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14 Jun 19. Industrial agreement, offers delivered to France and Germany: Dassault Aviation and Airbus achieve next decisive milestone for Future Combat Air System programme.
- Industrial agreement on demonstrator programmes covers core elements of a Future Combat Air System: a New Generation Fighter, Remote Carriers and an Air Combat Cloud
- Joint industry proposals for the first phase demonstrators delivered to the French Defence Procurement Agency DGA and the German Ministry of Defence
- Industry committed to ambitious demonstration programme with cutting-edge technologies, and first real flight by 2026
- Reveal of first concept models for new Generation Fighter and Remote Carriers
Dassault Aviation and Airbus SE have delivered a joint industrial proposal to the governments of France and Germany for the first Demonstrator Phase of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). This next major milestone achievement in the programme was showcased by the reveal of the New Generation Fighter and Remote Carriers models to a world public on the opening day of the 2019 Paris Air Show. The reveal of the models by Eric Trappier, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dassault Aviation and Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space was witnessed by the host of the opening ceremony at Le Bourget airport, President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, and the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, the German Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen and the Spanish Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles.
This Demonstrator Phase will cover the period between 2019 and mid-2021 and will serve as a starting point for demonstrators and technology development for a New Generation Fighter (NGF), Remote Carriers (RC) and an Air Combat Cloud (ACC) to fly by 2026. The various teaming agreements, which also include the companies MBDA Systems and Thales, contain a defined scope of planning of the first Demonstrator Phase, ways of working and commercial agreements. Additionally, a transparent and fair handling of Intellectual Property Rights has been established in the respective teaming agreements. In parallel, Safran and MTU are in charge of developing a New Engine.
“The Joint Concept Study awarded to Dassault Aviation and Airbus in January 2019 was the first step in a fruitful cooperation between both companies. The first Demonstrator Phase marks another decisive step in the Next Generation Weapon System industrial organisation in which the New Generation Fighter, to be built by Dassault and Airbus, with Dassault Aviation as Prime contractor, as well as the Remote Carriers and Air Combat Cloud with Airbus as Prime contractor, will be the corner stone of the Future Combat Air System”, said Eric Trappier, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dassault Aviation. “The progress we have achieved on the FCAS programme in recent months is remarkable. It will shape Europe’s most decisive military air combat programme for the decades to come and turn out a strong move in constructing Europe’s sovereignty.”
Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space, said: “I am very satisfied with the level of trust and partnership we have built with Dassault already in the execution of the Joint Concept Study, and now with the industrial proposal we’ve submitted to the both governments. The principles of our industrial cooperation include joint decision making, a clear governance set-up, transparent ways of working, and a common preparation and negotiation of this first phase of the demonstrator activities.”
After initiating the negotiation phase through the delivered proposal, Dassault Aviation and Airbus expect a contract award for the first Demonstrator Phase by Q4 2019.
14 June 19. Italian Cabinet Agrees €7.2bn for Defense Procurement Programs. After hesitating for a year amid bickering between the two leading parties of the governing coalition of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development (MiSE) yesterday announced that it would invest, jointly with the Ministry of Defense, an additional €7.2bn through 2032 to support the defense industry and modernize the armed forces.
The new funds were, surprisingly, announced during a roundtable meeting at the Ministry of Economic Development called to rescue Iveco Defence Vehicles, a private company which is one of Italy’s major manufacturers of military vehicles.
The additional funding will notably allow the Italian Army to order the VBM Freccia 8×8 infantry combat vehicle and the Centauro II 8×8 tank destroyer, and thereby ensure the financial stability of Iveco Defense Vehicles, which manufactures both vehicles through a joint venture with OTO-Melara. These two programs will receive €2.2bn over the next 12 years, funding the production of 156 VBM and 64 Centauro 2s, at a cost of €1.5bn and €740m respectively. These prices include integrated logistic support.
The new funds will be in addition to the annual defense budgets voted by Parliament. Italy has traditionally budgeted relatively low annual budgets for equipment procurement, while financing large acquisitions through special, multiyear funds paid by several government departments.
“MiSE confirms its full support for the Ministry of Defense’s work on investments in the country’s strategic realities, and effectively renews its commitment to define an industrial policy capable of ensuring the competitiveness and growth of the entire Italian productive fabric,” said Carmine America, advisor for security and international relations to Luigi Di Maio, Minister of Economic Development and Deputy Prime Minister.
Yesterday’s agreement was unexpected because of continuing infighting on defense spending between Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio and defense minister Elisabetta Trenta, both members of the Five Star party, and their political opponent and coalition partner, Lega chief Matteo Salvini, the other Deputy Prime Minister.
Five Stars prefer spending on social programs rather than on defense, and had notably promised they would cut spending on the F-35 fighter program, while Salvini supports both the F-35 and military spending, and the technology, employment and tax benefits that come with them.
It is not yet clear what level of funding will be retained for the F-35 program, on which Italy has been dragging its feet since the present government took office last July, but for military aircraft the defense fund approved yesterday only provides for the Mid-Life Update of the Tornado strike aircraft and of the Eurofighter, known as the F-2000 in Italian service.
The other programs that will be funded under today’s agreement include the M-345 jet trainer, for which Leonardo announced yesterday that it had received a €300m order from the Italian Air Force; the Leonardo HH-101 Combat Search And Rescue helicopter; the major upgrade of the naval and ground variants of the FSAF air-defense system to the B1-NT standard, which will have a significant anti-missile capability.
Also due to be funded are the NH90 helicopter, the U212 NSF submarines, the Teseo Mk 2 anti-ship missile, but the details of funding for individual programs has not yet been released. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)
14 June 19. UK’s special forces set for new Russia mission. The SAS and other UK Special Forces (UKSF) are poised to receive a new mission countering Russian and other forces around the world. The plan is called ‘Special Operations Concept’ and has been drawn up by the senior officer in charge of the special forces, the Director Special Forces (DSF).
According to people familiar with what’s in it, part of the concept involves changing both the structure of the military’s secretive units and what they do. The plan is currently being considered by military chiefs, Whitehall insiders tell me, and will soon be sent to ministers and is likely to be approved. The Ministry of Defence has said it does not comment on the UK Special Forces. UK Special Forces are meant to provide more options for low-profile actions in places where overtly committing conventional troops would be difficult.
For example, under the new plan, an operation might be mounted in a Baltic republic or African country in order to uncover and pinpoint Russian covert activities.
Then a decision would be made as to whether to make public what had been learned, or to cooperate secretly with local security forces in order to disrupt it.
The new missions would take UKSF units in a less “kinetic” or violent direction – after almost 20 years of man-hunting strike missions in the Middle East and Afghanistan – and into closer cooperation with allied intelligence agencies and MI6.
“The counter-terrorist task is drawing down, while the need to confront dangerous international behaviour by peer adversaries is increasing,” says one source.
Following the defeat of the last pocket of Islamic State group, missions in Syria and Iraq are declining. And so in staking out new territory, the DSF seems to be trying to give new priorities to the units under their command at a time of financial stringency. There are three main elements of the UK’s Special Forces: the regular Special Air Service regiment (22 SAS), the Special Boat Service (SBS), and Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR). The role of the SRR, which carries out covert surveillance, would grow under the Special Operations Concept.
Military chiefs believe Russia has been using its military intelligence arm, the GRU, effectively in Ukraine, Syria and Africa.
“Right now, you do nothing or you escalate,” one senior officer says. “We want to expand that competitive space.”
The UK government has said the GRU was behind the 2018 Salisbury attack, in which Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned with a nerve agent.
At a London conference earlier this month, Chief of General Staff General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith referred to “authoritarian regimes” rather than mentioning Russia by name, noting they had managed to “exploit that hybrid space between those two increasingly redundant states of ‘peace’ and ‘war'”.
Operating in the ‘grey zone’
This type of unstated conflict between states is often referred to as “the grey zone”.
Recent attacks on tankers in the Gulf are an example of this, with states – believed to be Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates – acting covertly, either directly or through proxies.
Experts across the West are seeking out the right responses to hostile acts that fall short of the threshold of all-out war. Such responses could include an increased emphasis on information and cyber operations.
The SRR is trained in a variety of techniques including physical and technical surveillance, such as planting cameras in insurgent-held territory, eavesdropping and close-proximity hacking.
It remains up for debate whether this new concept would see the stepping up of a shadow war against proxy forces – serving the interests of countries such as China, Iran and Russia – that could occasionally turn violent.
British politicians’ appetite for risk is limited and the capture of a party of Special Forces operators and MI6 officers in Libya eight years ago showed the potential for embarrassment that comes with such missions. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/BBC)
13 June 19. Holding patterns for investment in UK aerospace. Holding patterns in aerospace are no longer being associated solely with the skies but also on the ground as the possible impact of a non-effective Brexit strategy lingers on for industry. The ADS Group has long held the position that a no Brexit deal would be the worst outcome for the UK when it eventually leaves the European Union. In 2018, Paul Everitt, chief executive at ADS, shared that aerospace businesses were seriously concerned about the costs of operating in the UK post-Brexit and the potential for those costs to climb higher as a result of withdrawing from the EU. So even though the withdrawal date has moved to the final quarter of this year, it is becoming clearer that the impact of Brexit on investment in UK aerospace has stemmed around the necessity for minimal delay in this area to the country, this is a sentiment that was shared by ADS in July 2016; notably, a year prior to the referendum.
On 11 June 2019 at a pre-Paris Air Show press briefing, ADS Group shared that SMEs were not in a position financially to undertake further contingency planning ahead of the next date for the UK’s withdrawal from the European on 31 October and some simply did not have the ‘appetite’ to.
Jeegar Kakkad, chief economist and director of policy for the ADS Group, said: ‘I think companies have already put in place as much contingency planning as they can. That’s tying up working capital and those that have buffer stocks it just made sense to hold on to them rather than winding down and winding them back up again.
‘The concern is whether [companies] take any further contingency planning or if they have done as much as they can. But what happens after the 31st [October] they just don’t know yet. We’re in a holding pattern essentially from industry,’ he added.
Kakkad went further to say that looking more widely at the sector, the ADS Group estimates that in terms of contingency planning, companies have likely spent £600m ($763m) in this area as they weigh up the impact of Brexit to business. However, SMEs just do not have the financial capacity to do this and thus hold onto cash unlike prime companies which are able to proactively spend in the realms of exigency in the event of Brexit.
Whilst the ADS Group confirmed that there had been no visible financial stress at this moment, the organisation has encouraged its members to speak strategically with its banks on overdrafts or lending options.
‘What we have seen is that the rate of growth in the UK, in the supply chain, is significantly lower than elsewhere in the industry at large. And indeed into 2017-2018 the UK supply chain demand dropped against a significant increase elsewhere,’ Everitt commented.
The major concern for UK aerospace business, voiced by ADS Group, is a ‘slow but steady erosion’ of the nation’s competitiveness, he said.
‘This is about erosion and competitiveness in the medium term and then missing out on major investments over the longer term.’
A further example of a holding pattern this year was during the 29 March to 12 April timeframe which saw no US or European customers ‘placing any tenders with UK suppliers’, Kakkad said. He continued that existing orders were not being lost but new orders were not received for the future.
Whether political decision-makers will release aerospace industry from current holding patterns is likely to be determined in the latter half of this year otherwise UK aerospace growth looks set to continue with being grounded. (Source: Shephard)
14 June 19. Airbus SE* (stock exchange symbol: AIR) has signed the A400M contract amendment with OCCAR, the Bonn, Germany-based organisation for joint armament cooperation, which manages the multinational programme on behalf of the Launch Customer Nations Germany, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey, Belgium and Luxembourg. This contract signature concludes the discussions between both sides on the Global Rebaselining of the A400M programme, which had been initiated in March 2017.
“The overall aim of the Global Rebaselining – both for Airbus as well as for OCCAR and the Launch Customer Nations – was to recover a sustainable contractual basis for and to ensure a proper execution of the A400M programme,” said Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space. “I would like to thank our customers for their engagement and support during the discussions over the last two years. This new situation will also support our efforts to export the A400M worldwide.”
With the contract amendment, Airbus as well as OCCAR and the Launch Customer Nations have agreed on the following:
- New capabilities development plan
Based on this new plan, Airbus aims to provide all agreed capabilities over an adjusted timeframe and to give solid visibility to the Launch Customer Nations for a better planning of operations and engagements. First elements of this new planning have already been implemented with deliveries of tactical capabilities which enable the Launch Customer Nations to operate in various mission profiles all around the world.
- New production delivery schedule
All parties have agreed to stretch the A400M production plan while keeping the programme’s contractual timeframe until 2030. The new production delivery schedule both addresses the Launch Customer Nations’ expectations and significantly reduces the financial exposure. Furthermore, the new delivery schedule enables the A400M programme to adjust the production rate in order to accommodate export orders in the coming years.
- New retrofit delivery schedule
The new retrofit agreement with the Launch Customer Nations will implement the final contractual standard with associated capabilities to all of the delivered A400M aircraft.
This new agreement will minimise aircraft downtimes to meet customer expectations while optimising the retrofit process for Airbus.
- New financial terms
Airbus, OCCAR and the Launch Customer Nations have agreed on the implementation of a revised financial retention mechanism. This new scheme recognises the achievement of A400M capabilities which have already been implemented in service while keeping an incentive to finalise the development of the ultimate contractual standard.
Furthermore, a significant compensation in products and services has been agreed in exchange of accrued financial obligations due to past late deliveries. This provides both the customers and industry with an opportunity to jointly enhance the A400M platform.
“The discussions with our customers towards the Global Rebaselining of the A400M programme had already provided first tangible results in 2018. On the basis of this contract amendment signature, Airbus is fully committed to continue on this positive path and to providing its A400M current and future customers with the most powerful and technologically advanced military transport aircraft available on the market,” said Dirk Hoke.
13 June 19. Erdogan spokesman Kalin says discussed F-35 letter with Bolton on phone. Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Thursday he spoke on the phone with President Donald Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton to discuss a letter sent by the Pentagon about Ankara’s removal from the F-35 jets programme.
Washington has warned Turkey against buying and installing Russian S-400 missile defence systems.
Speaking at a press conference in Ankara following a cabinet meeting, Kalin said he hoped the Pentagon would abandon its current attitude towards Turkey, which he said could permanently damage ties between the two NATO allies.
U.S. Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan last week sent his Turkish counterpart a letter warning that Ankara would be pulled out of the F-35 jet programme unless it changes course from its plans to install the S-400 defences.
Kalin also said Erdogan was set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of June during the G20 meeting in Japan.(Source: Reuters)
13 June 19. Russia says concerned about U.S. deployment of spy drones in Poland – RIA. Russia is concerned about a U.S. plan to deploy spy drones in Poland, RIA news agency cited a Russian deputy foreign minister as saying on Thursday. Sergei Ryabkov also said Washington’s move demonstrated what he called its “aggressive intentions”. On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump promised Polish President Andrzej Duda that he would deploy 1,000 U.S. troops to Poland, a step sought by Warsaw to deter potential aggression from Russia. (Source: Reuters)
13 June 19. Turkey rejects U.S. ultimatums, says it will not back down on Russian S-400s. Turkey will not back down from its decision to buy Russian S-400 missile defence systems despite U.S. warnings that it will lead to Ankara’s exclusion from the F-35 fighter jet programme, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday.
In what has become the main source of tension between Ankara and Washington, the NATO allies have sparred publicly for months over Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s, which Washington has said could trigger U.S. sanctions.
U.S. Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan last week sent his Turkish counterpart a letter warning that Ankara would be pulled out of the F-35 jet programme unless it changes course from its plans to install the defences.
In what was Turkey’s first direct response to the letter, Cavusoglu said no one can give Turkey ultimatums.
“Turkey will not back down from its decisions with these kinds of letters,” he said. “Turkey bought S-400, it is going to be delivered and stationed in Turkey.”
The S-400s are not compatible with NATO’s defence systems and Washington says they would compromise its F-35s, which Turkey also plans to buy. Turkey has proposed that the allies form a working group to asses the impact of the S-400s, but has yet to receive a response from the United States.
Cavusoglu on Thursday repeated Turkey’s call for the joint working group, saying experts from both countries should come together to evaluate U.S. concerns.
A day earlier, President Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey had completed the deal with Russia and that the systems will be delivered in July. Russia has said it will begin the delivery of the systems in July.
Erdogan also said that Ankara would challenge its potential removal from the F-35 programme on every platform and hold those who exclude Turkey accountable.
The United States has threatened to impose sanctions on Ankara under its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), the possibility of which has spooked investors and caused a selloff in the lira this year.
The lira stood at 5.8460 at 1029 GMT on Thursday, weakening from around 5.8320, where it stood prior to Cavusoglu’s speech. It was down some 0.7% from Wednesday’s close.
While Turkey has dismissed the U.S. warnings, Washington has said discussions are taking place with Ankara on selling Turkey rival Raytheon Co Patriot defence systems. But, Erdogan has said the U.S. offer was not “as good as the S-400s”.
Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has said Turkey is working on a response to Shanahan’s letter and that it will be delivered in coming days.
The ministers later spoke by telephone on Thursday and discussed the letter, Turkey’s defence ministry said, adding that Akar had “emphasized the improper wording not in line with the spirit of the Alliance” in the letter during the call.
Israel’s deputy Defence Minister Eli Ben-Dahan said the strains between Turkey and the United States could help strengthen ties with Israel and boost the country’s participation in the F-35 program.
“It could also very much be that the State of Israel will get another portion within the framework of the F-35 and additional things which, in part, were meant to have been transferred to factories in Turkey,” he told Army Radio. (Source: Reuters)
12 June 19. Royal Marines swoop on passenger ferry. Royal Marines stormed a passenger ferry packed with holidaymakers as they rehearsed boarding drills in the Channel. Using high-speed boats and their specialist climbing equipment, commandos deftly clambered aboard Brittany Ferries’ Armorique, ten miles off the south coast.
The green berets of 539 Assault Squadron and 42 Commando swooped on the Plymouth-bound ship as she came over the horizon on her journey from Roscoff in north-western France.
In rough seas, the commandos sped behind of the 29,469-tonne Armorique, as passengers crowded the upper decks to watch.
They saw 16 specialist troops from 42 Commando – the Royal Marines’ Maritime Operations Unit, based at Bickleigh Barracks on the northern edge of Plymouth – make their daring ascent of the nine-deck ferry in notoriously difficult conditions.
With coxswains from 539 Assault Squadron piloting three fast craft, the marines made the audacious climb by cable ladder to the upper decks of the ferry, all while cutting through the water at around 25mph.
“The Royal Marines are one of only a few forces in the UK trained to conduct this sort of Operation, so it is vital we do this training regularly, under the most arduous conditions possible,” said Captain Jack Denniss of 539 Assault Squadron.
“42 Commando’s J Company is unique in that it is trained to conduct ‘level three’ boarding operations, which is to say that your access to a target vessel is opposed; through either manoeuvre, obstacles, force, or all of the above.
“During this sort of boarding, the point of greatest vulnerability can often be the embarkation. In fact, achieving access to a fast-moving vessel is in some cases more dangerous than the enemy protecting it.
“Success in such an endeavour requires rigorous training, courage and importantly, an expert coxswain who can stand up to the conditions.”
539 Assault Squadron are the ‘punch’ of 1 Assault Group – based at Royal Marines Tamar in Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth.
As the Royal Marines’ specialists in amphibious raids, riverine operations and maritime interdiction, the landing craftsman of 539 stand ready to ensure that J Company can reach their target and achieve their task.
Maintaining a constant state of readiness means that commandos of both units train regularly on vessels of every size, type, speed and in any sea-state.
The Royal Marines currently use the Pacific 24 sea boat, a multi-purpose craft carried by all UK warships which can reach speeds of up to 40 knots (around 46mph). On this exercise, they deployed with two Pacific 24s.
12 June 19. Russia says US troop build-up in Poland ‘undermines stability in Europe. Russia has said a US decision to send 1,000 more troops to Poland is in preparation for a large-scale military deployment, and said its future defence planning would take this into account. Russia’s foreign ministry said that the decision was a “severe blow” struck at a 1997 deal between Russia and Nato to restrict military build-up in eastern European countries, and represented “further dangerous build-up of military capabilities on the continent carried out by Washington without regard to obligations under multilateral instruments, and now without regard to European allies.” “Such actions undermine one of the few remaining documents designed to ensure military stability in Europe,” the ministry said in a statement. “Russia cannot fail to take this into account in its defence planning and practical activities.” “The assurances that this enhancement is supposedly insignificant should not be misleading,” it added. “The staff structures that are being created in Poland under the current reinforcement have much greater potential. We see this as a sign of preparation for subsequent large-scale deployments.” (Source: FT.com)
12 June 19. UK to pursue new partnership model for Tempest collaboration. The UK wants to adopt a new partnership arrangement with international participants in its Tempest next-generation combat aircraft programme, in an effort to avoid the rigid workshare model employed during previous joint efforts.
“Nations need to collaborate on the strength of what they bring to a programme, with the desire for industrial and technology gains in there as a consideration, but not the primary driver,” says Sir Simon Bollom, chief executive of the UK’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation. Speaking at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on 10 June, Bollom described the proposed new arrangement as potentially similar to the “best athlete” model employed by Lockheed Martin when selecting suppliers for the F-35. This would avoid repeating the UK’s experience as a member of the four-nation Eurofighter consortium, where he argues “preservation of the purity of the workshare arrangements sometimes seemed to be the main aim of the programme”.
“Tempest offers a great opportunity for the UK defence industry, with international partners, to make a bold statement about the defence sector, re-establish our national sovereignty [in the combat air sector] and launch new product lines that are attractive to export nations,” Bollom says.
Launched at the Farnborough air show last July, the Tempest activity involves BAE Systems, Leonardo’s UK arm, MBDA, Rolls-Royce, DE&S and the Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office. The project envisions delivering a future combat air system for operational use by around 2035. Potential partners have previously been listed as including Japan, Sweden and Turkey.
“Tempest provides a strategic opportunity to deliver another iconic capability with our chosen collaborative partners, based on the thinking that we derived from success on past programmes,” Bollom says.
He cautions, however, that momentum must be maintained with the Tempest programme, and points to the UK’s “failure to exploit our technological advantages in unmanned air systems and autonomy in the middle of the last decade”.
“[BAE’s] Herti and Mantis [unmanned air vehicles] were two examples of products that were in development, but we didn’t seize the opportunity for a number of reasons. Now these products are freely available in the open market worldwide,” he notes.
By contrast, he describes BAE’s Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrator programme – an industrial precursor to the creation of the current Team Tempest – as “hugely successful”, and as having “provided a solid technology foundation to springboard towards a sixth-generation aircraft”. (Source: News Now/https://www.flightglobal.com)
12 June 19. Bulgaria ready to protect North Macedonia’s airspace with F-16 jets. NATO member Bulgaria could help protect its southwestern neighbour North Macedonia’s airspace if it completes a deal for the purchase of eight F-16 aircraft from the United States, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said on Wednesday.
Bulgaria, which is also a member of the European Union, is looking to replace its ageing Soviet-made MiG-29s and improve compliance with NATO standards.
A Pentagon agency said on Monday that the U.S. State Department had approved the possible sale of eight F-16 aircraft and related equipment to Bulgaria at an estimated cost of $1.67bn.
However, Bulgaria expects the United States to offer to sell the jets for its air force at a discounted price of $1.2bn.
“We spoke with (my) colleague (North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran) Zaev last week… to guard North Macedonia’s airspace when we acquire the new jets,” Borissov told reporters.
“Тhis will be good for them and for us.”
The official U.S. proposal to sell F-16 fighter jets to the Balkan country is expected to arrive within a week, Bulgarian Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov said on Tuesday. The expected deal for Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70 would be the Black Sea state’s biggest military procurement since the end of Communist rule in 1989.
North Macedonia hopes to become NATO’s 30th member next year and also expects shortly to secure a date to start EU accession talks following a deal with Greece to change its name from Macedonia. Athens had previously blocked the ex-Yugoslav republic’s efforts to join the two organisations. (Source: Reuters)
12 June 19. Turkey says it has already bought Russian S-400 defence systems. Turkey has already purchased S-400 defence systems from Russia and hopes they will be delivered in July, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, an announcement likely to ratchet up tensions with NATO ally Washington. Turkey and the United States have sparred publicly for months over Ankara’s order for the S-400s, which are not compatible with NATO’s systems.
“Turkey has already bought S-400 defence systems. It is a done deal. I hope these systems will be delivered to our country next month,” Erdogan said.
U.S. acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan outlined last week how Turkey would be pulled out of the F-35 fighter jet programme unless Ankara changed course from its plans to purchase the S-400 missile defence system.
Turkey has criticised the letter from Washington and said it did not live up to the spirit of the NATO alliance. It is working on a response to be sent in the coming days, according to Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar.
The United States says Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian system poses a threat to Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 stealth fighters, and has warned of potential U.S. sanctions if Ankara presses on with the deal.
Speaking at a meeting of his AK Party members, Erdogan said:
“We will call to account in every platform Turkey being excluded from the F-35 programme for reasons without rationale or legitimacy.”
He noted that Turkey was also a manufacturing partner in the programme.
Turkey has repeatedly proposed a joint working group to assess the impact of the S-400 surface-to-air defence systems, but Washington has not yet taken up the suggestion.
Erdogan also said he wanted to talk about the issue on the phone with the United States, before he meets President Donald Trump in Osaka, Japan, at the end of this month.
Russia said on Tuesday it planned to deliver its S-400s to Turkey in July, setting the clock ticking on the U.S. sanctions threat.
Erdogan also discussed the situation at Turkey’s border with Syria, pledging to sweep the YPG Kurdish militia from northern Syria, and east of the Euphrates, revitalising a plan put on hold after the United States said it would pull its troops out of the area.
“We may suddenly come one night,” he added referring to previous military operations to Syria.
Turkey considers the YPG an enemy and has already intervened to oust the fighters from territory west of the Euphrates in military campaigns over the past two years.
Ankara has been infuriated by U.S. support for the YPG, which it considers a terrorist organisation and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey for more than three decades. (Source: Reuters)
12 June 19. Spain’s military still has eyes for the F-35 despite European fighter push. The Spanish navy and air force are still interested in the American F-35 fighter jet, even though the government is about to join a Franco-German program to develop a new European plane.
The two services are in the beginning stages of an analysis in which the Lockheed Martin-made aircraft is emerging as a key contender, officials told reporters on the sidelines of the FEINDEF defense expo here in late May.
For the navy, the choice for the short-takeoff-and-landing variant of the jet, dubbed the F-35B, appears to be more clear-cut than for the air force. The Spanish navy wants to replace its 12 Harrier jets, which are launched from the LPH Juan Carlos I. That ship’s short, ski-jump deck makes the F-35B the only option on the market, according to Cdr. Antonio Estevan, a staff officer at the service’s plans and policy division.
“From a technical point of view, it’s a very interesting option for us,” Estevan said. “The problem is the cost. The version for us would be, as far as I know, $100m; the air force version $80m. We are talking about high prices. Even the American president was surprised when he realized the cost.”
Air force officials, meanwhile, are keeping their options more open when it comes to replacing the service’s 84 Boeing-made F-18s. Twenty planes of the “A” variant, stationed on the Canary Islands, need to be replaced first, by 2025, according to Brig Gen. Juan Pablo Sanchez de Lara, chief of the Spanish Air Force’s plans division.
Airbus has its eyes on that business and is offering to outfit the squadron with the Eurofighter. While that outcome is also the air force’s expectation, a replacement for the rest of the F-18 fleet, 64 planes of the “M” designation, is still up for grabs, according to Sanchez de Lara.
The two services cooperating on the requirements of a potentially joint program means the F-35 is on the table in some form or another, though it’s unclear how compatible the branches’ needs will be in the end. “For the navy, it’s a very simple solution because they need an aircraft for vertical, short takeoff,” Sanchez de Lara said. “For us, it’s different.”
Both services want new aircraft by around 2030. That would be ten years before the Future Combat Air System program, led by Airbus and Dassault, is scheduled to field a new combat aircraft.
The situation in Spain is reminiscent of the choice Germany faced about the F-35, and the government’s decision earlier this year to ditch the plane as a contender to replace the Tornado.
The Luftwaffe, the German air force, was reportedly in favor of the American fifth-generation plane, while the defense ministry’s civilian leadership preferred an upgraded version of the Eurofighter Typhoon. Airbus had lobbied hard against the F-35, arguing that the pick of a new U.S. aircraft at this stage would effectively sink the entire FCAS project. Meanwhile, two F-35s arrived at Llanos Air Base near Albacete, Spain, earlier this week for training with other NATO air forces, according to announcements from the U.S. Air Force and NATO.
During the Tactical Leadership Program officials practiced integrating the aircraft into a search-and-rescue drill to extract friendly forces from enemy territory, a June 11 alliance statement reads. (Source: Defense News)
13 June 19. Donald Trump says Poland to build facilities for 1,000 US troops. Redeployment of Europe-based soldiers would come as Russia increases regional influence. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said Poland would build infrastructure to host 1,000 American troops, as the eastern European nation boosts military co-operation with the US in the face of increased assertiveness by Russia. “Poland will soon provide basing and infrastructure to support [the] military presence of about 1,000 American troops,” Mr Trump said at a press conference with Polish president Andrzej Duda. “The Polish government will build these projects at no cost to the United States.” Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office earlier on Wednesday as he welcomed his Polish counterpart, Mr Trump had said they were discussing a number of 2,000 troops. The decision to base 1,000 US troops in Poland would complement the 4,500 American forces who currently spend time in the eastern European country on a rotating basis. Mr Trump said the troops would be redeployed from somewhere else in Europe. “We’d be taking them out of Germany, or would be moving them from another location,” Mr Trump told reporters. “It would be no additional trips to Europe.” Poland has pushed the US to establish a permanent military presence in the country due to concerns about Russian influence in the region. During a visit to Washington last year, Mr Duda said he would like to “invite more American troops to Poland”. At the time, he said Warsaw would provide $2bn to build the facility, and told Mr Trump: “I hope that we will build Fort Trump in Poland together.” Speaking in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Mr Trump refused to say if the 1,000 troops would constitute a permanent presence in Poland. He also stressed that it was up to Poland to decide how to name the facility.
“That’s up to them. I have nothing to do with naming it. Fort Trump. That’s all I need, Fort Trump. You people would have a field day with that,” Mr Trump told the reporters. “
They can name it whatever they want.” Mr Trump also took the occasion to repeat his frequent criticism of Germany for not spending enough on its own defence and failing to meet the Nato commitment to increased defence spending to 2 per cent of gross domestic product.
“Germany is at 1 per cent. They should be at 2 per cent. And they’re not getting there fast. We have 52,000 troops in Germany. We’ve had them there for a long, long time. So we probably moving a certain number of groups to Poland if we agree to do it.”
Mr Duda’s visit to the White House is the fourth by a central European leader in the past three months. It underscores the Trump administration’s drive to re-engage with the region, which was not a high priority under President Barack Obama, and which has been unsettled by the increasingly assertive stance of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
A troop increase, the result of intensive negotiations between Washington and Warsaw over the past nine months, would be a boost for Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, which has clashed repeatedly with Brussels in recent years and made stronger ties with the US one of its strategic priorities. Recommended The Big Read Nato at 70: Europe fears tensions will outlast Trump Poland last year signed a $4.8bn deal to buy Patriot missile defence systems from the US, and last month enquired about buying F-35 fighter jets. Mariusz Blaszczak, Poland’s defence minister, visited a US air base to meet units equipped with the jets earlier this week.
Mr Trump said he had arranged for an F-35 to fly over the White House while the two presidents were meeting. Poland’s geographic position as the linchpin of Nato’s eastern flank has made it an important ally for the US. But the central European nation has also won favour in Washington as a result of its willingness to spend heavily on defence — something Mr Trump has frequently demanded of US allies. Poland is one of the seven Nato countries to meet the bloc’s spending target of 2 per cent of GDP on defence. Warsaw has pledged to spend 185bn zloty ($48bn) by 2026 on modernising its armed forces. Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato general secretary, said in a statement that Wednesday’s announcement “shows the strong commitment of the United States to European security and the strength of the transatlantic bond. “Today’s announcement is part of Nato’s measured, defensive and proportionate efforts to strengthen our deterrence and defence. It is fully in line with NATO’s international commitments. When the world changes, we have to adapt to make sure that we can continue to protect all allies,” he added. (Source: FT.com)
11 June 19. Russia plans to deliver missiles to Turkey in July; U.S. takes dim view. Russia said on Tuesday it plans to deliver its S-400 missile defence systems to Turkey in July, setting the clock ticking on a U.S. threat to hit Ankara with sanctions if it goes ahead with a deal that has strained ties between the NATO allies. Turkey and the United States have sparred publicly for months over Ankara’s order for the S-400s, which are not compatible with the transatlantic alliance’s systems.
Washington has threatened to remove Turkey from its F-35 fighter jet programme unless it drops the deal, and has set its own deadline of July 31. If Ankara accepts delivery of the S-400s, that would trigger U.S. sanctions that could prolong Turkey’s economic recession and prompt a re-evaluation of its 67-year membership of NATO.
Turkey said that a U.S. House of Representatives’ resolution on Monday condemning the S-400 purchase and urging sanctions was unacceptably threatening.
Later on Tuesday in Moscow, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov told reporters: “The agreements reached between Russia and Turkey are being fulfilled on time in the given context. There are no bilateral problems.”
Asked if the surface-to-air missiles will be delivered in July, he said: “Yes, that’s what we plan somehow.”
The comments came days after the head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, said Moscow would start delivering the S-400s to Turkey in two months. Turkish officials have said the delivery could take place as soon as June.
The U.S. resolution, introduced in May and entitled “Expressing concern for the United States-Turkey alliance”, was agreed in the House on Monday. It urges Turkey to cancel the S-400 purchase and calls for sanctions if Ankara accepts their delivery. That, the resolution said, would undermine the U.S.-led transatlantic defence alliance.
In response, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that its foreign policy and judicial system were being maligned by “unfair” and “unfounded” allegations in the resolution.
“It is unacceptable to take decisions which do not serve to increase mutual trust, to continue to keep the language of threats and sanctions on the agenda and to set various artificial deadlines,” it added in a statement.
PILOT TRAINING WOUND DOWN
President Tayyip Erdogan’s government faces a balancing act in its ties with the West and Russia, with which it has close energy ties and is also cooperating in neighbouring Syria. The United States is also pressuring Turkey and other nations to isolate Iran, including blocking oil exports.
U.S. officials said on Monday the training of Turkish pilots on F-35 fighter jets had come to a faster-than-expected halt at an air base in Arizona, as Ankara’s involvement was wound down over the S-400 controversy.
The United States says Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defences poses a threat to Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 stealth fighters, which Turkey also plans to buy.
“We rarely see it in foreign affairs, but this is a black and white issue. There is no middle ground. Either Mr. Erdogan cancels the Russian deal, or he doesn’t,” Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said on the House floor on Monday.
“There is no future for Turkey having both Russian weapons and American F-35s. There’s no third option,” he said.
Turkey appeared set to move ahead with the S-400 purchase despite the U.S. warnings. Erdogan said last week it was “out of the question” for Turkey to back away from its deal with Moscow.
Separately, credit ratings agency Fitch said on Tuesday that any U.S. sanctions would have a “significant impact” on sentiment around the Turkish lira, which has sold off since late March in part due to the spat with Washington over the missile defence system.
“If sanctions are imposed, it would be relatively mild and…the direct impact would be minimal. However, the impact on sentiment could be significant,” said Paul Gamble, senior director and head of emerging Europe at Fitch Ratings. (Source: Reuters)
11 June 19. Aerospace and Brexit, reality bites! In a brave but fruitless move to deflect the audience for his pre-Paris Airshow brief, ADS CEO Paul Everitt talked up the UK’s prowess and investment in eco-friendly aerospace systems to make airliners quieter and more fuel efficient using electric power amongst others. However, the bulk of journalists’ questions revolved around the effects of Brexit on the aerospace industry. Everitt stated that Brexit allowances for parts restocking in the event of a ‘No Deal Brexit’ had cost industry £600m. But the gloom did not end there. Much more seriously it was announced that a number of UK firms had been excluded from major parts tenders given the Brexit uncertainty and that R&D spend had dropped by over 20%. He attempted to play down the seriousness of this stating that “Aerospace was a long-term business.” However, when asked by the Editor how long this embargo would last, he could not give an exact figure but stated that it would last at least until October and on into the end of the year if ‘No Deal’ stayed on the table. He also payed down the fact that if this continued and new programmes were on the table such as the new single aisle aircraft or the European FCAS, then UK firms would fail to win work on the crucial first stage of the new Programme and thus be shut out for ever, resulting in factory closures and redundancies and a gradual decline in the UK’s aerospace industry which at present is worth £36bn and exports worth £34bn employing 111,000 people. With regard to FCAS Vs. Tempest he stressed that the wish was for Europe to have one 6th Gen aircraft not two and that Sweden and Italy had expressed an interest to join Tempest. However he also stated that neither the government nor industry had the financial muscle to take tempest from concept to reality. With the automotive industry in meltdown, are we witnessing the decline of the UK’s aerospace industry and the consequential loss of jobs, R&D and tax revenue?
11 June 19. Appledore Workers ‘Sold Down The River Torridge’ – GMB. It seems the government will go across the rest of Europe to encourage bids, but it wouldn’t make the short drive from London to North Devon says GMB Union. Reports emerging this morning suggest that the Government has encouraged Italian firm Fincantieri to resubmit their bid to build FFS ships after halting in bidding the process which saw the closure Appledore Shipyard in North Devon.
Jake McLean, GMB organiser at Appledore Shipyard, said: “We’ve been sold down the Torridge by the Government. It seems the government will go across the rest of Europe to encourage bids, but it wouldn’t make the short drive from London to North Devon. There’s now no question, if the government had the appetite to save Appledore they could have worked with us and the company to keep it open. It just shows that 40 years on from Thatcher, the Tories still don’t give a toss about Industrial communities in our country.”
08 June 19. Turkish suppliers to be eliminated from F-35 program in 2020. The Pentagon is preparing to transfer Turkey’s industrial participation in the F-35 to other countries unless Ankara reverses course on its plans to buy the Russian S-400 air defense system. The move — which in early 2020 would end contracts with major Turkish defense contractors such as Turkish Aerospace Industries, Roketsan and Tusas Engine Industries, among many others — is just one of many steps the U.S. Defense Department intends to take to strip Turkey from the F-35 program, according to a June 6 letter from acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
The training of Turkish F-35 pilots at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona and of Turkish maintainers at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, will also end, Shanahan wrote, and U.S. military exercises in Turkey are in jeopardy.
“If Turkey procures the S-400, as we discussed during our call on May 28, 2019, our two countries must develop a plan to discontinue Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program,” Shanahan wrote in the letter, which was addressed to his counterpart, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. “While we seek to maintain our valued relationship, Turkey will not receive the F-35 if Turkey takes delivery of the S-400.”
However, Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, noted that Turkish participation in the program would be allowed to continue if it drops its plan to buy the Russian air defense system. The delivery of the S-400 could occur as early as this month.
“Turkey still has the option to change course. If Turkey does not accept delivery of the S-400, we will enable Turkey to return to normal F-35 program activities,” she told reporters Friday. “Turkey is a close NATO ally and our military-to-military relationship is strong.”
Turkey, a partner in the F-35 program that helped fund the development of the jet, plans to buy 100 F-35As.
Its first jet was rolled out in June 2018 in a festive “delivery ceremony,” but although Turkey formally owns its jets, the United States has the power to keep the planes from moving to Turkish soil and intends to keep all four existing Turkish jets from leaving the United States.
Lord told reporters that the Pentagon is still deciding what it will do with Turkey’s jets. One option would be to buy the aircraft and repurpose them for the U.S. Air Force, but no official decision has been made. Turkish companies are responsible for 937 parts used to build the F-35, with 400 of those sole-sourced from Turkish firms, Lord said. Existing contracts would go through a “disciplined and graceful wind down” period in “early 2020,” Lord said.
“If we can work to our timelines with the Turks, we would have no major disruptions and very few delays,” she said.
Vice Adm. Mat Winter, the F-35’s program executive, said in April that 50-75 aircraft could be delayed over a two-year period if Turkey is removed from the program, according to Breaking Defense. But Lord said those disruptions would occur only if the Pentagon terminated its supply chain agreements this summer.
Ultimately, prime contractors Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney will make the decisions on which subcontractors replace the Turkish vendors, but the Pentagon has identified new suppliers that could step up and make the parts currently sole-sourced by Turkey.
“They are predominantly U.S. sources. That’s not to say that we won’t continue to do what we always do with program management and look for other sources, because we would like to have second, third sources for most of the items,” she said.
The Defense Department has already stopped material deliveries to Turkey, halting the buildup of an engine overhaul facility that was planned to be built in and operated by Turkey.
“There are two other European MRO&Us [maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade facilities] that can absorb the volume with no issue whatsoever,” Lord said.
Despite Turkey’s industrial role in the program, Lord said she was confident that all important technical information would stay secure.
“We control what is downloaded from our computers. We have shared what’s appropriate. The Turks have no critical documentation that we’re concerned about,” she said.
What’s the impact on Turkish F-35 training?
The most immediate impact to Turkey, according to the letter from Shanahan, is that no new Turkish students will begin F-35 training at Luke Air Force Base. This defers the training of 20 students scheduled to begin training in June, as well as 14 students between July and November 2019.
“This training will not occur because we are suspending Turkey from the F-35 program; there are no longer requirements to gain proficiencies on the systems,” according to a document attached to the letter that spelled out the schedule for Turkey’s removal from the program.
In addition, the country will not be allowed to attend the annual F-35 Chief Executive Officer roundtable on June 12 — depriving Turkey of the opportunity to give input on any changes to the program’s governing documents.
But the most major day of reckoning is July 31, when Turkish personnel would no longer be allowed to access Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where pilots are trained; Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where maintainers are trained; or the F-35 Joint Program Office in Washington, D.C., where Turkish “cooperative project personnel” are stationed. Instead, the Turkish personnel must depart the United States and return to their country.
There are currently 42 Turkish military personnel training at Luke and Eglin — four pilots, and the rest maintainers. The July 31 deadline would allow 28 of them to complete their training, but the remainder would be sent home before their training naturally concluded, according to information attached to Shanahan’s letter.
The two Turkish instructor pilots based at Luke, who have completed the F-35 pilot training, would also be sent back to Turkey.
The larger impact
The situation with Turkey is fraught for myriad political and national security reasons. As the lone predominantly Muslim nation in NATO, Turkey occupies an important position in the alliance. The nation is also home to Incirlik Air Base, which is used by both the U.S. and Turkish air forces. In the hopes of resolving the issue, the United States has sent technical teams to Ankara and hosted meetings in Washington to discuss the threat posed by the S-400 and the Pentagon’s offer of Raytheon’s Patriot air and missile defense system. So far, those efforts have been unsuccessful, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continuing to make strong statements in support of an S-400 buy and the country’s defense minister acknowledging that Turkish military personnel had been sent to Russia for training on the air defense system.
Asked whether a final decision to buy the S-400 should be interpreted as Turkey bolstering its relationship with Russia at the expense of NATO, Andrew Winternitz, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe, demurred.
“Our counterparts really want to continue our really strategic partnership and our cooperation at NATO. And so we hope this is an aberration,” he said.
If Turkey buys the S-400, he added, “it changes our relationship, but it’s not something that we hope is going to disturb the many-layered strategic partnership that we have in Turkey across a number of issues.”
But other political actions may be unavoidable.
Should Turkey move forward with the S-400 purchase, it could trigger additional sanctions from Congress as part of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which penalizes U.S. partners who purchase Russian military equipment. It could also impact future military exercises in Turkey, Winternitz said. (Source: Defense News)
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