23 Dec 15. Germany Pulls Patriot Systems From Turkey. After a three-year deployment, Germany has withdrawn its Patriot air and anti-missile defense systems from Turkish soil. The move comes shortly after NATO agreed to strengthen efforts to protect Turkey’s southern borders and airspace. Germany, along with other NATO allies, had deployed the Patriots in Turkey to help the Turkish better counter any potential missile threat from Syria. The German Patriots were dissembled into parts and loaded on the Britannia Seaways, a Danish ro-ro ship at Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Iskenderun near the country’s border with Syria. The system composes of 380 different parts. Earlier this year, the Berlin government said it would not renew the Patriot mandate in Turkey. The German Patriots were deployed in the southeastern Turkish province of Kahramanmaras. Officials said the Danish ship left the port of Iskenderun Dec. 22 en route to Germany together with 250 German military officials aboard. The officers were at the Gazi Barracks in Kahramanmaras to operate the Patriot system. A military ceremony marking the term end of the patriots was held at the barracks in November. The German withdrawal leaves only Spanish Patriots systems in Turkish territory. They are stationed in the southern province of Adana near the Incirlik military base where U.S. and allied forces carry out airstrikes against radical jihadist strongholds in Syria. In early 2013, the Dutch, US and German missile systems were stationed in Turkey. Spanish patriots replaced the Dutch systems early 2015. Spain has agreed to extend its Patriot mandate in Turkey to help protect the Turkish territory. On Dec. 18 NATO allies agreed to augment Turkey’s southern borders and airspace by sending aircraft and ships. The NATO assistance will include surveillance aircraft and what NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg described as “enhanced air policing, and increased naval presence including maritime patrol aircraft.” (Source: Defense News)
22 Dec 15. The Strategic Defense Plan approved on Tuesday by the Belgian government’s Select Ministerial Committee calls for military manpower to drop to 25,000 full-time jobs by 2030. It also calls for €9.2bn euros to be spent on major equipment investment programs, including 34 new combat aircraft, two frigates, six minehunters and six drones. Defense Minister Steven Vandeput (N-VA) said Dec 22 that the plan signals the end of the “peace dividends” reaped since the end of the Cold War.
“Defense will evolve towards a workforce of 25,000 full-time equivalent staff, with an average age of 34 (against 40 at present) by initiating a modernization of its personnel policy, status, training and knowledge management within the organization,” he said in a press release.
The Defense Ministry currently includes about 32,000 soldiers and civilian employees, with a quota for 2016 of 30,820 active military and trainees.
The €9.2bn euro investment fund will be used to buy 34 fighter-bombers to replace the 56 aging F-16s currently in service; two frigates to replace the two second-hand ships bought from the Netherlands in the early 2000s; six minesweepers to replace the six vessels currently in service, and six drones, two to be ordered in 2021 and four in 2030. No choice has yet been made regarding the type of equipment to be bought.
These investments, which will be completed by 2030, relate to the land forces as well as the air and naval components, as well as Cyber / Intelligence operations, the statement added.
“The ground component will be fully equipped to perform its duties,” said Mr. Vandeput. He added that the objective is to achieve a healthy balance between payroll costs (50%), operations costs (25%) and investment (25%).
Defence will also consider participation in a Tanker Aircraft Programme – one of Europe’s major shortcomings – and consider options for the fleet of “white aircraft” used for passenger transport, to replace the Mystère 20