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26 Nov 13. Scottish government sets timetable for Trident removal. The Scottish government hopes to have all nuclear weapons removed from Scotland within the first term of an independent Scottish Parliament, if the country opts for independence in 2014. Source: Crown Copyright The future basing of the UK’s nuclear weapons capability continues to face uncertainty, with the Scottish government setting an aspirational date of 2021 to remove nuclear weapons from Scotland in the case of independence. Currently all the UK’s nuclear weapons are based and stored in Scotland, with the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) government pledging to remove them as “a priority” if independence occurs. Although Scottish independence appears likely to be rejected by voters in September 2014, the implication of a ‘Yes’ vote would be substantial on the nuclear deterrent of one of the world’s only eight declared nuclear powers. Scottish independence would see nuclear weapons removed from Scottish territory within the first term of an independent Scottish Parliament, it was claimed in the Scottish government’s long-awaited White Paper on Scottish independence, ‘Scotland’s Future: Your guide to an independent Scotland’, published on 26 November. With the first independent Scottish government outlined to take power in 2016, this sets a 2021 timeline for the removal of the UK’s Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) capability from Scotland. The entire UK submarine force is currently based at HMNB Clyde, with RNAD Coulport responsible for storage and loading of the Royal Navy’s Trident SLBMs. The SNP’s priority is stated as the “speediest and safest possible transition” of nuclear weapons from Scotland, although it notes that the “detailed process and timetable for removal would be a priority for negotiation between the Scottish government and the Westminster government”. The paper also outlines the SNP’s vision for a future Scottish Defence Force. The land force element would comprise a headquarters and single combined-arms brigade, initially armed with equipment currently in UK service. This would include six helicopters and two light armoured reconnaissance units, two light artillery units, although no mention is made of any heavy armour capability. Scotland would hope to inherit on independence 2 of the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates, a ‘command platform’, plus 10 smaller patrol and mine vessels. They would be supported by the procurement of about four maritime patrol aircraft, which are planned to enter service by 2021. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

23 Nov 13. A research and development deal is due soon as part of an announced upgrade of the Rafale fighter, including a new-generation laser targeting pod, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Nov. 21. Le Drian was speaking at the Innovation Forum, a technology showcase held by the procurement arm Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) at the elite École Polytechnique. The DGA signed with Thales at the end of December a €55m (US $74m) contract for derisking work on a new-generation laser targeting pod. The electronics company supplies the Damocles infrared pod that fits on the Rafale and Mirage 2000D. A laser pod, due to be shipped in five years, would boost French attractiveness in military markets, the DGA said in a January statement on the derisking contract. The current infrared-based pod is seen as lacking competitiveness with US company Lockheed Martin’s Sniper and Israeli Rafael’s Litening targeting kit. The government plans a major R&D effort for programs set out in the 2014-19 multiyear budget law, Le Drian said. Those other programs include the Scorpion project for modernizing Army kit, an underwater drone to replace th

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