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01 Sep 17. Iraq and Syria: OP SHADER. The Defence Secretary announced (1 Sep 17) that 44 additional Royal Engineers are deploying to Al Asad
Airbase, increasing the number of UK personnel there to over 300 and bringing the total number of British troops in Iraq to over 600. The troops from 5 Armoured Engineer Squadron have been tasked with constructing infrastructure including accommodation and offices in the Coalition camp. (MoD, 1 Sep 17.)
Comment: The UK personnel in Iraq are primarily involved in training Iraqi Security Forces in infantry, counter-IED, engineering and combat medical skills; with over 58,000 Iraqis trained so far. In addition to those on the ground in Iraq, RAF aircraft have carried out some 1,400 strikes against Daesh from their base in Akrotiri. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/32, 11 Sep 17)
07 Sep 17. Hurricane Irma: Relief Teams. The Defence Secretary advised (7 Sep 17) that HMS OCEAN has been diverted from a planned task to provide
humanitarian aid to Caribbean Islands devastated by Hurricane Irma and in the path of Hurricane José. HMS OCEAN will be joining RFA Mounts Bay, providing logistical and medical support (but is not expected to
arrive until mid-September).
The MoD confirmed (8 Sep 17) that RFA Mounts Bay delivered six-tonnes of emergency aid to Anguilla before progressing to the British Virgin Islands to provide further support. RFA Mounts Bay arrived in the British Virgin Islands during the early hours of 9 Sep 17.
Comment: RFA Mounts Bay is carrying a specialist disaster relief team drawn from the Royal Engineers and the Royal Logistic Corps, in addition to heavy plant and emergency shelters. Also on board RFA Mounts Bay is the RN’s Mobile Aviation Support Force (aviation specialists, meteorological advisers and flight deck crews). The BBC reported (8 Sep 17) that a military flight at RAF Brize Norton was preparing to join the relief effort. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/32, 11 Sep 17)
06 Sep 17. Naval Shipbuilding: Plans. The Defence Secretary published (6 Sep 17) a National Shipbuilding Strategy, including plans for the first batch of Type 31e frigates (Item 4). The Strategy, “backed by a rising Defence budget” aims to:-
• Transform the procurement of naval ships.
• Enable the Fleet to grow by the 2030s.
• Energise the UK’s maritime industry to compete for and win work.
• Increase skills, exports and prosperity across the UK.
Introducing the Strategy, the Defence Secretary claimed that it would “lead to more cutting edge ships for the
growing Royal Navy that will be designed to maximise exports and be attractive to Navies around the world”.
Comment: Publication of ‘National Shipbuilding Strategy – The Future of Naval Shipbuilding in the UK’ coincided with a Statement by the Defence Secretary in the House of Commons (Hansard for 6 Sep 17, starting
in Column 177). The Statement provides a useful summary while the Strategy document can be found on the MoD page of the Government web portal (www.gov.uk/). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/32, 11 Sep 17)
06 Sep 17. General Purpose Frigates: Plan Announced. The National Shipbuilding Strategy included an announcement of the plan to procure Type 31e General Purpose Frigates. A price cap has been set of no more that £250m each for the first batch of five frigates, all of which are to be built in the UK. The first ships are set to be in service by 2023.
Comment: The Type 31e frigate will replace five of the present Type 23 frigates. The other eight Type 23s are due to be replaced by the Type 26 Class. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/32, 11 Sep 17)
04 Sep 17. Sea Ceptor: First Firings. MBDA confirmed (4 Sep 17) that the first firings of Sea Ceptor have been successfully conducted. The firings