surveillance and reconnaissance technologies that soon could be deployed to Afghanistan have passed key tests, NATO’s Consultation, Command and Control Agency informed on 10 December. A lessons-learned conference, held in The Hague on 29-30 November, highlighted the progress made in the Multi-sensor Aerospace-Ground Joint Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Interoperability Coalition (MAJIIC), a nine-nation intelligence and surveillance project. Under the programme, standards and technologies are being developed that will allow NATO commanders to instantly tap into real-time data from a number of NATO and national systems. “With MAJIIC we will be able to deploy a wide array of air, ground and space surveillance assets, from different countries, and have them provide commanders with a single, coherent and detailed picture of what’s happening on the ground,” said Joe Ross, Technical Manager at the Agency. “We’re breaking down the stovepipes we now have in intelligence and surveillance systems,” he continued. In September, MAJIIC had its first full-blown test during a major NATO exercise in Norway, Trial Quest 2007, which included real-time manoeuvres by several thousand air and ground forces. The lessons-learned conference evaluated the results of the exercise. The countries involved in MAJIIC are: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The nations have appointed the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) to provide overall technical management of MAJIIC.

24 Dec 07. Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that Defence Estates has paid contractors to fill in manholes at the Caerwent, South Wales Training Camp due to safety concerns. A previous contractor had offered to fill these in free of charge! Is this the right use of MoD money in times of a stretched budget? This money could have paid for more bod

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