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09 Feb 18. HMS OCEAN: Farewell. The RN reported (9 Feb 18) that HMS OCEAN has sailed into Devonport Naval Base for the final time. The
amphibious helicopter and commando carrier undertook a brief farewell visit (2-7 Feb 18) to Portsmouth before returning to her home port in Plymouth. HMS OCEAN is to decommission on 27 Mar 18.
Comment: Since commissioning into the Royal Navy in 1998, HMS OCEAN has been involved in a number of Operations, including: OP PALLISER (Sierra Leone in 2000); OP TELIC (Iraq in 2003); OP ELLAMY (Libya in 2011) and OP RUMAN (Caribbean disaster relief in 2017). The ship’s final deployment was as Flagship of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) operating in the Mediterranean. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/06, 12 Feb 18)
07 Feb 18. A400M Atlas Aircraft: Declaration of Intent. Airbus announced (7 Feb 18) that it has signed a Declaration of Intent with the A400M Launch Customer
Nations (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK) “defining the framework for achieving a mutually binding contract amendment later in the year”. It is understood that Airbus is expecting the rate of production to fall from 19 aircraft (in 2017) to 15 in 2018 and 11 in 2019.
Comment: Airbus stated that the above Declaration of Intent “provides a new baseline on which to evaluate the A400M contract”. An increase to the loss-making contract provision on the programme for the 2017 year will be
disclosed on 15 Feb 18. Ministers from the A400M Partner Nations “had a productive meeting with Industry representatives” on 5 Feb 18. All Nations and Airbus signed the Declaration of Intent (as above). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/06, 12 Feb 18)
06 Feb 18. F-35B Lightning Aircraft: Initial Operational Squadron. A Ministerial Reply (6 Feb 18) indicated that there are to be four initial pilots, two RN and two RAF, trained to fly the F-35B with 617 Squadron when it becomes operational during 2018. The first operational squadron will have a total strength of 14 pilots. First of Class F-35B flying trails on board HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH are due to start off the US East coast “in the Autumn” (2018).
Comment: HM The Queen visited RAF Marham on 2 Feb 18, in her capacity as Honorary Air Commodore of the Station. After meeting many representatives, HM The Queen officially opened the Lightning Operations Centre with the unveiling of a plaque that had been commissioned by Lockheed Martin. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/06, 12 Feb 18)
02 Feb 18. Type 31e Frigates: Potential Market. The Defence Procurement Minister confirmed (2 Feb 18) in a Written Answer that the MoD’s assessment of the
potential light frigate export market, of around 40 ships over the next 10 years, has been informed by three independent studies conducted by MoD market analysts, the UK Defence Solutions Centre and by an
independent consultancy firm. Evidence from these studies was further refined by an assessment undertaken by the Department for International Trade and the MoD.
Comment: The potential light frigate market assessment was set out in the ‘National Shipbuilding Strategy’ (published 6 Sep 17). In an earlier Written Answer (25 Jan 18) the Minister stated that the figure of “40 ships” did not represent a “Departmental objective” for the possible sales of Type 31e frigates. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/06, 12 Feb 18)
08 Feb 18. Falkland Islands: Jetty Upgrade. The MoD reported (8 Feb 18) that the upgraded jetty at Mare Harbour in the Falkland Islands has been officially opened by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation’s (DIO) Chief Operating Officer. The new jetty is part of a £19m contract with VolkerStevin covering the design and construction. Upgraded facilities will enable the 20,000 tonne Point Class vessels t