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01 Feb 19. NATO allies ‘fully support’ U.S. action on INF treaty. NATO allies “fully support” the United States’ pending withdrawal notice from the INF nuclear missile pact over Russia’s actions, a statement by the alliance said.
“The United States is taking this action in response to the significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security posed by Russia’s covert testing, production, and fielding of 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile systems,” it said.
“Allies fully support this action.”
Washington will soon announce plans to suspend compliance with a landmark treaty with Russia, responding to alleged violations by Moscow, U.S. officials said on Thursday. (Source: Reuters)
01 Feb 19. Industry bids are in for Finland’s $13bn fighter race. Finland’s HX-FP multirole fighter replacement program has advanced to the next stage as five aircraft manufacturers have tendered their proposals to the Finnish Defence Forces’ (FDF) Logistics Command office. The proposals include preliminary quotations on cost.
The air force plans to retire its fleet of F/A-18 C/D Hornet jets between 2025 and 2029. The HX-FP carries an estimated price tag of €11.4bn, a cost that includes life cycle service and maintenance overheads on a fleet of 64 multirole aircraft.
The government received proposals from four countries, including the United States, Sweden, France and Britain.
The aircraft types covered in the proposals are Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s F-35, France’s Dassault Rafale, the British-made Eurofighter and the Swedish Saab Gripen. The Saab proposal includes both the single-seat Gripen E and the dual-seat Gripen F versions.
Request for Quotation (RFQ) documents were dispatched by the Logistics Command to the governments of France, the United States, Britain and Sweden in April 2018. The petitions were then forwarded to the five participating manufacturers. The deadline for acceptance of responses was Jan. 31, 2019.
The proposals received by the Logistics Command include information pertaining to technical systems requirements for operating a fleet of 64 aircraft, as well as support documentation dealing with training systems, essential maintenance tools, testing equipment, spare parts, weapons systems and sensors.
The next stage in the HX-FP program will be an analysis of the various proposals. This is expected to be completed during the first half of 2019. At that point, the procurement program will enter the first phase of a negotiations process during which a more forensic examination of the quotations tendered will be conducted in consultation with the five bidding manufacturers.
The Logistics Command will forward a more detailed RFQ to manufacturers during the second half of 2019. This will precede the second phase of negotiations. Participating manufacturers will be required to submit final tender documents to the government during the second stage process which is slated to end in 2020. The Finnish government plans to bring its final decision to the national parliament for approval in 2021.
The proposal presented by Saab sets out the basis for a broad, long-term industrial cooperation between Finland and Sweden framed around any deal. The proposal covers the production of military aircraft in Finland. It also includes the transfer of maintenance, repair and overhaul capabilities to local industry in Finland. Moreover, Saab is proposing to establish a Gripen sustainment and development center in Finland. (Source: Defense News)
31 Jan 19. Germany drops F-35 from fighter tender; Boeing F/A-18 and Eurofighter to battle on. Germany will pick either the Eurofighter or Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter jet to replace its Tornado warplanes, knocking Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter out of a tender worth billions of euros, Defence Ministry sources said on Thursday. The ministry will make a final decision after receiving detailed information from Boeing and Airbus about the aircraft, which must be able to carry U.S. nuclear weapons to fulfill Germany’s obligations to NATO, the sources said.
No timetable for a decision was given, but the process could take time since the U.S. government will have to certify both jets to carry the nuclear weapons. Germany has 85 operational Tornado jets, but not all are equipped to carry nuclear weapons.
The German air force will also move ahead with long-awaited plans to replace its 33 oldest Eurofighter jets, now used mainly for air policing or training, with new, more capable Eurofighters in coming years, the sources said.
That will translate into orders worth up to 3bn euros ($3.4bn) for Airbus, according to sources familiar with the issue.
In marketing the F/A-18, Boeing had underscored its high readiness rates, relatively low cost and strong electronic attack capabilities, arguments that resonated in military circles.
The decision marks a big setback for Lockheed, the top U.S. arms maker, which had hoped to add to recent F-35 sales to other European countries, including Belgium.
Germany’s air force chief of staff was fired last year after he expressed a clear preference for the F-35. The ministry later said it favored a “European solution”.
Airbus welcomed the news about the Eurofighter replacement purchases, and said it remained convinced that its jet offered the lowest-risk prospect for replacing the Tornado jets.
Lockheed said it had not been officially notified of a German decision. It said the F-35 offered the most capability, lowest life-cycle cost of any fighter on the market, and long-term industrial and economic opportunities.
Boeing declined to comment, as did the U.S. embassy in Berlin.
Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, had argued against rushing into any decision to buy U.S. aircraft and demanded closer study.
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a conservative, had promised a decision on the procurement plans by the end of 2018, but her ministry became mired in scandals over the use of outside consultants and other issues. Military officials argue that the Tornadoes, which entered service in 1983, need urgent replacement due to rising maintenance costs. Sources familiar with the matter say it could cost around 8bn euros to keep the planes flying past 2030.
Sources familiar with the process last year had said the ministry wanted to split the order between one of the two U.S. planes and the Eurofighter, which is built by Airbus, Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo SpA. But it now appears Berlin will pick just one winner.
Paris, Germany’s closest European partner, had warned that buying the F-35 in particular could derail plans to develop a new Franco-German fighter by 2040. (Source: Reuters)
31 Jan 19. MoD urged to ‘scale back’ defence spending to plug £15bn shortfall. Damning report by MPs says there has been ‘little progress’ in tackling overspending on equipment. The Ministry of Defence must urgently “stop, delay and scale back” some parts of its spending plans to help plug an affordability gap of up to £15bn in the department’s equipment budget over the next 10 years, a damning report by MPs has concluded. Despite the ministry pledging to tackle the funding shortfall last year, the Commons public accounts select committee found the department had made “little progress”, adding that an upcoming Whitehall spending review was likely to lead to further delay and uncertainty. “In terms of poor financial planning, the Ministry of Defence is a repeat offender,” said Meg Hillier, who chairs the committee. “The department’s progress with addressing the concerns set out in our last report . . . has been woeful.” The defence ministry estimates the funding gap on its £193bn equipment programme over the next decade to be at least £7bn but concedes it could rise to £14.8bn. The public accounts committee said even that calculation looked to be “unlikely and overly optimistic”. Gavin Williamson, UK defence secretary, won an extra £1bn for his ministry in last autumn’s Budget, helping to ease the short term financial pressures on the department, which has committed to new equipment including fighter jets, submarines and warships. But Mr Williamson will need to squeeze even more money out of chancellor Philip Hammond in the comprehensive spending review this year, with some MPs and analysts arguing the defence ministry needs to increase spending from 2 per cent to at least 2.5 per cent of UK gross domestic product.
The current equipment programme accounts for 40 per cent of the ministry’s annual £37bn budget. A long awaited defence review published before Christmas was seen by analysts and opposition MPs as a damp squib: it contained no plans for how the UK would close the funding gap on equipment spending. According to the public accounts committee’s report, officials told MPs that without a “fundamentally different financial settlement” the defence ministry would have to “de-scope, defer or delete projects”. The officials added their preference would be to cancel projects, but provided no specific examples of which capabilities or upcoming plans they would be prepared to axe. Initial plans to cut the defence ministry’s costs by scrapping two amphibious landing ships were abandoned after strong criticism from former military chiefs and MPs.
Recommended UK defence spending MoD faces £15bn budget shortfall, warns UK spending watchdog One official close to Mr Williamson said: “If we had not succeeded in winning extra money from the Treasury we would be in a much worse place now. We hope in the very near future to make our modernising defence plan clear.” Meanwhile, a letter to defence ministry staff by its most senior civil servant, Stephen Lovegrove, has revealed how the department is now treating no-deal Brexit planning as its “highest priority”. The letter, sent last month and first reported by Sky News, follows a previous announcement that 3,500 troops had been put on standby to help Whitehall departments with contingency planning in the event the UK crashes out of the EU without an agreement next month. The defence ministry said: “We are working across government to ensure our people, the defence estate, and our national and international commitments would be unaffected by a no-deal Brexit.” (Source: FT.com)
31 Jan 19. Defence Minister opens first military airbase to be powered by green energy. RAF Marham, the home of the UK’s F-35 multi role combat jets, is set to become the first military airbase to be powered by green electricity. Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood made the announcement today during a visit to a Norfolk biogas plant, where he officially opened the new site that will provide energy to the airbase. Electricity will be fuelled by fermented locally grown crops, providing 95% of RAF Marham’s energy needs and saving the MOD nearly £300,000 every year. The facility, built by Future Biogas, will generate 4.5 MVA of electricity every day, which can power 350,000 LED bulbs. This project has been delivered by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) with government and private sector colleagues.
Minister for Defence People & Veterans Tobias Ellwood MP said: “RAF Marham is leading the way as Britain’s first green military airbase. The biogas fuel is a truly green and sustainable solution, helping us tackle climate change, support the local economy and save taxpayer money.
I hope that this plant can act as a model and we can see more sustainable energy schemes rolled out across other military bases.”
The process, known as Anaerobic Digestion, produces gas which is collected and used to power multiple generators that produce electricity and will reduce the Ministry of Defence’s carbon emissions by 14,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. The waste residue from this process can then be dried and used as fertiliser to help grow local crops.
The plans have been in development since February 2015 and DIO, the part of the MOD which manages the Defence Estate, has been hard at work with colleagues in Crown Commercial Service (CCS), Future Biogas and energy company EDF to develop an electricity supply that is green and sustainable as well as providing financial savings.
Sam Ulyatt, Crown Commercial Services, Buildings Strategic Commercial Director, said: “This is an excellent example of how CCS can work with forward-thinking public sector partners like DIO, and suppliers like EDF and Future Biogas, to source power supply solutions for the Royal Air Force which provide resilience and strong green credentials, while boosting the local economy and providing energy security for the UK.”
Philipp Lukas, Future Biogas Managing Director, said: It’s fantastic to see the UK military join the green revolution. If we are to combat the imminent global threat of climate change, everyone, from all walks of life, needs to transition to renewable, sustainable energy as quickly as possible.”
The AD plant in Swaffham now powers a significant local institution. In doing so, it not only helps secure the energy supply of a strategic national asset, but also takes the pressure off the local electrical infrastructure, which has been really struggling to keep up with growing regional demand.
A feasibility assessment was undertaken by DIO to determine what benefits could be derived from this supply of clean energy. As well as saving money and reducing carbon emissions, it was determined that the new plant would increase power resiliency at RAF Marham by providing multiple pathways to electrical resources.
The project was sourced through frameworks put in place by the Crown Commercial Service, which helps the entire public sector to save time and money when buying common goods and services. CCS continues to work with the RAF on demand management and renewable energy. (Source: U.K. MoD)
30 Jan 19. Denmark ups defense budget. In a move outside of its normal budgeting cycle directly aimed at the question of burden-sharing with allies, Denmark has agreed to increase its long-term defense spending. A coalition of parties in the Danish parliament have agreed to tack on 1.5bn kroner (U.S. $229.7m) to the agreed-upon defense budget for 2023, which would put defense spending at 1.5 percent of gross domestic product for that year.
“It is on a good and well thought through basis that the parties to the defense agreement have now decided to further strengthen Danish defense, so that we will spend 1.5% of GDP in 2023,” Danish Defence Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said in a statement. “Danish status and reputation in NATO is of common concern and I would like to thank all parties for shouldering the responsibility.”
The amendment comes less than one year after a coalition of parties agreed to a five-year defense spending agreement that planned for a 20 percent growth in military spending, from $3.8bn in 2018 to $4.6bn in 2023. It also comes just months before elections are set for Denmark, essentially removing the question of increased defense spending from the campaign. Just where that money will go is undecided at the moment. Denmark was already focused on standing up a light infantry battalion for national and international use; increasing anti-aircraft capabilities; buying the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; and the creation of a special cyberwarfare unit. It is possible those capabilities could receive a funding boost.
One thing is clear: The move is directly the result of a desire to support NATO amid calls from the Trump administration over fairer burden-sharing. In a statement, the political coalition notes “the Alliance has in the recent year taken important steps to further strengthen NATO’s readiness and deterrence posture. The situation increases requirements to the Alliance and has reinforced the debate on fair burden sharing and Allies ability and will to defend themselves and each other. In light of this development Allies have taken new decisions to allocate additional resources to the armed forces towards 2024.”
In addition to the spending increase, Denmark is changing how it reports its spending to NATO in order to “make sure the Danish defence efforts are duly reflected in the reporting to NATO.” Those changes will up Denmark’s reported NATO support to 3bn kroner annually from 2023 onward.
Whether the increase will be enough to placate U.S. President Donald Trump remains to be seen. Trump has consistently called for European allies to spend more on defense, with a focus on hitting the target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense, set at the 2014 Wales Summit. (Source: Defense News)
29 Jan 19. German military requires urgent action – parliamentary report. Less than half Germany’s Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets and none of its six submarines were ready for combat in 2018, a report said on Tuesday, expressing frustration about gaps in urgently needed equipment and personnel. Germany is the second largest provider of troops in NATO, but the United States and other NATO members have been pressing it to increase its military spending for the alliance. The annual assessment by the parliamentary ombudsman for the armed forces painted a grim picture of problems facing the German military five years after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region galvanised NATO members to beef up their military readiness.
“Immediate action is needed. It is absolutely critical that procurement be accelerated,” said the ombudsman, Hans-Peter Bartels. “Soldiers need this equipment now to do their jobs.”
For instance, he said, the military had to scrounge for enough night vision goggles, body armour and other equipment to be able to lead NATO’s rapid response troop in 2019, just as it had in 2015.
“We have a need for 48,000 night vision goggles, but they’re only buying 4,000 a year. It will take way too long to get them all,” Bartels told reporters, adding that many soldiers saw the military as “a bureaucratic monster”.
A defiant Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said steps were under way to retool the German military after 25 years of decline following the end of the Cold War.
“This is a battle on many, many fronts that requires patience,” she said.
But General Eberhard Zorn, chief of staff of the Bundeswehr, told the RND German newspaper chain it was time to embrace quicker “80-percent solutions” instead of gold-plated programmes that took 15 years to deliver.
A new NATO target to have 30 land battalions, 30 air fighter squadrons and 30 ships ready to deploy within 30 days of being put on alert added urgency to the situation.
Personnel shortages persisted, the report said, noting that 21,500 jobs remained unfilled, while the number of new people entering the armed forces fell by 3,000 to 20,000, a record low.
“It’s very, very grim,” said Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, a top lawmaker with the pro-business Free Democrats.
Bartels urged adoption of leaner management techniques that fostered more accountability, and said a decision to make the overburdened procurement agency responsible for maintenance of all weapons should be reversed.
A more than 10-fold increase in the cost of repairing the German navy’s “Gorch Fock” tall sailing ship which has generated headlines was an example of the military’s “wasteful use of resources and time”, he said. (Source: Reuters)
28 Jan 19. Brexit: Defence staff could be redeployed in no-deal scenario. Up to 1,000 defence workers could be redeployed to help the UK government cope with a no-deal Brexit, according to a memo seen by the BBC. The message, sent to staff in the Defence Equipment and Support agency, appeals for volunteers. The note said it was “uncertain” what work would be required if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement.
But it said redeployment in these circumstances would offer a “real development opportunity”.
The SNP said Brexit was causing “chaos and uncertainty”, but the government said the civil service had the “flexibility to deliver”.
Defence Equipment and Support is the agency within the Ministry of Defence that supplies the Army, Royal Navy and RAF with everything from food to fighter jets. It employs almost 12,000 civil servants and military personnel at 150 bases across the UK and abroad. The memo, issued by senior manager Neville Parton, said up to 1,000 staff might be needed for redeployment. He said the agency had been asked to identify volunteers “across all levels and role profiles” as part of contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Parton said defence workers could be needed to support other government departments and local government.
“This provides a real development opportunity to take on a fresh challenge – developing new skills and experience,” he wrote.
“It’s currently uncertain what type of support might be required, for how long and where people might be required”.
The memo suggested any redeployment should not last for not more than six months.
The deadline for applications was 25 January – nine weeks before the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU on 29 March.
The SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman, Stephen Gethins, said “the chaos and uncertainty is all-consuming”.
He added: “The government wants to divert 1,000 officials away from vital work supporting our armed forces, without the slightest clue what they’re going to be doing.
“The UK government’s contingency planning for a no deal is the very definition of too little, too late”.
‘Departments share staff’
The redeployment request appears to be part of wider government efforts to prepare for Brexit and a possible no-deal scenario.
There have already been reports of staff from the departments for education and international development shifting to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to help with farming and fisheries.
There will be much work to do in these areas when the UK pulls out of the EU’s common fisheries and agriculture policies.
A government spokesperson said: “The civil service has the flexibility to deliver government priorities and deploy resource appropriately to do this.
“This includes departments sharing staff and working together on joint projects”. (Source: Adrian Graves/BBC)
28 Jan 19. Report puts cold water on Polish ‘Fort Trump’ idea. A new report warns Poland against the temptation of relying on a “Fort Trump” to guard against the threat of Russian aggression. The recommendation by Friends of Europe, a leading think tank here, comes after the Polish government has lobbied Washington to permanently station American troops at a base in the NATO country, to be named after the American president. Warsaw’s aspirations were met with skepticism in Europe and by some U.S. defense experts, who fear that such a move could been seen as questioning the alliance’s commitment to collective defense.
The think tank’s report contends that Poland is led by a “reclusive politician haunted by feelings of national insecurity and historical grievance.” According to the study, the chairman of the ruling party Law and Justice, Jarosław Kaczyński, sees enemies and threats everywhere and safety, if at all, only in the “tightest possible” bilateral defence relationship with the United States rather than in the “collective embrace” of European partners and NATO allies.
The analysis follows what many in Europe view as a reversal in Poland from post-Cold War liberalism to a heavy-handed government exhibiting non-democratic traits. Last month, the Washington Post published an exhaustive report from Eastern and Central Europe that included Poland in a line-up of “new autocrats” digging in across the continent.
Friends of Europe study author Paul Taylor told Defense News: “It’s time to get real. The United States is not pulling any of its troops out of foreign entanglements in Afghanistan or Syria so that it can put them in a big, fat ‘Fort Trump’ in eastern Poland.”
He added, “At the very latest when President Donald Trump tweeted, ‘It’s time to bring our boys home,’ the light bulb should have gone on in Warsaw.
“America is disengaging from overseas commitments and focusing on growing rivalry with China. The U.S. Army doesn’t have a spare combat brigade, let alone an armored division, to tie down in central Europe waiting for the Russians to come.”
He went on, “For a Polish government to bet the store on securing a permanent U.S. Army base to guard against Russian aggression is sure to lead to disappointment. All the more so if the quest is coupled with confrontation with the European Union over the rule of law, souring relations with the main Western European powers, Germany and France, a weakening of the armed forces and security services through repeated purges, and ‘memory politics’ that upsets neighbors and allies.”
The Polish request for U.S. troops comes at a time when the country has never been more prosperous, stable and safer, both as a sovereign state as well as a member of NATO and of the European Union, the report notes. It is at peace with its neighbours and enjoys enviable rates of economic growth, investment and employment, it says.
“There are other ways to strengthen NATO’s eastern defences,” argued Taylor. “Use European Union funds to expand dual-use road, rail, energy and airport infrastructure to facilitate military mobility.”
He also suggests giving NATO’s supreme commander pre-delegated authority to set in motion crisis-response measures.
“Both the EU and NATO are investing in improved cyber defences and better early warning of hybrid threats and disinformation. Poland lags in these areas. In that sense, a joint U.S.-European ‘Fort Trump’-initiative could be more attractive to the United States,” said Taylor. (Source: Defense News)
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