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21 Nov 18. Ukraine: Continued Co-operation. In a Joint Statement (21 Nov 18) the Ukrainian and UK Ministries of Defence expressed “the mutual will to continue bilateral co-operation and strengthen relations in the Defence sphere”. In particular it was agreed to improve co-operation in cyber, hybrid Defence and Defence intelligence. Priorities include:
- The delivery of operational training through increased UK presence under OP ORBITAL.
- The development of future capabilities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
- Support for the development of military education in Ukraine, drawing on UK advisory assistance.
- Increased military-technical co-operation and industrial collaboration.
- Support for the development of Ukrainian military infrastructure.
Comment: During a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, the Defence Secretary announced that the survey ship HMS ECHO will deploy to the Black Sea in 2019 “to demonstrate the UK’s support to ensuring freedom of navigation in the region”. In addition, UK training teams comprising RN, RM and Army personnel will deploy to the Ukraine in January and February 2019 as part of the extension to the UK’s military training operation announced in September 2018. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/42, 26 Nov 18)
20 Nov 18. Nigeria: Continued Support. During a two-day visit to Nigeria, the Defence Secretary reaffirmed (20 Nov 18) the UK’s commitment to supporting “our Nigerian partners in the fight against violent extremism”. The Defence Secretary travelled to Maiduguri in the North East of the country to witness the impact of the conflict with Boko Haram and to hand-over £1m worth of counter-improvised explosive device equipment.
Comment: The UK has been providing support to the Nigerian authorities, who lead the regional response to Boko Haram and related violent extremism, since 2014 and has trained over 30,000 Nigerian troops to fight terrorism. In a Written Answer (5 Nov 18) the Armed Forces’ Minister confirmed that some 70 UK Defence personnel are currently deployed to Nigeria (on an enduring basis) and over 800 have deployed to Nigeria on training and advisory tasks since April 2015. In addition the UK has provided gifts of equipment, places on professional development courses and assistance with developing Nigerian Command, Staff and Leadership institutions. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/42, 26 Nov 18)
19 Nov 18. Gibraltar: New Armed Forces Legislation. The Armed Forces (Gibraltar) Act was signed (19 Nov 18) on board HMS DIAMOND in the presence of the Armed Forces’ Minister and Gibraltar’s Chief Minister. The new legislation gives effect in Gibraltar to certain provisions of the UK Armed Forces Act which apply to military and civil personnel. Crucially, the legislation respects the primacy of the Royal Gibraltar Police as the lead law enforcement agency throughout Gibraltar.
Comment: The Armed Forces (Gibraltar) Act regulates the presence of the UK Armed Forces in Gibraltar and also applies to the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, as well as civilians subject to service discipline. The need to clarify the relationship between Service Police authorities and the Royal Gibraltar Police was highlighted during the so-called ‘runway incident’ in 2017 when there was ambiguity concerning jurisdiction in a criminal investigation involving a member of the UK Armed Forces. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/42, 26 Nov 18)
22 Nov 18. HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH: Fast Jet Trials Conclude. The RN reported (22 Nov 18) that F-35B Lightning aircraft trials with HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, off the US East coast, have now concluded. Two F-35B aircraft and four test pilots, from the Integrated Test Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, joined the aircraft carrier in September. The pilots have undertaken 200 short take-offs, 187 vertical landings and 15 ‘rolling’ landings as well as dropping 54 dummy bombs. ITF scientists have recorded data from the trials that will determine the limits at which the aircraft can safely launch from and land on HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH.
Comment: On 19 Nov 18, the RN recorded that the F-35B has also successfully landed on the aircraft carrier facing stern; a backwards manoeuvre which provides pilots with more landing options in an emergency. HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH will now offload the ITF trials team and aircraft before returning to the UK. The carrier is reportedly due back in her home port at Portsmouth in mid-December 2018. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/42, 26 Nov 18)
22 Nov 18. Type 26 Frigates: Fifth and Sixth Ships Named. The Defence Procurement Minister confirmed (22 Nov 18) that the fifth Type 26 global combat ship will be named HMS SHEFFIELD. The announcement was made by the Minister during a visit to Chesterfield Special Cylinders; the company, based in Sheffield, is a key supplier to the frigate programme. Meanwhile the Defence Secretary announced that the sixth ship will be called HMS NEWCASTLE during a visit to the Tyne on the same day (see also item 6). Comment: First of Class HMS GLASGOW is due to be accepted by Summer 2025 and is scheduled to enter service in 2027. HMS CARDIFF, HMS BELFAST, HMS BIRMINGHAM, HMS LONDON, HMS SHEFFIELD and HMS NEWCASTLE will follow, along with the final ship which has yet to be named. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/42, 26 Nov 18)
22 Nov 18. Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV): Fisheries Protection. During a visit to Newcastle the Defence Secretary announced (22 Nov 18) that three Batch 1 OPVs, HMS TYNE, HMS MERSEY and HMS SEVERN are to be retained for Fisheries Protection “for at least the next two years to bolster the UK’s ability to protect our fishing fleet as well as our shores”. The RN currently provides 200 days of Fisheries Protection each year. The additional OPV capacity will increase the number of days to 600. The ships will operate from their namesake rivers i.e. from Newcastle, Liverpool and Cardiff respectively.
Comment: The Batch 1 OPVs are armed with a 20mm cannon which can fire 700 rounds per minute up to a range of 1,300 yards. The vessels can travel at up to 20 knots, with a range of 5,500 miles and endurance of 21 days at sea. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/42, 26 Nov 18)
23 Nov 18. Piaggio Aerospace goes into receivership. The board of the company made a request with the Italian government on 22 November to enter an “extraordinary administration proceeding”: a local process specifically aimed at industrial insolvency and company restructuring. The move comes less than a year after Piaggio Aerospace – owned by Abu Dhabi investment house Mubadala – approved a strategic five-year industrial plan designed to secure its long-term financial and operational stability.
The strategy included a €255m ($308m) cash injection into the business by Mubadala, which took full ownership of the Villanova D’Albenga-headquartered venture in 2015. The plan also called for Mubadala to repurchase the company’s bank debt, with the balance converted into equity “in support of Piaggio Aerospace’s balance sheet”.
In a statement issued on 22 November, the board accepted that the restructuring plan has not worked. It says: “Despite the commitment and hard work of everyone at Piaggio Aerospace, as well as the significant financial contribution made over the years by the shareholder, the key fundamental assumptions of the restructuring plan approved in 2017 have not materialised.”
The statement notes that the continued uncertainty and current market conditions mean the company is “no longer financially sustainable”. The Piaggio Aerospace board has therefore taken the “difficult decision to submit the application to enter the extraordinary administration proceeding given the company’s insolvency status”, it says.
Piaggio is the developer of the P1HH HammerHead unmanned air vehicle and the P180 Avanti. Deliveries of the iconic twin-pusher – which emerged in the late 1980s and is now in its third iteration, the Evo – have fallen from their market peak of 30 aircraft in 2008 to just three in the nine months ending 30 September this year. One more example is scheduled for delivery during the fourth quarter.
The company had previously claimed to be gaining market share with the Evo, having secured a backlog of five aircraft following an intensive sales and marketing campaign. (Source: Flight Global)
23 Nov 18. Germany to revisit Saudi arms embargo in two months, sources say. German industry’s voluntary halt in previously authorised arms shipments to Saudi Arabia after the killing of a journalist at the Saudi consulate in Turkey is slated to last until mid-January, industry sources said on Friday. It was not immediately clear whether the halt in deliveries would be extended again or whether the companies would insist that the German government formally revoke the licenses then. German firms are not eligible for compensation for lost revenue unless the government has taken that step, according to one industry source.
“The companies have agreed to halt deliveries for now, but the situation may change if Saudi Arabia begins to demand damages for delayed deliveries,” the source said.
Germany last week banned 18 Saudis suspected of involvement in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi from much of Europe on Monday and expanded a halt in arms sales to the kingdom.
It had already suspended the approval of future export licences to Saudi Arabia but on Nov. 19 said it had also worked with industry to stop shipments of arms sales already approved.
No specific timetable was given at the time, but industry sources said an agreement had been struck to revisit the issue in early to mid-January. A spokesman for the economy ministry declined to comment on the timetable or the value of the goods held up.
The halt mainly affects a number of patrol boats being built for Saudi Arabia by privately held Luerrsen, which may jeopardise 300 jobs at a shipyard in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and four Cobra radar systems to be built by a consortium that includes France’s Thales, Airbus and Lockheed Martin of the United States. Der Spiegel magazine reported on Friday that the goods were valued at around 2.5bn euros.
It remains unclear how the freeze will impact multinational programmes such as the Eurofighter, built by a consortium of firms in Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain. BAE Systems, which led the Eurofighter campaign to win a 10bn pound contract from Saudi Arabia for 48 new Eurofighter Typhoon jets, is still finalising that deal after signing a memorandum of understanding in March. About a third of their components would come from Germany. (Source: Reuters)
23 Nov 18. Slovenia announces 4×4 JLTV procurement as it awaits Boxer offer. Defence Minister Karl Erjavec told the Slovenian National Assembly’s defence committee on 14 November that Slovenia had signed a government-to-government agreement with the US on the procurement of 38 Oshkosh 4×4 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) for the army’s medium-sized battlegroup. Oshkosh Defence’s senior vice-president of international programmes Mike Ivy on 20 November welcomed the Foreign Military Sale, without giving details, but the Slovenian Ministry of Defence (MoD) website said on 21 November that deliveries would take place in 2021–23. The ministry emphasised the importance of crew safety and protection in the decision to procure the JLTVs, which will replace the Slovak Armed Forces’ ageing Humvees. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
23 Nov 18. Committee continue inquiry into mental health services to armed forces. The Defence Committee holds evidence session into mental health care given to the armed forces.
- Watch Parliament TV: Mental Health and the Armed Forces, Part Two: The Provision of Care
- Inquiry: Mental Health and the Armed Forces, Part Two: The Provision of Care
- Defence Committee
Purpose of session
In its third session of the inquiry, the Defence Committee hears from former Servicemen and women on their mental health care experiences, both during and after Service. The Committee will also hear from charities on how they provide care to veterans and their families with mental health issues.
Tuesday 27 November 2018, Committee Room 5, Palace of Westminster
- Catherine Braddick-Hughes
- Andy Price
- Tim Boughton KCN GCM CStJ
- Sue Freeth, Chief Executive, Combat Stress
- David Richmond CBE, former Chairman of the Contact Group
- Tony Wright, Chief Executive, Forward Assist
22 Nov 18. Turkey Could Buy US-Made Defense Systems As Well: Aide. In addition to the Russian S-400 system it has committed to buy, Turkey could also buy U.S. Patriot missiles if it got a good offer, Turkey’s presidential spokesman said Thursday.
“Turkey could buy Patriot missiles. Turkey doesn’t have to fulfill its needs from a single source, as Turkey is a big country,” Ibrahim Kalin said at a forum on Turkish-Russian relations in the capital Ankara.
“If there was a good offer, Turkey would seriously evaluate buying [Patriots] as well as a possible joint production and technology transfer,” he added.
Earlier this month Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey will benefit from Russian-made S-400 air defense systems set to be delivered next year. On the S-400 purchase, Akar previously said the system was being bought “to meet our urgent air defense system needs as soon as possible.”
First S-400 systems set for delivery late 2019
Kalin stated that Turkey’s EU accession negotiations and being a strategic partner of the U.S. does not mean it cannot also have good relations with Russia.
He said that Turkey has long been talking with the U.S. about buying Patriot missiles.
“A bid was held for defense missile systems and Russia made the best offer, so an agreement was reached on the S-400s,” Kalin said, adding that the first delivery is expected in October or November 2019.
“In the second phase, Turkey and Russia will start doing joint production of the S-400 systems,” he said.
Kalin also said the Russians are closely cooperating with Turkey on the S-400 systems but that the U.S. has not offered this for the Patriots.
The U.S. has expressed opposition to the S-400 purchase, and in June the U.S. Senate passed a bill prohibiting sales to Turkey of U.S. F-35 jets, despite a signed contract between the two countries. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Anadolu Agency)
23 Nov 18. HMS Dragon conducts operations with F-35 in Middle East. The Royal Navy’s Type 45 Daring-class destroyer HMS Dragon has become the first warship in the UK to conduct operations with F-35 Lightning II fighter jets in the Middle East. The destroyer is working for the US Commander Task Force (CTF) 51/5 to provide air defence to the US Navy’s Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex. This joint project enabled the crew members of the Type 45-class vessel to gain knowledge and understanding of the tactics, techniques and procedures to work with the F-35 fighters. The knowledge will be used by the crew in support of the UK’s future carrier strike group operations.
HMS Dragon commanding officer commander Michael Carter-Quinn said: “Having trained as a fighter controller, and controlled harrier jump jets while serving on board HMS Invincible, it has been a great honour to command HMS Dragon to provide air defence duties to our US Navy colleagues.
“The step change in performance and range of roles the F-35s can provide is impressive, and to be able to work with these aircraft now in preparation for supporting the integration of the Queen Elizabeth-class, Type 45s and F-35s into the carrier strike group is exciting.”
The CTF 51/5 has been serving as a part of the UK and Royal Navy’s commitment to supporting operations in the Middle East, in addition to ensuring the safety and security of the Gulf and the wider Middle East region. Launched on 7 November 2008, HMS Dragon is the fourth of the six Type 45-class air defence destroyers built for the Royal Navy. (Source: naval-technology.com)
23 Nov 18. UK to support future maritime training deployments in Ukraine. UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced a range of forthcoming maritime training deployments in Ukraine that would help intensify the defence cooperation between the two nations. The deployments will help address the growing threats and hostility faced by the UK and Ukraine and will enable the armed forces of the two countries to work jointly in defence of the international rules-based order.
Williamson said: “As long as Ukraine faces Russian hostilities, it will find a steadfast partner in the UK. By continuing to work together, whether through training programmes or military exercises, we help Ukraine to stand up for our shared values.
“Those values of freedom and democracy cannot be traded. I have witnessed on the frontline the effects of the conflict in the East and this has completely reinforced my support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”
As part of the effort, the UK Royal Navy intends to deploy its multi-role hydrographic survey ship HMS Echo to the Black Sea next year.
The deployment of the navy vessel will help advance and enhance the UK’s support to Ukraine in order to ensure freedom of navigation in the region.
Ukraine Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak said: “The UK is a valued partner that has supported Ukraine’s Armed Forces for the last four years in the face of Russian aggression.
“As we fight to defend our territory, the offer of extended support from the UK Armed Forces is vitally important and gratefully received.”
Training teams comprising personnel from the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and the British Army will be deployed to Ukraine in January and February as part of the extension to the UK’s Operation Orbital military training programme in the country. The announcement to extend the military training operation in Ukraine until 2020 was made in September. (Source: naval-technology.com)
23 Nov 18. Minister pressed to reveal UK’s contribution to Galileo project in joint committee session. Stuart Andrew MP, Minister for Defence Procurement, was yesterday pressed to reveal that the UK’s contribution to Galileo, the EU’s Global Satellite Navigation System, has been €1.15bn. The figure covers from 1999 and the end of last year. The figure was revealed at a Joint Session of the Defence and European Scrutiny Committees on 21 November.
The EU currently intends to exclude the UK from Galileo after Brexit, so members of the two Committees wanted to find out what the UK’s contribution to date had been. The Minister promised to provide the Committees with figures for the value of Galileo-related contracts won by UK firms, estimated to be more than UK’s annual contribution for some of the period.
Sir William Cash MP, Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, said:
“My Committee has consistently highlighted the risks of a post-Brexit UK being obliged to continuing to spend taxpayers’ money on EU policies and programmes that are decided without the UK in the room, with no control over how that money would be spent.
Regardless of whether the UK ultimately remains involved with the Galileo project, such a scenario must not be allowed to come to pass.”
Dr Julian Lewis MP, Chairman of the Defence Committee, said:
“Our involvement with this project has, in round figures, cost us £1bn already. If we are not to be allowed to continue to help construct it or to benefit from its data, then we should demand a rebate, with interest, of that sum — which the UK Defence Budget sorely needs.”
22 Nov 18. Germany sees next step on fighter jet replacement by end of year. The German defence ministry expects to announce next steps by the end of the year in its drive to replace 85 ageing Tornado fighter jets that will cost billions of euros.
“There will be a decision this year,” a ministry spokesman said, citing a pledge in July by Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen to move ahead with the programme in 2018. The spokesman gave no further details.
Sources familiar with the process said the ministry was likely to narrow the field of potential replacement jets from four to two — the Eurofighter Typhoon built by Airbus, Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo SpA and most likely, the Lockheed Martin F-35.
“It’s another step in the process, not the actual procurement decision,” said one of the sources, noting that funds would first have to be earmarked in the German budget.
Von der Leyen favours a European solution, but the ministry also reviewed data submitted in April by the U.S. government on the F-35, and the F-15 and F/A-18E/F jets, both built by Boeing.
No comment was immediately available from Boeing or Lockheed. An Airbus spokesman said it was important for the process to move forward to enable the German air force to begin retiring the Tornado jets in 2025.
Several options have been studied, including buying one type of jet to replace the Tornado jets, a split buy of two aircraft types, and extending the life of the Tornados.
However the ministry in August asked potential bidders if they could deliver new warplanes before the initial target date of 2025, a move sources said reflected growing concerns about the cost of keeping the Tornados flying longer.
A key factor will be the ability of the new jets to carry and deliver nuclear bombs. Germany is not a nuclear power, but hosts some U.S. nuclear warheads under NATO’s nuclear-sharing policy and operates a number of Tornados that can deliver them. One proposal calls for Germany to buy 45 Lockheed F-35 jets to replace those Tornados, and about 75 new Eurofighters to replace both the other Tornados and a first batch of Eurofighters delivered between 2003 and 2008, sources said.
Buying F-35s would allow Germany to keep a mixed fleet of fighter jets, a requirement in its military strategy, while averting costly modifications to the Eurofighter.
Two of the sources said Germany had not yet commissioned a mandatory U.S. study of the certification issue, which could take 12 to 18 months to complete. Achieving certification for the Eurofighter could ultimately cost over 700m euros and take well over seven years, they added.
Lockheed last week won a U.S. contract valued at up to $83.1m to develop, integrate and test the needed software and hardware required for the F-35A to carry B61-12 nuclear bombs, with the work to be completed in February 2024.
Sources familiar with the process said that would allow Lockheed to offer Germany deliveries of F-35 aircraft a year or more ahead of the 2025 target, enabling pilots to begin a year or two of required training at a U.S. air base in Arizona. (Source: Reuters)
21 Nov 18. Czech Republic to boost spending on land weapons in 2019. Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar has announced the ministry’s acquisition plans for 2019. Next year, the country aims to purchase 210 infantry fighting vehicles, multi-purpose helicopters, and mobile air defense radars (MADRs), among other systems. Metnar said that in 2018 the ministry managed to conclude deals to purchase weapons and military equipment worth more than 14.5bn koruna (US $635m). There is a consensus across the country’s political spectrum that the country’s defense spending must be further increased in the coming years, the minister said, as reported by local daily Denik. The planned acquisitions are largely focused on replacing the military’s Soviet-designed gear with new equipment made by Western allies and Czech manufacturers. The region-wide trend has accelerated following Russia’s military intervention in eastern Ukraine and its annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Ales Opata, the Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, said at a joint press conference with Metnar that the key to military modernization was the upgrade of the country’s land forces.
“I don’t only mean [acquisitions of] tanks or infantry fighting vehicles, but also robot systems, reconnaissance and combat unmanned vehicles,” Opata said. (Source: Defense News)
20 Nov 18. Turkey foreign minister-Russian defence system buy cannot be cancelled. Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems in Turkey is a done deal and cannot be cancelled, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday, adding that Ankara needs further defence procurement that could be bought from the United States.
Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 systems, which are not compatible with NATO defences, has unnerved the United States and the alliance’s member countries, which are already wary of Russia’s presence in the Middle East.
“The current deal is a done deal, I cannot cancel it,” Cavusoglu told reporters after meeting with American counterpart Mike Pompeo. “But I need more … and I prefer to buy from my allies,” he added. (Source: Reuters)
20 Nov 18. France, Germany agree on next step for fighter jet programme. France and Germany have reached an agreement on the next steps in a joint programme to design a next-generation combat jet, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Tuesday.
The jet, due to go into service in 2040, is expected to replace the Rafale, built by France’s Dassault Aviation, and Germany’s Eurofighters, made by a European consortium.
Parly said on Twitter that the agreement included the planned launch of a prototype or demonstrator of both the aircraft and the engine by the middle of next year.
“Decisive step today with the agreement to start the architecture and design studies and the launch of demonstrators (aircraft and engine) by mid-2019,” Parly tweeted. “It is advancing.”
Germany and France signed a memorandum of understanding in April and agreed that France would take the lead. The two governments have been at odds about future exports, while the companies involved are fighting over leadership of the system to integrate the jet with drones and other weapons.
Dassault and Airbus will shortly submit an unsolicited proposal for initial conceptual work on the new fighter jet to German and French officials, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.
The two companies agreed in principle in April to work together on the programme, but say they need early funding so they can start work on new technologies required.
France’s Safran and Germany’s MTU Aero Engines are expected to join forces to develop the engine. French electronics firm Thales and European missile maker MBDA are also seeking a stake.
Safran is expected to take the lead in the development of the engines with MTU as the subcontractor, French business newspaper La Tribune reported on its website on Tuesday.
A French military official told the International Fighter conference in Berlin last week that the two governments hoped to conclude an initial contract in January.
May sticks to Brexit as rebels seek to oust her
Bruno Fichefeux, head of future combat air systems at Airbus, told the conference he expected conceptual work on the programme to begin soon, “bilaterally or with Spain.” Germany, France and Spain have completed separate studies on the next generation fighter.
La Tribune said Spain, which had been in discussions with a rival project launched by Britain in July, will join the Franco-German programme once it is stabilised and will sign a letter on intent to do so in the first quarter of next year. The German defence minister had no immediate comment. (Source: Reuters)
20 Nov 18. EU unveils plans for new but limited military projects. Intelligence training and missile development seem to indicate lack of ambition to form EU army. German officials draw a distinction between the idea of a ‘European army’ and the goal of establishing an ‘army of Europeans.’ EU ministers have agreed a slew of joint military projects ranging from a spy school to a new generation of land battlefield missiles — but the niche ambitions of the moves suggest the prospect of a European army remains distant. The latest ventures under the 25-country Pesco initiative show how the EU urgently wants to improve its capabilities without cutting across Nato’s responsibility for Europe’s collective defence in the face of rising tensions with Russia. Analysts see recent calls for a European army by the leaders of France and Germany as largely rhetorical commitments to a task the EU is neither able nor willing to take on. “The term European army is very imprecise. It is a bit like talking about the United States of Europe: you can talk about it but it is clearly not meant to happen tomorrow,” said Ulrike Franke, a defence analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “A real European army would mean a genuine fusion of Europe’s armed forces. And that is not something that we want to do or can do in the next few decades.” EU foreign and defence ministers announced late on Monday the second round of projects under the Pesco co-operation initiative launched last year to plug gaps in Europe’s military power. Greece and Cyprus will lead a project to set up an intelligence training school, while France, Belgium and Cyprus will head a venture to develop a new medium-range missile. Other projects include airship reconnaissance and a Franco-German-Spanish project to upgrade Tiger attack helicopters. The council of EU ministers also broadly backed a European Commission plan for a European Defence Fund to co-invest in military industrial projects. The news comes after Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, last week bolstered French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for a “real European army” to reduce the continent’s dependence on the US. Ms Merkel told the European Parliament the EU should “work on the vision” of such a force “in full awareness of the developments of the last few years” — an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s strong criticism of European countries for failing to spend more on their militaries. A real European army would mean a genuine fusion of Europe’s armed forces. And that is not something that we want to do or can do in the next few decades Ulrike Franke, European Council on Foreign Relations German defence officials have since sought to inject a note of caution into the debate. They have made clear that Berlin and Paris are — at least for now — seeking closer co-operation between European armed forces rather than the creation of a joint military. German officials draw a distinction between the idea of a “European army” and the goal of establishing an “army of Europeans”, which was formally endorsed in the coalition treaty agreed by the three governing parties in Berlin earlier this year. It is normally held to mean closer co-operation between the various European armed forces as well as the joint procurement and development of weapons and other defence equipment. “The path we have taken leads step by step to an ‘army of Europeans’. [That means] military forces that remain national responsibilities, but that are closely linked, uniformly equipped, and trained and ready for joint operations,” Ursula von der Leyen, the German defence minister, wrote in an opinion piece for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung at the weekend. Ms von der Leyen and other EU politicians have also stressed that the push for better funded and better aligned European militaries is intended to bolster Nato, not weaken it. Nato’s primacy in European collective defence is even clearer than before, as the western alliance has edged back from deployments elsewhere in the world to focus more on dealing with Russia. The EU has also struggled with previous attempts to create joint forces to send to international crisis spots. Multinational bloc battle groups of about 1,500 personnel each have been operational since 2007 — yet have never been deployed because of “issues relating to political will, usability and financial solidarity”, according to the EU’s diplomatic service. Another reason for European officials to be cautious is US suspicions that their joint initiatives could rival those of Nato. US officials are also pressing for American companies to be given the opportunity to join some of the new EU projects. (Source: FT.com)
19 Nov 18. Brexit turmoil delays deal on Britain’s EU defence ties. British plans for a swift inclusion in the European Union’s new flagship defence pact are being undermined by political turmoil in London and uncertainly over the terms of Britain’s exit from the bloc, EU diplomats say. Prime Minister Theresa May called in February for a new security treaty with the EU from next year and the EU’s chief executive argued it was too important to risk getting subsumed in broader Brexit negotiations. Five diplomats involved in security talks said the issues had now become interlinked, however, because of the level of scepticism voiced by many British politicians towards the draft EU withdrawal deal.
“It’s too sensitive to talk about security now when everything is up in the air in London. The issue of Britain’s involvement post-Brexit was already divisive for some EU countries,” said a senior EU official.
Britain, which is seeking a “deep and special partnership” with the EU in defence and security, initially hoped to agree in November a deal to take part in the EU’s defence pact and access financing from a planned 13bn euro (11.67bn pounds) EU weapons, technology and research fund.
That decision on Britain’s future participation as a third country has now been pushed to December at the earliest but is more likely next year, diplomats said.
Britain, along with France, is one of Europe’s biggest military powers and had hoped that security would be one of its biggest bargaining chips as it seeks a new relationship with the EU.
EU defence integration is gathering pace in the wake of Islamic attacks in Western Europe, alleged Russian meddling in European elections and concern about U.S. commitment to NATO under President Donald Trump.
Britain’s closest EU allies, led by the Netherlands and the Baltics, are pressing for a deal to allow British industry into lucrative EU military projects and tap into EU funds.
But others, including France and Italy, want non-EU countries’ involvement to be on a highly selective basis. Cyprus is also concerned about any potential Turkish involvement if the EU’s pact “Permanent Structure Cooperation”, or PESCO, agreed in December 2017, is open to non-EU countries.
Paris and Rome want to see Britain committing to the EU’s foreign and security policy in a political declaration on their future ties that forms a package with the EU withdrawal treaty, according to an internal EU note seen by Reuters.
Pro-Brexit lawmakers in Britain fear London will be bound to the EU in perpetuity under the divorce terms and are sceptical about committing to the bloc’s security. Particularly in defence, Britain long blocked EU cooperation and argued military matters should remain a matter for national governments.
Disagreements over Britain’s future place in EU security arrangements are “not something that would break the deal but it shows how tricky it all is. We’ll make sure the UK won’t get decision-making powers in our processes,” one EU diplomat said.
Britain also wants a role in the European Defence Agency, which helps EU governments to develop weapons and coordinates defence planning. It is giving up its role as host of one of the European Union’s five military “operational headquarters” because of its departure from the EU.
The 25 countries in the new EU defence pact unveiled a new series of projects on Monday that governments will develop together, including plans for an European armoured infantry fighting vehicle, upgrades of attack helicopters and a joint EU intelligence school to train spies. (Source: Reuters)
16 Nov 18. Airbus, Dassault finalizing bid for early work on new fighter jet. Airbus (AIR.PA) and France’s Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) will shortly submit an unsolicited proposal for initial conceptual work on a next-generation fighter jet to German and French officials, according to sources familiar with the matter. The two companies agreed in principle in April to work together on an ambitious Franco-German program to design a new warplane, but are anxious to get some early funding so they can start work on new technologies required for the multi-billion project – with a goal of fielding a new aircraft around 2040.
Germany and France signed a memorandum of understanding about the project in April, but progress has been halting amid disputes between the governments about future exports, and among industry about how to divvy up work on a system to integrate the new jet with drones and other weapons. One source familiar with the matter said the two companies could submit their proposal by the end of the year or early next year, paving the way for the first contract awards next year.
One French military official told the International Fighter conference in Berlin this week that the two governments hoped to conclude an initial contract in January.
Peter Harster, senior executive with MTU Aero Engines (MTXGn.DE), said the study contract was needed, along with a medium-term budget plan, to help set a realistic timetable and key requirements to ensure the new jet would be ready by 2040.
Harster also called for a separate contract for work on an engine for the new jet to enable optimal flexibility and give the customers direct control over the propulsion system.
Bruno Fichefeux, head of future combat air systems at Airbus, told the conference he expected conceptual work on the program to begin soon, “bilaterally or with Spain.”
A Spanish official told the conference his country was in discussions with both the Dassault-Airbus team, and a separate project being led by Britain’s BAE Systems (BAES.L) to secure a role on one of the projects. A French military official said the two projects could also be merged at a future date.
Douglas Barrie, senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said government and industry ties would likely shift again, as in the 1970s and 1980s during work that ultimately led to the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault’s Rafale.
“We’re at the start of that process again now. And I don’t think it will take a decade to shake out, but it will take some time,” he said. “I think shifts are inevitable.”
Senior executives from Airbus and other companies discussed the next generation fighter with German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen at a meeting hosted last week by the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI), the sources said.
BDLI declined to comment on the meeting. No comment was immediately available from the defense ministry. (Source: glstrade.com/Reuters)
17 Nov 18. USTR Seeks Public Comments on Negotiating Objectives for a U.S.-United Kingdom Trade Agreement – (83 Fed. Reg. 57790) .On October 16, 2018, the United States Trade Representative notified Congress of the Administration’s intention to enter into negotiations with the United Kingdom (UK) for a U.S.-UK Trade Agreement after the UK has exited the European Union on March 29, 2019. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is seeking public comments on a proposed U.S.-UK Trade Agreement, including U.S. interests and priorities, in order to develop U.S. negotiating positions. You can provide comments in writing and orally at a public hearing. The Administration’s aim in negotiations with the UK is to address both tariff and non-tariff barriers and to achieve free, fair, and reciprocal trade. DATES:
- January 15, 2019: Deadline for the submission of written comments and for written notification of your intent to testify, as well as a summary of your testimony at the public hearing.
- January 29, 2019: The Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) will hold a public hearing beginning at 9:30 AM at the main hearing room of the United States International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. (Source: glstrade.com)
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