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12 Jul 19. UK’s DE&S details 2019/20 budget breakdown. The UK Ministry of Defence’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation released its corporate plan for 2019-22 on 12 July, revealing details of its budget for the current financial year. DE&S, which is responsible for the procurement and in-service support of equipment for the United Kingdom’s armed forces, manages a budget of approximately GBP11.8bn (USD14.8bn) annually. In the UK’s 2019/20 financial year GBP5.4bn, or 46% of this funding, is allocated to the acquisition of materiel, while an equal amount goes towards the support of existing equipment. Compared with the previous year’s budget, this represents a marked increase in DE&S’s procurement spend, which increased GBP1bn year on year, while equipment support spending fell by GBP400m. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

12 Jul 19. Turkey receives first shipment of Russian missile system. Delivery of S-400 equipment likely to deepen tensions with US. The first shipment of a Russian air defence system has arrived in Ankara, Turkey said on Friday, setting the stage for a showdown with Washington that could lead to punishing US sanctions. The Turkish national defence ministry said in a statement that the “first group of equipment” for the S-400 surface-to-air missile system had arrived at Murted air base in the Turkish capital. Recommended Turkey Why Turkey’s S-400 missile purchase angers the US The Pentagon is now almost certain to push Turkey out of Nato’s next generation fighter jet programme. Ankara also faces the threat of congressional sanctions aimed at hampering the Russian defence industry that could inflict severe pain on the fragile Turkish economy. If the dispute escalates, some western analysts fear it could inflict long-term damage on Ankara’s relationship with the US, draw Turkey closer to Moscow and imperil the country’s role within Nato. (Source: FT.com)

12 Jul 19. Jeremy Hunt pledges to reverse cuts to Navy amid Iran row. Jeremy Hunt has promised to reverse cuts to the size of the Royal Navy if he becomes prime minister. It comes after the Ministry of Defence said Iranian boats tried to impede a British oil tanker in the Gulf – before being driven off by a Royal Navy ship. Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Hunt said events in the Gulf showed the navy needed more warships.

The Tory leadership hopeful has already pledged to boost defence spending by £15bn over the next five years. The foreign secretary said the Royal Navy had been “run down” over recent decades and he would review the size of the current fleet of 19 frigates and destroyers.

Mr Hunt’s leadership rival, Boris Johnson, has also committed to increasing the UK’s defence budget, but BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said his plans appeared more modest.

Mr Hunt said there was “incredible menace” behind Iran’s actions in the Gulf. On Tuesday, the UK raised the threat to British shipping in Iranian waters in the Gulf to the highest level – where the risk of attack is critical.

The following day, boats believed to belong to Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) approached the British Heritage tanker and tried to bring it to a halt as it was moving out of the Gulf into the Strait of Hormuz.

HMS Montrose, a British frigate shadowing the BP-owned tanker, was forced to move between the three boats and the ship, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said.

Iran had previously threatened to retaliate for the seizure of one of its own tankers, but denied being involved in any attempted seizure.

Last week, British Royal Marines helped the authorities in Gibraltar seize an Iranian tanker because of evidence it was carrying oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.

HMS Montrose is currently the only frigate in the Gulf providing protection to British merchant shipping, amid growing tensions in the region.

Mr Hunt said investment in defence was needed in the face of new threats, such as cyber-attacks, and “to send a strong signal about Britain’s role in the world” as it left the European Union.

Increasing defence spending would also “keep the Atlantic alliance strong” by demonstrating to the US that the UK is “stepping up to its commitments on defence”, he added.

He said he also wanted to see more fast jets on Britain’s two new aircraft carriers, which he described as “a vital tool for projecting power”.

The UK is one of the few European members of Nato to reach the current target for defence spending of 2% of GDP – but Mr Hunt has pledged to boost this to 2.5% by 2023-24 if he becomes prime minister. It comes amid growing tensions between the US and Iran, after the Trump administration pulled out of an international agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme and reinforced punishing sanctions against Iran. (Source: BBC)

11 Jul 19. UK warship stops Iran attempt to ‘impede’ BP tanker. British government says vessels tried to halt journey in Strait of Hormuz. HMS Montrose, which the Royal Navy said positioned itself between the Iranian vessels and the British Heritage. A Royal Navy warship has rebuffed an attempt by Iran to “impede” the safe passage of an oil tanker owned by UK energy group BP through the Strait of Hormuz, the British government said on Thursday.  In apparent retaliation for the seizure of an Iranian vessel by the UK last week, three Iranian ships tried to halt the journey of the British Heritage through one of the world’s most important oil transportation routes. “

Contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz,” a UK government spokesperson said. “HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage, and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away,” the spokesperson added. The naval forces of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards denied they had approached any British tankers but said they would not hesitate to do so. “The guards’ naval forces continue their vigilant, precise and firm patrols in the Persian Gulf . . . and have not come across any foreign tankers, including British tankers, over the past 24 hours,” it said on Thursday. The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow shipping lane that links the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea. A third of the world’s seaborne crude passes through the passage. The British Heritage is an Isle of Man-flagged crude oil tanker with a capacity of 1m barrels.

When asked about rising geopolitical tensions in the Gulf on Wednesday, Bob Dudley, BP’s chief executive, had said: “We just have to be really careful about our ships.”  British Royal Marines last week seized the Grace 1 supertanker off the coast of Gibraltar after it was suspected of smuggling Iranian oil to Syria in contravention of EU sanctions. Tehran has denied the ship’s final destination was Syria and said the sanctions applied only to the bloc’s members. The night-time raid has triggered a diplomatic dispute between Tehran and the UK and complicated efforts to salvage a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers. The US withdrew from the agreement last year and Iran said this month it had breached agreed limits on its enriched uranium stocks. Iran’s leaders have accused the UK of “piracy” and acting at the behest of the Trump administration, which has imposed crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic alongside pulling out of the nuclear deal. Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, on Wednesday warned the UK of “consequences” if it refused to release the Grace 1. “This means Britain is directly responsible for whatever happens after this,” he said. Iran considers the US sanctions, which have hit the country’s oil exports, as an “economic war”. Circumventing the measures to allow for oil sales is the biggest challenge for the Islamic republic. The oil ministry said this week that any information on Iran’s oil trade would be categorised as war secrets, implying that disclosures could be subject to prosecution. (Source: FT.com)

10 Jul 19. Britain’s new aircraft carrier springs a leak — again. Britain’s new aircraft carrier has returned to its base early after the warship developed a leak during sea trials. The 65,000-ton HMS Queen Elizabeth was due to return to its base at Portsmouth, southern England, later this week after five weeks of trials and training. But trials were terminated when water flooded a compartment Tuesday on the £3.1bn (U.S. $3.9bn) warship — the first of two carriers being built for the Royal Navy. The cause of the leak is unclear, but one report said a high-pressure seawater pipe ruptured, letting in more than 200 tons of water.

The Ministry of Defence said it didn’t recognize the 200-ton figure. A spokesperson for the ministry described the leak as a “minor issue with an internal system.”

It’s the second time the warship has sprung a leak during trials. In late 2017, a shaft seal leak required the warship to return to base. The warship is scheduled to leave for the East Coast of the United States later this year to begin operational trials involving British F-35 fighter jets. (Source: Defense News)

10 Jul 19. Turkey targets 75% localisation of defence products by 2023. The Turkish defence industry’s 11th Development Plan, which sets out targets and strategies for 2019-23, was submitted to the country’s Parliament for discussion on 8 July. The plan sets out the goal of increasing the domestic content of defence products from the current 65% to 75% by 2023, which is the centenary of the Turkish Republic. The country also aims to expand its defence and aerospace turnover to USD26.9bn by 2023, up from USD6.7bn last year, while it hopes to increase exports of defence products to USD10.2bn, compared to 2018’s transfers of just USD2bn. Under the plan, employment in the defence industry is expected to reach 79,000 people by 2023, up from the current 44,700. (Source: Google/IHS Jane’s)

10 Jul 19. From Russia to Nato: the logic behind Poland’s military modernisation. Poland is one of the few countries in the 29-strong NATO alliance that spends over 2% of GDP on defence. With a belligerent Russia on its eastern flank, Poland is continuing to modernise its armed forces. Grant Turnbull finds out what the country wants, and whether it can afford it. Poland is in a precarious position, sandwiched between East and West and historically where great powers have fought for control over the European continent. Today, as we enter another period of great power competition, Poland once again faces the prospect of being the battleground of a potential Nato-Russian conflict. Indeed, one of Nato’s weakest strategic points is located in northern Poland: the Suwalki Gap, a 65 mile-wide strip that links Lithuania and the Baltics to the rest of Nato.

Military analysts see this gap – which has the highly militarised Russian enclave Kaliningrad to the west and Belarus to the east – as analogous to the Cold War-era Fulda Gap in Germany, where Nato once prepared its forces for surprise Soviet tank attacks coming from Eastern Europe.

In this new geopolitical context, Poland isn’t taking any chances and is prioritising the modernisation of its defence forces to ensure it can defend itself against a potential Russian invasion, as well as contribute to wider Nato missions both in and outside of the European theatre.

In February Poland’s Minister of National Defense, Mariusz Błaszczak, announced a new Technical Modernisation Plan (TMP) for the armed forces, covering the years 2017-2026.

This roadmap is valued at zl185bn (€43.2bn), which Błaszczak noted was zl45bn more than the previous TMP covering 2013-2022. Equipment in the plan includes new fighter aircraft, air defence systems, cyber defences, drones and submarines. Much of this equipment will be prioritised for Poland’s new 18th Mechanised Division, which will consist of three brigades and be based in the east to shore up the vulnerable eastern flank.

“This is a record plan when it comes to value,” said Błaszczak. “This is obviously a big challenge, but also a chance to develop the defense capabilities of the Polish Army.”

Poland’s defence budget: not all that it seems

Analysts have, however, noted that the headline zl185bn figure is actually less, owing to the fact that the TMP covers 2017 and 2018, which have already passed.

“There are some discrepancies in this number,” says Dominik Kimla, a Warsaw-based analyst with consultancy Avascent. He noted that if you remove the expenditure from 2017/18 as well as take into account several large contracts that have been placed recently for military equipment, the actual pot of money allocated for defence modernisation up to 2026 is closer to zl128bn. However, according to Avascent Analytics’ analysis, Poland might only be able to allocate about zl83bn to new military hardware by 2026.

The Polish MoD has also stated that 39% of MoD funds will be dedicated to procurement by 2026.

“The forecast that was disclosed by the MoD was based on very optimistic assumptions,” explains Kimla, “both in terms of Polish GDP growth and also in terms of allocation of procurement spending in relation to the whole MoD budget.”

Poland has ambitions to spend 2.4% of GDP on defence by 2026, a number set to increase to 2.5% by 2030. According to the most recent Nato figures, Poland currently spends 2.05% of GDP on defence.

Again, Kimla doubts that this can be achieved, especially as the Polish Government looks to increase spending on non-defence initiatives. “If you take into perspective [that] GDP growth over the next few years will be slower than the last one or two years, we believe that Poland will spend only 2.2% of GDP by 2026,” he explains.”

Other analysts have also questioned the modernisation plan. c says Konrad Muzyka, an Gdansk-based defence analyst. “Each consecutive government tends to prepare its own modernisation programmes, which usually stands in opposition to what was pursued previously. This of course leads to chaotic procurement.”

Fifth-gen fighters are a priority

The TMP singles out acquiring new fifth-generation fighter aircraft for the Polish Air Force as the “most important programme”. Under what is known as the Harpia programme, Poland wants to purchase at least 32 fifth-generation fighters to replace its increasingly unreliable Soviet Su-22 and MiG-29 aircraft.

“The MiG-29 fleet is in a dire condition,” says Muzyka, noting that three aircraft had crashed in less than 18 months. He adds that the decision to accelerate Harpia has likely been influenced by the spate of crashes and looming elections.

Other aviation priorities in the TMP include the long-running Kruk programme, which aims to acquire a new attack helicopter to replace the Russian-designed Mi-24 “Hind”. The MoD also wants to acquire a new medium-range tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as part of its Gryf programme as well as a micro UAV to be used in urban areas under the Ważka programme. A new strategic reconnaissance aircraft is also planned as part of the Płomykówka programme.

Protecting the skies

Another key item on the agenda is modernising equipment that will defend Polish skies from enemy aircraft or incoming missiles. Last year, the MoD signed a multi-billion dollar contract with US manufacturer Raytheon for the Patriot air and missile defence system as part of the Wisla programme. This is one of the largest defence contracts in Polish history.

A Phase II is also expected, although Muzyka told us that if it went ahead, the government’s defence budget would “be depleted in the near term to the point that no major acquisitions will be conducted”.

Industry is also preparing for another air defence programme known as Narew, a short-range air defence requirement that will provide yet another layer of protection from enemy air attacks.

The country’s land forces are also acquiring new tracked self-propelled artillery pieces, known as the Krab, and self-propelled Rak mortar vehicles, to support indirect fire missions and replace dated Soviet machines. Long-range firepower will also be improved with the acquisition of the US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) from Lockheed Martin.

Preparing for mechanised war

New anti-tank missiles are also expected to be procured under the Pustelnik programme, as well as new Borsuk infantry fighting vehicles to replace the army’s Soviet BWP-1 examples.

With the threat from mechanised warfare at its greatest since the end of the Cold War, Poland is also investing in upgrading its tank fleet including former German Army Leopard 2s and its fleet of PT-91s. Older tanks that have been in storage could also be regenerated for reserve units.

The country’s modernisation agenda also calls for a fleet of new Orca submarines for the navy as well as new coastal defence ships.

Another key element is bolstering the armed forces’ cyber capabilities, particularly as Nato now defines this as a military domain and Russia continues to use this method of attack against adversaries, including interference in domestic political affairs. Under what is known as CYBER.MIL.PL, Poland will invest zl3bn (€700m) in cyber capabilities as part of the modernisation agenda.

Several of the acquisitions mentioned above have been delayed, with sources noting that contracts for a number of programmes were expected around 2017 or 2018, although nothing has yet materialised.

It is still unclear when the main programmes in the modernisation agenda will be contracted to industry, with Poland having a history of drawn out programmes that could be delayed further or cancelled. Nevertheless, defence remains a top priority and increased defence spending means that Poland will be one of the key Nato players going forward. (Source: airforce-technology.com)

10 Jul 19. Italy’s defense spending rises in 2019, but procurement drops. Italy has cut its procurement spending by 15 percent in 2019, newly released defense documents reveal, even as spending by its Defence Ministry increased, with maintenance and operations funds boosted by nearly one-fifth. The numbers, which have been released for a sign-off by parliament, are contained in an annual document, which has been seen by Defense News and breaks down spending per program.

Total procurement spending is €4.32bn (U.S. $4.84bn), combining €1.87bn from the Defence Ministry and €2.45bn from Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development, which annually provides an essential monetary bump to cover domestic defense industrial programs. That compares with a total of €5.08bn spent last year — €2.3bn from the Defence Ministry and €2.78bn from the Ministry of Economic Development.

The new document predicts the €1.87bn from the Defence Ministry outlay on procurement in 2019 will rise to €2.53bn by 2021. The overall ministry outlay — which covers procurement, maintenance and operations, and personnel — rose to €13.98bn in 2019 from €13.8bn last year.

The hike allows spending on maintenance and operations to rise 19 percent to €1.75m, a welcome increase for generals who have mothballed kit over recent years for lack of maintenance.

However, the total remains far lower than the €2.7bn spent on maintenance and operations in 2008.

In its breakdown of spending per program this year, the document includes cash for the CAMM-ER missile system. The Defence Ministry withdrew a request it had sent to parliament for permission to acquire the system in October amid reports it was being sacrificed to boost welfare spending. Instead, €1m in initial 2019 funding is listed for the system, which is built by European missile-maker MBDA.

The document also lists €3 m for initial studies for the design of a new Navy minesweeper ahead of a projected €2.8bn plan to acquire 12 of the vessels. Initial funding is also included for a €300m oceanographic research ship.

Spending listed for ongoing programs includes €113.8m in 2019 on Italy’s new LHD vessel, which is expected to host Italy’s F-35B fighter jets alongside the in-service Cavour carrier. Spending on F-35 deliveries will total €690m this year, rising to €859m in 2020, the document stated. (Source: Defense News)

07 Jul 19. Sweden to join British ‘Tempest’ next-gen fighter push. Sweden is set to become the first international partner to join the British “Tempest” sixth-generation fighter program. An announcement involving the governments and industries of the two nations is expected to be made at the three-day Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) event, which begins July 19 at RAF Fairford, according to industry executives.

The British government took the wraps off the Tempest program at the Farnborough Air Show last year. The project is the main attraction in a new combat air strategy stitched together largely to enable the British defense aerospace industry to maintain its technological edge in developing jet fighters.

The Conservative government pledged £2bn, or $2.5bn, to fund the early stages of the program, which is being led on the industry side by BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, missile maker MBDA and the UK arm of Leonardo, a key supplier of systems like the radar.

But government officials have always made it clear that the Tempest program was affordable only with the involvement of foreign partners bringing money, technology and markets to the table.

Doug Barrie, the senior military air analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank in London, said the Swedes bring several benefits to the program, not least their industrial skill sets.

“Saab has been able to build capable combat aircraft at a cost a country like Sweden can afford, so they bring cost competitiveness and they bring numbers of potential orders,” said Barrie.

The analyst said it’s likely that the Swedes will have similar military requirements to the British by the time the Tempest is in service.

“With a much more assertive Russia on their doorstep the Swedes may well look at their capability requirements for 2040 and beyond and decide they need something much bigger than the Gripen,” said Barrie.

Sweden, Japan, Italy and Turkey have been among the countries touted as being potential partners for a program aimed at seeing the first aircraft flying around 2035.

Mark Goldsack, the director of the UK government’s defense and security export organization, told media at the Paris Air Show recently that the British were holding discussions about joining the program with at least a dozen countries.

It wouldn’t be the first time the British and Swedes have cooperated in the development of a fighter jet.

BAE, then known as British Aerospace, helped produce and market early versions of the successful Gripen fighter developed by Saab.

At one time, the British defense contractor had a 35 percent stake in Saab before selling out its holding in 2004.

Saab is now selling the latest version of the single-engine jet, the Gripen E, and has signed up Sweden and Brazil as customers. The first E-variant aircraft is set to be handed over to the Swedish air force later this year for test and evaluation.

BAE, together with its Eurofighter partners Airbus and Leonardo, continues to build the latest version of the Typhoon for domestic and export customers. The British expect to start replacing the Typhoon with a new jet fighter around 2040.

FCAS or Tempest? European missile company has its eyes on both

One potentially difficult issue the British and Swedish may have to overcome is the disparity in export regulations, with Stockholm at present being much stricter than London on where fighter jets and other defense items can be sold.

Barrie said export approvals could “potentially be an issue between the two countries, but I doubt whether it is as much of a gulf as exists between France and Germany over the export rules potentially governing their joint fighter program.”

The Tempest program was launched after talks failed with France and Germany over joining a rival European fighter program known as the Future Combat Air System.

Spain joined that program at the Paris Air Show last month. It is being led on the industrial side by Airbus and Dassault.

Some industry executives still think the British could eventually throw their hand in with the FCAS effort.

Sweden had also been in talks about joining the FCAS program, but Saab CEO Hakan Buskhe pretty much played down any prospect of a tie-up with the Franco-German venture when he recently told reporters, “We are (in) much more intensive discussions with the Brits than the other consortium. … I think we can do good things together.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)

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