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25 Jul 19. Germans go back to sparring over NATO’s 2-percent spending target. Germany is back at quarrelling over a defense budget equal to 2 percent of gross domestic product, thanks to the new defense minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
A confidante to Chancellor Angela Merkel, Kramp-Karrenbauer raised the prospect of a significant military spending boost in media interviews over the past week, and again on Wednesday during a speech before parliamentarians in Berlin, who were recalled from vacation for her impromptu swearing-in ceremony.
“If we want the Bundeswehr to be able to fulfill its role, the defense budget must rise,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
While she reiterated the 2-percent spending pledge approved by all NATO members as a German objective, she left open when exactly Berlin would meet it.
Ursula von der Leyen, Kramp-Karrenbauer’s predecessor and now president-elect of the European Commission, pursued a similar strategy, but the emphasis appeared fuzzier during the latter part of her tenure. That is because latest Cabinet spending proposal has defense spending fall to somewhere around 1.3 percent of GDP in the early 2020s.
Kramp-Karrenbauer, who also holds the job of leading the Christian Democrats (CDU), said she would use her authority within the party to advance an agenda aimed at boosting defense objectives. Achieving a spending level of 1.5 percent of GDP by 2024 is a key element of that pledge, she said.
Germany this year is on track to spend about $50 billion on defense, nearing the peak of a large increase that began several years ago. The latest defense-spending projections are more timid largely because there are questions about the continued pace of economic growth for Germany, and because the Social Democrats (SPD), junior partner in the governing coalition, believe more money alone cannot fix the Bundeswehr.
The SPD on Wednesday signaled again that it would not carry the budget increase envisioned by Kramp-Karrenbauer. Rolf Mützenich, a member of the party leadership who sits on the parliamentary defense committee, argued Germany’s posture for security policy should include a greater share of non-military means to counter crises.
“The Bundestag alone holds the purse strings,” Mützenich told Kramp-Karrenbauer, as key lawmakers took turns responding to her speech. The new defense minister should prepare herself to deal with a “confident” parliament, as questions of military funding come up, he said.
Besides laying down a marker on the budget, Kramp-Karrenbauer also said she would strive to spark a new dynamic in evaluating future German military deployments.
The comment goes to the heart of a problem that analysts here have decried for some time — that troop requests from the United States for Syria, for example, are so mired in domestic politics that there is little room for larger geopolitical considerations.
When allies ask Germany to contribute forces, “We can’t approve them hastily, nor deny them reflexively,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said. Instead, the requests should be weighed in coordination with allies, resulting in rules of engagement that “make sense militarily,” as required by the coalition, she said.
Mützenich shot down that idea, too. Alliance considerations are ill-suited to judge the merits of sending German troops abroad, he said, “since a racist sits in the White House.” (Source: Defense News)
24 Jul 19. Half Royal Navy’s Gulf Defence Ships Out of Action. Almost half of the Royal Navy’s fleet of frigates and destroyers is inactive because of long-term repairs. The Ministry of Defence has admitted that six of its 13 Type 23 frigates and three of its six Type 45 destroyers are in scheduled upkeep and therefore cannot be deployed. The frigates are undergoing engine upgrades and work to extend their lifespan because delays to their replacements mean their use must stretch beyond the intended 20 years. The destroyers, which cost £1bn each, are receiving serious maintenance after defence chiefs acknowledged that they could not cope with warm waters after problems in the Gulf. The “normal rule of thumb” allows for a third of a given fleet to be in scheduled maintenance. It means that the options open to the Royal Navy to protect commercial shipping and bolster its presence in the region, in which Iran seized a British-flagged tanker last week, are limited because the 19 frigates and destroyers are the major warships that provide security to merchant vessels. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/The Times)
24 Jul 19. UK unveils plans to create European-led naval force in Gulf. The UK Government is looking to form a European-led naval force to enhance protection to shipping assets passing through the Strait of Hormuz following tensions with Iran. The proposal to create the maritime protection mission was made by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a statement to the House of Commons. It comes in the wake of rising tensions in the Gulf after Iran impounded a British-flagged tanker, Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz on 19 July. Stena Impero is now reportedly held at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
Hunt called the seizure of the tanker by Iran ‘an act of state piracy’ and ‘a flagrant breach of the principle of free navigation’.
He said: “She was passing through the Strait of Hormuz in the Westbound Traffic Lane, inside Omani territorial waters, in full compliance with international law and the rules of navigation.
“So let us be absolutely clear: under international law Iran had no right to obstruct the ship’s passage, let alone board her. It was therefore an act of state piracy which the House will have no hesitation in condemning.”
He reiterated the UK Government’s demand to release the Stena Impero and its crew.
The Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose has been busy ensuring the safe passage of British tankers through the region.
Media reports stated that the frigate thwarted efforts made by Iranian Revolutionary Guards vessels to block tanker British Heritage earlier this month.
However, Hunt stated that Montrose could not reach the scene in time to prevent the seizure of Stena Impero.
To further beef up security for tankers in the region, the Navy has deployed Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan which is expected to arrive by 29 July.
It is estimated that around one-third of the world’s oil carried by tankers passes through the Strait of Hormuz.
Hunt took a cautious stance that steered clear of any support to the ‘US maximum pressure policy on Iran’ as it could be detrimental to the UK’s push for preserving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Reports also emerged that the US may have shot down a second Iranian drone in the troubled Strait of Hormuz last week. (Source: naval-technology.com)
19 Jul 19. Defence Minister Praises UK’s “Cutting-Edge Air Power.” At the Royal International Air Tattoo today, Defence Minister Stuart Andrew has made a series of air power announcements.
— A new team of US and UK defence personnel, named Team ARTEMIS, have signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to undertake research into the military uses of small satellites.
— The RAF’s Rapid Capabilities Office has announced the award of three contracts to develop a technology demonstrator, named ‘Mosquito’, to explore the addition of unmanned capabilities onto fast jets.
— The Red Arrows are due to depart to North America on August 5, on a tour to promote trade, business and defence interests.
“The RAF is not only equipped to tackle the challenges of today, but also that we are investing to face down the threats of the future.”
Speaking at the air show, Defence Minister Stuart Andrew said: “It’s a privilege to come to Royal International Air Tattoo and see first-hand the cutting-edge air power at our disposal, and meet the brightest and best of the defence world.
“From fast-tracking our next-generation intelligence aircraft onto the frontline to investing in small satellite technology, these announcements show the RAF is not only equipped to tackle the challenges of today, but also that we are investing to face down the threats of the future.”
Following Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt’s announcement yesterday that the MOD is investing £30m to fast-track the launch of a small satellite demonstrator, a new transatlantic team of defence government and industry personnel, named Team ARTEMIS, have signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to deliver this commitment.
The demonstrator will be designed to understand the military utility of small satellites and provide information to combat aircraft more quickly than ever, while developing the skills and knowledge base the UK will need in the future across a range of space mission areas.
The programme is being led by RAF Air Staff, supported by Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). Team ARTEMIS partners at the signing today included the US Government, Airbus, Raytheon, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited and Virgin Orbit.
At the launch of the Combat Air Strategy last year, the Ministry of Defence revealed the concept future fighter jet Tempest. The vision of the jet featured advanced flexible power and propulsion systems, a virtual cockpit, swarming weapons and laser directed energy weapons. Operated either manned or unmanned, it would be rapidly upgradeable and cyber resilient. Following on from last year’s announcement, a new project to develop a novel unmanned combat aircraft has been announced by the RAF and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
The RAF’s Rapid Capabilities Office has announced the award of three contracts to develop a technology demonstrator, named ‘Mosquito’, under the Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) programme. The contracts were awarded in April 2019 to three teams led by Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd, Boeing Defence UK Ltd, and Callen-Lenz (Team BLACKDAWN partnered with Bombardier Belfast and Northrop Grumman UK Ltd).
The LANCA programme aims to explore the utility and feasibility of unmanned capabilities which can be added to existing and future Fast Jet aircraft, specifically those that offer substantial reductions in programme costs and development timelines.
RED ARROWS TOUR
Defence Minister Mark Lancaster visited the Red Arrows ahead of their tour to Canada and the United States, expecting to depart the United Kingdom on 5 August. More than 25 cities will be visited by the team across the 11-week deployment, which will promote the best of British and support trade, business and defence interests. Minister for the Armed Forces, Mark Lancaster, said: “The United Kingdom shares a deep and enduring defence relationship with both Canada and the US.
“Sending our world-famous RAF Red Arrows demonstrates the UK’s global ambitions and will provide a unique opportunity to strengthen our partnerships with two of our closest allies.”
P-8 MARITIME PATROL AIRCRAFT
Defence Minister Mark Lancaster also visited the US P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft at the Air Show, paying tribute to the 19 RAF personnel currently in the USA working with US Navy. The UK has ordered a total of nine of the cutting-edge aircraft, due to arrive into RAF Lossiemouth in early 2020.
TEAM TEMPEST TEST AIRCRAFT
The RAF have announced that they have awarded a contract to Leonardo to provide a large-body test aircraft as part of the Team Tempest initiative.
Team Tempest is a co-funded partnership between the RAF’s Rapid Capabilities Office and UK Industry (BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce). The demonstrator will take the form of a modified Boeing 757 which will be used to conduct airborne technology testing of sensor and system integration for future. It is expected to come into service in early 2020s. The aircraft will be used both to enable more rapid development of future capabilities, but also provide support for currently in-service combat aircraft such as the world-beating F-35 Lightning jets and the upgraded Typhoon. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Royal Air Force)
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