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26 Sep 19. Truss admits to more breaches of Saudi arms exports ban. Trade secretary warns MPs that further cases may ‘come to light.’ Liz Truss admitted the UK government had again broken a court ruling that bans arms export licences to Saudi Arabia, sparking fresh criticism from campaigners who say British weapons are being used in the conflict in Yemen. Last week Ms Truss, the international trade secretary, said there had been two “inadvertent” breaches of the court ruling, prompting an urgent investigation to establish whether there had been further infringements, and to enhance blocking procedures.
On Thursday, she told MPs there had been yet another breach and warned it was “possible that more cases will come to light”. “As a result of the internal review so far, we have identified one further licence that has been granted in breach of the undertaking given to the Court of Appeal,” Ms Truss said. “This licence has not been used and has now been revoked.” The ban is the result of a landmark court judgment in June which ruled that British arms sales to Saudi Arabia were unlawful. UK export policy states that military equipment licences should not be granted if there is a “clear risk” weapons might be used in a “serious violation of international humanitarian law”. In response to the ruling, the government promised to stop granting new licences to Saudi Arabia, and voluntarily widened the ban to include its coalition partners. Saudi Arabia is backing Yemen’s government in a bitter civil war against Houthi rebels, which has claimed the lives of several thousand people. Recommended Aerospace & Defence European defence industry wrongfooted by Saudi weapons ban Ms Truss, who was responding to an urgent question in the House of Commons, said the latest breach of the court ruling concerned a contract to repair equipment used by Saudi forces to detect improvised explosive devices.
She said the mistake may have occurred because of a breakdown in communications between government departments.. She also disclosed there had been a further infringement of the parliamentary commitment, when civil servants authorised the export of fuel gauges for military aircraft to Jordan, which is a Saudi coalition partner. Separately, Ms Truss has commissioned an independent investigation into how the licences were granted, to be undertaken by a senior civil servant from outside the department. Chris Law, a Scottish National party MP, said it was “shocking” that two further export licences had been granted. “The process which led to these licences being granted demonstrates the same carelessness and utter lack of regard for life that has defined the UK’s arms sales to Saudi over these years,” he added.
Trevor Taylor, an analyst from UK defence think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, said it was “worrying” that the government was not able to abide by the terms of the court ruling, but said it was a positive sign that ministers had come out and admitted the mistake. “The hard question is, what are the consequences of British action of this kind, and where will a country go in future to procure these types of weapons?” Andrew Smith, of the Campaign Against Arms Trade, called for an “immediate embargo” on all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the wider coalition involved in bombing Yemen. “We are always being told how rigorous and robust arms export controls supposedly are, but this shows that nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. (Source: FT.com)
25 Sep 19. US tanks and troops headed to Lithuania for lengthy deployment. More than 500 U.S. soldiers and dozens of tanks and heavy fighting vehicles will deploy to Lithuania in the coming days on an extended mission to bulk up NATO’s eastern flank, the Baltic country’s military said Wednesday.
The troops are being dispatched as part of U.S. Army Europe’s Atlantic Resolve campaign, which involves rotating hundreds of troops to locations up and down eastern Europe in an effort to deter Russian aggression in the region.
The looming arrival of U.S. forces was welcomed by Lithuanian officials, who have lobbied for more frequent and longer American troop rotations since Atlantic Resolve began in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
“We have sought a larger, long-term U.S. military involvement in Lithuania and the region consistently and patiently,” Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said in a statement. “Therefore the deployment of the U.S. Army battalion for a longer period of time is good and awaited news and a result of our efforts and investment.”
The U.S. military is “a vital factor of deterrence” in the Baltic region, Karoblis said.
Unlike past deployments of Army battalions to Lithuania, the current mission is for a long-term deployment rather than an international exercise, the Lithuanian defense ministry said. The unit — the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Hood, Texas — is expected to be in the country through spring 2020, it said.
The unit is part of a broader brigade rotation into Europe involving the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, which deploys in October, U.S. Army Europe said.
The 9th Cavalry will bring with it 30 Abrams tanks, 25 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles and 70 wheeled vehicles, the defense ministry said. They will be based out of a training area in Pabrade, a small town near the country’s border with Belarus.
Lithuania will provide lodging and logistical support during the deployment, the ministry said.
For the U.S.-led NATO alliance, the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been an area of focus during the past couple of years. All three have multinational alliance battlegroups, which were deployed on a year-round basis in 2017 to deter Russian aggression.
A U.S. battlegroup is also positioned in northern Poland, near the Russian military hub Kaliningrad, which is wedged between Poland and Lithuania. NATO forces in the area are focused on defending the Suwalki Gap, a vulnerable, 45-mile-wide corridor regarded as a likely battle zone in the event of a conflict with Russia. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://www.stripes.com/)
25 Sep 19. Advantage through industry: The British Army releases its industrial engagement framework. The ever-changing political, social, economic and technological landscapes across the globe means that the Army must be agile enough to adapt to these challenges to gain operational and strategic advantage over adversaries. The Army is required to perform a wide variety of roles at home and overseas, meaning that adaptability in structures and capabilities is crucial.
To help achieve this, the British Army has launched the Army Industrial Engagement Framework (AIEF), which for the first time defines how the army can develop a more cohesive and effective relationship with industry throughout the procurement and development process.
The framework sets out the principles of the army’s relationship with industry, focussing on continual, closer engagement to achieve battle-winning equipment programmes with the best value for money.
In the Army’s vision statement it says that the Army’s relationship with industry will ‘deliver capability that is adaptable, agile, resilient and affordable, giving UK Land Forces advantage over its adversaries’.
To meet these challenges, the Army say they must work closely with its allies and partners and but most importantly, with industry.
The report highlights the key role that science, technology and innovation will play in driving the Army’s search for new methods to military requirements and unlock game-changing advances.
The Army, like most the MOD as a whole, is also keen to seek out new ways of engaging with industry, including SMEs and non-traditional defence suppliers.
Exportability will also be a key factor throughout the development process in order to boost the opportunity for wider sales, thus providing a valuable contribution to UK prosperity.
Being the largest employer within defence, the Army will endeavour to make sure that human capability remains central to its decision-making processes. The AIEF states that the Army will ‘ensure outputs are delivered efficiently by the right mix of capable and motivated people’.
The Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, explained: “The Army and industry have recognised a need to think differently about how their relationship should work in the future. Industry wants clarity form the Army on its future requirements so it can be better served, and the Army wants to gain advantages over its adversaries through the technology, innovation and efficiencies that industry can offer.”
The AIEF signposts for industry the direction the Army is taking with relation to capability objectives and the challenges it seeks industry’s support to overcome. It will guide industry as to where they might wish to focus research to benefit the Army in the future.
It highlights four design principles – Agility; Adaptability, Resilience; International by Design; and affordability – that help deliver a number of significant advantages such as:
Capable/adaptable people; increased tempo; resilience; improved survivability and redundancy; increased speed of projection; improved influence; enhanced operational and strategic mobility; reduced logistic need; increased operational security; increased capability in electronic attack; greater soldier lethality; deliver mass effect; improved electronic defence; improved situational awareness; improved platform reliability; free manpower from support roles; and enhanced ability to upgrade the force rapidly with technology.
To help achieve these, the Army has developed a number of higher-level requirements. These are intended to provide focus for capability development whilst still providing the opportunity for innovation.
Brigadier Kev Copsey, the British Army’s Head of Future Force Development said: “In this age of constant competition, fast moving threats and technological advances, our relationship with industry must be equally dynamic.
“As a buyer organisation, the Army has concluded that the closer the army and industry are in our aspirations, the more likely we will be able to successfully meet the operational and strategic challenges we both face.”
The objectives are understandably wide-ranging but include on the improving the performance and wellbeing of solders; degrading the enemy’s will, cohesion and cognition; exploiting robotic and autonomous systems; increasing standardisation; and improving training capabilities.
Through the AIEF, the Army has committed to a new approach to industry that includes increased speed, agility, greater innovation and a clear strategic alignment from the outset.
A series of open access industrial engagement events will be held with the intention to create an on-going and meaningful dialogue with industry.
There will also be an opportunity for industry to voice its feedback and series of lower level events, hands-on troop trials and demonstration days held to provide opportunities for further engagement. The Army has also committed to publishing its key policies and will provide early exposure of its capability portfolio.
The Army will follow the Routes to Market (Optimising Acquisition) initiative, which utilises integrated demand forecasting with early visibility of requirements to create more time to assess and plan resourcing and aggregate spend, ensuring that the most appropriate commercial approach is taken.
Defence Minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: “The army’s new approach to industry signifies its world-class reputation for innovation and engagement. This framework will benefit industrial partners as they support defence in the delivery of future army capabilities.” (Source: Defence Connect)
24 Sep 19. US, Polish presidents sign pact to boost American military presence in Poland. U.S. President Donald Trump and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda inked a joint declaration on advancing defense cooperation Sept. 23 in New York, paving the way for an increased U.S. military presence in Poland.
The two countries “continue to develop the plan to bolster Polish–United States military ties and United States defense and deterrence capabilities in Poland. These capabilities presently include approximately 4,500 rotational United States military personnel. As noted, this enduring presence is expected to grow by approximately 1,000 additional United States military personnel in the near term,” according to the declaration.
The partners have determined six locations for this designed enhanced military presence. Poznań, in western Poland, is to host the Division Headquarters and the U.S. Army area support group. Drawsko Pomorskie, in the country’s northwest, will host the primary Combat Training Center for joint use by the Polish and U.S. Armed Forces. Wrocław-Strachowice, in southwestern Poland, is to host the U.S. Air Force aerial port of debarkation, and Łask, in the country’s central part, will host the U.S. Air Force remotely piloted aircraft squadron. Powidz, in western Poland, is to host a combat aviation brigade, a combat sustainment support battalion, and a special operations forces facility, while Lubliniec, in the country’s south, will host a special operations forces facility, according to the document.
Warsaw and Washington are also in dialogue about “the most suitable location in Poland for an armored brigade combat team,” the declaration says.
Warsaw has been seeking a permanent U.S. military presence in Poland, dubbed “Fort Trump,” amid rising security concerns over Russian activities in the region. As part of these efforts, the Polish government offered to earmark at least $2bn toward the project under which the U.S. would establish a military base in the country.
Last June, Duda met with Trump in Washington to discuss the initiative and sign a joint declaration on defense cooperation regarding U.S. force posture in Poland. (Source: Defense News)
23 Sep 19. German defense minister wants quick decision on Tornado replacement. German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Monday said she aimed to decide as soon as possible next year how to replace Germany’s aging fleet of Tornado fighter jets to prevent a lapse in Germany’s ability to carry out missions for NATO.
Kramp-Karrenbauer, leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said she discussed the issue with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper during her first official visit to Washington since taking on her new role as defense minister. Germany in January decided to pick either the Eurofighter – built by Airbus, Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo SpA – or Boeing Co’s F/A-18 fighter, dropping Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter out of a tender worth billions of euros.
However neither the F/A-18 nor the Eurofighter is currently certified to carry U.S. nuclear weapons, as required under Germany’s obligations to NATO. Germany is asking Washington to spell out what it will take to get those aircraft certified.
“My goal is that we make clear decisions as quickly as possible next year, so there is no time period in which there is no reasonable solution for replacing the Tornado fleet,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters.
She said she would work closely with Esper on the issue in coming months. But experts say it could take years to get the new planes certified to carry nuclear weapons, and the cost of maintaining the current aircraft is rising rapidly. Kramp-Karrenbauer said she also had a frank discussion with Esper about Germany’s rejection of the F-35 as a possible replacement for the Tornado jets, given concerns that it could impede work on a Franco-German next-generation combat jet.
“We made clear that … the Future Combat Air System with the French was one of the reasons that … we had to seek other solutions,” she said, when asked if she ruled out taking another look at the F-35.
Lockheed officials had hoped that Germany could reconsider its decision after the departure of former Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen. The German defense ministry in April estimated it would cost nearly 9bn euros to keep its 93 Tornado jets, which first entered service in 1983, flying until 2030. Of Germany’s Tornado jets, 85 are operated by the Luftwaffe, or air force but not all are equipped to carry nuclear weapons. The remaining planes are used for training. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Reuters)
23 Sep 19. Esper Calls on Germany to Invest More in Defense. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper called on Germany to invest more money in defense during a meeting with that country’s new defense minister at the Pentagon.
“With the largest economy in Europe, we believe Germany is in a strong position to make an investment to bolster the capabilities for the alliance,” Esper said before today’s meeting with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
Kramp-Karrenbauer said the German government is aware of its responsibilities. “I also want to make clear that we do stand by our commitment that we have made in the NATO framework – for example, when it comes to financial burden-sharing and developing military capabilities,” she added through a translator. “I will do everything in my power as the minister of defense … to do just that.”
The German defense minister noted the long history of cooperation between Germany and the United States and said that without American support and aid, the Berlin Wall would not have fallen almost 30 years ago.
“The United States and Germany share a long history of cooperation in security and defense,” Esper said. “We appreciate that your country has been host for American troops for decades.” Esper was among those troops, and he thanked the defense minister for her country’s hospitality.
Germany is the largest non-American contributor to NATO operations – especially in Afghanistan, where German troops help the government fight violence perpetrated by the Taliban, Esper said. German troops also help to train troops in Iraq and Syria, and Esper thanked Kramp-Karrenbauer for her nation extending its operations there. He also pointed out that Germany supports sanctions against Russia to stop that country’s conflict in Ukraine. (Source: US DoD)
23 Sep 19. The first aircraft today touched down on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales off the Scottish coast. Not 24 hours after the second of the UK’s new aircraft carriers sailed into open waters for the first time, a Merlin helicopter was guided safely into land on the expansive deck. For the first time in 50 years the announcement: “Hands to Flying Stations” echoed throughout the 280-metre-long warship and specialist aircraft handlers, who’ve spent the past year practising for this day on a replica flight deck on land at Culdrose in Cornwall, readied to welcome the helicopter. At 1115am, Leading Aircraft Handler Stephen Ashcroft guided the helicopter – callsign Dolphin 14 – safely down on to four acres of sovereign British territory just off the east coast of Scotland.
At the controls of the Merlin Mk2 – for completists, the tail number is ZH856 – was pilot Lieutenant Rob Prior, assisted by fellow pilot Lieutenant Tim Willis, Observer (navigator/weapons and sensor specialist) Lieutenant Carl Davis, aircraft commander Lieutenant Commander Steve Ivill, aircrewman Chief Petty Officer Lee Elliott and photographer Leading Hand Alex Ceolin.
Barely had the 14-tonne submarine-hunting helicopter been lashed to the deck by the handlers than it was released to take off again.
The Merlin landed and took off six times as various problems and emergencies were practised by the air and ground crew, while HMS Prince of Wales’ air traffic controllers guided the helicopter fliers in circuits around the aircraft carrier.
Directing the inaugural landing from the second of HMS Prince of Wales two distinctive towers was the naval officer in charge of all flying operations conducted by the ship, Commander Air (aka ‘Wings’) Commander Phil Richardson.
He hailed “a momentous occasion” for the Royal Navy.
“This deck landing represents a key aviation milestone in the hugely-successful HMS Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier programme,” he added.
“The ability to fly fast jets and helicopters from two fifth-generation Royal Navy aircraft carriers puts the UK at the very forefront of maritime aviation.”
HMS Prince of Wales left Rosyth dockyard in Fife, where she has been pieced together over the past eight years, on Thursday.
After a couple of days conducting final training at anchor in the Forth – including the firefighting and emergency teams practising coping with the unlikely event of an aircraft crashing on deck – HMS Prince of Wales put to sea on Sunday, passing beneath the three bridges spanning the Forth upstream of Edinburgh.
She will spend the next couple of months completing her initial period of sea trials – with helicopters her principal link with mainland UK – before debuting in her home base of Portsmouth, where she will be commissioned before Christmas in the presence of her Lady Sponsor, the Duchess of Cornwall. (Source: U.K. MoD)
22 Sep 19. Italy ready to join coalition of European militaries. Italy said on 19 September that it would be joining a coalition of European militaries ready to react to crises near the continent’s borders, as the country’s new government rekindled ties with the EU.
The announcement follows a visit to Rome by French President Emmanuel Macron the day before for talks with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, aimed at turning the page on Italy’s previous anti-EU populist government.
‘Italy has officially communicated its readiness to join the European Intervention Initiative (EI2), providing its particular national expertise in the security sector in the Mediterranean region,’ the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain have all signed up to the French-led initiative, which was set up outside the European Union and NATO frameworks, it said.
The idea behind EI2 is to be able to rapidly mount a joint military operation, evacuate civilians, or provide aid after a disaster.
Macron was behind the idea and has called for a ‘real European army’.
Historical allies Paris and Rome showed unity this week – particularly on the hot-button issue of migration – after two years of rocky relations. (Source: Shephard)
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