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21 Jul 19. UK takes wraps off unmanned LANCA concept. Three bidders have been selected to pursue a UK contract to build and fly a lightweight affordable novel combat aircraft (LANCA) demonstrator: a class of unmanned vehicle which could potentially one day be used in coordination with assets such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-35 or Tempest future combat air system. Blue Bear, Boeing Phantoms Works International and a Black Dawn team – including Bombardier Aerospace’s Belfast unit and Northrop Grumman UK – will contest the requirement.
A model of a notional LANCA airframe was displayed as part of an exhibit for the Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office at the 19-21 July Royal International Air Tattoo.
The current shortlist was prepared after nine expressions of interest were received, with other interested parties having included airframer BAE Systems and guided weapons manufacturer MBDA.
Following a one-year development phase, at least one bidder will be selected to build and fly a demonstrator, says Peter Stockel, innovation autonomy challenge lead at the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. “Our aim is to get something in the air before 2023,” he adds.
Also referred to as Project Mosquito, the demonstration activity’s objective is to prove UK industry’s ability to produce a LANCA platform for 10% the cost of a new-generation fighter and in one-fifth of the time, Stockel says. Outline requirements include a transonic design, which must be capable of operating as part of a combat aircraft mix with other unmanned and manned platforms. Also referred to by the UK Ministry of Defence as an “additive capability” for manned fighters, LANCA could be used to carry sensors or payloads such as electronic warfare equipment. Airbus Defence & Space unveiled a similar “remote carrier” concept at last month’s Paris air show, while the US Air Force is already exploring the potential use of so-called loyal wingman assets by acquiring Kratos Defense & Security Solutions’ Valkyrie. Boeing Australia also took the wraps off its Airpower Teaming System design at the Avalon air show in February. (Source: News Now/Flight Global)
21 Jul 19. UK denies it could have prevented Iran seizing tanker. Minister says London did not take its eye off the ball but accepts Navy is overstretched.
A UK defence minister has rejected claims that the government had “taken its eye off the ball” by allowing a British-flagged tanker to be captured by Iranian forces in the Gulf. As the UK pondered its next steps following the seizure of the Stena Impero by Iranian forces on Friday, Tobias Ellwood said it was impossible for the Royal Navy to escort every vessel through Gulf waters. The government has been criticised by a former Royal Navy chief and a leading Conservative MP for failing to take preventive measures to avoid the tanker being seized. Admiral Lord West said ministers should have done more, hinting they may have been too distracted by the Conservative leadership election to act promptly. Lord West said Britain’s decision to board and hold the Panamanian-flagged tankerGrace 1 off Gibraltar earlier this month for allegedly carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria was clearly likely to provoke a response from the Islamic republic. “We should have enacted control of shipping procedures, directing ships to assemble in safe areas and then taken them through in convoy,” he wrote in The Observer. Recommended Iran Iran shows the west its readiness for retaliation Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative minister and party leader, and a leading backer of front-runner Boris Johnson for the premiership, was also critical of the way the government had handled the issue. “
The fact is that we have seized an Iranian tanker,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show. “If something didn’t send an alarm signal that we needed to have serious assets or protection and convoying of our vessels in that area then I want to know why not.” Asked on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday whether the UK had taken its “eye off the ball”, Mr Ellwood replied: “No, not at all It is impossible simply to escort each individual vessel.” He added: “Let’s place it into context — this has been a sudden spike in activity, in threat, that’s ratcheted up in the last few weeks. And it takes time to respond there.” However Mr Ellwood conceded more money would be needed for the Ministry of Defence if Britain were to continue playing a global role. “If we want to continue playing a role on the international stage, bearing in mind that threats are changing . . . then we must invest more in our defence, including our Royal Navy,” he said. “Our Royal Navy is too small to manage our interests across the globe if that’s our future intentions and that’s something the next prime minister will need to recognise.” (Source: FT.com)
19 Jul 19. Britain and Sweden agree to co-operate on fighter plans. Britain and Sweden agreed on Friday to study air combat co-operation over the next decade and opened the door to other potential partners in a move that could see the Scandinavian country join a planned next-generation UK fighter project.
Britain last year unveiled plans for a fighter plane and cohort of drones named Tempest, raising questions about the future of European defence co-operation as France and Germany pursue their own air combat programme to meet growing threats.
Tempest, meant to eventually replace the Eurofighter Typhoon from 2040, will be developed and built by BAE Systems (BAES.L), Britain’s biggest defence company, alongside UK engine maker Rolls-Royce (RR.L), the UK arm of Italian defence firm Leonardo (LDOF.MI) and European missile maker MBDA.
Sweden’s Saab (SAABb.ST) will not immediately join the same industrial team, but will be involved in a broader technology study that sketches out Britain’s post-Brexit defence partnerships and could lead to further countries coming on board, officials said.
“Brexit or not, Sweden has a strategic interest to further deepen its relations with the UK,” Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said at the Royal International Air Tattoo, a major military air show held in western England.
Britain’s defence ministry said the agreement called for a joint combat air development and acquisition programme.
However, Sweden said the plan allowed both sides to carry out studies with other partners and stressed its Gripen fighter would meet its air power needs “for the foreseeable future”.
Industry analysts say Sweden is at pains to ensure it is taken seriously as a standalone developer of Saab’s Gripen fighter in any future tie-up rather than as a junior supplier.
SEEKING OTHER PARTNERS
The study, which is expected to yield an initial report by autumn 2020, “lays the foundations for collaboration and invites others to participate in our discussions,” Britain’s Defence Procurement Minister Stuart Andrew said.
Britain will remain a key partner for its European neighbours in NATO after leaving the European Union, he said.
Britain and Sweden have conducted joint exercises in the Baltic where Western officials say Russia has stepped up probing flights and mock bomb runs near Europe’s borders since 2013.
European nations face a combination of security threats and budget constraints that have spurred competing alliances as the region’s fragmented defence industry vies for leadership and a slice of future spending on any new pan-European fighter.
Analysts say it is unclear whether Europe can afford more than one fighter programme in future rather than the current three – the French Rafale, Swedish Gripen and multinational Eurofighter, which includes Britain. But defence analyst Francis Tusa said the amount of detailed work already undertaken by Britain and Sweden in the past year suggested the Tempest and Franco-German Future Combat Air System would both go ahead as separate projects. Differences in the way Britain and France handle aircraft carrier operations and their nuclear roles have historically made it hard for them to unite around a single aircraft project and this is likely to remain a big hurdle in future, Tusa said. (Source: Reuters)
19 Jul 19. Bulgaria will seek offers in $838m tender for armoured vehicles. Bulgaria will invite four European companies to bid in a 1.46bn levs (£669.28m) tender to supply 150 armoured vehicles for its land forces over 12 years, the defence ministry said on Friday. The ministry will invite Germany’s Artec, a joint venture of Rheinmetall (RHMG.DE) and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, France’s Nexter, Finland’s Patria and Swiss General Dynamics Land System- Mowag to send offers. The Balkan country plans to pick a winner by Dec. 20. (Source: Reuters)
18 Jul 19. Turkey calls on US to reverse decision on F-35 exclusion. The U.S. decision to exclude Turkey from an American-led fighter jet program goes against the “spirit of alliance,” the Turkish government said Thursday, and called on its NATO ally to reverse the decision.
In a major break with a longtime ally, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday said Turkey is being kicked out of the F-35 program because it is buying the Russian S-400 air defense system. Washington says the S-400 would compromise the F-35 program and aid Russian intelligence.
In a statement, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry rejected that assertion.
“This unilateral step is incompatible with the spirit of alliance and is not based on any legitimate justification,” the ministry said. “Not only is it unfair to keep Turkey out of a program of which it is a partner but the claim that the S-400 will weaken the F-35 is invalid.”
The ministry said: “We call on the United States to come back from this mistake that will cause irreparable damage to our strategic ties.”
On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, held a telephone conversation with White House national security adviser John Bolton, during which he expressed Turkey’s unease over the U.S. decision, according to a statement from Erdogan’s office.
During the call, Kalin said “one-sided impositions” would prevent the healthy progress of Turkish-U.S. ties. Despite the tensions, the two also discussed a possible date for Trump to visit Turkey, according to the statement.
Turkey began taking delivery of components of the Russian system last week. A Russian cargo plane carrying more parts of the system landed at an air base near Ankara for a seventh day running on Thursday. Erdogan has said the system will be fully operational by April.
On Wednesday, Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, told a news conference that the U.S. has suspended Turkey from the F-35 program and is beginning the process of its formal removal.
The U.S. government is concerned that the S-400 could be used to gather data on the capabilities of the F-35, and that the information could end up in Russian hands.
Turkey has called for the establishment of a committee that would include NATO officials to study the risks.
Turkey refused to bow to U.S. pressure to cancel the S-400 agreement with Russia, saying the deal is a matter of national sovereignty and that the agreement was a done deal.
Erdogan has said his government hopes to co-produce high-tech weaponry systems with Russia in the future, further defying the U.S. and other NATO allies.
On Thursday, the head of Russia’s state-controlled Rostech corporation said Moscow would be willing to sell Turkey its Su-35 fighter jets if Ankara “expresses interest.”
The head of Turkey’s defense industry body, Ismail Demir, said meanwhile that Turkey would look into possible “alternatives” and would also speed up efforts to develop Turkey’s own fighter jet project, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
He also said Turkey has fulfilled all of its obligations concerning the F-35 program and that Washington could lose $8m per aircraft following Turkey’s exclusion, Anadolu reported. Turkey is both a producer and a customer of the F-35s. It makes more than 900 components for the stealth aircraft, which is sold internationally.
Lord, the Pentagon official, said Turkey stands to lose $9bn in future earnings as an F-35 parts supplier. She said the process of fully removing Turkey is underway and should be completed by March 31. She refused to say whether the decision could be reversed. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military Times)
18 Jul 19. Russia to Turkey: While you’re at it, would you like some jets? Russia is prepared to sell Turkey some of its most advanced fighter jets, Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov said. The possible sale comes after the U.S. booted its NATO ally from the F-35 fighter jet program in response to Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems.
The U.S. decision was the culmination of two years of growing tension with Turkey, which launched efforts to to purchase four S-400 batteries in 2017. At various times, Washington suggested Turkey could face sanctions for purchasing Russian defense hardware.
In an official Rostec statement released Thursday, Chemezov was quoted as saying Russia is prepared to help Turkey procure advanced fighter jets. But the jets on offer are hardly an analogue of the stealthy F-35. Rather, Chemezov is offering up the Su-35, a heavily souped-up version of the Su-27.
“If our Turkish colleagues express a desire, we are ready to work out the deliveries of Su-35 fighter jets,” Chemezov said.
The Su-35 is a heavy multirole fighter jet and has recently become a popular export item. One of the jet’s standout features is extreme maneuverability. There are several videos online of Su-35s performing the demanding and impressive Pugachev’s Cobra maneuver.
The jet had its combat debut in Syria in early 2016 to beef up escorts of Russian Su-24 and Su-34 fighter-bombers deployed in the conflict there. It was, ironically, part of Moscow’s message to Ankara after Turkish air defenses shot down a Russian Su-24 in November 2015.
The Su-35 is not a stealth fighter, like Russia’s developmental Su-57. The Su-57 project is years behind schedule, and expectations have been downgraded several times in recent years. The Russian Air Force has focused on more Su-35 procurements while delaying the Su-57. (Source: Defense News)
18 Jul 19. Thales says makes sense for Europe to combine fighter projects. The head of Europe’s largest defence electronics maker, France’s Thales, has urged major European countries to combine efforts to build a new generation of fighter jets. Dassault Aviation and Airbus are leading a Franco-German programme – the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) – which includes a range of associated weapons such as drones. Spain joined the project last month. Britain is going ahead with its own plans for a new combat jet called “Tempest” led by BAE Systems and is expected to formally announce Sweden’s involvement on Friday.
Analysts have questioned whether Europe – which currently offers three competing fighters – can afford to divide its efforts in future, while the defence industry is urging European capitals to move swiftly or risk losing out to bigger players.
“We need all these large countries and large industries to deliver such an ambitious programme if Europe wants to play in the same league as the U.S.,” Thales Chief Executive Patrice Caine told Reuters in an interview.
“Europe should be united in this front. That’s just common sense,” he said during a visit to Singapore.
Thales is involved in the FCAS project as a supplier to Dassault, but is said to be vying with Airbus for the key role of providing over-arching systems needed to marry manned and unmanned aircraft and enable increasingly connected warfare.
Caine pitched Thales’ capabilities in those areas, but is expected to face opposition from Airbus which has warned on behalf of German industry that the high-level Franco-German initiative could collapse if France grabs too much of the work.
“What we would love to put on the table as our own contribution is …what we do in terms of sensors like radars, electronic warfare, communication, optronics,” Caine said.
“Another aspect is what is called collaborative connected combat – how do we connect platforms, combat aircraft, UAVs, drones, helicopters, satellites, to all the different platforms that are on the battlefield, in the air or in space?”
Asked about the impact of a planned $120bn U.S. merger between United Technologies and Raytheon spanning commercial aviation and defence, Caine signalled no immediate pressure to respond in Europe.
“They will remain strong competitors. Will they be even stronger by bringing together avionics and missiles… I am not sure,” he said. “In terms of competition for me, first analysis, it should not change the landscape.”
Some analysts say the Raytheon deal could revive talk of a tie-up between Thales and engine maker Safran, which abandoned informal merger talks in 2007, though that would need backing from the French government and Thales shareholder Dassault.
Caine said he was cautious in general about consolidation in European defence industry, but that Thales was ready to seize any opportunities that arose.
Earlier this year, Thales – whose products range from in-flight entertainment to avionics and satellites – completed a 4.8bn-euro takeover of chipmaker Gemalto, boosting its presence in the booming security services market.
French newspaper La Tribune reported on Tuesday that the company’s satellite venture with Italy’s Leonardo, Thales Alenia Space, would shed 452 out of 4,800 jobs in France due to weak demand for its satellites. (Source: Reuters)
18 Jul 19. Turkish defence firms set to lose billions after F-35 removal. Turkish defence companies helping to build F-35 stealth fighter jets are set to lose work worth billions of dollars after Washington said it was removing Turkey from the programme over its purchase of a Russian missile defence system. Eight Turkish firms have been involved in producing the advanced fighter jets, supplying hundreds of items including parts for cockpit display systems and landing gear, on contracts the Pentagon said would have been worth $9bn over the course of the programme.
The head of Turkey’s Defence Industry Directorate acknowledged on Thursday that the U.S. decision to move the work elsewhere – and the potential for additional U.S. sanctions – would be a setback for those companies.
Ismail Demir said the losses would be only temporary, arguing that the companies could emerge stronger in the long run. But analysts said the move was a major blow to firms which had worked on the jet production for a decade, and would also limit Turkey’s access to new defence technology.
“I don’t know how companies will try to compensate for this, as they have been part of an established production chain since 2007,” Sinan Ulgen, visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe and a former Turkish diplomat, told Reuters.
Turkish companies involved in the programme are Roketsan, Havelsan, Alp Aviation, Ayesas, Kale Aerospace, Tubitak-SAGE, the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), and the Turkish leg of the Dutch Fokker Elmo, according to the F-35 official website.
None of the companies were immediately available to comment. Demir said they would evaluate how to compensate for their losses. Kale Group said in April that if Turkey were to be excluded from the F-35 project, any lost sales would be offset by turning to civil aviation.
But Ulgen said that finding swift alternatives to such highly specialised work was not easy.
“What can a factory that produces a part for the body of the F-35 do? What can it change into, where can it go? … This isn’t the automotive sector, where you make a part for a BMW and then sell it to Ford when there is a change,” Ulgen said.
Unal Cevikoz, Deputy Chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, put the value of contracts that would be cancelled at $12bn and said many jobs were at stake.
“These firms have almost 30,000 employees. What are these people going to do?” he said in a statement.
RUSSIA COULD STEP IN
Announcing Turkey’s suspension from the programme on Wednesday, the Pentagon said that Turkish companies produced more than 900 parts for the F-35.
The supply chain would be transferred to mainly U.S. factories in a move that would cost the United States between $500m and $600m, it said.
Washington had warned for months that it would act if Turkey took delivery of Russian S-400 missile defence systems, arguing that the S-400’s radar and tracking software would undermine the F-35’s stealth capabilities if the two were deployed together.
Turkey dismissed those concerns, saying that the two countries should set up a working group to assess any threat posed by the S-400s.
On Friday it took delivery of the first S-400 parts, finally sealing the deal with Moscow and marking a breach with Washington and other NATO allies.
As well as losing its role in F-35 production, Turkey’s planned purchase of more than 100 jets is being cancelled and it also faces sanctions under a 2017 law known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). That could further damage the Turkish defence industry, deal another blow to an economy in recession and accelerate Turkey’s drift away from its Western allies.
Russian news agencies on Thursday cited Sergei Chemezov, the head of Russian state corporation Rostec, as saying Russia would be ready to supply its SU-35 fighter jets to Turkey if Ankara wants them.
“The F-35 move isn’t a determining decision on its own, but it is an important indication on the direction of the relations in the current context. Turkish-American ties are more damaged than we have seen in our recent history,” Ulgen said. (Source: Reuters)
18 Jul 19. U.S. officials wonder: Did Turkish leader’s coup memories drive Russia arms deal? For some U.S. officials, the Trump administration’s failure to persuade Turkey not to buy a Russian air defence system may have its roots in a coup attempt against President Tayyip Erdogan three years ago this week. While they recognise that worsening U.S. relations with Turkey in recent years and Russia’s growing clout with Ankara may also have helped sway Turkey towards buying the S-400 system, three U.S. officials and a defence source told Reuters of another working theory that has gained ground within the Trump administration. One reason Erdogan may have chosen to buy from Russia rather than from a fellow NATO member is that he might be wary of his own air force, which played a major role in the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, these officials say.
S-400 missiles, which Turkey began taking delivery of last Friday, would be better at fending off any attack on the Turkish government from its own jets than a U.S.-supplied Patriot system would, experts say.
Raytheon Co’s’s Patriot missiles, which have been on offer to Turkey, would have safeguards to help avoid “friendly fire” against other NATO warplanes, such as Turkish air force jets.
“You have to ask yourself: Why would Erdogan really want a Russian system?” one of the U.S. officials asked. “He doesn’t trust his air force.”
Two other U.S. officials and a defence source familiar with NATO discussions about Turkey, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, put forward the same theory about the long-time Turkish leader’s possible motivation.
“There’s some talk that he wants the (Russian) system just to protect himself. He doesn’t want a NATO-integrated system,” one of the officials said.
A senior Turkish official denied that concern about the military was a motivating factor in the decision and said Turkey has been purging supporters of the coup attempt, including from the armed forces.
“Turkey is not worried about another coup attempt and it trusts its own army and pilots,” he said, when asked about the U.S. speculation.
Another Turkish official, with knowledge of the S-400 deal, said Ankara had always wanted to buy Patriots but was forced to turn to Russia.
“There was no uncertainty about this (wanting Patriots),” he said. “However, the U.S.A. had a delaying attitude during Obama’s term of office.”
Erdogan himself has said Turkey bought the S-400s because Russia made him a better deal, and Turkish officials sought tough terms from the United States on Patriot pricing, joint production and technology transfer.
President Donald Trump has publicly defended Erdogan, saying Ankara only chose the Russian system because Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, failed to offer him a viable U.S. alternative until it was too late.
But the Turkish purchase has upset Washington and could drive a wedge into the heart of NATO.
The Pentagon, which sees the S-400 as a threat to the most modern stealth fighter jet in its arsenal, the F-35, announced on Wednesday that the United States would drop plans to sell the jet to Turkey.
JETS IN THE COUP
Turkish air force pilots played a major role in the abortive putsch, commandeering jets and helicopters that bombed the parliament building and threatened a government plane that Erdogan was flying in. The coup attempt collapsed within hours but 251 people died and more than 1,500 were wounded.
In June, a former head of the Turkish air force, Akin Ozturk, was sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in the coup. Just this month, Turkish prosecutors ordered the arrest of 176 more military personnel over their links to the alleged coup-plotting network.
Another of the U.S. officials described a 2018 meeting with American officials in which Turkish officials, when talking about buying a new air defence system, described their own air force as one of the top security threats facing the country.
“A Turkish bureaucrat said the primary threat to the government remained from Turkey’s own air force, which operated NATO aircraft and had attacked government installations and attempted to assassinate President Erdogan during the July 2016 coup attempt,” said the official, who had detailed knowledge of the meeting but did not attend it.
“And the S-400 system was designed to counter NATO aircraft,” the official said.
To be sure, even proponents of the theory that Erdogan’s worries about his own military fuelled the S-400 purchase acknowledge there were almost certainly other factors behind it.
Those include Russia’s growing power in the Middle East, splits between Ankara and Washington over the war in Syria, and even Erdogan’s own sense of pride in the face of U.S. pressure to back out of his deal with Russia.
Erdogan has also been angered by Washington’s refusal to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric who Turkey says engineered the coup. Gulen denies involvement.
Some U.S. officials long held out hope that they could eventually sway Erdogan into forgoing the S-400 in favour of Patriot missiles, only to see their offers frequently rebuffed.
Soner Cagaptay, a Turkey expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank, acknowledged the view inWashington that Erdogan was buying the S-400 for his own protection.
But he also pointed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the possibility that Moscow can work with Ankara to thwart YPG Kurdish guerrillas in Syria. Turkey views the YPG as terrorists.
“I think, though, the bigger driver…(is that) Erdogan has realized that the U.S. will not help him in Syria against the YPG, and Putin will,” Cagaptay said.
“In return, Putin has lured Turkey into lucrative deals and bargains, many of which undermine Turkey’s pro-Western orientation, the S-400 purchase being a case in point.” (Source: Reuters)
18 Jul 19. Nato chief calls on Russia to save INF nuclear missile treaty.
Time is running out to save a key nuclear missile treaty with Russia, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has told the BBC.
Mr Stoltenberg pledged a “measured, defensive” response if Russia did not come back into compliance with the deal by the 2 August deadline.
“We have to be prepared for a world… with more Russian missiles,” he said.
The 1987 agreement signed by the US and USSR banned short and medium-range nuclear missiles.
President Trump announced the US would suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in February, accusing Russia of breaching its terms.
Russia denied the allegation but suspended its own obligations shortly afterwards and announced plans to develop new weapons systems.
- Russia plans new missile systems
- Is nuclear control set to self-destruct?
In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC, Mr Stoltenberg says the Russian missiles – which he says are in “clear violation of the treaty” – are nuclear capable, mobile, very hard to detect, and able to reach European cities within a few minutes.
“This is serious. The INF treaty has been a corner stone in arms control for decades and now we see the demise of the treaty,” he said.
While the priority was to get Russia to come back into compliance with its terms, Mr Stoltenberg said there were “no signs whatsoever” the country will do so. “Therefore we have to be prepared for a world without the INF treaty and with more Russian missiles.”Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan signed the INF Treaty in 1987
While Nato has no plan to deploy nuclear land-based missiles of its own in Europe, Mr Stoltenberg said the alliance would respond in a “measured, defensive way” if Russia refused to come back into compliance by 2 August.
Conventional air and missile defence, new exercises and readiness of forces, and new arms control initiatives could all form part of that response, he said. Any final decision will come after the deadline.
Mr Stoltenberg also addressed Russia’s delivery of its advanced S-400 missile defence system to Nato member Turkey last week.
The US says it will remove Turkey from its F-35 fighter jet programme in response. Ankara has recently moved closer to Moscow, raising tensions between Turkey and the US.
“It is a serious issue because it is a serious disagreement which involves two important allies,” Mr Stoltenberg said. Nato supports efforts to resolve the disagreement, he added, while praising Turkey’s key role in the organisation.
The secretary general also praised efforts among members to raise their defence budgets to a target of 2% of their budgets. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly called on other members to contribute more to the organisation in recent years.
“We have turned a corner – the picture is much better than it was just a few years ago, and I am quite optimistic that allies will continue to invest more,” he said. Eight member states are expected to reach the target in 2019.
More recently, Mr Trump has also called on US allies to avoid using technology provided by Chinese tech firm Huawei, arguing the company is a security risk – something China denies.
Mr Stoltenberg said the alliance was drawing up new guidelines to tackle the issue, so members can have some “minimum agreed standards or guidelines for how to deal with these challenges”. (Source:BBC)
17 Jul 19. BMWi figures show higher German exports. Germany granted export licences for EUR5.3bn (USD6.1bn) worth of defence equipment in the first six months of 2019, surpassing the full-year 2018 total of EUR4.8bn, according to a report by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The BMWi provided the data in response to a freedom of information request from Left Party deputy chairman Sevim Dagdelen. Exports to Hungary lead the list with EUR1.76bn, due partly to an order placed in December 2018 for 44 Leopard 2 main battle tanks and 24 Panzerhaubitze (PzH) 2000 self-propelled howitzers.
German arms deliveries to Turkey totalled EUR242.8m in 2018 and EUR184.1m in the first half of 2019. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
16 Jul 19. UK Defence Spending Continues to Decline. The Defence Committee publishes updates to its analysis of governmental expenditure that appeared in its 2016 Report “Shifting the goalposts? Defence expenditure and the 2% pledge.” Core spending on defence continues to decline. The updated graphs and tables, which compare UK expenditure on Defence, Health, Education, Pensions and Benefits and Overseas Development Assistance, show that core Defence spending has continued to decline as a proportion of GDP from more than 7% in 1955-56 to less than 2% in 2017-18. Since 2010-11, the Ministry of Defence’s expenditure as a percentage of GDP has decreased by a larger proportion than the reductions in Health, Education, and Pensions and Benefits expenditure, while spending on Overseas Development Assistance has continued to increase.
Commenting on the Special Report, the Chairman of the Defence Committee, the Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis, MP, said:
“We at the Committee are disappointed that Defence spending continues to bear a disproportionate burden arising from reduced Government spending. While the UK continues to meet its NATO commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence, this is only because in recent years it has included several items of expenditure which it had not counted previously, such as pensions and contributions to UN Peacekeeping Missions.
On a like-for-like basis, in 2017-18 Ministry of Defence spending was equivalent to just 1.8% of GDP, compared with around 6% in the 1960s, 4.5% in the 1980s and 3% even in the mid-1990s — several years after the end of the Cold War.” (Source: defense-aerospace.com/UK Parliament Common Select Committee)
16 Jul 19. UK MoD accepts recommendations on inappropriate behaviour in military. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to implement several new measures to address inappropriate behaviour in the armed forces in line with recommendations of a review. In April, the MoD commissioned a report to look into inappropriate behaviour in the British Armed Forces.
The review was undertaken by Air Marshal Michael Wigston. It was mandated to analyse the internal culture and come with recommendations to improve behaviours. The ministry has published the findings of the report and has agreed to implement all 36 recommendations in full spirit.
While there is a high standard of behaviour in the armed forces, the review observed an ‘unacceptable level of inappropriate behaviour in some areas’.
The MoD stated that senior military leaders responsible for managing day-to-day discipline will be tasked with raising the standards and instilling a shift in culture.
Another key measure proposed to be implemented is the overhaul of the complaints system. This will pave the way for a swift investigation of the most serious allegations.
The ministry will also set in place a new training and reporting structure to keep track of culture change.
A new ‘Defence Authority’ will be formed to oversee the implementation of recommendations and enable the sharing of best practice across the services.
The new body will include investigating serious allegations such as sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination. The proposed changes are aimed at empowering victims to seek justice. In a bid to protect the identity of whistleblowers, different platforms will be created to allow personnel to anonymously report inappropriate behaviour. These platforms include a new hotline, a phone-based app and website forms.
UK Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “Whether it is crude comments, discriminatory treatment, or even offences of a sexual nature, inappropriate behaviour has no place in society, let alone in our armed forces.
“This report sends a clear message and I am committed to ensuring its recommendations are delivered in full.
“In addition to the report, I want to ensure non-commissioned officers are able to address poor behaviour when they see it. They are the moral compass of the armed forces.”
The MoD will set new performance standards and provide training in diversity and inclusion to personnel to improve their understanding and awareness. (Source: army-technology.com)
16 Jul 19. France, Germany and UK reaffirm commitment to JCPoA. Three European nations France, Germany and the UK have reaffirmed their commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA).
The JCPoA mandated Tehran to scale down its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions on the country.
In a joint statement issued on 14 July, the countries urged Iran and the US to restart dialogue and work towards peace amid concerns over the future of the nuclear deal reached in 2015. The US pulled out of the Iran deal last year, citing certain violations of the peace agreement.
US President Donald Trump reintroduced sanctions against Iran, targeting the Middle East nation’s banking and oil sectors.
Iran responded to the imposition of sanctions by stating that it would not comply with certain provisions of the JCPoA.
It is in this context and due to ongoing tensions in the Gulf region that the three European powers feel the need to stop any further escalation and resume dialogue to prevent the nuclear deal from collapsing.
The joint statement read: “Today, we are concerned by the risk that the JCPoA further unravels under the strain of sanctions imposed by the US and following Iran’s decision to no longer implement several of the central provisions of the agreement.
“We are extremely concerned by Iran’s decision to stockpile and enrich uranium in excess of authorised limits. Moreover, our three countries are deeply troubled by the attacks we have witnessed in the Persian Gulf and beyond, and by the deterioration of the security in the region.
“We believe the time has come to act responsibly and seek a path to stop the escalation of tensions and resume dialogue. The risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause and consider the possible consequences of their actions.”
EU foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels to convince the US and Iran to resume dialogue. Upon his arrival in Brussels, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters that there is a ‘small window’ to keep the nuclear deal alive. (Source: army-technology.com)
15 Jul 19. Turkey’s Erdogan says Russian S-400s will be fully deployed by April 2020. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the Russian S-400 missile defence system, parts of which have been delivered to Turkey over the past four days, would be fully deployed in April 2020.
Turkey’s purchase of the Russian system has raised tensions with its NATO allies, particularly the United States, which has warned Turkey that it will respond with sanctions.
Speaking at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport on the third anniversary of 2016’s attempted coup, Erdogan said eight planes had already brought parts of the Russian system and more were coming, as he had repeatedly promised.
“With God’s permission, they will have been installed in their sites by April 2020,” he told the crowd.
“The S-400s are the strongest defence system against those who want to attack our country. God willing, we are doing this as a joint investment with Russia, and will continue to do so.”
U.S. officials have said that in addition to being hit with legislation aimed at preventing countries from purchasing military equipment from Russia, known as CAATSA, Turkey could be thrown off the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme.
That would mean it would no longer make F-35 parts or be able to buy the jets it has ordered. On Sunday, Erdogan said that U.S. President Donald Trump has the authority to waive sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of Russian air defence systems and should find a “middle ground” in the dispute.
Tensions between Turkey and Western allies have risen in recent months over the purchase of the S-400 system, with a series of other actions taken by the NATO member state compounding the situation.
German and Austrian ministers said on Monday that the European Union would endorse a symbolic punishment for Turkey over what it calls “illegal” drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus and threaten harsher sanctions unless Ankara changes tack.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had said on Sunday that Turkey will continue drilling for gas in waters off Cyprus if the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government does not accept a cooperation proposal put forward by Turkish Cypriots.
After sacking the central bank governor this month, citing differences over the timing of rate cuts, Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey would make serious cuts to interest rates and aims to reduce inflation to single digits by the end of the year.
In his first remarks since taking office nine days ago, new governor Murat Uysal was reported as hinting at rate cuts, saying there was “room for manoeuvre” in monetary policy. Turkey’s benchmark interest rate was hiked to 24% last September to stem a sharp fall in the lira and has remained there to prevent renewed losses in the currency as the economy tumbled into recession. Ratings agency Fitch downgraded Turkey’s sovereign rating to BB- on Friday, saying the central bank chief’s dismissal heightened doubt over the authorities’ tolerance for a period of slower growth. On Monday, agency S&P Global said Turkey’s credit rating is only likely to be affected by U.S. sanctions if they specifically target the country’s banks. (Source: Reuters)
13 Jul 19. Russia delivers more air defence equipment to Turkey. Russia flew a fresh shipment of advanced air defence equipment to Turkey on Saturday, the Turkish Defence Ministry said, continuing to implement a deal that is likely to trigger U.S. sanctions against a NATO ally.
The ministry said a fourth Russian cargo plane landed at the Murted air base near the Turkish capital Ankara, a day after three huge Russian air force AN-124 planes offloaded equipment at the base. Washington has tried for months to prevent the deal, arguing that the Russian S-400 air defence system is incompatible with NATO systems. It also says that if the S-400s are deployed near U.S. F-35 jets, which Turkey is buying and helping to produce, they would undermine the stealth fighter planes’ defences. U.S. officials had warned that Turkey would be thrown off the F-35 programme if it took delivery of the S-400s, and would also face sanctions under U.S. legislation seeking to prevent countries from buying military equipment from Russia.
Turkey says S-400 is a strategic defence requirement, above all to secure its southern borders with Syria and Iraq. It says that when it made the deal with Russia for the S-400s, the United States and Europe had not presented a viable alternative.
The dispute between the countries with the two largest armies in NATO marks a deep division in the Western military alliance, which was forged after World War Two to counter Moscow’s military power.
Reaction from Washington was limited on Friday, with acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper saying the U.S. stance had not changed. Esper later spoke with Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar.
“Minister Akar told his U.S. counterpart that Turkey remains under a serious air and missile threat and that purchase of S-400 defence systems was not an option but rather a necessity,” a Turkish Defence Ministry statement said.
Investors in Turkey have been unsettled by the deal and the prospect of sanctions, a year after a dispute with Washington over the trial of a U.S. pastor in Turkey contributed to a financial crisis which drove Turkey’s economy into recession. The Turkish lira TRYTOM=D3 weakened as much as 1.6% to 5.7780 against the dollar on Friday, before recovering somewhat. Russia’s TASS news agency quoted an unnamed military-diplomatic source on Friday as saying that a further delivery – of 120 guided missiles – would be carried out by ship at the end of the summer. (Source: Reuters)
13 Jul 19. Turkey sets out highly ambitious defence industry target for 2023. Turkey has announced its ambitious targets and strategies for its defence industry, unveiling its goals in the 11th Development Plan submitted to Parliament for discussion on July 8, which covers the years between 2019 and 2023. Defence and aerospace turnover is planned to reach $ 26,9bn in 2023 from $ 6,7bn last year while exports of defence products will be increased to $ 10,2bn from just $ 2bn last year by 2023.
Moreover, localisation of defence products, currently 65 percent, will be increased to 75 percent by 2023, which is the centenary of the Turkish Republic. Under the plan, employment in the defence industry sector by 2023 has the goal of over 79,000 people, compared to the current 44,700.
Advanced version of locally developed products will be manufactured while dependency abroad on systems and sub systems will be reduced at a maximum level.
Third generation Altay main battle tanks (MBT), locally developed air defence systems, as well as naval platforms are set to be included in the inventory of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) by 2023.
The number of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the inventory will be increased and UAV engine prototype and land vehicle engines are planned to be delivered to the TSK during the same period.
Financial support will be given to all companies, including the medium and small-scale enterprises (SMEs) operating in the defence industry, under the Defence Industry Investment and Development Activities Support Program.
The management of the transformation in the defence industry technologies will be ensured and multi-use will be expanded in sectors that are capable of technologically feeding each other.
Projects and investments based on basic and advanced technologies will be realised to create a fully national defence industry in critical technologies and shape concept of war for the future.
The 11th Development Plan sets out goals and strategies by 2023 for all sectors in the country.
Yet, critics state that the plan, as a whole, admits to failure in the economic field by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
Fikret Bila, in an article for independent news site T24 on 10 July, noted that while the government does not accept the economic crisis, documents released to this end admit financial failure.
“One of the most important documents revealing this fact is the 11th Development Plan. Turkey, with high inflation and high interest rates, a higher exchange rate, as well as high unemployment is going through a severe economic crisis. The Turkish economy is shrinking severely,” Bila wrote.
The goals of the state have dropped nearly 50 per cent, he said, adding that, this means that the government admits to the fact that the Turkish economy is in a serious crisis and shrinking.
The question, against a backdrop of Turkey’s worrying state of the economy, is whether Turkey will meet the stated goals and strategies in the defence industry sector, which has been a long-time lucrative business despite the ongoing economic crisis.
Turkey’s current defence industry trends demonstrate that even if it cannot meet its highly ambitious targets in defence exports and turnover set for the coming four-year period, it may perhaps come closer to these figures than in any previous year.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), for instance, in a report in December stated that the arms sales of Turkish companies rose by 24 percent in 2017.
In its 29 April 2019 report SIPRI also said that military spending in Turkey increased by 24 per cent in 2018 to $19bn, the highest annual percentage increase among the world’s top 15 military spenders.
As a matter of fact, the Turkish defence industry sector has registered a 57,3 percent increase in defence and aerospace exports in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period in 2018. This marks the highest export percentage increase among all sectors.
Similarly, Turkey Exporters Assembly (TIM), released a report on June 4 covering the sectoral export data, and noted that the first 5 months of 2019 saw the highest increase in foreign sales of defence and aviation sector compared to the same period last year.
According to the same report, Turkey’s military exports to the United States totalled $352.6m during the same period.
Turkish defence exports to the United States mainly cover defence items that Ankara has been building for F-35 joint strike fighters as part of Lockheed Martin’s industrial participation commitment to Ankara.
However, with the arrival of Russian S-400 Surface-to-Air-Missiles (SAM) to Turkey, Ankara faces sanctions from Washington, as well as ejection from the F-35 fighter jet programme.
Another repercussion for the purchase of the Russian system will be Turkish companies’ inability to continue building parts for this fifth generation stealth fighters. (Source: Google/https://ahvalnews.com/)
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