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05 May 19. Gavin Williamson fired ‘for attacking Theresa May over diabetes.’ The defence secretary was undone by indiscreet comments about the PM’s health, plus an urge to start wars abroad. Gavin Williamson was sacked as defence secretary after Theresa May was informed that he had attacked her in private, saying that her diabetes made her unfit to be prime minister.
May became frustrated with Williamson’s behaviour after hearing that he told fellow Tories that her health meant she should not continue in the job — claims that Williamson rejects as categorically untrue.
The warnings were delivered in the weeks before Williamson was dismissed amid claims that he leaked details of a National Security Council (NSC) meeting last month.
Sources at the top of the government and the Conservative Party say slurs about the prime minister’s health were overheard by a senior party official, who reported the former defence secretary’s conversation back to Downing Street. It is also claimed that Williamson was overheard at a dinner denouncing May’s fitness for the job.
One of May’s allies said: “It’s absolutely outrageous that he would attempt to use the prime minister’s health condition against her and to suggest it makes her too frail and ill to be the prime minister.”
Williamson hit back last night, denying he had ever spoken about May’s health, as the Metropolitan police said the NSC leak “did not contain information that would breach the Official Secrets Act” and “did not amount to a criminal offence”. He denounced the leak inquiry as a “shabby and discredited witch hunt” and demanded a “proper, full and impartial” investigation. He told this newspaper he was consulting lawyers.
However, aides say May’s trust in Williamson was also undermined by his desire to send the armed forces into action, which No 10 feared could lead to him starting a war. When May refused to let him send Royal Navy warships into Chinese waters in the South China Sea, Williamson scrawled “f*** the prime minister” on the paperwork — a message reported back to No 10.
The Sunday Times has been passed an NSC document showing that Williamson was also determined to send British troops into action in Africa. He ordered military chiefs to draw up plans for intervention in at least five African countries, including Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt.
A Ministry of Defence official said Williamson’s approach was to find excuses to send troops. “He wanted to invade Africa,” a military source said.
A friend of Williamson responded: “It’s ironic that an NSC document has been leaked in an attempt to discredit Gavin.”
Another ally took a further swipe at May: “The fact that so many knives are now out for him shows that he ruffled feathers in pursuit of defending the armed forces. The prime minister always found it irritating that Gavin was willing to stand his ground when he thought it was in the best interests of the army, navy and air force. She had never done this for the police when she was home secretary and couldn’t work out why Gavin would do it for the military.” (Source: The Sunday Times)
03 May 19. Aselsan CEO sets sights on global customers. Aselsan unveiled its new close-in weapon system during the 2019 International Defence Industry Fair in Turkey — the latest in a grand plan to expand export sales, said CEO Haluk Gorgun.
Aselsan is focusing on Africa, the Asia-Pacific, and South America as key areas for sales.
“Aselsan started by the localization of indigenous devices and moved to exporting its systems worldwide,” Gorgun note, adding that the company’s remote controlled weapon systems are currently exported to 19 different countries. “Every year we update our technological road map and technological plan, which changes depending on the next generation needs. We are using high tech production facilities to give necessary equipment to our army.”
During IDEF, and in the presence of the president of Turkish defense industries Ismail Demir, Aselsan unveiled CIWS GOKDENIZ, the company’s missile defense system for naval platforms. Among the notable features is the ability to load two different types of ammunition into the system, with the preferred ammunition typeselected before the firing through an automated feed mechanism.
The system is able to perform target detection, identification, tracking and kill operations in full autonomous mode. 3D search radar, fire control radar and E/O sensors on the new CIWS allow efficient operation of the system at night and under harsh weather conditions. The system can be operated by an operator or in full autonomous mode without any operator intervention.
The Turkish company showcased more than 300 different products at IDEF at its booth. Those systems range from electro-optics to telecommunications, C4I systems, radars, electronics and electronic warfare. Among the deals closed at teh show was a contract signed between ASELSAN and Spets Techno Export to deliver software defined radios to the Ukraniane armed forces by the end of 2019. Also, a delivery ceremony of night vision goggles to Gambian Armed Forces was held at the show, as the first sale to Gambia.(Source: Defense News)
02 May 19. Air2030 Program: Submission of Supplementary Reports. Federal Councilor Viola Amherd wants to get a complete picture of the Air2030 program, which includes the acquisition of new jet fighters and a new surface-to-air defense system, before submitting to the Federal Council a proposal for the rest of the process. To this end, she had requested three additional reports, namely an additional opinion by Claude Nicollier on the expert report on Future Air Defense, an assessment of offset opportunities written by Kurt Grüter, as well as a threat analysis conducted within the DDPS.
The head of the DDPS, Federal Councilor Viola Amherd, took note of these reports. She will take into account the results in further work on the Air 2030 program. It is expected that the Federal Council will decide before the summer of the form in which it wants to present the acquisition of new fighter jets and a new ground-to-air defense system to Parliament. On a technical level, the flight and ground evaluations of the aircraft of the five candidates are under way.
State of the threat: need for sufficient means of protection of the airspace
Drafted under the guidance of Pälvi Pulli, the DDPS officer responsible for Security Policy, the threat status report provides a current assessment of the threat and compares it to the analysis that formed the basis for the modernization decisions of the means of protecting the airspace in recent years. This report concludes that no significant change is affecting the need to acquire new means of protecting the airspace and that sufficient combat aircraft and ground defenses will continue to be required to effectively protect and defend Swiss airspace. The negative evolution of the international security situation over the last two years, and the time constraints associated with these acquisition projects, make the action all the more urgent.
Compensatory cases: no full compensation
In his report, external expert Kurt Grüter acknowledges the Confederation’s efforts to increase the transparency of compensatory cases. However, there is still room for improvement. Kurt Grüter also notes that countervailing cases violate the principle of free trade and industry. This mechanism must therefore be used exclusively and specifically to strengthen the Swiss industrial base, which is essential for the security and defense of the country. In addition, only direct compensatory cases and indirect compensatory cases relating to technology and the security industry are relevant.
The report recommends giving up other indirect compensatory cases. In this context and given the volume of 6 to 7 billion francs, a compensation of 100% would be difficult to achieve. Direct compensatory cases of the order of 20% and indirect compensatory cases of the order of 40% for technology and the security industry are more realistic, provided that the quality of the ad hoc industrial programs is carefully evaluated in the comparison of offers.
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
(Source: defense-aerospace.com/Swiss Dept. of Defence; Civil Protection & Sport)
03 May 19. Nuclear deterrent still making waves on 50th anniversary. Cost of new submarines and Scottish opposition raises doubts about Faslane base. For 50 years Britain has maintained a continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent, carried silently beneath the waves by submarines which, in the event of a nuclear strike against the UK, can retaliate with a warhead capable of wiping out a big city. But for all its longevity the deterrent remains contentious and expensive. The Scottish government opposes the stationing of the nuclear missile submarines at the Faslane naval base north of Glasgow, while the Ministry of Defence’s already stretched budget is facing a huge shortfall, driven mainly by the £31bn cost of renewing the deterrent. This week, in his final act as defence secretary before being fired over alleged leaking of secrets from the National Security Council, Gavin Williamson stood inside one of the Vanguard class submarines to again bang the drum for this important component of Britain’s defence capabilities. The former defence secretary, who has been replaced by Penny Mordaunt, international development secretary, was in his element as he toured Faslane on Monday. He praised the vast effort behind the continuous strategic patrolling, known as “Operation Relentless”, and waved aside worries about Faslane’s future. The base was “absolutely integral to the security of Scotland and the whole of the United Kingdom”, as well as to the Scottish economy, he said.
His visit marked the 50th anniversary of the “continuous at-sea deterrent”, which comes as concern grows around plans to replace the four Vanguard submarines with the new Dreadnought class by the early 2030s at a cost of more than £31bn. For up to three months at a time the 165-strong crews are confined in a cramped and windowless metal tube as it cruises at 2-3 knots. The submariners cannot contact the outside world and can only receive one 120-word message from family once a week, or two 60-word messages if their loved ones prefer. Commanders keep any serious bad news from crew until the day before their return to port to avoid undermining morale. “I don’t think there is any other job on the planet that requires people to cut off so completely for such long periods,” said Captain Neil Lamont, flotilla captain at Faslane. Officers said the submarine service was still able to attract volunteers, thanks to close onboard camaraderie, relatively generous pay and the professional challenge of self-reliance at sea.
“You need to manage the expectations of your family, and providing you do that correctly you cope fine,” said Lt Comander Chris Oakley, a second-generation submariner who missed his first child’s birth while on strategic patrol.
The defence ministry is expanding Faslane to become the home base for the UK’s Trafalgar and new Astute-class attack submarines as well as the ballistic missile Vanguards and future Dreadnoughts. The number of civilian and service staff will increase from the current 6,800 to about 8,500. Recommended UK defence spending Nuclear submarines threaten to sink UK defence budget But basing the UK’s nuclear forces in Scotland remains a risk. The devolved government is led by a fiercely anti-nuclear Scottish National party that has vowed to rid the country of weapons of mass destruction in the event of independence. A YouGov poll last week found 49 per cent of Scottish voters back separating from the rest of the UK, while a Panelbase survey put support at 47 per cent — but said 52 per cent would back leaving the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit. At its spring conference last weekend, the SNP committed to set out a road-map for the “speedy but responsible withdrawal of the UK’s nuclear arsenal” after Scottish independence.
The anniversary of continuous at-sea deterrence has sparked other protests. Nearly 200 Anglican clerics have objected to plans for a service marking the occasion at Westminster Abbey on Friday. There has also been increased scrutiny of the military’s nuclear safety record and questions about discipline following reports of drug-taking and inappropriate relationships among members of HMS Vigilant’s crew last year. Commodore Bob Anstey expressed disappointment over incidents of drug taking and inappropriate relationships on the vessel © James Glossop/The Times Commodore Bob Anstey said the incidents had been “really, really disappointing” but did not reflect any wider failings in the submarine service. “These people transgressed, they were dealt with,” he said. Submarine officers said they were convinced that nuclear deterrence had been vital to preventing significant international conflict since the second world war and insisted they would be ready to launch their missiles if ordered — although the logic of deterrence means that actually using nuclear weapons marks a failure of the strategy. For the submariners themselves, the responsibility of launching a weapon that could kill millions is something that “everyone does think about,” said Captain Lamont. “But actually if you think about it too much it becomes almost too difficult.” (Source: FT.com)
02 May 19. German support for EU army leads to dissent at candidates’ debate. European Commission president contenders in rigorous discussion over future of bloc. Four candidates for European Commission president debate at an event co-hosted by the Financial Times and European University Institute in Florence. The leading candidates to become the next European Commission president clashed on Thursday over Germany’s support for the creation of an EU army at a Financial Times debate ahead of the European Parliament elections at the end of May. Manfred Weber, a German conservative who is spearheading the campaign for the centre-right European People’s party, backed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ambition for a permanent multinational armed force. He said the lack of “strong, fascinating ideas at the centre ground” of European politics was one reason why populist Eurosceptic politicians had made such inroads in recent years. His main rival Frans Timmermans, the Dutchman leading the socialist bloc, said there was “not going to be a European army any time soon”. German politicians needed to prioritise closer economic co-operation, he said. “That’s not the way you are going to get this thing working,” Mr Timmermans said. “We need the German government to commit to co-operation to help where it hurts today in Europe. It hurts in the economy, it hurts for its workers, it hurts for the transition to a stable society.
Recommended European Parliament elections EU parliament elections: live country-by-country poll tracker Germany’s support for a European army was greeted with scepticism in some European capitals given its opposition to much more modest advances in integration in recent years, particularly on economic or fiscal policy. “You want a European army but you don’t want a European fiscal policy? There’s a contradiction there,” Mr Timmermans added. Mr Weber and Mr Timmermans were debating at an FT event at the European University Institute in Florence together with Guy Verhofstadt, a Belgian liberal, and Ska Keller, a German green. All are leading candidates — known in EU circles by the German term Spitzenkandidaten — for their political parties. Under this system, the one who can win a majority in the parliament following the elections to be held May 23-26 will become commission president, assuming all EU leaders agree. In fact some, including France’s President Emmanuel Macron, do not approve of this selection system. For the first time in living memory we have an American president who thinks a weaker Europe is in America’s interests Frans Timmermans A poll of polls suggests the centre-right will come first in the elections but with only 172 seats in a parliament of 751. The socialists are projected to come second with 145 and the liberals third with 97. Eurosceptic forces are expected to make significant gains but the nationalist and far-left candidates declined to attend the FT-EUI debate. All four candidates called for tougher regulation and heavier taxation of tech companies.
Mr Vehoftstadt called for the creation of an EU digital regulator. “When I switch on Alexa I want to ask: ‘Alexa, when will Amazon start to pay taxes’,” Mr Timmermans said. Mr Weber, a softly spoken Bavarian and ally of Chancellor Merkel, said revenues from higher tax on tech companies should help pay for a digital transition fund, to help workers adapt to automation. The candidates all said Europe needed now more than ever to co-operate more since, as Mr Timmermans put it, “for the first time in living memory we have an American president who thinks a weaker Europe is in America’s interests”. Recommended European Parliament elections The European Parliament elections: an interactive guide Mr Weber and Mr Verhofstadt called for the creation of an EU equivalent of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr Timmermans said there was no point “as long as we can’t rely on national law enforcement”. It was one of several instances where the combative Dutchman poured cold water on his rivals’ proposals to give EU institutions more power. Mr Timmermans repeatedly took aim at Mr Weber, particularly over the EPP’s decision not to expel Viktor Orban, Hungary’s nationalist prime minister, together with his Fidesz party over his undermining of democratic standards and fundamental rights. Fidesz was suspended from the EPP earlier this year. “Orban has no influence on the EPP” Mr Weber retorted. He claimed Mr Timmermans, who is the European Commission vice-president responsible for upholding fundamental values in the EU, had not been tough enough on the governing centre-left party in Romania over its efforts to unpick anti-corruption laws. “The biggest danger that right now we have to democracy is the lack of rule of law and civil liberties within the member states,” said Ms Keller. “We need to act.” (Source: FT.com)
02 May 19. Gavin Williamson hits back at Theresa May over his sacking. Former UK defence secretary says PM conducted ‘kangaroo court’ after Huawei leak. Gavin Williamson has urged a police investigation to clear his name. Gavin Williamson has accused Theresa May of conducting a “kangaroo court” against him, swearing on the lives of his children that he was not responsible for a leak which triggered his sacking as UK defence secretary. Mr Williamson said he had been “screwed” by the prime minister as he protested his innocence over the Huawei leak and urged a police investigation to clear his name. Opposition parties on Thursday stepped up demands for a criminal investigation into the former defence secretary, who was sacked for leaking state secrets to the press. Mrs May moved swiftly and brutally on Wednesday evening to fire the former loyalist who led her leadership campaign in 2016, amid frustration about a series of leaks from cabinet meetings in recent months. But she has created a potentially dangerous enemy on the backbenches. Mr Williamson, who was chief whip before he became defence secretary, once told friends “I made her . . . and I can break her.” One ally of Mr Williamson said after he had become the first cabinet minister to be sacked for leaking in more than 30 years: “I think the prime minister has made a serious mistake.”
One MP said: “Gavin knows where all the bodies are buried and I’d imagine he knows how to bury a few more.” The prime minister learned on Wednesday afternoon of “compelling” evidence of Mr Williamson’s alleged involvement in the leak from the National Security Council of Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s new 5G network. A few hours later she summoned him to her office and offered him the opportunity to resign before firing him on the spot. Mr Williamson reportedly admitted speaking to Steve Swinford, the Daily Telegraph journalist who broke the Huawei story, but denied he had revealed any details of the NSC meeting. He told friends that he believed his downfall was the result of a vendetta with Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary and national security adviser, who fell out over a Whitehall security review over a year ago. Sir Mark initiated the inquiry into the source of the Huawei leak.
Recommended Instant Insight Robert Shrimsley Williamson sunk by leak that could not pass unpunished In a letter to Mr Williamson, a former rising star in the Conservative party, Mrs May said he had failed to engage with the leak inquiry and that the evidence suggested he was to blame. “I put to you the latest information from the investigation, which provides compelling evidence suggesting your responsibility for the unauthorised disclosure,” the prime minister wrote. “No other, credible version of events to explain this leak has been identified.” She added: “It is vital that I have full confidence in the members of my cabinet and of the National Security Council. The gravity of this issue alone, and its ramifications for the operation of the NSC and the UK’s national interest, warrants the serious steps we have taken, and an equally serious response.” In response, Mr Williamson released a letter to the prime minister in which he “strenuously” denied being responsible for the leak. Mr Williamson has been replaced by Penny Mordaunt, who served as international development secretary and is now the first female defence secretary in the UK. Ms Mordaunt is in turn replaced by Rory Stewart, who is promoted from justice minister. The National Security Council is chaired by Mrs May and brings together cabinet ministers and senior officials involved in foreign and defence policy. It agreed this month that Huawei could build some of the less sensitive parts of Britain’s 5G networks.
Dominic Grieve, chair of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, told Sky News on Thursday that if people leak from the meetings “it ruthlessly undermines the ability of the National Security Council to do its work and its totally unfair on colleagues and indeed unfair on anybody who attends”. “There’s certainly an argument for it being referred to the police it depends on the assessment of the nature of the breach, and it may have been concluded that because the breach was about a policy discussion rather than something more specific, they’re not going to refer it.” Tom Watson, the Labour deputy leader, said that if Mr Williamson had leaked from the NSC, “he should be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. And he should forgo his ministerial severance pay.” Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, called for a criminal investigation. “This story cannot begin and end with dismissal from office. What is at stake is the capacity of our security services to give advice at the highest level,” he said. “This must now be referred to the Metropolitan Police for a thorough criminal investigation into breaches of the Official Secrets Act.” One senior military official said there was “significant surprise” inside the MoD at Mrs May’s decision.
The official praised Mr Williamson’s time in charge of the department, saying he had been “hugely positive” for defence. Recommended Huawei Technologies Co Ltd What are the main security risks of using Huawei for 5G? “No one could say he didn’t have defence’s interests and the nation’s security at heart. The caricature of Private Pike was wide of the mark and unfair. His legacy will be more money for defence and more headlines — unfortunately not always good ones.” One former MoD official said that there was a “certain inevitability” to Mr Williamson’s departure, given the number of colleagues who may have been “gunning for him”. But the former official added: “Of all the things that have gone on, he is right on Huawei. I am not sure this was the most sensitive leak of intelligence and no agent in the field was put at risk. Whatever happened, this is a debate that should have been held in public.” The Huawei decision came despite pressure from the US to keep the Chinese company out of Britain’s 5G network. Marco Rubio, a top Republican on the US Senate foreign relations committee, on Wednesday urged the UK to reconsider the decision. “I want to publicly urge our British allies not to endanger our decades of Five Eyes co-operation by partnering on 5G with Huawei or any other Chinese-directed telecom company because there is too much at stake here,” he said. (Source: FT.com)
BATTLESPACE Comment: Whilst any leak from the National Security Council is unacceptable, the question which should be asked is why the UK allowed itself to be held hostage by Chinese technology from Huawei, a known affiliate of the Chines state, without funding investment in UK 5G technology, particularly post-Brexit, which could not only support UK 5G operations but also be sold throughout the world. The government has itself to blame for not only this leak but the failure to develop secure 5G UK technology.
01 May 19. Gavin Williamson’s letter in response to sacking.
“Dear Prime Minister,
It has been a great privilege to serve as Defence Secretary and Chief Whip in your government. Every day I have seen the extraordinary work of the men and women of our armed forces, who go to incredible lengths to defend our country.
I am sorry that you feel recent leaks from the National Security Council originated in my department. I emphatically believe this was not the case. I strenuously deny that I was in any way involved in this leak and I am confident that a thorough and formal inquiry would have vindicated my position.
I have always trusted my civil servants, military advisers and staff. I believe the assurances they have given me.
I appreciate you offering me the option to resign, but to resign would have been to accept that I, my civil servants, my military advisers or my staff were responsible: this was not the case.
Restoring public confidence in the NSC is an ambition we both share. With that in mind I hope that your decision achieves this aim rather than being seen as a temporary distraction.
As I said there has been no greater privilege than working with our armed forces and I will continue to stand up for our service personnel and the superb work they do.” (Source: BBC)
01 May 19. Turkey spending record numbers on defence, new figures show. Studies released this week also reveal that Ankara has hit its target of $2bn worth of arms exports last year. Turkey has increased its military spending more than any of the 15 countries that have the largest defence budgets worldwide and met its $2bn arms exports target last year, it has been revealed this week.
Ankara’s efforts to prop up local production of military equipment, from domestically produced armed drones to tanks and rockets, as well as military operations on foreign soil, are believed to be pushing Turkish military spending to the highest in the country’s history.
A report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said on Monday that Turkey spent $19bn on its defence expenditure in 2018, a whopping 24 percent increase year-on-year. It was the largest of 15 countries with highest defence budgets worldwide, SIPRI said.
Between 2009 and 2018, Turkish military expenditure increased by 65 percent, according to SIPRI.
Turkey also increased its defence exports income by more than 20 percent and met its targets by accruing more than $2bn in 2018, according to a report released this week by the Turkish Defence and Aerospace Industry Manufacturers Association (SASAD).
Murat Aslan, an academic at Hasan Kalyoncu University with a military background, told Middle East Eye that Turkey was forced to invest more in local design and production over the past 10 years due to various spats with its allies that have resulted in open or veiled arms embargoes.
According to Aslan, domestic production has not only decreased dependency on imports, but has also provided Ankara with political independence it didn’t usually have in the past.
“Foreign arms importers want to impose certain rules on how you are going to use the weapons you buy, and who you are going to target them with,” he told MEE.
“Local production enables Turkey to seriously cut costs because it doesn’t need to pay for expensive maintenance and spare parts provided by foreign countries.”
The defence sector in recent years has also become a source of major employment in the country. In its report, SASAD said Turkish manufacturers are now employing roughly 68,000 people.
Various Turkish sources have told MEE that Ankara sees its defence production strategy as an important way of encouraging the country’s technological development, which could have a positive effect on other industries.
Istanbul is also hosting the International Defence Industry Fair (IDEF ’19) this week, where 576 foreign and 485 Turkish companies are gathering to showcase their products. The IDEF is used by the Turkish government as a platform to widen its defence ties. More than 70 contracts are expected to be announced during the fair.
One key factor for Ankara is acquiring know-how and tech transfer from other developed nations.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for example, legitimised his Russian-made S-400 missile defence system purchase by claiming that Moscow was open to jointly producing the systems and sharing technological information.
The US is currently threatening NATO ally Ankara with sanctions over the slated transaction with Russia, which could block the deliveries of highly valuable F-35 fighter jets.
Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Istanbul-based Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), believes Turkey should continue to partner multi-national projects such as the F-35 programme to acquire know-how and improve its own production capabilities.
“However, if the US imposes sanctions on the Turkish defence industry due to the S-400s, it would disrupt many Turkish joint projects with western companies such as BAE and Rolls Royce,” he told MEE.
Other than formal sanctions, Washington has also been reluctant to sell weapons to Turkey, mostly due to foreign policy disputes.
For example, a couple of years ago, Aslan said, the Turkish military wanted to purchase some observation balloons to monitor the Turkish-Syria border.
“The Americans wanted the Turks to pay over $20m,” Aslan recalled, “but then said even if Ankara wanted to pay the money, US officials would have a hard time passing it through Congress.”
Instead, Turkish engineers and defence companies designed their own version to monitor the border. “And it is much cheaper than the American version,” Arslan added. (Source: Google/https://www.middleeasteye.net)
01 May 19. British Typhoons land in Estonia for Nato Baltic Air Policing mission. The British Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Typhoon fighter aircraft from XI(F) Squadron based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire have touched down in Estonia to support the Nato Baltic Air Policing mission.
Four Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon jets arrived at the Ämari Airbase in Estonia to take part in a four-month Nato mission to protect Baltic airspace. 121 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) commanding officer wing commander Dave Boreham said: “As part of its assurance measures Nato has committed to protect Estonian airspace and the UK as a fully committed Nato partner regularly undertakes a turn of this duty.”
RAF aircraft will take over from German Typhoons to protect Nato airspace. The British fighters will be ready to scramble if required to protect airspace at all times.
Explaining how QRA worked, Squadron leader Jamie Norris said: “Crews are on permanent readiness to respond to any potential threat and can be scrambled on a 24/7 basis. Our role is to preserve peace and prevent conflict.”
121 EAW includes personnel mainly drawn from RAF Coningsby. It also comprises multiple branches and trades needed to ensure support to four aircraft for several months during overseas operations.
Norris added: “Aircraft can be launched in a very short space of time; the role we are carrying out is identical to that performed by Typhoons back in the UK from their Coningsby or Lossiemouth bases.”
RAF Typhoon squadrons are deployed regularly in support of Nato Air Policing missions. The squadrons last operated from Estonia in 2016.
Last month, Typhoon fighters were scrambled to intercept two Russian Blackjacks sighted over the North Sea. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
29 Apr 19. Turkey Exceeds Defence Export Target as Industrial Capabilities Continue to Grow, says Jane’s by IHS Markit. Development of new technologies behind Turkey’s export success on a global stage, while increases in domestic defence spending continue to bolster research and development efforts.
The latest analysis from Jane’s Defence Budgets, a product from business information provider IHS Markit (Nasdaq: INFO), highlights that Turkish defence exports have exceeded their USD2bn target, with sustained success in export markets aided by enhanced investment in defence research and development.
“Turkey exceeded its 2018 USD2bn target in aerospace and defence exports, with continued development of markets in the Gulf, Asia and Africa furthering this upwards trend”, said Charles Forrester, senior defence industry analyst at Jane’s by IHS Markit.
“As the country develops new technologies – ranging from rail guns and missiles to electronic warfare systems – its overall competitiveness will increase on the global market. The ongoing improvement in other core technology programmes, such as armoured vehicles and remote weapons stations, will also serve to maintain pace in global markets for lower cost, high technology solutions.”
Turkey’s core defence budget more than doubles since 2015
Turkey’s core defence budget has doubled in nominal terms since 2015 to reach TRY46.5bn (USD8.1bn) in 2019, although Jane’s notes that the addition of extra-budgetary items brings total related spending in 2019 closer to TRY64.5bn (USD11.2bn). However, in real terms, the defence budget has increased by one fifth since 2015 as increases were tempered by high rates of inflation.
“Persistently high levels of inflation combined with a significantly weaker lira present significant challenges to the Turkish defence budget,” said Fenella McGerty, principal analyst at Jane’s. “Inflation (CPI) is projected to reach 18% in 2019, while the lira has halved in value against the dollar since 2015.
Turkey invests 5% of annual defence spending to research and development which is one of the highest proportions globally and has served to bolster domestic capabilities. The focus on self-sufficiency has mitigated some of the fallout from a weaker lira as the country relies less on imported material.”
What’s next for Turkish industrial capabilities?
“Collaborative projects derived through the country’s highly successful offset programme will also build-out Turkish industrial capabilities in the future”, Forrester said. “The initiation of domestic programmes, such as the TF-X fighter aircraft, will help to advance domestic technical capabilities to give a degree of parity with other Western states.”
The country is continuing to work on improving its self-sustaining capabilities by increasing the indigenous content of equipment operated by its armed forces, with the government claiming to have reached a local content level of 65% in 2018.
As major programmes, such as the Altay main battle tank, take shape and enter into the manufacturing stage, Turkey’s self-sustaining capabilities are expected to increase as the value of domestic products rises over time. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
29 Apr 19. Turkey’s Kale eyes F-35 options during U.S. spat. Turkish aerospace manufacturer Kale Group said on Monday if disagreements between Ankara and Washington curb parts orders and exclude it from an F-35 project, then any lost sales would be offset by turning to civil aviation. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has not backed down from the planned purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defence system that the United States has said would compromise the security of stealth F-35 fighter jets, which Turkey also plans to buy.
NATO ally Turkey has said it will take delivery of the S-400s in July, even while sources told Reuters earlier this month that Washington had halted delivery of F-35-related equipment to the country, marking the first concrete U.S. step to block its delivery.
“There has been no impact on our business so far,” Kale vice president Osman Okyay told reporters on Monday. “These are large, complex parts and manufacturing continues uninterrupted. We have a five-year backlog of orders.”
Kale Group and its subsidiary manufacture the cockpit and front fuselage parts for the F-35. Kale Pratt & Whitney, a partnership with the Pratt & Whitney division of U.S.-based United Technologies, produces engine parts for the plane.
“Our utmost desire is that Turkey continues to be a part of this project. However we have a plan B if Turkey leaves the project,” Okyay said. “If this were to happen, we’ll aim to offset its impact (on the company) by producing more civil and commercial aviation parts.”
Kale produces parts for both Boeing and Airbus, however Okyay did not elaborate on these businesses specifically.
Washington says the S-400s are incompatible with NATO’s defence network and would pose a threat since S-400s’ radar may learn how to spot and track the F-35 and make it less able to evade Russian weapons in the future.
In March, Reuters reported that Washington was exploring whether it could remove Turkey from F-35 production.
Disagreement over the F-35 is one of a series of diplomatic disputes between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members. There are also differences over Turkish demands that the United States extradite Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, Middle East policy, the war in Syria, and sanctions on Iran.
In 2017, Kale said it would set up a joint venture with Britain’s Rolls-Royce to develop aircraft engines after a UK-Turkish defence deal worth more than 100m pounds was signed to develop Turkish fighter jets.
But last month Rolls-Royce said it had scaled back efforts to join the Turkish programme and Kale subsequently said it was waiting for Turkey’s defence industry directorate to respond to its final offer for the programme.
“As far as I know, they are looking positively at our offer, but so far they haven’t made a decision,” Okyay said of the directorate.
He said authorities were considering three alternatives for the engine supply of TF-X, a fighter jet in early design stage. An off-the-shelf engine from General Electric or Eurojet was viewed as an interim option, with the Kale engine seen as an intermediate alternative, Okyay added. (Source: Reuters)
29 Apr 19. Islamic State Caves and Tunnels in Iraq Destroyed by RAF Typhoons. The Ministry of Defence has released further information of the ongoing campaign against the Islamic State – Operation SHADER – with the news that RAF Typhoon aircraft have targeted and destroyed Islamic State caves and tunnels in Northern Iraq. Following the liberation by the Syrian Democratic Forces of the last territory held by the Islamic State in Syria, Royal Air Force aircraft have continued to fly daily armed reconnaissance missions ready to support both the SDF and the Iraqi security forces to frustrate any attempts by the Islamic terrorists to re-establish a presence in either country.
On Wednesday 27 March, two Typhoon FGR4s flying from RAF Akrotiri, and supported by a Voyager air-refuelling tanker as normal, were tasked to assist the Iraqis, who had identified a set of caves used by the Islamic State in very hilly terrain some thirteen miles east of Bayji. The Typhoons were able to strike the two cave entrances with a Paveway IV apiece.
Coalition intelligence efforts pinpointed a dispersed Islamic State network of caves and tunnels in the hills some forty miles east-north-east of Tikrit, and two Typhoons were assigned to attack the six entrances on Wednesday 24 April. Paveway IV guided bombs were again used to destroy the targets. (Source: Warfare.Today/U.K. MoD))
29 Apr 19. Germany’s F-35 fighter rebuff raises questions for Nato partners. Lockheed Martin’s Europe chief warns ‘retrograde step’ imperils defence co-operation. Berlin said in January it had decided against buying the F-35 and was looking instead at the Eurofighter from Airbus or Boeing’s F-18. Germany’s decision not to buy the F-35 stealth fighter jet is a “retrograde step” that could hamper the country’s ability to operate at the same level as its Nato partners, according to the European head of Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the aircraft. Jonathan Hoyle, vice-president for Europe at the US defence group, said the German decision in January to exclude the F-35 from further consideration as a replacement for its ageing Tornado fleet had caught a lot of governments “on the hop”. The German defence ministry said at the time it had decided to acquire either more Eurofighters from Airbus, the European group, or Boeing-made F-18s.
With the German rhetoric in the past three years having been about stepping up its defence capabilities, the decision not to consider the F-35 had prompted questions among other European governments over “Germany’s position going forward, and therefore what does it mean for Nato”, Mr Hoyle told the Financial Times in an interview. He added that during a recent visit to Nato several ambassadors had expressed “disappointment” at the German decision. They had noted that while many of their countries were investing in fifth-generation fighter jet technology by opting for the F-35, “Germany, which has the biggest defence budget, has just taken this retrograde step and isn’t going to be there”. “So when we go off and collaborate together operationally, if you are flying stealth, fifth-generation jets, you don’t want a fourth-generation jet in the middle of your operations because everyone can see that,” he added.
The German decision was seen by many defence observers as a signal by Berlin that it remained committed to pursuing a next-generation Franco-German “future combat air system” (FCAS). Paris had previously voiced fears that a German order to buy the F-35, widely seen as the most advanced aircraft on the shortlist, could have made the FCAS project — due to form the backbone of both countries’ air forces after 2040 — redundant. A key issue for Germany, according to defence analysts, will be how a new fleet can continue to carry and deploy US nuclear weapons stationed at Büchel, in the west of the country, as part of Nato’s “nuclear sharing” arrangement. Any replacement for the Tornado will have to be able to do the same and be certified to do so by the US. Recommended The FT View The editorial board Germany’s low defence spending weakens Nato Germany’s position on defence has come under repeated fire from US president Donald Trump, who has criticised the government for not spending enough.
Mike Pence, the US vice-president, renewed the criticism at Nato’s 70th anniversary celebrations this month. Despite the setback on the F-35, Mr Hoyle said Lockheed continued to regard Germany as a “big addressable marketplace”. Lockheed has an interest in a number of significant defence programmes in the country, including heavy-lift helicopters, as well as missile defence, where Germany has a lead Nato role. Europe remains a key growth area for Lockheed, added Mr Hoyle, notably Poland, which will become a regional hub for the group. Poland has pledged to spend 2 per cent of its strongly growing gross domestic product each year on defence as part of a 10-year modernisation plan outlined in 2013. (Source: FT.com)
26 Apr 19. Duncan’s double as destroyer joins two US aircraft carriers off Malta. HMS Duncan joined 200,000 tonnes of naval might as she worked simultaneously with TWO American aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean. The Portsmouth-based destroyer slipped seamlessly into the USS John C Stennis and USS Abraham Lincoln carrier battle groups, honing skills needed to work with Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth-class flagships.
The Stennis is making her way home to Norfolk, Virginia, after operations in the Middle East while her older sister USS Abraham Lincoln is in the early stages of a deployment which will take her to the Gulf and Pacific before arriving at her new home of San Diego.
Both nuclear-powered warships, displacing 100,000 tonnes each, are home to upwards of 6,000 sailors, marines and aviators, some 60 fast-jets – mostly F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters – plus intelligence gathering Hawkeyes and around 20 helicopters.
They can launch more than 120 sorties a day during intensive operations – including catapulting more than 20 F/A-18s skywards one after another in rapid succession. Duncan is one of six Type 45 destroyers built to both defend a task group from air attack as well as to guide jet fighters and bombers on to targets.
She did both in the opening stages of her deployment alongside France’s flagship Charles de Gaulle; the carrier’s Rafale jets carried out strikes against Isis forces in Syria and Iraq.
Since then she’s broken away from the French to join a NATO task force patrolling the Mediterranean, promoting the work of the alliance – celebrating its 70th anniversary this year – and conducting combined training to ensure the group is ready for any eventuality.
East of Malta, the three naval forces combined for some joint exercises.
“The meeting of two of these colossal ships is a sight to behold and for Duncan to be integrated so well with the US carrier groups can only be positive as we look into the future deployments of our own carriers,” said Lieutenant Commander Duncan Abbott, the British destroyer’s senior warfare officer, who joined the Stennis to observe a ‘big deck’ carrier operating in full flow.
“This is maritime force on an epic scale – the sheer number of aircraft airborne at any one time plus the number of aircraft on standby means this is an air force, borne from the sea, ready to project at range anywhere in the world at any time.”
HMS Duncan’s Principal Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Commander Ben Dorrington, said the Royal Navy/NATO/US Navy link-up boded well for future international and carrier operations, especially as next year HMS Queen Elizabeth is lined up to work closely with units from a variety of NATO nations.
“Interactions like this are becoming increasingly common. They enable all NATO partners to hone their skills and develop procedures for future operations,” he added.
“It is particularly important when we think forward to the deployment of our own carrier next year and the integration that will take place with our NATO allies.”
HMS Duncan is now heading for Italy as she continues her six-month deployment to the Mediterranean. Next up is a large-scale NATO exercise. (Source: Royal Navy)
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