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13 Dec 18. HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH: Return to Portsmouth. HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH sailed back to her home port at Portsmouth on 10 Dec 18, following a four-month deployment undertaking carrier trials with two embarked F-35B Lightning aircraft off the US East coast. During the F-35B Development Trials, the aircraft conducted 202 take-offs from the ship’s ski ramp, 187 vertical landings and 15 shipborne vertical landings; in addition to dropping 54 inert bombs in order to test weight loading in different weather conditions and sea states. HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH will remain in Portsmouth during the early part of next year undergoing maintenance. Operational Trials are scheduled for 2019.
Comment: The aircraft carrier sailed from Portsmouth on 18 Aug 18 as part of the WESTLANT 18 Task Group. The transatlantic crossing was also the first deployment for the re-formed UK Carrier Strike Group staff. Other elements of the Task Group included the Type 23 frigate HMS MONMOUTH, RFA Tidespring, Merlin helicopters from 820 and 845 Naval Air Squadrons and Royal Marines from 42 Commando. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/45, 17 Dec 18)
10 Dec 18. Type 31e Frigates: Shipbuilders Shortlisted. In a Written Statement (10 Dec 18) the Defence Procurement Minister confirmed that the MoD has awarded three contracts for the competitive design phase to build five Type 31e frigates. Worth £5m each, the contracts have been awarded to consortia led by: Atlas Elektronik UK, Babcock and BAE Systems. Each consortium has also been issued with an invitation to negotiate for the single design and build contract which the MoD intends to place at the end of 2019. According to the Minister, undertaking both contractual phases in parallel “will allow the award of the design and build contract earlier than would normally be the case in a major procurement.”
Comment: Following suspension of the Type 31e frigate procurement process on 24 Jul 18, due to a lack of compliant bids, the competition was relaunched in August 2018. There has been no change to the requirement for an initial order for five ships, with the first delivered by 2023, at a maximum average price of £250m each. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/45, 17 Dec 18)
11 Dec 18. River Class Patrol Ships: Progress Report. The RN confirmed (11 Dec 18) that HMS MEDWAY has completed her maiden sea trials in the Firth of Clyde. The ship is the second next-generation River Class patrol ship built by BAE Systems for duties in home waters. The trials tested MEDWAY’s engines, manoeuvrability, sensors and main 30mm cannon. Following a final period of planned maintenance and assessment of trials results, HMS MEDWAY is due to sail to her future home port at Portsmouth in early 2019.
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 was due to move back on board in November 2018. Sea trials are set to resume in late January 2019. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/45, 17 Dec 18)
13 Dec 18. HMS MONTROSE: Celebrations in Chile. The RN reported (13 Dec 18) that the Type 23 frigate HMS MONTROSE joined celebrations in Chile, marking the Chilean Navy’s 200th birthday. During the anniversary events, spread over nine days, HMS MONTROSE joined former British warships GRAFTON, MARLBOROUGH and SHEFFIELD which are now serving under the Chilean flag. HMS MONTROSE also sailed as part of an International Fleet Review which included US ships and vessels from other South American countries.
Comment: HMS MONTROSE sailed to the Gulf for a three-year deployment on 29 Oct 18. The ship is the first vessel to provide an enduring presence in the Gulf “as part of the UK’s commitment to security in the Middle East.”. HMS MONTROSE will be based at the UK Naval Support Facility in Bahrain and the crew is due to rotate in Spring 2019. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/45, 17 Dec 18)
11 Dec 18. HMS DRAGON: Drugs Haul. The RN reported (11 Dec 18) that the Type 45 destroyer HMS DRAGON has been involved in two major drug seizures during the past two weeks while on patrol in the Middle East. At the end of November 2018, the ship intercepted 3,048kg of hashish along a notorious drug smuggling route known as the ‘Hash Highway’. More recently HMS DRAGON uncovered a haul of heroin, hashish and crystal meth, worth around £1.6m, while patrolling the ‘smack track’ smuggling route between the Makran Coast of Iran and Pakistan and East Africa.
Comment: Having just taken part in annual exercises with the Indian Navy, HMS DRAGON will continue her sea deployment over the Christmas period as part of the international Combined Task Force 150 which is focused on tackling terrorist activity on the high seas. The above drugs seizures are regarded as “another blow to the funding of terrorism”. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/45, 17 Dec 18)
10 Dec 18. Meteor Air-to-Air Missile: In Service with Typhoon. RAF Typhoon aircraft flew (10 Dec 18) from RAF Lossiemouth for the first time with Meteor Beyond-Visual Range Air-to-Air Missiles (BVRAAM) on a Quick Reaction Alert mission. The MoD noted that the event “represents the culmination of many years of research, development and testing to bring this advanced weapon into service on front-line aircraft”. The Meteor missile system can fly in any weather conditions against current and known future threats, including combat aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and missiles.
Comment: Typhoons have been modified to carry the MBDA Meteor BVRAAM and Storm Shadow cruise missiles as part of Project Centurion, completing the Typhoon Phase 2 Enhancement upgrade. The Typhoon Phase 3 Enhancement package covers the upgrade of Brimstone missiles. Typhoon enhancements are being completed in advance of the retirement of Tornado GR4 aircraft in 2019. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/45, 17 Dec 18)
04 Dec 18. Maldives: New Embassy. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced (4 Dec 18) the opening of a new Embassy in Malé, Maldives. The Foreign Secretary said: “The new Embassy will improve the UK’s ability to work with the Maldivian authorities on issues like tourist safety and security…The new Embassy will also reflect the UK’s role as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region.”
Comment: The Foreign Secretary also welcomed the Maldives intention to re-join The Commonwealth. The Maldives withdrew from the Commonwealth in October 2016 after the country was warned of a possible suspension if there was a failure to demonstrate progress towards democracy. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/45, 17 Dec 18)
12 Dec 18. Future Anti-Ship Missile System: Joint Inquiry. The French Assemblée Nationale’s Standing Committee on National Defence and the Armed Forces and the House of Commons Defence Committee published (12 Dec 18) a report on the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapons (FC/ASW) programme. Plans to develop a new generation of deep strike and anti-ship missiles by 2030 were one of the outcomes of the 2010 Lancaster House Agreement between France and the UK and in 2017 both Governments agreed to conduct a Concept Phase led by MBDA. The Joint Inquiry found that while good progress had been made, a number of key issues needed to be resolved before the Concept Phase concludes in 2020. At this point Ministers will need to decide whether to proceed with a Design, Development and Production Phase. The Joint Inquiry expressed confidence that the issues “can be resolved amicably and successfully”.
Comment: The FC/ASW programme seeks to replace capabilities hitherto provided by Harpoon and Exocet (anti-ship missiles) and SCALP/Storm Shadow (deep strike missiles). ‘Future Anti-Ship Missile Systems: Joint inquiry with the Assemblée Nationale’s Standing Committee on National Defence and the Armed Forces’ was published as HC1071 and can be viewed via the UK Parliament website (www.parliament.uk) on the Defence Committee page. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/45, 17 Dec 18)
14 Dec 18. British Army Recruiting: NAO Report. The National Audit Office (NAO) published a report covering its investigation into British Army recruiting on 14 Dec 18. The document details how the Army agreed a Recruiting Partnering Project programme with Capita Business Services in 2012, committing £1,360m over 10 years. The Army and Capita have failed to recruit the number of required Regulars and Reservists in any year since the contract began. Investigation into the British Army Recruiting Partnering Project was published as HC1781 and can be viewed via the NAO website (www.nao.org.uk). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 18/45, 17 Dec 18)
15 Dec 18. Germany weighing new government jet after Buenos Aires debacle. It was a vivid illustration of the gap between Germany’s foreign policy ambitions and its real means: Chancellor Angela Merkel arriving late, on a scheduled flight, to a crucial summit of world leaders because the government jet had broken down. Stung by Merkel’s failure to make the beginning of the Buenos Aires G20 summit on Nov 30, Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen announced plans to buy another jet and boost the staffing of the air force VIP transport wing. In an interview with newspaper Bild am Sonntag (BamS), extracts of which were released on Saturday, Von der Leyen said the government would set aside up to 300m euros (269.5m pounds) to add another long-range aircraft to the existing Airbus fleet. (Source: Reuters)
14 Dec 18. Kosovo approves new army despite Serb opposition, NATO criticism. Kosovo’s parliament voted on Friday to create a 5,000-strong standing army, a week after Serbia’s premier suggested the move could provoke military intervention by Belgrade. The move, coming 20 years after Kosovo Albanians’ uprising against Serbian rule and a decade after independence, was lauded as “historic” by the United States but NATO criticised it as unhelpful in efforts to ease tensions between Kosovo and Serbia.
Legislation to transform the lightly armed Kosovo Security Force, which was created mainly for crisis response, civil defence and removal of ordnance from the 1990s conflict, into an army was approved by 105 deputies in the 120-seat assembly.
Eleven minority Serb deputies boycotted the vote. Kosovo’s constitution mandates the creation of a national army but no action was taken for years while Pristina sought, in vain, to obtain the approval of Kosovo Serbs. The move is also strongly opposed by Kosovo Serbs’ patron Serbia, which has refused to recognise the independence of its former province and warned that a national Kosovo army could destabilise the Western Balkans.
“I regret that this decision was made despite the concerns expressed by NATO,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement on Friday.
“The North Atlantic Council will now have to re-examine the level of NATO’s engagement with the Kosovo Security Force,” he said.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was concerned by the move, said U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq.
“The Secretary-General calls on all parties concerned to exercise restraint and refrain from actions that could raise tensions and cause a further setback in the European Union-facilitated dialogue for the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina,” Haq said in a statement.
Though creating an army could take years, Serbian politicians maintain that it could be used to expel remaining Serbs from Kosovo – an accusation denied by Kosovo Albanian leaders who rely on European Union and U.S. support for reforms and development of the small, impoverished Balkan country.
On Dec. 5, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic suggested one possible response by Belgrade could be military intervention.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will be inspecting troops along the Kosovo border over the next three days, his office said on Thursday.
A NATO-led peacekeeping mission to Kosovo still has around 4,000 troops in the landlocked country. Balkans analysts, however, said any action by Serbia’s 28,000-strong army against Kosovo is highly unlikely given Belgrade’s aspirations to join the EU and that Brnabic’s remarks appeared to be a sop to Serbian nationalists.
With the new law in place, Kosovo will set up a defence ministry and the future army is to be comprised of 5,000 active soldiers and 3,000 reservists. Pristina government officials said the process would last at least 10 years.
Kosovo’s independence came almost a decade after a NATO air war halted a two-year counter-insurgency war by Serbian security forces that included arrests, killings and expulsions of ethnic Albanian civilians. (Source: Reuters)
14 Dec 18. Looking around the world was the CDS Christmas lecture at RUSI. The new Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Sir Nicholas Carter, was fortunate that his inaugural address to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) was not overshadowed by other events. As it was, the parliamentary pantomime performance, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed until Wednesday. Perhaps the performance at Westminster was symptomatic of the “uncertain strategic and political context” of which he spoke. His remarks were a timely reminder to policy makers, who seemed to have other things on their minds, that the wider world is changing as we watch. His comments followed similar remarks made by MI6 Chief Alex Younger, speaking on 3rd December. In his speech, CDS spoke of a return to a multipolar world order, with “ambitious states” asserting themselves regionally and globally. This is in addition to the threat of terrorist violence, evidenced by the events in Strasbourg earlier this week, writes Nick Watts.
Complicating this picture is the way in which evolving technology is being adapted for military purposes, either by improving the capability of weapons and sensors, or by adapting IT to exploit vulnerabilities in the Critical National Infrastructure of nations. In this dynamic international environment, it is doubly important that the UK is seen to be a reliable ally and partner. As the government seeks to project Global Britain, this was a timely reminder that the armed forces have been in the global business since the Middle Ages.
CDS recognises that the armed forces must understand and embrace the uncertainty of both the changing world scene and technology. It must also connect with the society it seeks to serve. Recent publicity about mental health and PTSD, has tended to deflect the central message of what the armed forces are for. Similarly, the guerrilla battle against Lawfare is not yet over. Service personnel who face a knock on the door, because of a long ago incident, do not feel upheld by the government they served.
The challenges CDS outlined, are underpinned by the prospect of another Comprehensive Spending Review in 2019. Gavin Williamson the Secretary of State has sought to persuade the Treasury, via the Modernising Defence Programme (MDP), which is expected to report shortly, that MOD spending is not out of control. Some of the big capital projects, such as the Dreadnought programme, create financial pinch points, which only the Prime Minister can resolve. It must be hoped that the PM, newly emerged from her recent travails, feels sufficiently emboldened to put the nation’s defence at the top of her agenda. (Source: Defence Viewpoint)
14 Dec 18. European Boxer programmes take final shape. European Boxer programmes are taking final form, with offers to the UK and Slovenia expected in 2019. Klaas Krause, head of sales Eastern Europe for Rheinmetall, which formed the Artec joint venture with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) to produce the Boxer, said on 12 December that the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is negotiating the procurement of the vehicles via the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR).
According to Krause, the UK is considering four variants: the armoured personnel carrier (APC), C4I command post, ambulance, and repair versions. He gave a timeline of 2018-19 for negotiations and the main gate, 2020-22 for the demonstration phase, and 2023-25 for the delivery of the first vehicles and the declaration of their initial operational capability, with deliveries continuing to 2030.
Krause said the vehicles would use the existing designs, with “limited essential UK modifications” like the Bowman communications system and UK electronic countermeasures. He expressed the intention of negotiations to deliver at least 60% of programme value to the UK, including manufacturing, assembly, systems integration, and testing and verification. Through the programme, the UK “will regain the ability to weld steel and produce armoured vehicles independently”, he said.
Krause identified UK demand of at least 500 vehicles worth EUR2bn (USD2.3bn), with the likelihood of follow-up orders that would increase the total to 800. He expected the contract to be signed during the second half of 2019.
Krause was also confident that a revised offer would be made to Slovenia soon. He expected the use of existing solutions for the Boxer to drive down prices and the similarity between the Slovenian and the Lithuanian versions to reduce recurring costs, such as by having the same Rafael Samson Mk II remote weapon station. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
13 Dec 18. Spanish Government Approves Armament Programs for 7,300m. The Council of Ministers plans to approve [today] three weapons programs for a total cost of 7,331m euros, according to defense sources. This involves the construction of five F-110 frigates between 2019 and 2032 for 4,325 m euros; the acquisition of 348 8×8 vehicles for the Army, to be delivered by 2025, for 2,100m euros; and for the update of the Eurofighter combat aircraft for 906m euros. If these programs are added to those already approved since the arrival of Pedro Sánchez as Prime Minister – additional cost of S-80 submarines (€1,172m), communications satellites (€1,397m), modernization of Chinook helicopters (€819m) and purchase of helicopters NH-90 (€1,381m) – the total cost amounts to 12,100m euros. What will be approved today by the Council of Ministers are the expenditure ceilings for these programs but not the contracts themselves, which should be awarded next year. These projects have a strong impact on employment, especially the F-110 frigates, which will generate almost 7,000 jobs during nine years, 3,300 of them direct, especially in Galicia. The F-110, in whose technology programs Spain has already invested 174m euros, are multi-mission ocean-going escorts that will replace the six frigates of the Santa María class, which have over 30 years of service. One of its main novelties is the incorporation of an integrated mast with sensors and antennas. The launch of the program was pending the decision of the anti-aircraft defense system; between the British Sea Ceptor and the American ESSM Block 2. Last August, Defense settled the dispute in favor of the second, after verifying the very high cost of integrating the European missile into the Aegis combat system and the limitations of access to information and intellectual property. The Navy always opted for the Sea Sparrow (ESSM), in service on several of its ships, but the former Defense team declared the European option “priority” and commissioned a 9.5m-euro viability study from the MDBA company, manufacturer of the Sea Ceptor.
As for the VCR 8×8, known as “Dragon” by the Army, it will be the new wheeled armored vehicle that will replace the old BMR, which had to be removed from Afghanistan or Iraq for their lack of safety. Today, the cabinet will approve only the first phase of a program that, in total, is expected to include 998 vehicles and cost 3,836m euros.The Government has already invested 92mi in the technological programs of the Dragon, awarded to a UTE (Temporary joint venture) integrated by Santa Bárbara Sistemas, Indra and SAPA. The delivery of the five technological demonstrators was scheduled for last November, but has been postponed until July 2019, after the Army requested a sixth prototype to test mobility (engine and transmissions), incorporated a weapon station of national manufacture and decided the destruction of two of the vehicles to evaluate their resistance against mines and explosives. The impact of the program on employment will be especially important in Alcalá de Guadaira (Seville), Trubia (Asturias), Aranjuez (Madrid) and Andoain (Gipuzkoa).
Finally, the update of the Eurofighter aims to prevent Spanish aircraft from being outdated in relation to the other project partners (United Kingdom, Italy and Germany). With this increase, the total cost for Spain of the European fighter aircraft will rise to 10,160m euros. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/El Pais)
13 Dec 18. Airbus wants UK help to build Eurofighter – and attacks German neglect. Airbus bosses want the UK to help build a European fighter jet despite Brexit and said “both sides should continue to cooperate closely”.
The firm’s CEO Tom Enders still wants to develop the German-French fighter jet as a successor to the Eurofighter with the UK even after Brexit. Mr Enders said: “The view that you can not build any more fighter jets with the British after they get out of the EU is complete nonsense. “On the contrary: Especially when the British are leaving the EU, both sides should continue to cooperate closely, at least in foreign and security policy and also in military projects.”
Mr Enders criticised the German arms policy under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
He said: “It’s about finally equipping our forces, after many years of neglect. “The result of the Merkel years have unfortunately been very negative for the Bundeswehr.”
The CEO has said Europe risks losing one of its two military powers as Brexit has forced the UK to quit the defence programme, Galileo.
The project began in 1999 when the EU set out to develop a 30-satellite network to ensure member states were not reliant on US, Russian and Chinese systems.
The aerospace giant has carried out extensive work on Galileo since its inception and has been forced to relocate 80 jobs to sites on the continent so it could finish its work on the £8.9bn programme
Mr Enders said the move will deal “a serious blow to the EU’s common security and defence ambition”.
He tweeted: “Don’t those talking about a ‘European army’ know that the UK is one of only two serious military powers in Europe?”
Theresa May has announced a multi-m pound project to design and develop the UK’s own satellite navigation system. (Source: News Now/www.express.co.uk)
12 Dec 18. Austria delays decision on whether to scrap Eurofighter jets. Austria will not decide whether to scrap its fleet of Eurofighter jets until a parliamentary inquiry into their purchase wraps up and there is clarity over a judicial dispute related to the deal, the country’s leader said on Wednesday. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s comments suggest it will be months or longer before the government reaches a decision that it had said it would announce this year. Newspaper Die Presse reported last week the coalition government was split over whether to get rid of the jets, with Kurz’s conservatives favouring keeping them and the far-right Freedom Party, which controls the Defence Ministry, taking the opposite view. The dispute is delaying a decision, it added.
“It is important to reach a decision when you are able to,” Kurz told a news conference after a weekly cabinet meeting, when asked about a possible delay.
Austria is locked in a legal battle with planemaker Airbus and the Eurofighter consortium, which also includes BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo.
Vienna accuses them of fraud and wilful deception in connection with its $2bn Eurofighter order in 2003. They deny Austria’s allegations.
“We need clarity on whether anyone has done anything wrong, on whether partners currently being worked with have done anything wrong and when there is clarity on this then we will be able to reach further decisions,” Kurz said, referring to the legal dispute and an ongoing parliamentary inquiry. (Source: Reuters)
10 Dec 18. Veterans are experiencing loneliness and social isolation. Veterans are experiencing loneliness and social isolation according to a large study published today in the Journal Occupational Medicine. The researchers analysed 17 peer reviewed research papers and found that loneliness is commonly experienced by veterans, with one particular study finding that almost half of its 2025 respondents were reporting it. Loneliness and social isolation are linked to poor physical health. People experiencing loneliness are at an increased risk of high blood pressure, cognitive decline, depression and even death. The study found that older veterans, veterans with functional limitations and those who had experienced traumatic events were the most at risk. With almost all ex-service personnel experiencing some difficulty in making the transition back into civilian life following their military service.
Loneliness was also found to be contributing to the development of depression. Veterans who had required inpatient treatment for a mental health condition were five times more likely to be readmitted to hospital if they were at a high risk of social isolation.
Loneliness and social isolation were linked to suicide attempts, with loneliness being the most common trigger for veterans reaching crisis point and turning to a crisis hotline.
Loneliness occurs when a person feels they are isolated and where there is a difference between the social relationships they have compared to the social relationships they want. Social isolation is an impartial judgement that somebody’s social relations and social networks are lacking. The study authors feel that there needs to be more emphasis on researching social isolation and loneliness in the veteran population.
There are campaigns to tackle loneliness but most focus on the general older population. The researchers are hoping that this research will highlight the issue of loneliness and that it will help to design interventions to tackle the problem.
Study author Dr Gemma Wilson, Research Fellow at Northumbria University said: “Loneliness and social isolation are important for our physical and mental health. Social isolation is not solely about social well-being, we must also consider physical and psychological aspects when aiming to address this issue.
“This research has indicated that veterans can experience loneliness and social isolation differently to the general population based on their experiences during military services.
“There are some community support programmes which acknowledge the need to address social isolation and loneliness in veterans, such as the Royal British Legion’s Branch Community Support programme. Moving forward there should be an emphasis on examining the needs of veterans in order to tackle loneliness and social isolation in this community.”
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