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03 Dec 18. Armed Forces: Senior Appointments. The Defence Secretary announced (3 Dec 18) new senior military appointments as follows:-
- Vice Admiral T P Fraser CB is to be promoted Admiral and appointed Vice Chief of the Defence Staff.
- Vice Admiral A D Radakin CB is to be promoted Admiral and appointed First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff.
- Air Marshal M Wigston CBE is to be promoted Air Chief Marshal and appointed Chief of the Air Staff.
- Lieutenant General P N Y M Sanders CBE, DSO is to be promoted General and appointed Commander Joint Forces Command.
Comment: The Defence Secretary said: “The appointment of a new generation of commanders will ensure that Britain remains ready to face the threats of tomorrow and continues to be a major player on the world stage”. It is anticipated that the appointments will take effect from Spring 2019. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/44, 10 Dec 18)
05 Dec 18. Afghanistan: NATO Senior Civilian Representative. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office confirmed (5 Dec 18) that Sir Nicholas Kay KCMG has been appointed as NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan. The Senior Civilian Representative acts as the primary link between the Afghan Government and NATO and helps to ensure the success of the NATO Resolute Support mission. Sir Nicholas Kay is the current British Ambassador in Kabul and will take up his appointment in March 2019.
Comment: On 26 Nov 18 the Department for International Development (DfID) announced a £53m package of aid to help alleviate one of Afghanistan’s worst droughts in recent times. The funding includes £25m new money from DfID’s crisis reserve fund and brings the total spend on humanitarian aid in 2018 to £67m. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/44, 10 Dec 18)
30 Nov 18. Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA): Solid Support Ship Competition. Companies which have been selected to compete for the Fleet Solid Support ships contract have been announced (30 Nov 18) as follows: Fincantieri (Italy), Japan Marine United Corporation (Japan), Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (South Korea), Navantia (Spain) and a consortium comprising Babcock, BAE Systems, Cammell Laird and Rolls-Royce (UK). The four companies and the UK consortium, which were chosen from eight interested firms, will now develop their bids before a final decision is made regarding the competition winner in 2020.
Comment: The RFA currently operates three solid support ships: Fort Austin, Fort Rosalie and Fort Victoria (solid stores and fuel). Fort Austin and Fort Rosalie are due to retire from service in 2023 and 2024 respectively. The new Fleet Solid Support ships are set to provide support for the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and will form an important part of the UK Maritime Task Group. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/44, 10 Dec 18)
27 Nov 18. Typhoon: Quick Reaction Alert (QRA). The Armed Forces’ Minister provided information (27 Nov 18) for the number of days on which QRA Typhoon aircraft launched in the past four years: 20 (2014), 12 (2015); 12 (2016), 6 (2017) and 8 (2018 up to 22 Nov 18). Not every launch resulted in an interception as some incidents were resolved prior to intercept.
Comment: The Minister visited RAF Coningsby (23 Nov 18) as one of the bases from which the RAF operates QRA Typhoon aircraft in the UK. QRA Typhoon aircraft are also based at RAF Lossiemouth. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/44, 10 Dec 18)
30 Nov 18. F-35B Lightning Aircraft: EX POINT BLANK. The RN reported (30 Nov 18) that UK F-35B aircraft have achieved a further milestone by conducting their first Exercise with UK-based US F-15 and French Air Force Rafale aircraft. Two UK F-35B Lightnings (one flown by an RAF pilot and the other by a Fleet Air Arm aviator) joined 40 French, UK and US jets over East Anglia and the North Sea for EX POINT BLANK. The Exercise gave pilots of the fifth generation F-35 aircraft the opportunity to continue to develop tactics and procedures for operating alongside fourth generation aircraft (F-15s, Hawks, Rafales and Typhoons).
Comment: So far 16 UK F-35B aircraft have been delivered, with the 17th aircraft to be handed-over by the end of 2018 and the 18th expected in Summer 2019. The UK has placed an order for a further 17 F-35B Lightning aircraft which will increase the total fleet to 35. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/44, 10 Dec 18)
30 Nov 18. Cyprus: RPAS Demonstration. The RAF reported (30 Nov 18) that its Force Protection (FP) Force, based at RAF Honington, has undertaken an Operational Capability Demonstration of Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) to enhance protection at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. An RAF Police dog handler and members of 34 Squadron RAF Regiment, who currently provide Force Protection at the Station, were also involved in the demonstration. RPAS provides the Quick Reaction Force commander with a live picture of the battlespace and incidents, vastly improving situational awareness. The FP Force RPAS Team will be conducting a number of demonstrations at RAF Stations.
Comment: Members of the Armed Forces based in Cyprus received a visit from Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on 7 Dec 18. The Duke and Duchess met personnel who have been providing support to OP SHADER as well as members of the 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment who have recently returned from Afghanistan. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/44, 10 Dec 18)
26 Nov 18. Gurkhas: New Signal Squadron. The Army confirmed (26 Nov 18) that a new squadron of Gurkha soldiers has joined 16th Signal Regiment at Beacon Barracks in Stafford. 247 Gurkha Signal Squadron will be the second squadron of Queen’s Gurkha Signals’ (QGS) soldiers based at MoD Stafford. The other QGS squadron is 248 Gurkha Signal Squadron which is part of 22nd Signal Regiment.
Comment: Gurkha soldiers forming the new squadron are mostly drawn from existing squadrons, but numbers have been augmented by a small increase in Gurkha recruitment from Nepal. When fully formed, the squadron will comprise 110 soldiers. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/44, 10 Dec 18)
27 Nov 18. Falkland Islands: New Air Link. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office issued a Statement (27 Nov 18) on an additional air link between South America and the Falkland Islands. Agreement has been reached for a weekly LATAM flight from Sao Paulo (Brazil) to the Falkland Islands, with a stopover in Cordoba (Argentina) once a month in each direction. It has also been agreed to hold annual air services discussions with the relevant authorities to review further connectivity for passengers, cargo and mail services between the Falkland Islands, Argentina and continental South America.
Comment: The above agreement follows two years of detailed negotiations which were established by the UK-Argentine Joint Communique of 13 Sep 16. The new air link will support the Falkland Islands’ economic development and increase engagement with South America. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/44, 10 Dec 18)
03 Dec 18. Secret Intelligence Service (SIS): Speech. Alex Younger, the Chief of the UK’s SIS (also known as MI6), addressed an audience of students at St Andrew’s University on 3 Dec 18. Mr Younger highlighted the need to adapt to changes in technology, stating that: “The era of the fourth industrial revolution calls for a fourth-generation espionage…”. The persistent and evolving threat from terrorism was noted as well as the fact that “we face adversaries who now regard themselves as being in a state of perpetual confrontation with us”. Mr Younger also talked about the importance of co-operation saying that “we will always work with our sister agencies to strengthen our indispensable security ties in Europe”.
Comment: Mr Younger addressed students at St Andrews as an alumnus of the University, delivering only his second public speech in four years. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/44, 10 Dec 18)
07 Dec 18. Royal Navy’s Dreadnought submarine programme gains £400m funding. The British Royal Navy’s Dreadnought nuclear deterrent submarine programme has secured a further £400m in funding, UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced. Dreadnought is the replacement programme for the Royal Navy’s Trident missile Vanguard-class submarines, which form the UK’s nuclear deterrent. The UK Defence Secretary also revealed that the second Dreadnought nuclear-powered submarine will be named HMS Valiant. The first boat of the class is to be named Dreadnought. The latest investment is part of the £31bn Dreadnought programme and supply chain.
Williamson said: “Next year marks half-a-century since British nuclear-armed submarines began patrolling the waters in response to the danger posed by the Cold War, and the world is again facing a raft of intensifying threats. This £400m investment will ensure the Dreadnought programme remains on track, so we continue to have a nuclear deterrent at sea for decades to come. This £400m investment will ensure the Dreadnought programme remains on track, so we continue to have a nuclear deterrent at sea for decades to come. Not only does today’s news see us safeguard 8,000 jobs right now, but I have also opened a brand new multi-m-pound facility to train Britain’s submarine engineers of the future.”
BAE Systems is constructing the Dreadnought-class and seven Astute-class nuclear attack submarines for the British Royal Navy.
Williamson unveiled a £25m BAE Systems’ ‘Submarine Academy for Skills and Knowledge’ in Barrow-in-Furness as part of the announcement.
The new academy will provide skills and training to around 2,500 people a month, which in turn will help the Dreadnought and Astute submarine programmes.
BAE Systems submarines managing director Cliff Robson said: “The new academy will give our current and future workforce access to the very latest in learning and development, demonstrating our lasting commitment not just to our current employees but to those who will join our company in years to come.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
07 Dec 18. Kremlin shrugs off U.S. call to scrap nuclear-capable missile. The Kremlin shrugged off a U.S. call for it to scrap a nuclear-capable missile on Friday, saying it was in compliance with the Cold-War era arms control treaty Washington accuses the missile of violating. A senior U.S. official said on Thursday that Russia must scrap its 9M729 nuclear-capable cruise missiles and launchers or modify the weapons’ range to return to compliance with the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty and avert a U.S. pullout from the pact.
“Russia has not violated, is not violating and remains committed to its obligations under the INF treaty,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about the U.S. call. (Source: Reuters)
06 Dec 18. Nato says Russia’s ground-launched missile system violates INF Treaty. Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that allies have formally agreed that the deployment of Russia’s new ground-launched cruise missile system violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. In 1987, the US and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics signed the INF Treaty to destroy the parties’ 500km and 5,500km range ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles, their launchers and associated support structures and support equipment.
Following a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels, Stoltenberg said: “All allies have concluded that Russia has developed and fielded a new ground-launched cruise missile system, the SSC-8, also known as the 9M729. Allies agree that this missile system violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security. And they agree that Russia is therefore in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty.”
During the meeting, Nato allies agreed to begin planning for a post-INF Treaty world and have once again called on Russia to comply with the treaty.
Russia’s new missiles are said to be capable of reaching European cities and are mobile and cannot be easily detected.
They also noted that even after repeated talks with Russia about the matter, the country is continuing to engage in manufacturing and fielding of the missiles.
Stoltenberg added: “This is really serious, because, of course, all missiles are dangerous, but these missiles are in particular dangerous because they are hard to detect, they are mobile [and] they are nuclear-capable.”
“We will continue to keep Russia’s military posture and deployments under close review.”
Meanwhile, Russia President Vladimir Putin warned that if the US exits the treaty it will develop missiles banned under a Cold War agreement, reported media sources. (Source: army-technology.com)
05 Dec 18. Germany, France to add Spain to fighter programme – sources. Germany and France will welcome Spain as a full partner in their programme to develop a next-generation air combat system, and expect to sign an agreement finalising the move at the Paris Air Show in June, German government sources said on Wednesday. Paris and Berlin initially planned to offer Spain only observer status on the programme, but changed their plans after extensive discussions with Spanish officials, according to a separate source familiar with the matter. Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles this week then formally asked to participate as a fully fledged partner in the programme, which will also require certain financial outlays.
“The current intention is to sign a tri-national memorandum of understanding on the sidelines of the 2019 Paris Air Show in Le Bourget,” said one of the German sources.
A spokesman for the German Defence Ministry welcomed Spain’s expression of interest, noting that it made sense to work jointly to put future programmes on a solid footing. Spain was also a partner in the earlier Eurofighter programme.
No comment was immediately available from the French Defence Ministry.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel first announced the ambitious weapons development programme in July 2017.
The two countries announced last month that they expected to sign initial contracts with Airbus and Dassault Aviation in early 2019 to move ahead with the new Future Combat Air System (FCAS), to include a jet fighter and a range of associated weapons, including drones.
Britain, which is due to exit the European Union in March 2019, unveiled its own rival aircraft development programme, dubbed Tempest, at the Farnborough Air Show in July.
European military and industry executives say they believe the two programmes could and should eventually be merged given the need to compete internationally and the many bns of euros needed to develop a new combat aircraft.
Robles said her ministry was “convinced that these programmes will eventually merge,” adding: “Despite this, and with the aim of participating in the project from its initial phase, Spain has decided to join Paris and Berlin’s project.” (Source: Reuters)
05 Dec 18. Slovak opposition calls for defense minister’s ouster amid F-16 controversy. Slovakia’s Defense Minister Peter Gajdos has signed three separate, preliminary Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOAs) with the United States to acquire 14 F-16 Block 70/72 fighters for the Slovak air force, but it was subsequently revealed that the ministry failed to obtain the rest of the government’s approval for the decision.
Under the signed agreements, the aircraft are to be acquired the by the end of 2023 under a program estimated to be worth about €1.6 bn (US $1.8 bn). The fighters are to replace Slovakia’s Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-29 jets.
“The final decision on the signing of the agreement on the replacement of the [Slovak] Air Forceʼs fighter jet fleet falls fully within the competence of the [Slovak] government. The MoD has never cast any doubt whatsoever on this proposition,” the ministry said in a Dec. 1 statement.
Representatives of Slovakia’s opposition party Ordinary People (OĽaNO) have called on the country’s Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini to dismiss Gajdos, accusing the minister of pursuing the acquisition in a disorganized manner and without adequate public supervision.
“With such major spending, it is important to make procurements perfectly prepared and under public control,” Veronika Remisova, a member of parliament for the OĽaNO party, said on Facebook Dec. 4. (Source: Defense News)
03 Dec 18. Long-awaited UK defense report coming before Christmas. The British Ministry of Defence will deliver a long-awaited report on the future of U.K. defense spending before the end of the year, the kingdom’s top defense official confirmed this weekend. Speaking on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Modernising Defence Programme would be arriving at Parliament “before Christmas.”
He added that the report would be a “full” version, rather than an interim version as some had speculated.
The report was launched in late 2017, and a rollout had been expected over the summer. But the conclusions have been delayed amid ongoing negotiations with the European Union about Britain’s exit from the organization. In the meantime, the U.K. increased its budget by £1bn (U.S. $1.27bn) in October.
The review is expected to call for increased funding in innovation, science and technology, as well as spell out how the U.K. will move forward as a global power — something Williamson said is a major emphasis in a post-Brexit world.
“Over the last year, you’ve seen Britain taking a number of actions. We are the leading European nation in terms of NATO, what we’ve been doing in enhanced forward presence in the Baltic states,” Williamson said. “Effectively, Britain, the Royal Air Force, has acted as the air defense for good chunks of southern Europe this year. You’ve seen uplift in terms of troop numbers in Afghanistan, lots of examples where Britain will and has taken a role.
“Do we need to do more? I think we all accept that with the world becoming more uncertain, there has to be a willingness to take not just a diplomatic leadership, but also a military leadership.”
Williamson’s comments came as the U.K. selected an unexpected slate of new military leaders for top positions, with more senior officers being passed over in favor of what the government considers innovative leaders. (Source: Defense News)
04 Dec 18. Statement on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Issued by the NATO Foreign Ministers, Brussels, 4 December 2018
- The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty has been crucial in upholding NATO’s security for over 30 years.
- Allies have concluded that Russia has developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security. We strongly support the finding of the United States that Russia is in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty.
- For over five years, Allies and the United States in particular, have repeatedly raised their concerns with the Russian Federation, both bilaterally and multilaterally. As we stated in the Brussels Summit Declaration in July, Russia has responded to our concerns with denials and obfuscation. Russia only recently acknowledged the existence of the missile system, but without providing the necessary transparency or explanation.
- The United States has remained in full compliance with its obligations under the INF Treaty since it entered into force. Allies have emphasized that the situation whereby the United States and other parties fully abide by the Treaty and Russia does not, is not sustainable.
- Russia’s violation of the INF Treaty erodes the foundations of effective arms control and undermines Allied security. This is part of Russia’s broader pattern of behaviour that is intended to weaken the overall Euro-Atlantic security architecture.
- Allies are committed to preserving strategic stability and Euro-Atlantic security. NATO will continue to ensure the credibility and effectiveness of the Alliance’s overall deterrence and defence posture.
- We will continue to consult each other regularly with a view to ensuring our collective security. We will continue to keep the fielding of Russian intermediate-range missiles under close review.
- Allies are firmly committed to the preservation of effective international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Therefore, we will continue to uphold, support, and further strengthen arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, as a key element of Euro-Atlantic security, taking into account the prevailing security environment.
- We continue to aspire to a constructive relationship with Russia, when Russia’s actions make that possible. As most recently confirmed at the Brussels Summit, we remain open to dialogue with Russia, including in the NATO-Russia Council.
- We call on Russia to return urgently to full and verifiable compliance. It is now up to Russia to preserve the INF Treaty. (Source: NATO)
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