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22 Feb 19. Congress’ foreign policy flex in Europe. For European allies worried about President Donald Trump’s America First rhetoric, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and visiting lawmakers came to Europe to point out that Congress is a co-equal branch of government. On Tuesday, Pelosi and a group of House Democrats spoke in Brussels after the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, where she met with members of the Belgian government and officials from the European Union.
“We’re not a parliamentary government even though we’re parliamentarians,” Pelosi said at a news conference. “We have Article 1, the legislative branch, the first branch of government, co-equal to the other branches and we have asserted ourselves in that way.”
Her comments came as the largest congressional delegations yet visited the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and, days earlier, the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering world leaders. At both events, lawmakers held multiple meetings with leaders from foreign governments, the NATO alliance and the European Union.
At Munich, Ohio Republican Rep. Mike Turner, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, said, “Congress does much more than be a commentary on the foreign policy of the administration. It’s evidenced by the fact that there are 55 of us here.
“We’re not just making a statement, but in and out of these bilateral [meetings], I assure you that a bunch of work is getting done. We legislate and appropriate in areas not only in our portfolio but in ways that effect a lot of the countries here. Congress is fully engaged,” Turner said.
Assessments of transatlantic tensions at Munich ranged from “powerful subtext” to an “open and angry.” While German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s defense of the Western alliance was met with a standing ovation, Vice President Mike Pence’s campaign rally-style exhortations that allies abandon the Iran nuclear deal and meet their defense spending commitments both fell flat.
Perhaps in a nod to the 2020 presidential election and a possible change, the lineup featured former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential candidate. He pledged support to NATO and the EU, arguing it was in America’s interest to lead internationally. “We will be back,” he said to his own standing ovation.
The Democratic Party’s new majority in the House has shifted the balance of power such that Democrats credibly defied Trump for six weeks over border security funding—and were able to present an alternative voice in Europe.
In Brussels, Pelosi pointed the House’s passage of a resolution in January meant to bar Trump from withdrawing the U.S. from NATO as a product of Democratic leadership (even though the House also reaffirmed U.S. support of NATO under Pelosi’s Republican predecessor, Paul Ryan, in 2018).
“I don’t think that there’s any difference between Democrats and Republicans on our relationship with NATO. This is not partisan in any way,” Pelosi told reporters.
Republicans touring Europe also asserted themselves—to warn the Trump administration off any plans for rapid withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan. Breitbart and The Washington Post reported that acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan got an earful in a private meeting with more than a dozen lawmakers, particularly from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Graham told reporters he let Shanhan know the administration’s plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria by the end of April, “the dumbest f—ing idea I’ve ever heard.”
“Well, if the policy is going to be that we are leaving by April 30, I am now your adversary, not your friend,” Graham said he told Shanahan.
Graham reportedly launched into a list of consequences he feared would result from a precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Syria without a follow-up plan: The Islamic State would return, Turkey would attack Kurdish forces, Iran would gain the advantage.
By Thursday, the administration reportedly said it would leave 200 troops in Syria as an international stabilizing force, which Graham lauded and appeared to claim as a victory. At Munich, he had pitched a similar idea along with a “safe zone” to guard against a conflict between Turkey and Kurdish forces. (Source: Defense News)
23 Feb 19. Turkish aerospace giant to develop new heavy attack helicopter. The Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) and Turkey’s aerospace giant, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), signed a deal for the Heavy Class Attack Helicopter Project on Friday.
According to Daily Sabah, at SSB headquarters, the signing ceremony was attended by SSB Chairman İsmail Demir and representatives of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), TAI and the defense industry. The deal was signed by İsmail Demir, TAI General Manager Temel Kotil and TAI Chairman Oğuz Borat.
The Heavy Class Attack Helicopter Project, known as ATAK 2, has been launched to meet TSK’s requirements in this field.
The project aims to design and produce an effective and advanced attack helicopter with high maneuverability and performance that is capable of carrying a large useful load, resistant to challenging environmental factors and equipped with state-of-the-art technology target tracking and imaging, electronic warfare, navigation, communications and weapon systems.
The project also aims to maximize the use of domestic systems to ensure supply security and export freedom.
The Heavy Class Attack Helicopter Project is expected to play an important role in reducing external dependency in the defense sector, implementing domestic, national and innovative solutions with the fund of knowledge gained in current domestic projects and increasing the effectiveness of the TSK.
Conceived as a combination of T129 ATAK and T625, a new helicopter will use the sub-systems such as transmission, rotor systems and landing gears developed under the T625 Utility Helicopter Project as well as the technological know-how, operational experience and achievements gained through the T129 ATAK Helicopter Project.
ATAK 2, will be a combat helicopter that can successfully perform its missions in harsh geographical and environmental conditions, which will have increased payload capacity and modern avionic systems alongside with high performance and low maintenance cost.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Demir noted that the heavy class attack helicopter will add strength to the TSK and they expect the helicopter to be ready for flight in the prescribed time, like the Gökbey.
“Different versions and advanced models of our helicopters should not lag behind new technologies,” Demir said.
Turkey plans to test-run the next generation of its domestically-produced combat ATAK helicopter in 2024. (Source: Google/https://defence-blog.com/news)
22 Feb 19. SFO ends investigations into Rolls-Royce and GSK. Two of the anti-fraud agency’s biggest and longest-running cases are brought to a close. The UK Serious Fraud Office has closed its investigations into Rolls-Royce and GlaxoSmithKline, underlining the agency’s challenge to prosecute individuals whose companies have been linked to criminal activity. The decision to drop the cases — two of the SFO’s longest-running probes into allegations of bribery and corruption at both corporate and individual level — is a sign that Lisa Osofsky, who became the agency’s director last August, is cleaning house of cases she inherited. Announcing the move on Friday, the SFO also said, without giving details, that since Ms Osofsky replaced David Green QC “a few other cases have been closed which were not in the public domain”. Friday’s decisions sparked surprise among several white-collar crime lawyers and anti-corruption campaigners, especially in light of the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) reached with Rolls-Royce in January 2017, under which the company admitted to illegal activity stretching over more than two decades. DPAs are a form of corporate plea bargain, reached when a business that has uncovered bribery, fraud or other forms of financial crime among its employees “self-reports” to the SFO and agrees to certain measures, including a fine, but avoids being prosecuted.
“It is absurd that yet again a company can admit to bribery and yet neither the bribe payers nor the management team that allowed the crime to happen are held responsible,” said Robert Barrington, executive director of Transparency International, a non-governmental organisation that investigates corruption. Jeremy Summers, head of business crime at the law firm Osborne Clarke, said: “Given the alleged criminality set out in the deferred prosecution agreement, this might be thought of as an extraordinary decision and significant questions will have to be asked about the DPA system.” The difficulty in prosecuting individuals for alleged business crime was starkly illustrated last month when the trial of three former Tesco executives collapsed and the trio were cleared of wrongdoing. Tesco reached a DPA in April 2017 after revealing a £250m accounting scandal, but when it came to the charges facing the former senior executives, a judge ruled the prosecution was “so weak” there was no case to answer. The probe into bribery and corruption involving Rolls-Royce was opened in late 2013. Under the terms of its DPA, the jet engine manufacturer paid a fine of almost £500m to the Treasury, plus additional penalties to authorities in the US and Brazil. The charges, which the FTSE 100 company admitted as part of the DPA, included falsifying accounts to hide the illegal use of local middlemen, attempting to thwart investigations into corruption, and paying tens of millions of pounds in bribes to win engine and other deals in Indonesia, Thailand, China and Russia. The list of illegal activity ran from 1989 to 2013. But the anti-fraud agency said on Friday that “following further investigation, a detailed review of the available evidence and an assessment of the public interest, there will be no prosecution of individuals associated with the company”.
The agency opened a formal criminal investigation into commercial practices at GSK, its subsidiaries and “associated persons” in 2014. That came shortly after the Chinese authorities had accused the FTSE 100 pharmaceutical company of earning billions of renminbi (hundreds of millions of pounds) in “illegal revenues” by bribing hospitals and officials to buy its medicines. Rolls-Royce said it “notes the announcement” but would not comment further. GSK said it was “pleased that the SFO has closed their investigation and concluded that no further action is required”. John Rose, who was Rolls-Royce’s chief executive from 1996-2011 and who was one of dozens of former executives questioned under caution by the SFO, declined to comment. A lawyer for Sudhir Choudhrie, the India-born tycoon and Liberal Democrat donor, who along with his son Bhanu was arrested and released without charge in 2014 as part of the Rolls-Royce investigation, said both men were “delighted”. He added: “They have always said there was no basis for them to be investigated. This was absolutely the right decision. They look forward to getting on with their lives.” (Source: FT.com)
20 Feb 19. Will Germany, Not Ready & Slow To Invest, Keep EU Leadership, Deter Putin. The Cold War has not returned, but the Russians have. The challenge for the Trump Administration is less about whether the US cares about European defense; it is much more about a strategic shift of American attention to dealing with the Chinese and North Korean threats.
The Cold War has not returned, but the Russians have. European disaggregation is clearly underway and Vladimir Putin is clearly working to leverage the growing fissures.
The challenge for the Trump Administration is less about whether the US cares about European defense; it is much more about a strategic shift of American attention to dealing with the more direct threat to the United States posed in the Pacific by North Korea and China.
NATO underwent a significant change from a core focus on collective or direct defense to crisis management against non-peer competitors and to building forces for the land wars in the Middle East. Three US Administrations certainly drove NATO in this direction looking for allies to engage in the Middle East and to sort through ways to have new crisis management burden sharing arrangements.
The only problem is that we collectively altered NATO and European forces in a direction, which is of less relevance to the challenges facing the Europe.
As Judy Dempsey put it with regard to the recent Munich Security Conference: “This obsession with the ‘old’ West during this year’s Munich Security Conference will delay any strategic realignment of its priorities as Russia and China, but also Japan and India, move on to define their interests. The West reacts, as the rest of the world changes.”
Nowhere is this truer than with regard to Germany, which has an underfunded military with very low readiness. Their current situation leaves a yawning military gap in the heart of Europe.
In a recent trip to Germany, I spoke with recently retired senior Bundeswehr officers and officials about the state of the German military and their concerns about how Germany was going to play an effective role for NATO’s conventional deterrence to be credible against Putin’s Russia. They focused on how Germany could enable an effective direct defense role in the years ahead, but they were worried that the effort was too little and too late for them to help offer a credible conventional and nuclear defense within Europe.
Their broad point was that until 1996 the Germans had a solid force capable of providing for territorial defense, one able to provide crucial logistical support for NATO forces to operate from Germany. That is no longer the case. Germany’s military infrastructure – including communication systems — have been dismantled and not replaced, leaving them incapable of building the infrastructure for direct defense against an adversary who has prioritized significant strike systems against NATO Europe.
A good example of the persistence of past and outdated thinking is that the central Eurofighter support center in Germany is built above ground because building reinforced bunkers is too expensive. There is no active defense; there is no bunkering of parts or anything remotely connected to the needs of the return of direct defense.
Obviously, the Germans are not alone in this mindset and there is the broader question of how Europe will rebuild this infrastructure. Railway gauges between the former East and West Germanys do not match. And railway bridges can’t support the weight of military cargos such as tanks and artillery without crushing them.
As one retired Bundeswehr general put it: “NATO has the longest border in its history, but where are the forces which can move rapidly to the threat of a Russian leader who clearly hopes to pressure Europe at points of his choosing?”
It was very clear from discussions during my visits to Finland, Norway and Denmark over the past three years that the return of direct defense is not really about a return to the Cold War and the Soviet-Western conflict. Direct defense has changed as the tools available to the Russians have changed, notably with an ability to leverage cyber tools to leverage Western digital society to be able to achieve military and political objectives with means other than direct use of lethal force.
This is why the West needs to shape new approaches and evolve thinking about crisis management in the digital age. It means that NATO countries need to work as hard at infrastructure defense in the digital age as they have been countering terrorism since September 11th.
Put in other terms, robustness in infrastructure can provide a key element of defense in dealing with 21st century adversaries, one as important as the creation of classic lethal capabilities. Germany has agreed to provide the core logistics hub for NATO at the German city of Ulm. Will this be a logistics hub based on the Fed Ex principles of the last 25 years? Or will it be one designed with the Russian strike force as the central threat?
The German government has pledged to increase its defense spending and shape new capabilities by 2031. Yet the German economy at the start of 2019 faces serious signs of slowdown. As Harald Malmgren wrote recently:
The primary engine of the German economy has long been its industrial exports, accounting for almost half of Germany’s GDP. World trade has now slowed to a crawl and looks likely to remain slower than at any time since World War II. China, Germany’s primary growth market, no longer wants industrial machinery from Germany now that China is producing the same types of industrial goods it used to import from Germany. In the years ahead, China will try to wrest away much of the German export markets by offering Chinese alternatives. Germany’s economy may continue growing in the coming decade, but at a far slower pace than experienced in the decades since the 1950s.
Will German political leadership give priority to military security when the economy is weakened? And will Germany turn inward and abandon its leadership role in management of the European Union and the European Monetary System, embodied in its Euro currency.
Will Germany’s political center of gravity drift towards greater nationalism, with diminishing interest in the security of its European neighbors?
Germany’s financial commitment to defense will likely be challenged by these shifting domestic political priorities. Plus 2031 is a long way off. And Russia is not sitting still. As a German colleague put it: “Unless we have an agreement with Putin to sit on his hands until the 2030s, what exactly are we going to do in the meantime to act against the Russians.”
In my discussions in Germany, several questions were raised which highlighted some of Germany’s challenges.
As one senior procurement official put it: “We don’t really know what to buy because we don’t know what our interests are.”
Another senior retired Bundeswehr general put it bluntly: “Most of our politicians have not really grasped that German defense lies in the Baltics and in what we used to call Eastern Europe. What can we bring credibly to the fight now, and in the near future?”
Senior Luftwaffe generals have clearly indicated that the state of the air force is nowhere near where it needs to be. Two examples suggest the problem.
One illustration is that after training to fly the Eurofighter, it takes at least two years before the pilot has a combat aircraft to fly.
A second is the nature of the logistics system itself. When the Germans take a Eurofighter in for deep maintenance its Air Force must wait 300 days for it to come back from industry to fly again.
A Future Combat Air System developed jointly with France will not be able to deliver a new combat aircraft until the decade beginning in 2040. Air force modernization requires formulation of defense capabilities for the interim that are unrelated to the future combat system program with France, which will not deliver a new combat aircraft until the 2040s.
Several air forces are looking to develop new air systems after the F-35 in that time frame, such as the US Air Force, the Japanese and the British, but all of those will pass through the F-35 interoperability transformation which is already under way among Germany’s Northern European neighbors.’
The air modernization problem, combined with the short to mid-term contribution of Germany to deterrence today, really is about two key items.
First, the Germans need an aircraft which can integrate with mobile air defenses and reinforce defenses at the perimeter of Europe, not just fly at “air shows and do air policing,” as one senior retired general put it to me.
The second is to have a useful nuclear-capable aircraft which can keep Germany involved in the nuclear equation, something which some coalition partners in the current German government would be happy to see go away. The current mission is accomplished by the aging Tornado, an aircraft which the British will retire soon; the last one left the Middle East just recently.
The Tornado replacement decision really is at the heart of the near to mid term credibility of Germany’s military. The British are replacing the Tornado with their own version of a “system of systems,” that includes the advanced Eurofighter (reworked to be interoperable with the F-35), the F-35 and new weapons systems.
For Germany, the Tornado replacement issue entails a number of questions and challenges. First, will Germany remain part of nuclear deterrence by participation in that mission? How can they do this with an aircraft which would be destroyed trying to fly into contested airspace?
Second, will the Luftwaffe work with the RAF, British industry and the British government to get access to the UK Typhoon and ensure that its capabilities flow into the projected new German “Tranche IV” Eurofighter?
Third, how will the Luftwaffe replace the integrated ground attack capabilities of Tornado not done by Eurofighter?
Fourth, how will the Luftwaffe ensure that it can operate with F-35s?
Two recent Luftwaffe chiefs, Karl Müllner and Klaus-Peter Stieglitz, made it clear that German credibility is at stake in an op-ed published in Die Welt last week. This requires doing more than simply finding answers to how to deal with its industrial interests or its pique with Donald Trump:
Due to its age, the German contribution to the Tornado has already lost credibility. The discrepancy will be even greater as the F-35s become operational in Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey within a few years.
If the German contribution continues to be untrustworthy or can no longer be provided, this would also have negative effects on the strategically indispensable US guarantee and the nuclear disposition of NATO because of the resulting imbalance in the risk and burden sharing in NATO.
A termination of the NATO-Russia Basic Act and the stationing of nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe could be the result. When deciding on the successor to the Bundeswehr’s Tornado fighter plane, it is not just an important military decision with a European political and industrial significance, but a strategic decision with an impact on the European security order as a whole and Germany’s role as a leading nation.
If Germany sticks with the path it has now taken, it will leave the circle of security leadership nations in the EU and NATO, degrading itself to become a secondary support force.
It is necessary and corresponds to responsible policy for our country to deal with the issue of succession to the tornado of the Bundeswehr once again objectively and with the necessary strategic vision and to revise the decisions taken so far. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
20 Feb 19. EU Budget for 2021-2027: Commission Welcomes Provisional Agreement on the Future European Defence Fund. The EU institutions have reached a partial political agreement on the European Defence Fund, subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and Council, which will foster an innovative and competitive defence industrial base and contribute to the EU’s strategic autonomy. In a world of increasing instability and cross-border threats to our security, no country can succeed alone. That is why the Juncker Commission is making an unprecedented effort to protect and defend Europeans. The European Defence Fund, proposed by the Commission in June 2018 as part of the EU-long-term budget for the years 2021-2027, is part of these initiatives to bolster the EU’s ability to protect its citizens.
Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “This is a major step in making European defence cooperation a reality. The European Defence Fund will help Member States get better value for taxpayer money, promote a strong and innovative defence industry and raise the EU’s autonomy and technological leadership in defence.”
Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “This agreement is yet another important building block to ensure that Europe becomes a stronger security provider for its citizens. The Fund will foster technological innovation and cooperation in the European defence sector, so that Europe benefits from cutting-edge, interoperable defence technology and equipment in novel areas like artificial intelligence, encrypted software, drone technology or satellite communication.”
Subject to final formal adoption by the European Parliament and Council, an agreement has been found on the following key elements:
— The Fund will provide support all along the industrial development lifecycle, from research to prototype development up to certification.
— The Fund will finance collaborative research projects mainly through grants.
— Beyond the research and design phase, where up to 100% funding is possible, the EU budget will be available to complement Member States’ investment by co-financing costs for prototype development (up to 20%) and the ensuing testing, qualification and certification actions (up to 80%).
— The Fund will provide incentives for projects with cross-border participation of the many SMEs and mid-caps in the defence supply chain by providing higher financing rates.
— Projects in the context of Permanent European Structured Cooperation (PESCO) may, if eligible, receive an additional co-financing bonus of 10%, but funding is not automatic.
— Projects will be defined in line with defence priorities agreed by Member States within the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and in particular in the context of the Capability Development Plan (CDP), but regional and international priorities, such as in the framework of NATO, can also be taken into account.
— Only collaborative projects involving at least three eligible entities from at least three Member States or associated countries are normally eligible.
— At least 4% and up to 8% of the budget will be allocated to disruptive, high-risk innovation that will boost Europe’s long-term technological leadership and defence autonomy.
— In principle, only entities established in the EU or associated countries and not controlled by third countries or their legal entities are eligible for funding. EU based subsidiaries of third country companies can exceptionally be eligible to funding subject to defined conditions to ensure that the security and defence interests of the EU and the Member States are not put at risk. Entities based outside of the EU will not receive any EU funding but can participate in cooperative projects. The EU is therefore not excluding anybody from the European Defence Fund, but setting conditions to receive funding which are similar to the ones that EU companies face on third country markets.
The preliminary political agreement reached by the European Parliament, Council and Commission in the so-called trilogue negotiations is now subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and Council. The budgetary aspects and some related horizontal provisions of the future European Defence Fund are subject to the overall agreement on the EU’s next long-term budget, proposed by the Commission in May 2018.
In his political guidelines in June 2014, President Juncker made strengthening European citizens’ security a priority. He announced the creation of a European Defence Fund in his 2016 State of the Union address.
Since then, the European Commission, under the steer of President Juncker and with the support of Member States, is taking steps to make defence cooperation under the EU budget a reality.
The Commission is already paving the way under the current EU budget period which ends in 2020. For the first time in European history, the EU is incentivising European defence cooperation with a budget envelope of €590m (€90m for research over 2017-2019 and €500m for developing equipment and technology during 2019-2020).
— Defence research cooperation is already materialising. First EU grant agreements under the 2017 budget included the research project Ocean2020, which brings together 42 partners from 15 EU countries and supports maritime surveillance missions at sea and to that end will integrate drones and unmanned submarines into fleet operations. In the coming weeks the Commission will announce further collaborative defence research projects under the 2018 budget and present the work programme and final call for proposals under the remaining budget tranche for 2019.
— The Commission has formally initiated work with Member States to finance joint industrial projects in the field of defence. Following the views of Member States, in a few weeks, the Commission will adopt the first ever Work Programme for the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) to co-finance joint industrial projects in the field of defence under the EU budget for 2019-2020.
On the basis of these two “pilot” programmes, and scaling up initial funding, the Commission proposed in June 2018 a fully-fledged European Defence Fund worth €13bn under the next EU long-term budget to cover both the research and capability strands. The European Defence Fund will complement other EU programmes proposed by the Commission, in particular the €6.5bn earmarked for the Connecting Europe Facility to enhance the EU’s strategic transport infrastructures to make them fit for military mobility, and the proposal for a new €100 billion research and innovation programme Horizon Europe. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/European Commission)
20 Feb 19. Germany resists pressure to ease Saudi arms export halt. Germany is sticking to its weapons exports freeze to Saudi Arabia, the government said on Wednesday, resisting pressure to soften its stance after criticism from Britain and defence firms, including Airbus, who argue it is hurting commerce.
Germany said in November it would reject future arms export licences to Riyadh over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It has not formally banned previously approved deals but has urged industry to refrain from such shipments for now.
British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt has urged Germany to soften its line, saying it is “imperative” that it exempt big defence projects from its arms sales halt to Saudi Arabia or face damage to its commercial credibility.
A German Economy Ministry spokeswoman said no change was imminent.
“The view of the government is clear and there is no new situation. There is at the moment no basis for further approvals,” she said.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said decisions on arms shipments to Saudi Arabia were tied to the conflict in Yemen.
“We are not delivering any weapons to Saudi Arabia at the moment and we will make future decisions depend on how the Yemen conflict develops and whether what has been agreed in the peace talks in Stockholm is being implemented,” Maas told reporters after meeting Hunt in Berlin.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, in separate remarks, declined to say if the German government would extend the freeze beyond March 9. “We review it regularly and then make new decisions on that basis,” he said.
In a letter to Maas this month, Hunt said he had “grave concerns” about the impact Germany’s arms freeze was “having on the supply chains of UK and European defence industry and may ultimately have on Europe’s ability to fulfil its NATO commitments.”
Berlin’s decision was delaying deliveries of Eurofighter Typhoon, Tornado and Hawk warplanes, and could result in contractual penalties for 500 companies in the supply chain of Britain’s BAE Systems were affected, he said.
Hunt also said he saw a risk that Saudi Arabia would turn to Russian or Chinese supplies in future.
Referring to the conflict in Yemen, where the Saudi-backed government is fighting the Iran-backed Houthi movement, Hunt said he was deeply concerned the freeze would dent the ability to influence key figures in coming months in the cause of peace.
His strongly-worded letter, first reported by Der Spiegel and seen by Reuters, followed complaints last week from a top Airbus official who told Reuters that the halt was preventing Britain from completing the sale of 48 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes to Riyadh. He said the issue was also affecting potential sales of other weapons such as the A400M military transporter.
Eurofighter is built by a consortium of four founding countries – Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain – represented by Airbus, BAE and Italy’s Leonardo
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a team of Saudi operatives on Oct. 2, provoking an international backlash. Riyadh has denied the crown prince had any involvement. (Source: Reuters)
19 Feb 19. UK Foreign Secretary Protests As Germany Blocks UK Arms Exports. A senior British Cabinet Minister has strongly criticized the German government because, since November, it is blocking arms deliveries to Saudi Arabia. London is now threatening unspecified consequences if Berlin does not immediately lift the embargo on joint arms projects.
In a letter to his counterpart Heiko Maas (SPD), British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has accused Germany of damaging Britain’s defense industry by blocking delivery of fighter jets and missiles since their German-made components can no longer be delivered to Saudi Arabia.
In the two-page letter dated February 7, Hunt writes that he must inform Maas of his “serious concerns.”
Essential passages from Hunt’s letter: “As you know, I attended the Stockholm talks on Yemen. (…) It is a critical time. I am therefore deeply concerned that your freeze on defence exports to Saudi Arabia will adversely impact our ability to influence key figures during the next few months in the cause of peace. I see a real risk that Saudi Arabia may turn to Russian or Chinese supplies in future, depriving us of influence on Saudi International Humanitarian Law compliance.
“I am also deeply concerned by the impact the German government’s decision is having on the supply chains of both UK and European defence industry, and may ultimately have on Europe’s ability to fulfil its NATO commitments.
“It is imperative that you exclude major European defence projects, such as Eurofighter Typhoon and Panavia Tornado from the freeze on arms exports, for three reasons.
“First: these are significant, high profile multinational projects to which you have committed your Government politically, in Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between the European Partner Nations. I appreciate that these are arguably not, formally speaking, “treaties.” But the use of MoUs in this context is a matter of pure form, driven by the need to keep the arrangements confidential. The form does not at all detract from the seriousness and constraint of your and our commitments to each other, and our mutual reliance on them, set out in these documents.
“Second: there is a wider point. If Germany is seeking to develop future defence capabilities with European partners in the future, the freeze on exports to Saudi Arabia will create a damaging lack of confidence in Germany’s reliability as a partner and willingness to export jointly to third countries.
“And, third, there must be a risk of litigation and associated legal liability arising from the impact of your actions on the European commercial operators affected. It is surely in all our interests to avoid that.
“I understand one unintended consequence of the freeze is the impact on the delivery of Meteor Air-to-Air missiles to European Partner Nations. This is because Saudi Arabia is one of the destinations on the overall license, but the German government has frozen the license. My UK Defence Ministry counterpart told me the deliveries of 260 missiles to the Royal Air Force are delayed as well as to France, Spain, Italy and Sweden. As this is now an operational missile, such delays can have operational consequences, including, potentially, our readiness to fulfil NATO commitments at a time of increasing scrutiny of Allies’ resolve. (…)
“I understand seven German suppliers have valid licenses but are not shipping to Saudi Arabia; the freeze is costing German defence suppliers €2.3bn over the next seven years.”
The letter clearly illustrates how much pressure Berlin is under from Europe. In addition to France, Britain is considered one of the closest allies in NATO. Paris has similarly criticized the arms embargo against Saudi Arabia.
Foreign Minister Maas should therefore have a lot to discuss with his colleague when he is a guest at the Berlin Foreign Office on Wednesday. He looks forward to the visit to Berlin, Hunt writes in his letter, when he will once again explain in detail all the points in private.
Defense-Aerospace.com EDITOR’S NOTE: The except from Hunt’s letter was obtained by the German blog Augen geradeaus!) (Source: Defense-Aerospace.com)
20 Feb 19. Turkey says cannot accept U.S. Patriot offer as it stands, talks continue. It is impossible for Turkey to accept the United States’ offer on purchasing Patriot defense systems as it currently stands, the chairman of Turkey’s Defence Industry Directorate said on Wednesday, adding that talks on the issue continued. Speaking to broadcaster NTV, Ismail Demir also said two Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets would be delivered to Turkey next month. U.S. officials have warned that Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems would jeopardize Ankara’s purchase of F-35 jets and possibly even result in U.S. sanctions. U.S. officials had set an informal deadline of Feb.15 for Ankara to respond to its rival offer on the Patriot systems purchases. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Reuters)
19 Feb 19. German halt in Saudi arms sales hurting UK industry: Hunt. Britain has urged Germany to exempt big defense projects from its efforts to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia or face damage to its commercial credibility, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday. Germany said last November it would reject future arms export licenses to Saudi Arabia over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It has not formally banned previously approved deals but has urged industry to refrain from such shipments for now.
Germany accounts for just under 2 percent of total Saudi arms imports, a small percentage internationally compared with the United States and Britain, but it makes components for other countries’ export contracts. That includes a proposed £10bn deal for Riyadh to buy 48 new Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets from Britain.
“I am very concerned about the impact of the German government’s decision on the British and European defense industry and the consequences for Europe’s ability to fulfill its NATO commitments,” British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt wrote in a letter to his German counterpart Heiko Maas, Spiegel reported.
Hunt said British defense firms would not be able to fulfill several contracts with Riyadh including the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Tornado fighter jet, both of which are made with parts affected by the halt in deliveries to Saudi Arabia.
“This letter shows how Germany’s arms export practices are costing it the ability to partner with its closest European allies,” Hans Christoph Altzpodien, head of Germany’s defense industry association BDSV, told Reuters.
Reuters has not seen the letter and a spokesman for the German foreign ministry declined to comment.
In his letter, Hunt also wrote that the German government’s decision to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia would result in a loss of 2.3bn euros’ worth of revenues for German defense firms by 2026.
A top Airbus official said on Friday that the German halt in exports to Saudi Arabia was preventing Britain from completing the sale of 48 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes to Riyadh, and has delayed potential sales of other weapons such as the A400M military transport.
Hunt’s letter comes as Britain prepares to leave the European Union on March 29, in the biggest shift in its commercial and diplomatic relations with the continent in decades. It has still to reach a deal with the EU on the terms of its exit, raising the risk of serious economic disruption. (Source: Reuters)
18 Feb 19. Pence: ‘We will not stand idly by’ as Turkey purchases S-400. Vice President Mike Pence repeated warnings to Turkey not to proceed with the purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, a day after Turkey dismissed the first of two deadlines to cease with the planned sale.
Pence, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, told attendees “we will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries. We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East.”
The U.S. had set a Feb. 15 deadline for Turkey to respond and signal their intentions to cease with the sale, a U.S. official told Military Times. If Turkey refuses, a forthcoming sale of a Patriot missile defense system from the U.S. will be halted.
“We have been clear with Turkey,” the U.S. official said. “The will not receive the Patriot if they purchase the S-400.”
The Patriot sale, estimated at $3.5bn, would cover the procurement of 80 Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced and 60 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missiles, as well as associated equipment.
The S-400 sale would also impact Turkey’s role in the international development of the fifth generation Joint Strike Fighter.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon reported to Congress on the impact to the F-35 program if it ditches Turkey as a partner. Turkey sources some of the parts for the program and that action could result in delays to the program if Turkey is no longer a contributor. Congress still has to decide what action to take. Pence did mention another product from the East it considers a threat, China’s communication network.
“The United States has also been very clear with our security partners on the threats posed by Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies that requires them to provide Beijing’s vast security apparatus with access to any data that touches their network or equipment,” Pence said. “We must protect our critical telecom infrastructure.” (Source: Defense News)
15 Feb 19. Joint Armaments Projects: German-French Secret Paper Reorganises Arms Exports. Germany will grant France extensive freedom in joint arms projects to sell jointly-developed weapons systems to third countries: This is the result of a secret agreement reached by the governments in Berlin and Paris on 14 January. “The parties will not oppose any transfer or export to third countries,” according to the document available to Spiegel. This is about joint projects such as the planned main battle tank or the new fighter aircraft that France and Germany want to develop together. For months, Paris and Berlin had been arguing whether Berlin could later veto French deals with difficult partners like Saudi Arabia.
There is no talk of a veto in the secret pact. Only if direct interests or national security are endangered, one of the partners can bring concerns, it is said. The two-page document, written in English, is entitled “Franco-German Industrial Co-operation in Defense – Common Understanding and Principles of Sales.”
The agreement complements the new Franco-German treaty signed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in Aachen at the end of January. In the treaty, arms exports are mentioned only in a general statement that states they want to establish common rules for the sale of armaments co-operations.
In the supplementary paper, the partners agree to inform each other “early on” when arms exports outside NATO are planned. If it comes to a dispute, Berlin and Paris want to open within two months “high-level talks for an exchange of views and the search for alternatives begin,” the text of the agreement, in which a “permanent body” for advising fundamental export issues is agreed.
Common European line on the theme of arms exports?
The Federal Government did not want to comment on the confidential document. Foreign Minister Michael Roth told the Spiegel: “An even closer Franco-German cooperation offers the opportunity to make Europe more sovereign, but we too will have to compromise on this.” A “United Europe” cannot mean that “every national decision is automatically implemented one to one.”
Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen also expressed her openness to compromise with France. She demanded in an interview that Europe should “develop common ethical standards and principles” for armaments exports. But you have to approach each other. “The insistence on maximum positions does not create a strong community,” says von der Leyen.
The eternal question: Can you ship weapons to Saudi Arabia?
Germany and France are very far apart in terms of arms exports. While Paris regards the sale of weapons throughout the world as an economic factor and provides massive political support, Berlin is pursuing a more restrictive policy. Every single delivery outside NATO must be approved by the Federal Security Council.
Currently, arms shipments to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are particularly controversial. While Germany blocked the delivery of shipments already approved following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Paris sees no reason not to continue supplying weapons to the Saudis. France forbade any criticism of this approach.
(defense-aerospace EDITOR’S NOTE: The new “secret” arms export rules outlined above are very similar to those that currently govern the export of French-German weapons, enshrined by the so-called Debré-Schmidt agreements.
Signed in 1971 by the two countries’ then defense ministers, Michel Debré and Helmut Schmidt, and which stipulates that each country will allow the other to export weapons developed in common.
On the matter of joint arms exports, the Treaty of Aachen simply states in its article 4 that “Both States will develop a common approach to arms exports with regard to joint projects,” and suggests that the Franco-German Defense and Security Council is “the political body to steer these reciprocal commitments.”
Consequently, the issue is not what new rules can be agreed for the future, but how consistent successive German governments will be in applying the Debré-Schmidt agreements, which are still valid and applicable, both in letter and in spirit.) (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Der Spiege)
18 Feb 19. Nato allies offer contributions for Four Thirties Readiness Initiative. Several Nato allies provided contributions to the Four Thirties Readiness Initiative, which will increase Nato’s ‘ability to respond quickly and decisively to any future crisis’. The initiative will ensure 30 combat ships, 30 land battalions, and 30 air squadrons are ready to deploy within 30 days or less. This was discussed by Nato defence ministers during two days of discussions in Brussels, Belgium, that concluded on 14 February. During the two-day meet, ministers discussed the issue of burden sharing in terms of cash, capabilities and contributions. In line with the latest reports on defence spending, European allies and Canada will spend an additional $100bn on defence by the end of 2020. Meanwhile, all allies agreed that Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty would serve as a significant risk to transatlantic security.
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg urged Russia to return to compliance, saying: “All allies stand ready to engage further with Russia. But we are also preparing for a world without the INF Treaty.”
On Nato’s missions and operations, Stoltenberg said that member countries are in Afghanistan together ‘and we will take decisions regarding the future of the mission together’.
Nato’s training mission in Iraq is currently ‘up and running, providing training and advice to national security institutions’.
Nato also stated that its mission to ‘keep a safe and secure environment for all the people in Kosovo’ remains unchanged and ministers are expected to make decisions on the agency’s engagement with the Kosovo Security Force in the next few months.
Meanwhile, defence ministers from Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia signed a letter of intent to set up a Regional Special Operations Component Command (R-SOCC) in the sidelines of the meetings.
On 13 February, it was announced that partner nation Austria will sign the letter after the Nato Defence Ministerial Meeting.
The four member states and Austria will form a deployable R-SOCC for small joint operations led by Hungary.
This command is expected to boost the ability of the five nations to effectively employ their special forces. Due to the non-permanent structure of the R-SOCC, each participant can use its own contributions separately, while standing to benefit from the integrated R-SOCC structure once it gets activated for deployment. Nato deputy secretary-general Rose Gottemoeller stated that it offers ‘a significant step forward in strengthening special operation forces capacities in the region, and towards a fully integrated multinational regional command element’. To be developed in line with Nato standards, the multinational command will leverage the expertise of Nato’s special operations headquarters in Mons, Belgium. Although the command is mainly intended for Nato and EU operations, it can take part in other multilateral missions, exercises or training. (Source: army-technology.com)
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