13 Sep 18. Iraq and Syria: OP SHADER. During a press briefing on 12 Sep 18 Major General Felix Gedney, who has just completed a year as Deputy Commander of US-led OP INHERENT RESOLVE against Daesh, said “We have caused huge damage to the leadership of Daesh and we have crushed much of it. But we have not destroyed Daesh totally and the terrorist threat remains in Syria, Iraq and in our country.” (MoD, 13 Sep 18.) The UK is to provide additional aid funding of up to £32m for North-West Syria. The money will provide shelter, clean water, sanitation and mental health services. (Written Statement, 13 Sep 18.)
Comment: In response to an Urgent Question in the House of Commons (10 Sep 18) an FCO Minister said that the Government is “extremely concerned about the escalating military action by Russia and the Syrian regime, which is putting at risk nearly three million civilians who have sought shelter in Idlib and the surrounding area”.(Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/32, 17 Sep 18)
12 Sep 18. Jordan: Border Security Equipment. In a Written Statement (12 Sep 18) the Foreign Secretary announced that non-lethal security equipment, supplied to the Moderate Armed Opposition (MAO) in Southern Syria, is to be redirected to the Jordanian Armed Forces. The package, valued at just over £5m, includes unarmoured vehicles, day/night observation devices, radios, improvised explosive device detectors, medical packs, uniforms and protective vests.
Comment: In November 2015 and April 2017, the UK set out its commitment to improve security along the border between Jordan and Syria by providing training and equipment to groups within the MAO. However, since July 2018, the security situation in Southern Syria has prevented the UK from providing additional support. It has therefore been decided to redirect equipment to Jordan as a “grant in kind”. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/32, 17 Sep 18)
13 Sep 18. RFA Mounts Bay: Hurricane Season. The MoD confirmed (13 Sep 18) that RFA Mounts Bay remains on stand-by to assist British Overseas Territories as Storm Isaac moved towards the Caribbean Windward Islands. An Operational Liaison and Reconnaissance Team has been deployed to work with the Governors and supporting agencies on the islands while a group of 87 engineers, medical personnel, maritime experts and other specialists have joined the crew of RFA Mounts Bay which provides the mobile base for UK relief operations. Some 1,000 personnel are deployed (or are held at high readiness) should further storms head towards the region.
Comment: RFA Mounts Bay has been hosting the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Troop, comprising 19 Royal Engineers who have been sent to the region to cover the hurricane season. As reported by the RN (7 Sep 18), the HADR Troop has been training with their French counterparts in Martinique. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/32, 17 Sep 18)
11 Sep 18. Eurofighter Typhoon: Project Centurion. The Defence Procurement Minister confirmed (11 Sep 18) that Project Centurion is due to deliver transition of ‘Attack’ capability from Tornado GR4 to Typhoon by 31 Dec 18, ahead of Tornado GR4 reaching its out of service date of 31 Mar 19.
Comment: Project Centurion will see Typhoon aircraft configured to carry Paveway IV precision-guided bombs together with Storm Shadow, Meteor and Brimstone missiles. During the Farnborough International Airshow (16 Jul 18) the MoD’s head of the Eurofighter programme described how the aircraft will continue to be developed “in an ever-more agile and responsive fashion”. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/32, 17 Sep 18)
14 Sep 18. Defence Fulfilment Centre (DFC): Ministerial Visit. The MoD reported (14 Sep 18) the Defence Procurement Minister’s visit to the £83m DFC logistics facility at MoD Donnington. With two warehouses and a support building, the DFC will be the central hub for storage and distribution of the MoD’s £3,000m inventory which includes spare parts, food, clothing and medical supplies. The facility was officially opened in April 2017 and will be fully operational in 2019.
Comment: The DFC is part of the MoD’s Logistics Commodities and Services Transformation programme. Along with special environmental storage, the facility will provide an automated storage and retrieval system which will be capable of picking more than 1,000 items per hour. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/32, 17 Sep 18)
11 Sep 18. Type 45 Destroyers: Days at Sea. A Written Answer (11 Sep 18) indicated that the number of days each Type 45 destroyer has spent at sea in each year since they came into service, as shown below (2007 to 2017 inclusive):-
- HMS DARING: 1,269 days in 11 years (115 days average).
- HMS DAUNTLESS: 952 days in 10 years (95 days average).
- HMS DIAMOND: 1,069 days in 9 years (119 days average).
- HMS DRAGON: 992 days in 8 years (124 days average).
- HMS DEFENDER: 972 days on 7 years (139 days average).
- HMS DUNCAN: 861 days in 6 years (144 days average).
Comment: The normal operating cycle of every ship involves them entering different readiness levels depending on their programmes and MoD planning requirements. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/32, 17 Sep 18)
11 Sep 18. Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank: Fatal Accident. The Defence Procurement Minister outlined (11 Sep 18) changes to the procedures for firing Challenger 2’s main armament, following the fatal accident at Castlemartin Ranges on 14 Jun 17. The Service Inquiry into the accident is dated 16 May 18 and was published on 26 Jul 18.
Comment: Between 2 and 16 Jun 17, Badger Squadron of the Royal Tank Regiment was conducting a Challenger 2 live firing exercise at Castlemartin Ranges. At 1525hrs on 14 Jun 17 a Challenger 2 suffered an internal explosion while conducting a ‘live fire exercise’. All four crew members were injured and subsequently transferred to hospital where two, the Commander and the Loader/Operator, later died. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/32, 17 Sep 18)
04 Sep 18. Autonomous Warrior 2018: Update. The Defence Spokesman in the House of Lords provided (4 Sep 18) further details of Autonomous Warrior 2018 which is scheduled to run from 12 Nov 18. The Exercise will involve all three Services, the Defence Scientific and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), elements of the US Army and some 50 industry participants. A range of research projects will be tested, covering: surveillance, long-range and precision targeting, enhancing mobility and the re-supply of forces, urban warfare and enhanced situational awareness.
Comment: One particular focus for the Exercise will be the automation of frontline resupply, which is being developed under the ‘Last Mile Challenge’ competition. This project is being jointly funded by the MoD, the Department for International Development (DfID) and UK Research and Innovation. Five organisations (four of which are UK-led) were selected in July 2018 to build prototypes for initial demonstration this year under the second phase of the project which is worth £3.8m over 12 months. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/32, 17 Sep 18)
06 Sep 18. Landmines: Clearance Programmes. The International Development Secretary announced (6 Sep 18) that UK aid funding is being used to deploy de-mining technologies across war-ravaged communities in Asia and Africa. The equipment includes radar detectors for tracing ammunition and remotely-controlled machines, such as the Mine Wolf, for helping to clear cluster bombs more rapidly.
Comment: DfID is working with organisations such as The HALO Trust and Mines Advisory Group to help train men and women in affected communities to identify and remove landmines and munitions. UK support will also help to educate a further 280,000 men, women and children about the dangers of landmines. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/32, 17 Sep 18)
07 Sep 18. Security Vetting: National Audit Office (NAO) Report. The NAO published (7 Sep 18) its investigation into national security vetting, concluding that the failure of UK Security Vetting (UKSV) to process applications on time could affect the Government’s ability to conduct official business. The Committee Chair said: “Despite spending more on staff than its two previous organisations combined, UKSV has amassed an enormous backlog.”. Part of the problem has been caused by the failure of an IT (information technology) upgrade.
Comment: ‘Ministry of Defence: Investigation into national security vetting’ was published as HC1500 and can be accessed through the NAO website (www.nao.org.uk/). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/32, 17 Sep 18)
14 Sep 18. Parliament: Recess Dates. Both Houses of Parliament are in recess from Thu 13 Sep to Tue 9 Oct 18 for the Party conference season. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/32, 17 Sep 18)
13 Sep 18. Airbus says worst-case Brexit would hit its sites beyond Britain – Spiegel. A worst-case scenario Brexit would affect Airbus’s (AIR.PA) sites not only in Britain but also in the rest of Europe, board member Tom Williams has told the German magazine Der Spiegel. A logo of Airbus is pictured at the entrance of the company’s delivery center in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, July 10, 2018. For Airbus, which makes the wings for its passenger jets in Britain, that worst-case scenario would occur if Britain was no longer part of the EU aviation safety certification agency, EASA, which gives planes and parts approvals so that they can fly.
“The only thing that we can prepare for is the worst-case scenario. In that event, sites not only in Britain would be affected but also, for instance, Hamburg and Toulouse,” the magazine quoted him as saying in a pre-release published on Friday.
The planemaker said in July it was activating its Brexit contingency plans as the British government’s strategy for leaving the European Union appeared to be “unravelling”. (Source: Reuters)
13 Sep 18. Spain walks back on decision to halt bomb sales to Saudis. Spain will go ahead with a shipment of precision bombs to Saudi Arabia, officials said Thursday, reversing on a previous decision and angering activists who claim the weapons could harm civilians in Yemen. Arms Control, a campaign by non-profit organizations lobbying to end arms sales to countries that have caused civilian casualties, called the government’s move “disappointing” and urged authorities to reconsider once again.
“This makes Spain potentially complicit in committing crimes of war with these weapons,” said Alberto Estevez, who coordinates the campaign backed by Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Intermon Oxfam and Spain’s FundiPau. The Spanish center-left government of Pedro Sanchez is reversing an announcement last week to cancel the delivery of 400 laser-guided bombs to the Saudi military over fears they could be used against civilians in Yemen. With more than 22 million people in desperate need, United Nations has called the conflict raging since March 2015 in the Gulf country the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. (Source: Defense News)
12 Sep 18. New Swedish government advocates for greater defense spending. The Swedish military can expect to see a sizable increase in its annual budget regardless of the composition of the new government that will be formed in the wake of parliamentary elections. All of the mainstream parties, including the ruling Social Democrats (SDP), the Moderates, the Center, Liberals and the Sweden Democrats’ right-wing nationalist party, campaigned on delivering a stronger national defense and channeling a much higher level of spending to the Swedish Armed Forces over the next 10 years.
“Sweden needs a more resilient national defense capability that is better funded and resourced,” said Stefan Löfven, the SDP’s leader and Sweden’s prime minister.
The SDP is hoping to assemble a new government in partnership with the Leftist and Green parties. These three parties secured a 40.8 percent share of the popular vote in the recently concluded September 2018 election. Löfven’s main challenge is the center-right Alliance group, which includes the Moderates, the Center, Liberals and Christian Democrats. Together, the four Alliance parties won 40.3 percent of the popular vote. The Alliance is looking to form a new government that excludes both the SDP and the Sweden Democrats. The Sweden Democrats raised its share of the popular vote to 17.6 percent. All mainstream parties have ruled out forming a coalition that includes the Sweden Democrats. Defense will be very much on the minds of Sweden’s new government, against a backdrop of an unpredictable Russia and a domestic military that is unable to either fund major new procurement programs or work within the tight parameters of the current budgeting framework.
“Sweden’s national defense has been neglected for decades. What has happened is shameful. The budget allocated to the armed forces must reflect needs, operational realities and the requirement to replace outdated equipment. The goal should be to raise spending on defense to 2 percent of GDP, the recommended NATO level, inside 10 years,” said Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderates and someone being widely tipped to become Sweden’s next prime minister. The Alliance supports a more ambitious spending plan for the military that would increase the armed forces’ budget by $2.3bn in the 2019-2021 budgetary period. The [Swedish Armed Forces] needs to be able to afford to run essential equipment-replacement programs. We need more Army brigades, more fighter aircraft, and among other things an increased cyber defense capacity.”
Restoring the military’s budget and finances to levels that actually reflect the force’s capability requirements will take time. The organization’s budget has been in decline since the Cold War era of 1963, when defense spending amounted to 3.68 percent of Sweden’s gross domestic product. Spending as a ratio of GDP had dropped to 1.1 percent by 2015. It currently stands at about 1.03 percent, a historic low. A force development plan endorsed by the armed forces favors an increase in annual spending on defense to between $7.36bn and $9bn by 2025. In the longer term, and by the year 2035, the military would like to see defense spending rise to more than $12.1bn. At the same time, the Swedish Armed Forces would be strengthened from the current 50,000 personnel of all ranks to 120,000 by the year 2035. This proposed new look, improved capability and reinforced organization would comprise at least four brigade-level units, a light infantry special forces regiment, a fleet of 24 surface combat naval vessels and six submarines, eight fighter squadrons, and 120 Gripen combat aircraft. Stefan Löfven’s SDP-led government adopted new measures in 2017 to increase annual spending on the military from about $4.7bn to $6.6bn by 2019. Under the spending plan supported by the Alliance, defense expenditure would grow year on year after 2019, reaching $8bn by 2024. The Swedish Armed Forces’ commander in chief, Gen. Micael Bydén, has warned the government and the national parliament’s Committee on Defence that the military will be forced to implement “far-reaching” cost-saving measures if the military fails to secure a substantial increase in its budget after 2019.
“The government has been updated regarding the true state of our capabilities and finances. We will need to engage in additional and wide-ranging cost savings if there is no real improvement in spending going forward,” Bydén said.
Areas provisionally targeted for cost-saving and resource cutbacks by the Swedish Armed Forces include system procurement programs and the Army’s training and exercise operations. Belt-tightening would also likely place greater constraints on the regularity of Air Force flight missions and the Navy’s littoral patrol and ocean water defense activities.
Sweden’s purchase of the Raytheon-made Patriot air and missile defense system from the U.S. government emerged as one program that could be negatively impacted by a lack of defense spending. Swedish interest in the Patriot increased after the defense missile system was deployed during the military’s Aurora 17 exercises, held in and around the Swedish Baltic island of Gotland in September 2017. The Patriot system, including missile units, will cost Sweden an estimated $1.2bn. In August, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told a meeting of the national parliament’s Committee on Defence that Sweden plans to purchase an undisclosed number of missiles at an estimated unit cost of about $5m.
“The purchase of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system is important given the difficult security situation in Sweden’s neighborhood. Rapid technological developments mean that Sweden faces a mix of threats,” said Joakim Lewin, the head of the FMV’s Army Design Office. The FMV is responsible for materiel sourcing and managing military procurement.
Although the Patriot purchase was advocated by Bydén and the Swedish Armed Forces’ command, it is unclear whether the cost of the acquisition program will be covered within the military’s annual budgeting framework, or through a special project-funding program, which would require the approval of the Riksdag, Sweden’s national parliament. (Source: Defense News)
11 Sep 18. French joint chief calls for coordinated European force. Nations in Europe need to forge a more coordinated forceacross the continent, with each ready to step up to play a leadership role during conflict, said the French joint chief of staff.
“The future of the defense of nations on the continent cannot be considered outside the European framework,” Army Gen. François Lecointre told the Summer Defense University, a two-day gathering of senior officers, parliamentarians and industry chiefs. In the context of doubt over multilateralism, greater fragility of alliances and America’s refocus of attention to the Indo-Pacific region, the European continent must confront — increasingly on its own — all kinds of threats: might, terrorism, hybrid, cyber and migration.”
That use of the term “might” referred to unspecified nations perceived to pose a threat to Western allies. That calls for a common vision in strategy and capability, with a country ready to take the role of a “leader nation,” he said. The aim is to build a “European strategic autonomy,” he added.
The French armed forces minister, Florence Parly, came to the army base, just outside Versailles, west of the capital, and watched a dynamic display staged by the Army. The service fielded a Jaguar combat and reconnaissance vehicle, a VBCI infantry fighting vehicle carrying a squad of troops, a robotic vehicle carrying a wounded soldier, and a Leclerc main battle tank carried by a tank transport. France invites foreign officers and political leaders to the high-level annual gathering, organized by CEIS, a think tank and consultancy. (Source: Defense News)
11 Sep 18. UK, EU aviation regulators should be allowed to start Brexit planning – trade body. Britain’s aerospace trade body ADS has written to the European Commission for the second time in four months to urge it once again to allow British and European airline regulators to begin technical planning for Brexit. Aviation is one sector that could be most severely impacted by Brexit, as there is no default fallback option for the industry if there is no agreement on future relations after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019. ADS said in a letter that bilateral discussions between the UK Civil Aviation Agency and European Aviation Safety Agency EASA were needed to ensure passenger safety, amongst other things. It said technical bilateral talks had already been held between the CAA and regulators in the U.S., Canada and Brazil.
“As long as the Commission blocks similar bilateral technical discussions between the CAA and EASA, it fosters uncertainty and risks legal liability, insurance and passenger safety issues for the global aviation and aerospace industry,” ADS said in a letter addressed to the European Commission.
“Allowing discussions now would significantly reduce potential for disruption to EU businesses and consumers,” it added.
Britain has said it wants to remain part of EASA after leaving the bloc on March 29, 2019 but it is not clear whether this will be possible. Concerns are building within the aviation industry about a potential no-deal Brexit scenario which could result in flights being grounded and Britain needing to take over safety and regulatory processes currently handled by EASA. ADS first requested that British and European airline regulators be allowed to begin technical planning for Brexit in June, but that request was rejected the following month. The trade body says the British government has also made the same request. Separately on Tuesday, Sky News reported that the CAA is making plans to reissue pilot licences and other related documents if the UK is no longer part of EASA after Brexit. The CAA could not immediately be reached for comment. (Source: Reuters)
11 Sep 18. German ministry seeks data on quicker fighter jet deliveries. The German military has asked potential bidders in a high-stakes competition to replace its ageing Tornado fighter jets about accelerating deliveries of new warplanes before an initial target date of 2025, sources familiar with the matter said.
The defence ministry posed the question in early August in a follow-up to its initial request for information from Europe’s Airbus (AIR.PA) and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) and Boeing (BA.N), both from the United States, the sources said. The ministry had no comment on the latest twist in a tender that could be worth billions of euros. One of the sources said the request signalled concerns about the growing cost of servicing the current fleet of 85 operational Tornado jets.
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen says she favours a European solution – the Eurofighter Typhoon built by Airbus, Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo SpA (LDOF.MI) – but Lockheed and Boeing still hope for a chance to bid for the work. Airbus and the U.S. government submitted data this spring about the four fighter jet models under consideration – the Eurofighter, Lockheed’s F-35, and the Boeing F/A-18E/F or F-15E. Germany is studying a number of options, including buying one type of jet to replace the Tornado jets, a split buy of two aircraft types, and a service life extension of the Tornado jets, according to multiple sources familiar with the process. Germany has also asked Washington for information about the possibility of leasing Boeing F-15 fighter jets, two sources said, although that is seen as an unlikely outcome. Von der Leyen in July said she expected a preliminary decision on the next steps by the end of the year.
POSSIBLE SPLIT BUY?
One proposal calls for Germany to buy 40-45 Lockheed F-35 jets to replace those Tornados that can carry nuclear bombs, and about 75 new Eurofighters to replace both the other Tornados and a first batch of Eurofighters delivered between 2003 and 2008.
Buying F-35s would allow Germany to keep a mixed fleet of fighter jets, a key requirement in its military strategy, while averting costly and time-consuming modifications to the process of certifying the Eurofighter to carry nuclear bombs. Although not a nuclear power, Germany hosts some U.S. nuclear warheads under NATO’s nuclear-sharing policy and operates a number of Tornado warplanes that can deliver them.
The U.S. has told Germany it could take 12 to 18 months to study the Eurofighter certification issue.
German industry executives are pressing for quick answers, given that the already high cost of keeping the Tornado jets flying could rise once Britain and Italy phase out their fleets.
“The cost of spare parts and operations keeps going up,” one industry executive said. (Source: Reuters)
11 Sep 18. Bemoaning UK handling of Brexit, a pro-Leave planemaker looks to EU, U.S.. One of Brexit’s most fervent supporters, the planemaker Britten-Norman, is now complaining about Britain’s handling of its planned exit from the European Union and is considering moving some functions into the EU or to the United States. The CEO of the privately owned firm, which builds the 10-seater Islander aircraft, a stalwart of Caribbean island hopping, said whatever happens the company will remain largely British-based. But lack of clarity over the future relationship with the EU has forced it into an uncomfortable position.
“What we have is assurances from the UK government that nothing is going to change after March next year … but in terms of trying to bank on that, I can’t bank on that,” William Hynett, who has run the London-headquartered company for 15 years, said in an interview.
“There would be those there who are probably unkind enough to say, well, you wanted this outcome, so tough luck,” he said.
The company did ask for it: a Britten-Norman plane flew around Britain towing a “Vote Leave” banner in the weeks before the June 2016 referendum.
One of its flights took it over a memorial service for Jo Cox, an anti-Brexit member of parliament murdered by a Brexit supporter. The company said it hadn’t known about the service and apologised for flying over it. But Hynett does not apologise for the stance it took. “Our position on Brexit hasn’t changed,” he said.
He blames lack of planning and clarity from the government for forcing Britten-Norman to be ready to shift some of its functions away from the UK. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019. What sort of relationship the two will have after that has yet to be determined.
Most other aerospace companies have warned the uncertainty around Brexit threatens their businesses. Aerospace giant Airbus (AIR.PA), the European planemaker which makes the wings for all its passenger jets in Britain, has warned about the risk to jobs and investment. Rolls-Royce (RR.L) has laid out contingency plans to move a design-approval process for its large jet engines from Britain to Germany, and to stockpile parts.
But for smaller operator Britten-Norman — Britain’s only independent commercial planemaker, with 150 employees and £15m of annual turnover — Hynett believes complying with costly EU regulations outweighs any benefits from being in a trading bloc where few of its customers are located.
Britten-Norman, whose owners include Oman’s Zawawi family as well as Hynett, has been making its Islander aircraft, a specialist at taking off and landing on unprepared surfaces, since 1965. Over 1,300 have been produced; current output is one Islander or Defender plane, its other model, per quarter, with some parts made by a sub-contractor in Romania.
Under consideration as part of the company’s Brexit contingency plans is the possibility of shifting the “type certificate”, a required airworthiness credential, from being certified by the European safety regulator EASA to the U.S. regulator, the Federal Aviation Agency. Another is establishing the type certificate in a European country, should Britain be excluded from EASA after Brexit, and not have its own certifying procedure set up.
“Whether we use European conduits or partial migration to America or anything else as part of our future strategy in order to mitigate some of these risks, absolutely, we’ll do what we have to,” he said. He declined to name the European country he had in mind. (Source: Reuters)
10 Sep 18. Spain holds talks with Saudi Arabia over weapons deals. Spain says it is holding talks with Saudi Arabia to resolve differences over a shipment of bombs that, according to Spanish defense authorities, could end up targeting civilians in Yemen. Defense Minister Margarita Robles told senators at a hearing on Monday that the decision wasn’t final and that she expected that talks between the two trade partners would settle the dispute. Her department had announced last week that it was halting the delivery of 400 laser-guided precision bombs ordered by Riyadh in 2015 and paid for. Shipbuilders in southern Spain have protested in recent days over fears that Saudi Arabia could scrap a separate $2.1bn purchase of warships in retaliation. Robles has ruled out such a scenario. The Saudi Embassy in Madrid has declined to comment. (Source: Defense News)
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