18 May 16. HM The Queen’s Speech: Defence Aspects. As is customary, HM The Queen outlined the Government’s programme when she opened the new Session of Parliament (18 May 16). Points from the Speech included:-
. The Government will strengthen national defences.
. Ministers will honour the military covenant, spending two per cent of national income on Defence.
. Ministers will act to secure the long-term future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.
. The Government will continue to work to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.
. The Government will play a leading role in the campaign against Daesh.
. The Government will support international efforts to bring peace to Syria.
HM The Queen also said that she and Prince Philip looked forward to welcoming HE The President of Colombia on a State Visit in November.
Comment: Debate on the Queen’s Speech is due to take place in the House of Commons on Thu 19, Mon 23, Tue 24, Wed 25 & Thu 26 May 16. The House will be debating aspects of Defence on Tue 24 May and will be
in recess from Fri 27 May to Mon 6 Jun 16. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 16/20, 23 May 16)
19 May 16. Iraq and Syria: OP SHADER. On 9 May 16 Tornados and Typhoons struck Daesh targets in Western and Northern Iraq. Two days later Tornados provided close air support to Iraqi troops engaged in close combat. On 12 May 16 Typhoons attacked Daesh positions South West of Kirkuk. Reapers engaged targets in Northern Iraq as Tornados destroyed Daesh positions in Western Iraq on 13 May 16. Targets in Western Iraq were attacked by Typhoons and Tornados on 15/16 May 16. Typhoons and Tornados destroyed weapons caches and machine gun positions in Northern and Western Iraq on 17 May 16. On the following day, Typhoons and Tornados struck multiple Daesh positions. (MoD, 19 May 16.)
Comment: The MoD was keen to emphasise (19 May 16) that Sentry aircraft had “been playing their part in the overall direction of the air campaign against Daesh”. As an example: 10 May 16 saw a Sentry mission controlling some 40 coalition aircraft over Syria and Iraq. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 16/20, 23 May 16)
19 May 16. EgyptAir Flight MS804: Total Loss. The Transport Secretary made a brief statement (19 May 16) about the loss of EgyptAir flight MS804. The Airbus 320, carrying 56 passengers and 10 crew members from Paris to Cairo, disappeared from radar at approximately 01.30hrs 19 May 16 (UK time), with one UK national among the passengers. To support the “ongoing search efforts”, the Defence Secretary directed RFA Lyme Bay to assist and he also offered a C-130 Hercules from RAF Akrotiri in support of the Egyptian-led response.
Comment: The Defence Secretary confirmed that the MoD stood ready to offer further assistance, should it be required. An offer of assistance was also made by the Foreign Secretary. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 16/20, 23 May 16)
17 May 16. Baltic Air Policing (BAP): OP AZOTIZE. The MoD reported (17 May 16) that RAF Typhoon aircraft completed their second interception in less than a week during the latest NATO BAP mission. Five Russian aircraft were identified as four Su-27 Flanker fighters and an IL-20 Coot-A reconnaissance aircraft. Yet again, the Russian military aircraft were operating without transmitting recognised identification codes nor were they communicating with regional air traffic control.
Comment: The Defence Secretary commented: “For the second time in a week, the RAF have been on hand to respond to Russian activity at a moment’s notice. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we will continue to
secure the Baltic skies on behalf of NATO and our allies.” (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 16/20, 23 May 16)
20 May 16. Afghanistan: Continued Financial Support. During a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers (20 May 16) the Foreign Secretary said that the UK would provide £210m to sustain its annual contributions of £70m in support of Afghanistan’s Defence and