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17 Sep 18. HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH: Flying Trials. The RN reported (17 Sep 18) that HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH has arrived in Norfolk on the US East coast to conduct first of class flying trials with F-35B Lightning test aircraft from the Integrated Test Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. 200 supporting staff are joining two ‘orange wired’ aircraft from the ITF to conduct 500 take offs and landings during the trials. These ‘developmental trials’ are set to determine the operating parameters of the aircraft and carrier in a range of conditions. Comment: As part of the deployment, known as WESTLANT 18, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH is being escorted by the Type 23 frigate HMS MONMOUTH and RFA Tiderace. The WESTLANT 18 Task Group was forced to take evasive action to avoid Hurricane Florence which made landfall in North Carolina on 14 Sep 18. Instead of heading directly North from Mayport Naval Base, the Task Group sailed South of the Bahamas which provided a natural shelter from the strong winds. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/33, 24 Sep 18)
18 Sep 18. F-35 Lightning: ‘LiftWorks’ Facility. The Defence Procurement Minister officially opened (18 Sep 18) the ‘LiftWorks’ facility at Rolls-Royce in Bristol. The facility makes the ‘LiftSystem’ which provides F-35B jets with a fan propulsion system that allows them to take off over short distances. During the opening ceremony the Minister said: “As we build up to the iconic first F-35 take-offs from our brand-new aircraft carrier, it is timely to open this Bristol site which is making it all possible.”. The Rolls-Royce facility, which is now approaching peak manufacturing levels, is producing the LiftFan for all F-35B jets on order and not just those for the UK.
Comment: After £20m was invested at the Rolls-Royce facility, the site now supports over 100 local jobs. Some 40% of the LiftSystem contract is taking place within the UK, supporting 900 jobs across the supply chain. During his visit to Bristol, the Minister confirmed that the UK has accepted its 16th F-35B aircraft in the US. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/33, 24 Sep 18)
21 Sep 18. Ukraine: OP ORBITAL. The MoD reported (21 Sep 18) that, during his first visit to the Ukraine, the Defence Secretary announced an extension of the UK’s training mission to that country for a further two years until 2020. The UK’s Defence Section in Kyiv is also to be expanded and a permanent Naval Attaché is being appointed to help build Ukrainian naval capability.
Comment: British personnel have trained over 9,500 members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces since the start of OP ORBITAL in 2015. Training includes medical, logistics and counter-IED programmes and was expanded in 2018 also to cover anti-armour, infantry skills, counter-sniping and mortar planning. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/33, 24 Sep 18)
18 Sep 18. Qatar: Aircraft Contract in Place. The MoD confirmed (18 Sep 18) that Qatar’s contract to purchase 24 Typhoon and nine Hawk aircraft is “now officially effective after BAE Systems received its first payment today”. The deal, which is supported by UK Export Finance, involves a package of training and co-operation between the British and Qatari Air Forces. A new joint squadron based at RAF Coningsby (No 12 Squadron) will comprise both Qatari Emiri Air Force and RAF personnel, including pilots and ground crew.
Comment: The £5,000m contract was agreed between the State of Qatar and BAE Systems on 10 Dec 17. The original ‘statement of intent’ had included the acquisition of six Hawk training aircraft but the number was subsequently increased to nine. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/33, 24 Sep 18)
13 Sep 18. Armed Forces’ Pay Review: Increases for All Ranks. The Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body (AFPRB) published its 47th Report on 24 Jul 18 and the Review Body on Senior Salaries (RBSS) published its 40th Report on 13 Sep 18. Broadly speaking, a three per cent increase has been recommended and agreed.
ANNUAL BASIC MILITARY SALARIES FROM 1 APR 18
Army Ranks & RN/RM/RAF Equivalents
£ per year
Chief of the Defence Staff (four levels): Between 256,527 and 272,228
General (six levels): Between 178,058 and 199,496
Lieutenant General (six levels): Between 135,741 and 164,541
Major General (six levels): Between 116,665 and 128,530
Brigadier: 105,121 increasing to 109,375
Colonel: 88,212 increasing to 96,970
Lieutenant Colonel: 72,812 increasing to 84,310
Major: 51,879 increasing to 62,132
Captain: 41,186 increasing to 48,979
Lieutenant/2nd Lieutenant: 26,738 increasing to 35,523
University Cadet Entrant: 15,248 increasing to 19,986
Warrant Officer Class 1: 50,785 increasing to 52,155
Warrant Officer Class 2 Staff (or Colour) Sergeant: 45,457 increasing to 49,284
Sergeant: 38,020 increasing to 42,642
Corporal: 32,813 increasing to 36,404
Lance Corporal/Private: 28,759 increasing to 30,766
(Sources: Command 9694 & Command 9677.)
Comment: The AFPRB covers the rates of pay for all ranks up to and including Commodore/Brigadier/Air Commodore. The RBSS covers the 122 Senior Officers at two-star rank and above. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/33, 24 Sep 18)
19 Sep 18. BOXER Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV): Request for Quotation. During DVD2018, held at Millbrook Proving Ground (19-20 Sep 18), the Defence Procurement Minister announced that a formal Request for Quotation was issued on 14 Sep 18 for the supply of BOXER 8×8 MRAV to meet the UK’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) requirement. The MoD intends to make an initial purchase of over 500 Boxer MRAV with the first vehicles set to be delivered by 2023. The MIV requirement is central to the British Army’s Strike Brigade plans.
Comment: Confirmation of the Request for Quotation means that Artec, the consortium which leads on BOXER production, can now complete supplier selection and confirm proposals to manufacture and support BOXER in the UK. Since the UK was involved in the original design and development of BOXER, rights as a project partner would be resumed should the project go ahead. This would allow an option for the vehicle to be built and exported from the UK. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/33, 24 Sep 18)
16 Sep 18. NovaSAR-1: Satellite Launch. The NovaSAR-1 earth observation satellite, built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL – part of Airbus), was successfully launched on 16 Sep 18 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. NovaSAR-1 is a technology demonstration satellite mission using a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) which can observe the earth’s surface day and night and through thick cloud. The UK Space Agency has invested £21m in the development of NovaSAR-1 and will benefit from access to data from the spacecraft, significantly boosting the UK’s sovereign earth observation capabilities.
Comment: According to the UK Space Agency, the NovaSAR-1 “will provide a host of benefits for applications including the detection of oil spills, flood monitoring and agriculture”. However, media reports suggest that the satellite’s designers are keen to establish if NovaSAR-1 can help with monitoring suspicious shipping activity since the satellite is equipped with a receiver which can pick up Automatic Identification System radio signals. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/33, 24 Sep 18)
11 Sep 18. Electronic Warfare (EW): Project Shepherd. The MoD published (11 Sep 18) an update on replacing the UK’s EW Information System, known as Project Shepherd. Limited capability of the replacement system has been available since 2016 but Project Shepherd will continue to be developed until the early 2020s when use of the current system is to cease. This is slower than the original timescale, due to “technical challenges and a changing threat environment”.
Comment: As at September 2018, Project Shepherd has spent £35.3m of its estimated £96.5m whole life costs. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/33, 24 Sep 18)
19 Sep 18. Chemical Detection: Project Minerva. The MoD reported (17 Sep 18) that “robots and drones designed to test for chemical agents, provide 3D mapping and identify casualties” have been undergoing trials as part of Project Minerva. The aim of the project is to reduce the risk to emergency services and front-line troops attending incidents or operations involving hazardous chemical or biological materials. The project is being led by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and is jointly funded by the MoD and the Home Office.
Comment: Project Minerva was launched in September 2016 with £3m joint funding over two years. Phase 1 of the project ran for six months and supported 18 development projects. Four teams were then selected to develop their concepts further under Phase 2, culminating in the above trials. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/33, 24 Sep 18)
21 Sep 18. Party Conferences: Dates. The Labour Party Conference is taking place in Liverpool from Sun 23 Sep to Wed 26 Sep 18 while the Conservative Party Conference will take place in Birmingham from Sun 30 Sep to Wed 3 Oct 18. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/33, 24 Sep 18)
20 Sep 18. Next generation capability on display at the Event for Defence Land Equipment. Held at Millbrook Proving Ground, the UK’s leading test and development facility for military equipment, DVD2018 showcased the advanced technology and innovation that will provide the British Army with vital land power today and into the future. At the event, attended by more than 6,000 visitors, the Army confirmed its commitment to modernising its vehicle fleet, equipping its new STRIKE Brigades with a Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV). Minister for Defence Procurement, Stuart Andrew MP announced that British suppliers have been given the green light to bring forward plans for the Boxer programme, which is set to support at least 1,000 UK jobs. The Army intends to purchase over 500 of the eight-wheeled armoured vehicles. Meanwhile, the Army is increasing its autonomous operational capability, with the purchase of 56 Starter Bomb Disposal Robots. Using advanced haptic feedback, these robots allow operators to ‘feel’ their way through the intricate process of disarming from a safe distance, protecting UK personnel from threats, such as roadside bombs. As well as showcasing the equipment for the future, DVD2018 hosted the personnel of the future, with engineering graduates visiting DVD for the first time. The students from UK University Technical Colleges took part in fun, interactive activities, including a virtual welder and trialling of the Dragon Runner, the Army bomb disposal robot.
Speaking at the event Brigadier Andrew Stuart, Head of Army Equipment explained: “It is really important for us to be able to engage with industry, to see their ideas, see their products in development and then understand how we can use those technologies to improve the equipment that we provide to the British Army.”
20 Sep 18. Communiqué by Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed Forces. Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly has just decided the acceleration of the delivery of MRTT Phénix tanker-transport aircraft: by 2023, the Air Force will have 12. At the conclusion of a meeting of the Ministerial Investment Committee, the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) was tasked with accelerating the deliveries of A330-Phénix MultiRole Transport Tanker aircraft. This decision is directly in line with the dynamic of the 2019-2025 military programming law, which provides for the accelerated modernization of the equipment of the forces and, in particular, their tanker aircraft fleet. It has the effect of advancing to 2023 – two years earlier than previously planned – the delivery of the twelve aircraft on order, and laying the ground for bringing the fleet to fifteen aircraft in the following years. Thanks to its versatility, the Phoenix MRTT replaces two distinct fleets: the current fleet of in-flight refueling tankers (C135-FR and KC135R, some of which will approach 60 years of age when they retire from service) and the A310 and A340 strategic transports used for personnel and freight. The missions of the Phoenix MRTT will include the support of the air component of the nuclear deterrent force, contributing to the permanent defense posture, the projection of forces as well as medical transport in case of emergency medical evacuation. The Phénix MRTT is based on the airframe of the Airbus A330 airliner, and extensively modified to meet its transport and tanker missions. (Issued in French; unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/French Armed Forces Ministry)
20 Sep 18. Reasons of Second AgustaWestland Helicopters Appeal: “No Proof of Corruption.” “There is, conclusively, no evidence of the corruption agreement with a foreign public official, as alleged in the indictment and required by the statute…” on which the prosecution is based. This is an excerpt from the statement issued by the judges of the second appeal trial in Milan regarding the alleged bribes paid by AgustaWestland for the €560m contract for 12 helicopters to India in 2010 to explain their acquittal of former Finmeccanica CEOs and AgustaWestland Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini on 8 January 2018. Reuters first reported the release of the document. It took eight months and 10 days for the magistrates Gamacchio-Marcelli-Nova to release, on Sept. 18, the 322-page document explaining their sentence. The appeal judges also cite “a chronological disarray that has damaged the indictment … with reference to a task assigned by appellant Orsi to broker Haschke to conduct negotiations with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force Indian in view of obtaining the lowering of the flight altitude as a requirement of the helicopter tender, many months after that reduction had been decided.” This should mark the final, definitive act in this affair, coming as it does after a trial of the first degree, two appellate trials and a sentence of the Supreme Court. One reason is that, during these eight months, the prescription clock has continued to tick, reducing the possibility for the accusation of filing an appeal.
In addition to the two acquittals, the helicopter sale to India has already led to the dropping of charges against Finmeccanica in July 2014, and to a plea negotiation by AgustaWestland, (now Leonardo Helicopters) in August 2014 (AgustaWestland Spa in Italy paid a fine of 80,000 euros and AgustaWestland Ltd. in the United Kingdom paid a fine of 300,000 euros of fine and the confiscation of 7.5m euros). Italian-American consultant Guido Ralph Haschke reached a plea agreement in April 2014 and was sentenced to one year and 10 months.
(defense-aerospace.com EDITOR’S NOTE: In addition to the outcomes outlined above, the unproven allegations of corruption led the Indian government to pull out of the 560m euro contract to buy AW-101 VIP helicopters from Agusta-Westland, and to appropriate the 280m bond posted by the company is lieu of damages. It is also worth noting that the two former CEOs, who have finally been cleared for the third time of international corruption, have lost their jobs without any compensation. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)
19 Sep 18. UK DSTL-led Project Minerva tests chemical detection robots and drones. The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL)-led Project Minerva has tested a new fleet of lifesaving robots and drones. The systems are designed to help detect harmful chemical agents, provide 3D mapping and identify casualties. Co-funded by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Home Office, the multi-million-pound project was contracted through the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) with funding from Defence Science and Technology (DST). The research focused on the study of robots that can ‘read’ and climb stairs, and miniature drones, which weigh less than a bar of soap, and can soon be deployed into service to help rapidly assess hazardous scenes.
Phase II of Project Minerva has been designed to reduce the risk to emergency services and front-line troops attending incidents or operations involving hazardous chemical or biological materials. Four teams, which were selected during the first phase of the research project, further developed their concepts in Phase II. During the two-week-long trials conducted at Gloucestershire Fire Service College in the UK, concept drones and robots were deployed in simulated contaminated scenarios in both homeland and battlefield environments.
DSTL autonomy lead Peter Stockel said: “These two weeks of trials see the culmination of over 18 months of work to realise an exciting vision, which could see robots and humans working together in demanding situations and potentially save lives when dealing with incidents involving hazardous substances.
“In this ‘technology exploration’, we’ve been working with industry and academia to rapidly advance robotic and autonomous solutions to enhance our response options and tools for the near future.”
The hazardous chemical detection technology was tested against the speed and accuracy of human response teams supported by scientists from the DSTL, in addition to the military, police and fire services.
Launched in September 2016, Project Minerva was supported by more than £3m in joint funding over a period of 24 months. (Source: army-technology.com)
15 Sep 18. German minister can’t rule out longer-term military role in Middle East. German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday said she could not rule out a longer-term deployment of German forces in the Middle East, amid a broader debate about a role for Germany in possible military action Syria. Von der Leyen spoke during a visit to the Azraq air base in Jordan where some 300 German troops support a refuelling plane and four Tornado warplanes that fly reconnaissance missions as part of U.S. led-coalition operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Asked if Germany needed a strategic base in the Middle East, von der Leyen said, “First we must bring this deployment to a successful end. I don’t want to rule the idea out, let me put it this way.”
Von der Leyen and other German officials on Wednesday called for concerted efforts to prevent chemical weapons being used in Syria, and Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany could not simply look away if such attacks took place. The German government said it was in talks with the United States and other allies about possible participation in military intervention if chemical weapons were used in attacks on Idlib, the last major rebel-held enclave in Syrian. The news has divided the German ruling coalition, with the Social Democrats, ruling any such action out unless it is sanctioned by the United Nations. Germany, under pressure from the United States to boost defence spending and take on more responsibility within NATO, did not take part in April military strikes by U.S., French and British forces on Syria after a chemical weapons attack. The United States has pledged to surpass that if Syria uses chemical weapons again. Washington last month asked Berlin about its willingness to participate in military action together with France and Britain, if another chemical weapons attack took place. A leaked report about the query has triggered emotional debate in a country whose Nazi past keeps military action a sensitive issue.(Source: Reuters)
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