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24 Sep 13. The victory of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats on 22 September, could turn out to be a poisoned chalice for Chancellor – and lead to further cuts to Germany’s defence budget. Despite coming only five seats short of an absolute majority, which has not occurred in Germany since 1957, the complete electoral failure of their Liberal coalition partners leaves them without a natural partner to form a new coalition government with. The two possible coalition partners for Merkel are the Social Democrats and the
Green Party, neither of whom are considered strong backers of military spending. “Neither a Social Democratic nor a Green coalition partner will engage [with] the issue of the structure of the German armed forces after Afghanistan,” a defence analyst in Berlin told IHS Jane’s. (Source: Jane’s)
19 Sep 13. Finland has reduced its defence budget for 2014, with defence procurement particularly hard hit, the Finnish Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 16 September. Overall, spending will fall slightly in 2014 to EUR2.751bn (USD3.722bn) from EUR2.781bn in 2013. 2014 will also see Finnish defence spending fall as both a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (from 1.47% to 1.36%) and as a proportion of government spending (from 5.3% to 5.1%). Despite this moderate fall in headline spending, defence materiel procurement is to be heavily cut by almost a third to EUR470m, compared with an ultimate total of EUR685m in 2013.
19 Sep 13. Dassault has delivered the first Tranche 4 Rafale multirole fighter aircraft to France, the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) announced on 19 September. The aircraft (B339) is the first production Rafale to be delivered as standard with the new Thales Radar à Balayage Electronique 2 (RBE2) active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. Delivery of the aircraft, a two-seat Rafale B F3, took place on 12 September, according to the DGA, with B339 destined for the French Air Force. The aircraft is the 121st Rafale to be delivered to the country’s armed forces. Beside the RBE2 AESA, Tranche 4 aircraft also include F3 standard improvements such as a new Thales SPECTRA self-defence system and Mode-5/Mode-S-compatible Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) interrogator/transponder. Testing of the RBE2 AESA has been ongoing for several years, across different platforms, with the handover of the first production AESA to an operational Rafale (C137) occurring in October 2012. This aircraft has been conducting operational trials of the AESA at the Military Air Test Centre 330 at Mont-de-Marsan air base. It is expected that when the DGA hands B339 over to the air force it will join C137 in this role at Mont-de-Marsan. France has ordered a total of 180 Rafales for the air force and navy, with Dassault currently producing 11 aircraft a year. While the Rafale has yet to secure an export contract (with an expected Indian order still pending), the French Ministry of Defence announced on 2 August that production for the French military would be pegged back to only 26 aircraft across 2014-25 – with exports hoped to balance out this downtick. (Source: Jane’s)
22 Sep 13. Defence spending in Scotland would be slashed by 25 per cent if voters back independence, Labour’s shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy will warn in his conference speech. Mr Murphy will quote a report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) that says £3.4bn is currently spent by the UK government on defence in Scotland but, under SNP plans for independence, it would be reduced to £2.5bn.The attack on the SNP’s defence plans comes after Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont appeared to liken Scottish Nationalism to ext