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19 Aug 18. Award For Royal Navy Sailors Who Defied Missile Threat To Protect Merchant Ships. Sailors who braved the threat of missile attack to protect merchant ships in the Middle East will be awarded a new medal clasp, it has today been announced. Her Majesty The Queen has agreed a new clasp, the Gulf of Aden Clasp, will be introduced for those who served on board Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring during a period of significant threat in the Bab al-Mandeb strait in 2016. The intense mission began after an attack on a merchant vessel, the MV Swift, off the coast of Yemen in October 2016. Portsmouth-based HMS Daring was already headed to the area at the start of a nine-month deployment on maritime security operations. The destroyer and her 260-strong crew then conducted 20 patrols of the area threatened by land-based missiles and explosive boats in the hands of Houthi rebels. With the ship’s advanced surveillance radar and Sea Viper missile system, they ensured the critical choke point for world trade remained free flowing.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Maritime trade is the lifeblood of Britain’s economy and the Royal Navy plays a key role in protecting important trade routes. The extraordinary achievements of HMS Daring’s ship’s company, under constant missile threat, is a testament to the skill and bravery of the men and women of the Navy.
“Their award of the Gulf of Aden Clasp is thoroughly deserved and they should wear it with pride.”
HMS Daring’s crew operated for 50 days under threat of attack, safeguarding 800,000 tonnes of merchant shipping. Each transit of the chokepoint was conducted at the highest degree of readiness.
Sailors and Royal Marines who were on board at the time will be awarded the clasp, which is worn with the General Service Medal, later this year. Those who do not already possess the medal will be awarded it.
Commander Phil Dennis, who was the Commanding Officer of HMS Daring at the time of the operation, said: “This is wonderful recognition of the immense efforts of my team in HMS Daring during such a vital mission which ultimately helped protect Britain’s economy and safeguard world trade.
“There was a significant and viable threat from both surface and air attack at the time, but throughout that threat my team performed brilliantly, calling upon their world-class training to rise to the challenge.
“This achievement shows how capable the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers truly are, having successfully defended hundreds of thousands of tonnes of merchant shipping with sensors and weapons.”
Around 95 per cent of Britain’s economic activity depends upon the sea and a vast amount of global trade passes through the choke point of the Bab al-Mandeb strait. After passing east of the Suez Canal, Daring first escorted the Royal Navy’s Joint Expeditionary Force task group. As well as providing air defence, Daring helped protect the task group’s ships from the threat of waterborne attack, carrying Royal Navy and Royal Marines boarding parties to counter piracy, terrorists and smugglers. She later accompanied the significant amount of merchant shipping through the narrow lanes of the southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb strait. Several other Royal Navy ships have since maintained patrols and maritime security duties in the region since the threat has de-escalated.
Leading Chef Chloe Toussaint, who served on board HMS Daring as a chef and first aider, said: “I am chuffed to be awarded a medal for my work on this deployment, and it is good that the ship’s company are being recognised for our hard work.
“We spent some very long days at action stations, and the job of us as chefs is to ensure the ship’s company is fed but we also act as medics when at action stations. I enjoyed the deployment. It was a long nine months but was very rewarding. There were some tears on the jetty when we arrived home in Portsmouth as seeing our friends and families again was such a relief.
“Going into action stations for real and not just for exercise was the scariest thing I have ever done. We are fully trained in what to do, but when you hear there is an inbound threat to the ship and we could get hit, my heart started thumping out of my chest. After this, the ship’s company become like family. It was an experience like no other.”
Type 45 destroyers are part of the backbone of the Royal Navy, defending the fleet from air attack with their state-of-the-art equipment. They will form a vital component of the UK’s carrier strike task force when HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales begin their operational deployments. Earlier this month, Daring’s sister ship HMS Diamond was called up on to monitor the movements of two Russian warships as they passed through the English Channel.
17 Aug 18. UK restarts frigate competition – but will anyone take part? Britain’s Ministry of Defence is restarting its contest to build five general purpose frigates for the Royal Navy after it terminated the original competition due to insufficient interest from industry. The Defence Equipment & Support organisation, the MoD’s procurement arm, has issued a “prior information notice” informing potential bidders it is moving forward with the Type 31e program, and plans a short period of market engagement with companies or consortia that have expressed interest starting on Aug 20.
“We have relaunched discussions with industry for our new Type 31e fleet, and this week issued a Prior Information Notice to ensure we do not lose any momentum. We remain committed to a cutting-edge Royal Navy fleet of at least 19 frigates and destroyers, and the first batch of five new Type 31e ships will bolster our modern Navy,” said an MoD spokesperson.
“The purpose of the market engagement is for the Authority [DE&S] to share key elements of the new procurement, including technical and commercial elements. The Authority intends to use the feedback from the market engagement to inform the further shaping of its requirements and commercial construct,” said the DE&S in its announcement it was relaunching the competition.
DE&S said suppliers should “only respond if they are in a position to undertake the full Type 31e programme, meeting its full requirement including a £1.25bn cost and building the Type 31e in a UK shipyard.”
The Type 31e is a key part of the government’s 2017 national shipbuilding strategy which in part seeks to open up the sector to local competition, rather than contract via a non-competitive single source contract with U.K. giant BAE Systems, the world’s third largest defense company according to the Defense News Top 100 list. The fast track schedule for the Type 31e calls for the initial vessel to be in service by 2023, replacing the first of 13 Type 23 class frigates due to be retired by the Royal Navy in the period up to the middle of the 2030’s. The final Type 31e — the e stands for export — is due to be delivered in 2028.
Eight of the Type 23’s will be replaced by anti-submarine warfare Type 26’s. The remainder of the Type 23’s will be replaced by the Type 31e. DE&S and industry are up against a time crunch on getting the first Type 31e into service, one which some executives here see as daunting, if not unachieveable, thanks to the need to restart the competition. But despite the delay in getting to the competitive design phase contract announcements, DE&S says it remains committed to the 2023 service date.
“A new streamlined procedure will present an opportunity to save time in the overall program. We will release more information about our plans when we have completed the market engagement – which we plan to start from Aug 20,” said a second MoD spokesperson.
A Cheap Frigate, A Challenging Competition
The Type 31e is planned to carry out maritime security, interdiction and other tasks, releasing more complex warships to their primary roles.
Originally the British were planning to build 13 Type 26’s and use five of the warships in the general purpose role. The scheme was junked in the 2015 defence and security strategy review on cost grounds, and a decision taken to build five of the lighter, bargain basement Type 31e’s alongside the Type 26’s. The first of the Type 26’s is under construction by BAE at its Glasgow, Scotland, warship building yards. BAE is under contract to build three Type26’s and all eight warships are scheduled to be built by the company, with the first one handed over by the contractor in 2025. The program received a major shot in the arm recently when Australia selected BAE and the Type 26 for a huge anti-submarine warfare frigate requirement. Assuming the deal is signed, the warships will all be built in Australia. It’s the same type of deal for the Type 31e and the Royal Navy. The stipulation is that all the warships have to be built in Britain using a design which offers export opportunities for industry here. The Conservative Government has made vague promises about building further frigates for service in the 2030s to bolster its meager surface warship fleet, but until funding is committed that remains just talk. In February, Britain launched the competition to find a contractor interested in building five frigates, at a total cost of no more than £1.25bn. But the process had to be abandoned in late July when the DE&S said it had failed to attract sufficient compliant bids. DE&S originally said it was looking for up to four bidders to award six month competitive design phase contracts, ahead of placing a design and build contract by the end of the first quarter next year. The MoD hasn’t said how many compliant bids it received, but it is likely only offers from a consortium led by Babcock and a Cammell Laird led partnership with BAE Systems in the running. The Babcock-led team, which also included naval designers, sensor suppliers and other shipbuilder’s were offering the Arrowhead 140, a modified version of the Danish Navy’s Iver Huitfeld-class warship designed by OMT. The opposition Cammell Laird-led team was offering a smaller frigate design known as the Leander. At the time of the original procurement termination, industry executives here said the requirement for so much of the work to be done in the UK had deterred some international companies who initially had shown interest. One executive said the exceptional degree of risk the MoD wanted industry to take on the program had also been a deterrent.
16 Aug 18. F-35 Joint Program Office to Execute Current Plans. F-35 Joint Program Office on Thursday said it will continue to execute current program plans with all partners and to abide by any future policy directions. “The F-35 Joint Program Office is supporting the Defense Department’s report submission requirement to Congress on status of the United States relationship with the Republic of Turkey as directed in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act,” the office said in a statement. It added: “The training of Turkish F-35 personnel at Luke Air Force Base will continue until the NDAA-required Secretary of Defense F-35 report has been submitted to Congress for their decision on the way forward.” U.S. President Donald Trump recently signed of a $716bn defense spending bill which includes an amendment prohibiting sales to Turkey of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets until the Pentagon issues a report on Turkish-American relations in 90 days. The report is expected to include an assessment of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program as well as the “risks” that would be posed by the country’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system. Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program was taken out of the bill by the Congressional Conference Committee. Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin on Wednesday said: “Turkey is not a country that is only a buyer of F-35 jets. It is a partner in the project. Until now, it [Turkey] has paid the necessary payments it was required to do so.” Turkey has been in the F-35 program since 1999. The Turkish defense industry has taken an active role in their production, including Alp Aviation, AYESAS, Kale Aviation, Kale Pratt & Whitney, and Turkish Aerospace Industries making parts for the first F-35 fighter jet. Ankara plans to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets in the years to come. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Anadolu Agency)
16 Aug 18. Germany moves closer to contract for new missile defence system. Germany’s defence ministry on Thursday asked Lockheed Martin Corp and Europe’s MBDA to submit a second, more detailed proposal to build a successor to its Patriot missile defence system, a key step closer to signing the multibillion-euro deal. The move paves the way for a contract signing in 2019, a ministry spokesman told Reuters. That would mark four years since the ministry first announced it had chosen the Medium Extended Air Defence System (MEADS) — developed by Lockheed and MBDA with $4bn in funding from Germany, Italy and the United States — over Raytheon Co’s Patriot system. The next-generation defence system is known as TLVS in German.
“This is a another step forward toward a final contract in 2019,” the spokesman said. He said the goal was to start fielding the new system around 2025 and to start operating it at end of the decade.
MBDA’s German unit and U.S. weapons maker Lockheed formed a 60-40 joint venture in March to press ahead with the TLVS defence system. The two have struggled to work out the details and terms of the programme since 2015, but sources familiar with the process have been more upbeat in recent months. MBDA and Lockheed called Thursday’s news “a significant milestone toward achieving a contract award”. “This lays the groundwork for consideration by parliament in 2019,” said MBDA spokesman Roland Kuntze.
Gregory Kee, managing director of the joint venture, said the comprehensive negotiations increased the common understanding of possible risks, and would ensure that the tender fully addressed ministry’s requirements.
Once signed, the contract will add several hundred high-tech jobs in Germany and the United States, the companies said. MBDA is jointly owned by Airbus, Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo. MBDA and Lockheed executives say progress on the German deal could also trigger more interest by other countries in the system, which will offer the ability to knit together a variety of different systems, including Patriot. The TLVS programme was initially slated to cost about 4bn euros (£3.5bn), but sources familiar with the proposal have said the final cost is likely to be several billion euros higher. (Source: Reuters)
13 Aug 18. EU defense ambitions trickle down to industry, but is it good for business? After two decades in which spending was often cut or stagnant, Europe is gearing up to spend big on defense. European Union nations, now unfettered by Britain’s decision to leave the organization, have achieved a 70-year-old ambition to integrate their defenses, launching a pact among 25 EU governments to jointly fund, develop and deploy armed forces. The pact, called Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, is meant as a show of unity and a tangible step in EU integration, particularly after Brexit. Earlier this year, Brussels also launched a major incentive for EU member states to cooperate on military procurement with a European Defence Fund, or EDF, worth €5bn (U.S. $5.8bn) per year, the first time the EU has put serious money on the table for this purpose. The EU has already approved one aspect of the fund, the European Defence Industrial Development Programme, or EDIDP, intended to foster cross-border cooperation between companies. But this huge upsurge in EU defense efforts begs the question: Are these various initiatives doing anything to bolster Europe’s defense industry?
With an annual turnover of more than €100bn and a sector that provides employment for 500,000 people and 1.2 million indirectly, the European defense sector is a major industrial division. According to the European Commission, the defense industry is already feeling the benefits with pan-European defense research projects funded by the EU such as the OCEAN2020 (still in the early implementation phase). Big-ticket procurement projects are also in the pipeline with the German, French, Italian and Spanish governments commissioning Airbus, France’s Dassault Aviation and Italy’s Leonardo to develop a state-of the-art combat drone, officially known as MALE RPAS but nicknamed the Eurodrone. And in April, France and Germany unveiled plans to develop a European fighter jet. As projects like EDF and PESCO start to kick in, there appears little doubt that equipment spending will surge in the years ahead, with some of that money helping to fill existing gaps, such as the lack of air-to-air refueling capability. However, analysts suggest much of this should go into digitizing armed forces — upgrading software and increasing bandwidth to make sure that, even in remote areas, troops are not cut off from interconnected weapons systems driven by virtual networks.
Even so, it is worth noting that the PESCO/EDF effort is still young. The first list of 17 joint PESCO projects was adopted in March of this year. Some of these will involve developing new equipment, such as infantry fighting vehicles, amphibious assault vehicles, light armored vehicles, indirect fire support, strategic command-and-control systems for EU Common Security and Defence Policy missions, minesweeping drones, harbor and maritime surveillance and protection, upgrading maritime surveillance, and developing a joint secure software-defined radio. On June 25, the 25 member states engaged in PESCO adopted common governance rules for PESCO projects, including the limited role for third-party countries, such as Norway or the U.K. after Brexit. Separately, the European Commission has awarded the first small grants for research and development under its new EDF. There have been five grants made so far, the first a very modest €1m in December 2017 to a consortium called PYTHIA led by Engineering Ingegneria Informatica of Italy for research to identify key trends in innovative defense technology. Other consortium members include Hawk Associates in the U.K. and Expert System France.
The second, awarded in March this year, is for €35m and went to a consortium led by Italy’s Leonardo with 42 partners. This is for the OCEAN2020 project to build a demonstrator for a system integrating the management of maritime surveillance and interdiction by submarines, surface ships and drones. The first live demos will be conducted in 2019 in the Mediterranean by the Italian Navy and in the Baltic by the Swedish Navy. In February 2018, German market leader Rheinmetall said a consortium it leads had won “a first request for proposals for preliminary studies on generic open soldier systems reference architecture,” which relates to the eventual EU standardization of soldiers’ electronics, voice and data communications, and software solutions. Three projects that aim to improve soldiers’ equipment have each been awarded grants in the range of €1-3m. They are:
- ACAMSII, which will develop adaptive camouflage to protect soldiers against sensors operating in several wavelength ranges.
- Gossra will improve the compatibility of complex system elements (for example, sensors or digital goggles) carried by soldiers.
- Vestlife seeks to develop ultralight body armor for dismounted soldiers.
“This is pretty small stuff and only the beginning of the pipeline,” said defense expert Paul Taylor, a senior fellow at the Brussels-based think tank Friends of Europe.
The EDF, he noted, only has €90m available during the 2017-2019 time frame for research projects. The plan is to boost it with €500m for development of defense technologies during 2019-2020, and then massively increase available funding for both the EDF and EDPIP under the future long-term EU budget from 2021. A European Commission spokesperson backed that, saying a total of “€90m until the end of 2019 (including €25m for 2017) have been allocated for defense research projects. When it comes to EDIDP in particular, the discussions on the work program are still ongoing; it is too early to draw any conclusions at this stage.”
“The new EDF will directly finance competitive and collaborative research projects, in particular through grants. Beyond the research phase, €8.9bn will be available to complement member states’ investment by co-financing the costs for prototype development and the ensuing certification and testing requirements,” the spokesperson said. “We call on the European Parliament and the Council to find a swift agreement on the overall long-term EU budget, and its sectoral proposals [are] essential to ensure that EU funds start delivering results on the ground as soon as possible.”
Aside from the EU collective effort, there is also the preliminary agreement that was announced at the Berlin Air Show in June between Dassault Systems and Airbus to work on a Future Air Combat System, which is expected to lead to requests for grants from the EDF, even though it is initially a bilateral Franco-German project.
“The EDF initiative is important,” said Denis MacShane, a former Europe minister from the U.K., “especially if it focuses on new defense needs like cybersecurity and space where EU governments can start with a fresh sheet of paper and copy firms like Airbus in place of the overlapping, duplication of European weapons like tanks, fighter aircraft, and armored vehicles and naval vessels.
“Defense procurement is the last bastion of European protectionism, and it will get worse with Brexit as the U.K. outside of Europe will be tempted into national production of defense material.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
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