03 Jan 16. Iraq and Syria: OP SHADER. On 29 Dec 16 Tornados and a Reaper struck five Daesh targets in Mosul and the Tornados also destroyed an artillery piece North of Palmyra. On 30 Dec 16 a Reaper engaged two groups of terrorists in combat with Iraqi forces inside Mosul. Typhoons attacked a mortar position in Northern Mosul on 1 Jan 17 as a Reaper engaged targets in the South East of the city. On 2 Jan 17 a Reaper engaged a terrorist position over Mosul while on 3 Jan 17 Tornados destroyed a truck South of Kirkuk and a Reaper engaged terrorists in South East Mosul.
Comment: The major focus for RAF Operations against Daesh continued to be support to the Iraqi offensive to liberate Mosul. A Lance Corporal from 3rd Bn The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment died in a non-combat incident at a training camp in Taji on 2 Jan 17. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/02, 09 Jan 17)
05 Jan 16. Laser Weapon: Contract Award. The Defence Procurement Minister announced (5 Jan 17) the award of a £30m contract to the Dragonfire consortium to produce a Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) Capability Demonstrator. The project will assess innovative LDEW technologies, culminating in a demonstration of the system in 2019. If the project is successful, the first laser weapons could come into service in the mid-2020s. Led by MBDA, the companies involved include: Arke, BAE Systems, Leonardo-Finmeccanica GKN, Marshall ADG and QinetiQ.
Comment: Announcement of contract award to MBDA was reportedly delayed by a protest filed by one of the losing bidders. Thales UK was said to have filed a protest after MBDA was selected by the MoD in July 2016. The contract award forms part of the MoD’s £800m Innovation Fund, set up “to forge closer links with British technology firms and exploit cutting edge research”. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/02, 09 Jan 17)
05 Jan 16. HMS ALBION: To Re-join the Fleet. HMS ALBION’s two-year overhaul is nearing completion, with the ship once more afloat and all work below the waterline completed. The crew are due to move back in the near future, about half of whom will have been serving in HMS BULWARK (since the two vessels alternate in their duties). HMS ALBION will be the first vessel to be equipped with a fresh, rather than salt-water, cooling system. The sailors and the installed systems should now be cooler when the ship is in the Gulf region. The ‘Phalanx’ gun systems are being fitted in place of the former ‘Goalkeeper’ which is being retired across the fleet. HMS ALBION is due to be re-commissioned in, or shortly after, April 2017.
Comment: HMS ALBION is expected to complete her amphibious training with the Royal Marines and Commando Helicopter Force, based at RN Air Station Yeovilton, before her first deployment. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/02, 09 Jan 17)
19 Dec 16. HMS BROCKLESBY: Overhauled. The RN reported (19 Dec 16) that HMS BROCKLESBY has returned to the water, after 18 months. The ship is the latest Hunt Class vessel to undergo a substantial overhaul, chiefly focussed on replacing old Deltic diesel with modern Caterpillar motors. Other systems have been serviced and, where necessary, replaced. A new chilled water plant has been installed and the ship’s decks and hull have been treated, repaired and re-painted.
Comment: As well as HMS BROCKLESBY, five other Hunt Class ships have completed their extensive refits: HMS LEDBURY, CATTISTOCK, MIDDLETON, CHIDDINGFOLD and HURWORTH. Work on the remaining vessels is now due to be completed in late 2019 (rather than 2016 as originally planned). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/02, 09 Jan 17)
23 Dec 16. HMS SHOREHAM: Returning to the Fleet. The RN reported (23 Dec 16) that HMS SHOREHAM looked ‘spic and span’ after a six-month overhaul at Babcock’s yard in Rosyth. The Babcock team found that conditions in the Middle East had taken their toll on the minehunter and particularly on her fibre-glass hull which had degr