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NEWS IN BRIEF

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19 Feb 12. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. Divers from 35 Engineer Regiment conducted an exercise in the Helmand River to measure the water flow (for future irrigation projects). (Media Ops, 19 Feb 12.)
Soldiers from 5th Bn The Rifles joined Afghan Security Forces in clearing Kopak in the Nahr-e Saraj District. (Media Ops, 19 Feb 12.)
There are almost 600 Reservists in Afghanistan. As well as augmenting Regular units, Reservists supply vital skills, in particular medical, logistical and communication expertise. (Ministerial Statement, 20 Feb 12.)
No decision has yet been taken as to whether armoured fighting vehicles procured under the Urgent Operational Requirements process will be retained or disposed of. Armoured fighting vehicles deployed from the core equipment fleet will be returned to the UK. (Written Answer (WA), 21 Feb 12.)
The Afghan National Security Forces are on target to reach their maximum ‘surge’ size of 352,000 by November 2012. (WA, 23 Feb 12.)
Work on managing the recovery of UK equipment is under way. It is too early to state what equipment it is planned to retain and whether any will be gifted to the Afghans. (WA, 23 Feb 12.)
Comment: The 14th Progress Report on developments in Afghanistan since November 2010 has been published (21 Feb 12). The Report is available on the FCO website (www.fco.gov.uk). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 12/09, 25 Feb 12)

13 Feb 12. The Ministry of Defence has denied that it plans to purchase military airships from Northrop Grumman after reports suggested the navy was considering the new technology for intelligence gathering and logistics roles. The US Army ordered “up to three” of Northrop Grumman’s Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicles (LEMV) in a $517m deal in 2010 which should see them enter service in Afghanistan this year. A report in the Telegraph said that the company had recently briefed the Royal Navy on the potential uses of the airships, which do not require an airfield to operate and can land at sea. Bedfordshire-based Hybrid Air Vehicles provides the HAV304 platform for the project, which is capable of 21-days of continuous flight. The 300-foot vehicle is also capable of travelling over 80 knots and carrying a 50-ton payload. The airship is designed to use a 60/40 helium and air mix inside the balloon instead of the flammable hydrogen gas used in early 20th century airships such as Germany’s ill-fated Hindenberg. The LEMV can also survive bullet and rocket fire, with projectiles said to pass through the low-pressure balloon safely. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The MoD recently received briefings on the possible use of airships and specifically Hybrid Air Vehicles for the movement of equipment and stores but there are currently no plans to buy such equipment.” (Source: DMJ)
BATTLESPACE Comment: A source at AUSA told BATTLESPACE that the UK is keen to have LEMV in its inventory but will wait whilst the US Army deploys its systems before making a decision. Whatever the case, aerostats were the buzz word at AUSA!

21 Feb 12. Two officials from the Ministry of Defence in Northern Ireland are among four defendants who admitted guilt in a £16m bribery and corruption case in a Belfast court. The pleas bring an end to a 10-year probe brought by the MoD police and the Serious Fraud Office, which investigated how contracts to supply closed-circuit television were tendered. William Marks, 55, of County Antrim, was the deputy senior commercial officer for the MoD in Northern Ireland when he took bungs totalling £66,500 from the owner of a security company, James McGeown. Mr McGeown, 73, pleaded guilty earlier this month to obtaining contracts worth £16.2m to supply CCTV services to the MoD through the payment of bribes to Mr Marks and to John Symington, a senior quantity s

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