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16 Oct 18. Iraq and Syria: OP SHADER. On 3 Oct 18 Tornados, in conjunction with a Reaper, destroyed a mortar position in Eastern Syria. On the following day, Tornados supported a Syrian Democratic Forces’ attack on a Daesh position. On 5 Oct 18 Typhoons bombed a terrorist command post in Eastern Syria as Tornados attacked a Daesh compound. On 6 Oct 18 a Reaper disrupted Daesh firing on the Syrian Democratic Forces as Typhoons and Tornados attacked four terrorist mortar positions and a weapons stockpile. On the next day a Reaper attacked a hidden terrorist position as Typhoons destroyed a command post in Eastern Syria. Tornados and Typhoons conducted five attacks on Daesh positions in Eastern Syria on 11 Oct 18. On the following day Tornados attacked a Daesh tunnel and a defended building in Eastern Syria while Typhoons destroyed an armed truck. Typhoons and Tornados were active again on 13 and 14 Oct 18, attacking targets in Eastern Syria. (MoD, 16 Oct 18.)
Comment: The European Union (EU) Members of the UN Security Council (France, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the UK) were joined by the former (Italy) and future (Belgium and Germany) EU members of the
Security Council “to show the continuity of the EU’s position on Syria”. (EU, 17 Oct 18.) (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/37, 22 Oct 18)
15 Oct 18. Nigeria: Equipment ‘Grant in Kind.’ In a Written Statement (15 Oct 18) the Armed Forces’ Minister confirmed that the UK intends to facilitate a ‘grant in kind’ of military items to the Government of Nigeria. The package is comprised of a range of counter-improvised explosive device equipment which will support Nigerian army specialists in their fight against Boko Haram in the North-East of the country. The equipment package, which meets a specific request by the Nigerian Armed Forces, includes metal detectors, binoculars, equipment to access and manipulate suspect devices and equipment to ensure their safe disposal.
Comment: The total cost of the proposed equipment package, which will compliment the provision of UK military training, is approximately £775,000. Delivery is expected to be undertaken “over the coming weeks”. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/37, 22 Oct 18)
16 Oct 18. Uganda: Military Aid. The Armed Forces’ Minister provided details (16 Oct 18) of military aid currently provided by the UK to Uganda. The majority of military support is by way of training, to prepare Ugandan troops for duty in the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), including Officer cadets at Sandhurst and senior Officers at the UK Defence Academy. Officers are also trained for future peace support operations by the Eastern African Standby Forces. Training on chemical risk assessment and response planning is funded and delivered in partnership with the Czech Republic and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, among others. In addition, legal and staff training is provided by the UK to support Ugandan authorities in their work to combat the illegal wildlife trade.
Comment: The Minister visited Uganda in July 2018 when he met the Ugandan President. Praising Uganda’s contribution to bringing stability to Eastern Africa, the Minister said that the UK was “looking at ways we can provide further assistance to this cause”. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/37, 22 Oct 18)
11 Oct 18. Italy: Cultural Property Protection. During a Protection of Cultural Heritage event in Rome (11 Oct 18) the Armed Forces’ Minister announced that the UK Army-led Cultural Property Protection Unit (CPPU) is now starting to recruit Reservists. Advice for the new unit is being sought from other countries with heritage expertise, including Italy’s Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale (Carabinieri – TPC) which was established in 1969. The Minister also reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to Defence and security co-operation between the two countries.
Comment: The CPPU was created as part of the UK Government’s implementation in 2017 of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The 1954 Hague Convention was established following the massive destruction of cultural property that took place in the Second World War and places obligations on Armed Forces for the protection of cultural property from damage, destruction and looting. The CPPU was in part a response to the devastation of ancient sites by Daesh in Iraq and Syria. During his visit to Italy, the Minister also met UK military personnel serving with the Combined Libya Fusion Cell and the European Naval Force mission which is working to disrupt human trafficking in the Mediterranean. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/37, 22 Oct 18)
17 Oct 18. River Class Patrol Ships: Progress Report. The RN confirmed (17 Oct 18) that HMS TAMAR, the fourth next-generation River Class patrol ship, has been officially launched. The vessel now joins Second of Class HMS MEDWAY and Third of Class HMS TRENT at BAE System’s Scotstoun facility for fitting out. HMS MEDWAY is due to make her maiden voyage in November 2018 and, subject to successful completion of sea trials, the ship will move to Portsmouth in early 2019. The final ship in the Class, HMS SPEY, is due for launch.
Comment: First of Class HMS FORTH has been delayed into service following the discovery of a large number of defects. According to the RN, the defects are being rectified by BAE Systems and the ship’s crew is due to move back on board in November 2018. Sea trials will then resume in the second half of January 2019. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/37, 22 Oct 18)
16 Oct 18. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC): Annual Review. The NCSC (part of GCHQ) published its second Annual Review on 16 Oct 18. The Review highlights that, since the organisation became fully operational in 2016, the NCSC has provided support for 1,167 cyber incidents including 557 during the past 12 months. On average the NCSC defends the UK from an average of over 10 attacks each week with most being carried out by “hostile nation states”. Following the success of the NCSC’s CYBERUK 2018 conference in Manchester, a similar event is to be held in Glasgow on 24 and 25 Apr 19.
Comment: On 30 Sep 18 the Defence Secretary launched a new Cyber Security Training Programme for Cadets. The programme has been designed with GCHQ and the NCSC. A copy of the above Review can be found on the NCSC website (www.ncsc.gov.uk). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/37, 22 Oct 18)
19 Oct 18. Finland moves to boost its naval power in the Baltic Sea hotspot. The increasingly strategic value of the Baltic Sea as a potential theater of military conflict between Russia and NATO is triggering fresh steps by Finland to modernize its naval forces. Strengthening its presence in the Baltic Sea and protecting its 838-mile-long border with Russia remain two of the core pillars of Finland’s national defense strategy. The country’s new vision for naval power aims to bolster Finland’s open sea surface warfare and anti-submarine capability in its primary territorial Baltic Sea and Gulf of Bothnia areas. The reinforcement of Finland’s naval strength in the Baltic Sea is being carried out under the $1.5bn Squadron 2020 Program. Central to the project is the acquisition of four multirole, ice-breaking submarine-hunter corvettes with requisite weapons and control systems.
The Ministry of Defence has given the Finnish Defence Forces the green light to request final tenders for the Squadron 2020’s ship and combat system. Three international companies — Saab, Atlas Electronik and Lockheed Martin Canada — have been short-listed as potential suppliers of onboard weapons systems, said Jussi Niinistö, Finland’s defense minister.
“It’s critical that Finland has a modern navy that is fit for purpose. The Baltic Sea has become a possible focal point for tension between East and West. We are dealing with a more unpredictable Russia. Increased military cooperation with partners will also see the Navy more engaged in joint international exercises in the region, especially with our Nordic neighbors and NATO forces,” Niinistö said.
The projected $500m investment for the ships includes surface-to-surface missiles, torpedoes, ship guns and sea mines. The Navy has already issued contracts to acquire the Israeli Gabriel missile system. The delivery of torpedoes is covered under a separate order placed with Saab.
The contract for the Gabriel weapons was secured with competing bids from MBDA (EXOCET), Kongsberg (NSM), Boeing (Harpoon) and Saab (RBS15). Manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries will make deliveries on the agreement between 2019 and 2025.
Saab will supply its new lightweight torpedo to the Finnish Navy’s midlife upgrade program for Hamina-class fast-attack craft. The on-ship system integration of the torpedoes is being carried out together with Patria, which is the lead contractor on the project.
In July, the MoD authorized the FDFC to purchase the Surface-to-Surface Missile System 2020 (SSM2020). The new system will replace the Navy’s current anti-ship missile system MTO85M, which is set to reach the end of its lifecycle in by mid-2020.
The Navy plans to install the new SSM2020 Missile System on both the new Squadron 2020 class corvettes and its Hamina-class missile vessels.
The four multirole corvettes, which are to be constructed in Finland, will replace the Finnish Navy’s ageing Rauma-class fast-attack missile boats and Hämeenmaa-class minelayers. Both the Rauma-class and Hämeenmaa-class vessels are slated to be decommissioned after 2020.
The FDFC’s next major decision will be to decide which shipyard in Finland secures the contract to build the four naval corvettes.
“Our objective is to enter into contracts for the shipbuilding side of the project, as well as the ships’ combat system, by the end of 2018,” said Maj. Gen. Lauri Puranen, an adviser to the Squadron 2020 Program.
The full impact of the Squadron 2020 Program will give the Finnish Navy a more solid maritime defense backbone after 2025. The new fleet is set to include the new multirole corvettes, an upgraded Hamina-class, fast-attack missile vessel fleet, as well as upgrades to the Navy’s Pansio-class mine-layers and Katanpää-class mine countermeasure vessels.
The FDFC also plans to modernize surface-to-surface missile batteries and coastal units in support of the Squadron 2020 Program. The Navy expects to finalize all elements of the Squadron 2020 modernization program by 2027. This will include the delivery of all four corvettes and the completion of upgrades to existing surface vessels. (Source: Defense News)
19 Oct 18. Poland makes official request for US rocket launchers. Poland has sent an official request to buy American-made rocket launchers after announcing in July that the country planned to expediteits acquisition of the systems. According to an announcement on Poland’s ministry of defense website posted Oct. 19, the country has provided the U.S. a letter of request for one M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, division as part of what it’s calling its HOMAR program.
Poland had planned to buy the Lockheed Martin-made systems since 2015, but its original plans to share in production work for the HIMARS systems through PGZ, its state-run defense group, proved complex and ran up against several walls in the negotiation process.
The country announced this summer that it had decided to go the direct Foreign Military Sales route and buy the HIMARS systems from the U.S. government, much like Romania did earlier this year to speed up the acquisition and also to lower the cost of the purchase.
Romania is the first eastern European country to buy HIMARS. Poland would become the second. Both countries, as well as the rest of eastern Europe, are working to beef up their air defenses to deter what they perceive as Russian aggression in the region following the country’s annexation of Crimea.
The U.S. State Department cleared a possible $250m sale in November 2017 for 56 HIMARS launchers. Lockheed announced several years ago it will restarting its HIMARS production line to build new launchers for the United Arab Emirates, but since then the company has seen a growing interest, particularly in eastern Europe, as well as an interest to incorporate the launchers into plans to extend cannon artillery ranges for the U.S. Army.
HIMARS uses Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System munitions and Army Tactical Missile System guided ammunition, capable of targeting up to 300 kilometers.
The Polish Ministry of Defence noted in its announcement that the HIMARS system will allow for deep rocket strikes, which is an extremely important element of the implementation of the modernization plans for the Polish Armed Forces. Poland also plans to buy missiles as well as a logistics and training package to go along with the rocket launchers. The next step, according to the ministry is to negotiate a draft agreement with the U.S. government. Poland also entered into an official agreement this year to buy Patriot air-and-missile defense systems from the U.S. in a more complex deal to include the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, which is not yet fielded by the U.S. Army. (Source: Defense News)
17 Oct 18. Lawmaker accuses British defense minister of Boeing favouritism. Britain’s defense secretary attended a parliamentary Defence Committee evidence session Oct. 17, primarily to answer questions about July’s NATO summit, but instead he found himself being interrogated about a potential aircraft purchase by the Royal Air Force. The service announced plans to purchase Boeing-made E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning aircraft without a competition. Lawmakers quizzed Gavin Williamson and his colleagues over why a rival proposal teaming Saab’s Erieye airborne warning and control system with Airbus A330 aircraft had not been given a chance to meet the Royal Air Force’s requirements.
“We did not believe there was a solution able to compete in terms of the Wedgetail. We wanted to have the best opportunity to deliver the best capability at the earliest possible stage,” Williamson told the committee. “This was the best system to go for.”
Wedgetail offered a lower risk and greater speed of delivery than any rival on the market, and would meet Britain’s urgent need to replace the current fleet of aging Sentry E-3Ds operated by the Royal Air Force, the officials explained.
“There wasn’t a product there that we would know we could bring in into service within the time frame we wish to have,” Williamson added.
One committee member voiced concerns over Boeing securing another major aircraft deal without a competition. The previous purchase was a deal in 2016 for a fleet of P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the Royal Air Force.
“It seems incredible: We had the same with Poseidon and it’s becoming a little worrisome that there seems to be preferential deals done spending money offshore in the U.S. rather than allowing companies to compete,” said Madelaine Moon, the Labour member of Parliament for Bridgend, Wales.
Williamson denied any preference toward Boeing or others. “There is certainly no bias towards any company. What we want to do is get the best product,” he said.
Another committee member suggested Williamson’s assertion about the Wedgetail would be on safer ground if he had the results of a competition to back up his claim.
Lawmakers noted that Saab installed its Erieye on five different platforms, making it one of the most experienced integrators of airborne early warning systems.
However, Air Vice Marshal Knighton, the assistant chief of Defence Staff for capability and force design, told the committee that the A330/Erieye combination experienced integration challenges.
“Because of the size of the wing, the A330 requires two radar antenna on top of the aircraft [rather than one]. It’s going to require complex integration to ensure you can unmask the radar from the wings; none of this has been done before,” he told the committee. “The risk isn’t in the aircraft, but the integration — that’s the challenge.”
Knighton said the Airbus-Saab proposal was a “paper aircraft,” as it actually doesn’t exist.
Williamson confirmed the Royal Air force wants the first Wedgetail handed over by 2022. That’s a sign of how fast the current 26-year-old fleet of Sentry aircraft are aging and Britain’s desire to address the latest threats.
In part, that decaying capability is due to several years of underinvestment. Williamson said the Ministry of Defence decided in 2015 to put more resources into the airborne early warning capability, adding that with the type of threats emerging, the “importance of replacing Sentry has risen quite dramatically up our priority list.”
Committee members are due to get a classified briefing from the MoD next week laying out some of the capabilities of the Wedgetail and other reasons to purchase the platform.
The Royal Air Force has a fleet of six Sentry aircraft, but industry sources estimate only four are flying regularly from their base at Waddington, eastern England.
The deal with Boeing has not been finalized. It’s been one of the MoD’s worst kept secrets that a single-source deal involving Wedgetail was on the cards, but Williamson only publicly announced in September that talks with the U.S. company over the possible purchase of aircraft were underway. It promises to be a big win for Boeing, with a price tag expected to be in excess of $2bn involving five aircraft. Wedgetail has been sold to Australia, South Korea and Turkey. Britain is closely cooperating with the Royal Australian Air Force on the Wedgetail program.
The capabilities shown by an Australian Wedgetail aircraft during a July visit to the U.K. was a clincher when it came to Britain’s decision to push ahead with the single-source deal. British Royal Air Force crews are in Australia training on the aircraft. With Australia’s industrial involvement in the Wedgetail program, government officials in Canberra have said a sale to Britain could represent the country’s largest-ever defense export opportunity. Knighton noted Britain would be able to leverage a series of upgrades on Wedgetail with the Australia. That includes an upgrade path for the radar, he said. (Source: Defense News)
16 Oct 18. EU Council adopts new chemical weapons sanctions regime. The EU Council has formally adopted new restrictive measures on chemical weapons at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg. The regime has been adopted to address and reduce the rapid growth and use of chemical weapons, which pose a serious threat to international security. Under the measures, EU members will be able to impose restrictions on persons and organisations directly involved in the development and use of chemical weapons, irrespective of their nationality and location. The restrictive measures are also applied to those who provide financial, technical or material support for the weapons, as well as those who assist, encourage or are associated with their development.
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “For years there has been an international taboo on the use of chemical weapons but that is at risk now after Syria and Salisbury.
“We now need to redraw the red line that says that for anyone using these horrific weapons the price will always be too high. These new sanctions are vital, but they are not the end of the story.”
Current sanctions comprise an EU travel ban and an asset freeze for listed persons and entities. Funds made available to anyone listed by EU residents or entities will be prohibited. The restriction supports the global prohibition of the weapons as laid down by the Chemical Weapons Convention to address the rising chemical attacks across the globe. The current decision is a direct follow-up to the conclusions of the European Council of 28 June. (Source: army-technology.com)
11 Oct 18. Italy’s Di Maio Says to Cut 500m Euros In Arms Spending: Media. Italy will cut 500m euros ($578.25m) in armaments spending in its 2019 budget, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said in an interview with online media Tiscali News.
“We will scrap 500m euros in spending for useless armaments, which are not used to defend the country but are only a way of spending money,” Di Maio said, without specifying what would be cut.
Officials from the 5-Star Movement, part of the governing coalition, have repeatedly promised to cut defence spending. However, Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta has confirmed that Italy is committed to reach Nato’s defence spending target of 2 percent of gross domestic product.
(defense-aerospace.com EDITOR’S NOTE: Reports across Italian media say that savings will be achieved by suspending NH90 program for 2 years (saving 370m€) & delaying CAMM missile (39m€ saving) as well as the new “Italian Pentagon” project.) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Reuters)
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