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01 Oct 12. Afghanistan: OP HERRICK. The Tornados of 2 (Army Co-operation) Squadron, operating from Kandahar Airfield, mounted both kinetic and reconnaissance missions across much of Afghanistan. The Sentinel R1s of 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron celebrated 1,000 Operational sorties. The Reapers of 39 Squadron marked their fifth anniversary in support of OP HERRICK. (RAF Ops Update, 30 Sep 12.)
In a newspaper article, the NATO Secretary General responded to pressure for a further withdrawal from Afghanistan by saying that the options were being studied and should be clear within three months. (The Guardian, 1 Oct 12.)
Comment: In a week with little other ‘news’ from Afghanistan, the MoD circulated an article praising the Royal Military Police. This will come as a surprise to many other soldiers (who have mixed views of the RMP!).
(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 12/39, 08 Oct 12)
07 Oct 12. BAE/EADS merger plan threatens 7,500 UK suppliers and 52,000 defence industry jobs says Company Watch. As shareholders and governments ponder the implications of merger talks between BAE and EADS, research by financial health monitoring specialists Company Watch raises concerns about the impact the deal will have on the UK defence industry supply chain and on the financial strength of the merged business. BAE has 25,000 suppliers worldwide, of which 7,500 are UK businesses employing some 52,000 people. If the merger is agreed, UK companies could see contracts and job opportunities begin to migrate to rival European companies already supplying the far larger EADS. The merger would also weaken significantly the financial strength of the combined group. Pre-merger, BAE currently has a fairly healthy Company Watch H-Score of 44 out of a maximum of 100, whilst EADS is showing key vulnerabilities with substantial resources tied up in illiquid inventory; moreover in excess of 54% of their total finance is due in 1 year. But Company Watch calculates that because the EADS balance sheet is much bigger than BAE’s, the merged company* would be significantly weaker financially overall, which may restrict the credit limits approved by trade insurers, forcing suppliers into difficult decisions about their ongoing relationship with the new entity. The merger will inevitably threaten the survival of some UK suppliers as the new defence leviathan seeks to manage its supply chain more efficiently. It could cause some companies to lose a major client, and it may also lead to the renegotiation of existing contracts on less favourable terms. BAE suppliers that manage to retain their relationship with the merged operation will find themselves forced to deal with a customer with a much less positive credit profile.
27 Sep 12. LEA Nears Delayed Hypersonic Ground Test Milestone. Full-scale wind tunnel tests of the LEA, the European hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle, are poised to get under way in France, setting the stage for the buildup to flight tests in Russia. Although details of the dual-mode ramjet powered vehicle project are increasingly difficult to ascertain, program officials confirm that it is ready for testing under Mach 6 flight conditions in the specially modified S4 wind tunnel in the French Alpine city of Modane. The LEA hypersonic test vehicle is in development by MBDA and the French research agency Onera, and is scheduled to be air-dropped from a Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 “Backfire-C” supersonic bomber. (Source: glstrade.com/AvWeek)
30 Sep 12. Will Exit Clause Doom ‘Super’ Gripen? A pending deal for Sweden and Switzerland to acquire Gripen-NG fighters is on shaky ground after Sweden said that if Switzerland pulls out of the deal — and no other international partner can be found to take its place — Sweden will no longer fund the pr