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13 Nov 19. France Lays Out Rafale Upgrade Path to 2070. France has laid out the upgrade path it intends to roll out for the Dassault Rafale to keep the multirole combat aircraft in air force and naval service through to about 2070, a senior service official said on 13 November.
Speaking at the IQPC International Fighter conference in Berlin, Major General Frederic Parisot, Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Programmes, French Air Force (Armée de l’Air: AdlA), said that there will likely be a further four upgrade phases for the platform beyond the latest F3R configuration currently being rolled out, and that it is the country’s plan for the Rafale to serve as the force-multiplier alongside the New Generation Fighter (NFG) currently being developed with Germany and Spain as part of the wider Future Combat Air System (FCAS)/ Système de Combat Aérien Futur (SCAF).
The Rafale’s current F3R configuration features major software and hardware upgrades that include the integration of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) and the latest laser-guided version of the Sagem Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (AASM) modular air-to-ground precision weapon; the Thales RBE2 active electronic scanned array (AESA) radar; the Thales TALIOS long-range airborne targeting pod; and automatic ground collision avoidance system (Auto-GCAS); an improved buddy-buddy refuelling pod; as well as the Spectra electronic warfare system.
The F4 standard plans to operate between 2023 and 2030, and it adds enhancements to the Thales RBE2 active electronic scanned array (AESA) radar, the TALIOS pod, and the Reco NG reconnaissance pod; upgrades to the aircraft’s communications suite; improved pilot helmet-mounted displays; a new engine control unit; and the ability to carry new weaponry such as the Mica Next-Generation (NG) air-to-air missile and 1,000 kg AASM. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Jane’s Defence Weekly)
14 Nov 19. Germany scrambles to secure funding for next-gen fighter research contracts. German defense officials are scrambling to line up parliamentary approval for the next wave of research contracts in the tri-national Future Combat Air System program.
The next phase is slated to begin in January, but German officials said they are still working to finalize contracts with an industry consortium led by Airbus and Dassault. Given that the proposed deals will have to be cleared by the Defence and Budget committees of the Bundestag, that could make for some dicey timing.
“We’ll be cutting it close,” Col. Jörg Rauber, branch chief of the FCAS planning office at the Defence Ministry, told Defense News at the International Fighter Conference in Berlin on Tuesday. He said the plan is to submit the proposal to lawmakers for consideration shortly before Christmas.
Berlin owes €75m (U.S. $83m) for the upcoming studies, with the same amounts coming each from France and Spain. The €225m total package is slated to fund work on the airframe and cockpit design of the next-generation fighter, which is the manned aircraft at the center of the futuristic program. Additional analyses are devoted to the aircraft’s engine, a communications architecture for connecting all elements of the program, very low observability, remote carriers and sensors.
Officials have pumped the brakes on two of the study areas for now — very low observability and sensors — pending the conclusion of a two-year joint concept study, signed in February 2019. That is because officials want to first see sensor integration efforts play out on a European level, and because there are differing opinions regarding the application of very low observability, or a high degree of stealth, in the program, Rauber said.
For example, it might be possible to focus stealth efforts on a particular type of remote carrier, or drone, rather than aiming to make the manned aircraft as stealthy as possible, he explained.
For the French, however, the stealth calculus entails the potential development of a separate, larger combat drone. If the FCAS main fighter is stealthy enough, Paris might forgo the development of such a platform, Maj. Gen. Jean-Pascal Breton, the program lead for the French Air Force, told reporters. Awarding two research contracts at a later time, rather than along with the January 2020 batch, would still keep the schedule of producing a flyable demonstrator by 2026 on track, according to Rauber.
The FCAS weapon, envisioned as a collection of aircraft, drones, sensors, data links and a “combat cloud” tying it all together, is the designated replacement for Germany’s Eurofighter and France’s Rafale fleets. Slated to fly by 2040, officials at the conference here presented the image of a program that is just now starting to come together conceptually.
“It’s still, in a way, crystal ball-looking,” said Bruno Fichefeux, the program lead at Airbus.
French and German officials — there was no Spanish representative at the conference — stressed the need for connectivity between the different program elements. If connectivity can be engineered into the program to a sufficient degree, then that would somehow avoid having to fork the design early on to accommodate partner nations’ diverging requirements, the thinking goes.
For example, Breton and Rauber said the French requirement for carrier-based operations, which Germany does not need, can be managed under a common umbrella as long as key elements like propulsion and landing gear are designed to be interchangeable depending on the mission at hand.
According to Rauber, Germany isn’t altogether opposed to having carrier-capable versions of the future plane in its own ranks. Given the bilateral pledge to deepen military cooperation, there is a possibility that German planes could one day be stationed on French ships, he told Defense News. (Source: Defense News)
14 Nov 19. Pentagon presses for US access to special EU defense projects. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist stuck up for American defense firms Thursday, saying they should not be cut out of European Union programs to strengthen its industrial base, the European Defence Fund and the Permanent Structured Cooperation program.
Speaking at the NATO-Industry Forum in Washington, Norquist said the European Defence Fund ― which commands a €13bn (U.S. $14bn) pool of money ― and PESCO ― a 2-year-old initiative to foster inter-European cooperation ― “must allow the United States and other non-EU allies to participate and compete for business,” or risk duplication that undermines trans-Atlantic security.
“Our collective strength and security hinges on our ability to bolster trans-Atlantic defense cooperation and streamline decision-making across the alliance,” Norquist said. “This is why we strongly encourage our European allies to pursue efforts that facilitate greater NATO-EU cooperation and advanced interoperability.”
Norquist’s remarks serve as the latest pushback from Washington concerning draft rules that would restrict non-European countries from the bloc’s programs. Norquist said the U.S. has engaged with the European Commission, the EU’s politically independent executive arm, in an effort “to allow our participation to continue.”
Many member states, Norquist said, “appreciate the value [of] U.S. contributions to efforts such as military mobility and tanker refueling.”
Norquist also repeated U.S. concerns that European adoption of a Chinese fifth-generation network, or 5G, could undermine interoperability with the U.S. military. Doing so, he said, would “inject serious risk in communications and intelligence sharing capabilities” between alliance members.
On EDF and PESCO, a raft of Trump administration officials have made similar complaints. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross voiced them at the Paris Air Show in June, and Pentagon chief weapons buyer Ellen Lord wrote to the EU in May, with her State Department counterpart, to say they were “deeply concerned.”
EU foreign policy and defense chief Federica Mogherini responded at the time that the bloc remains open to cooperation with the United States, but that EDF and PESCO were primarily designed to be intracontinental affairs.
On Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also spoke up for “the fullest possible involvement” by non-EU allies in the EU’s special initiatives. “NATO and the EU need to complement each other. Nations shouldn’t have two sets of capability requirements,” he said.
Stoltenberg also welcomed European efforts on defense as a means to increasing defense spending, improving burden-sharing and injecting new capabilities into NATO. Forces and capabilities developed under PESCO, he said, “must also be available for NATO.” (Source: Defense News)
14 Nov 19. RAF Typhoons arrive in Iceland. Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoons from 1(Fighter) Squadron have arrived in Iceland to carry out the Icelandic NATO Air Policing Mission.
The fighters will spend the next month stationed at Keflavik Air Base, protecting the airspace as the UK’s contribution to NATO’s Icelandic Air Policing Mission.
The mission has been conducted by a rotation of NATO Allies since 2008 following a request from Iceland, which does not have its own air force.
Air Vice Marshal Harv Smyth, the Air Officer Commanding 1 Group RAF, which includes 1 (F) Sqn said: ‘I am proud to see RAF Typhoon fighters deploying once more to support and defend one of our Allies as part of our ongoing commitment to NATO. This deployment is primarily designed to offer re-assurance to our friends, nevertheless, I am confident the Typhoons will secure the Icelandic skies in the same way as we do 24/7 365 at home.
‘Their presence makes clear to Allies that we stand by our NATO commitments, of which this is just one of many we offer to the Alliance in order to help preserve Euro-Atlantic security.’ (Source: Shephard)
14 Nov 19. U.S. wrong to push Turkey to drop Russian defences – Erdogan. Turkey’s president Tayyip Erdogan said Washington was not right to propose that Ankara get rid of the Russian S-400 missile defences it purchased, calling it an infringement of sovereign rights, according to Turkish media.
In a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump urged Erdogan to abandon the S-400 systems that began arriving in Turkey in July despite threats of sanctions from Washington.
Asked after his meeting whether Turkey would consider not activating the S-400s, Erdogan told reporters Ankara cannot harm its relations with Russia. He also again held out the option of buying U.S. Patriot defences.
“We said, ‘We see the proposal to remove the S-400s completely while buying the Patriots as an infringement of our sovereign right and certainly do not find it right,’” he was quoted as saying by broadcasters.
“This is the most binding element: we have some strategic efforts with Russia,” Erdogan said, adding the Turkstream natural gas pipeline, which begins in Russia and runs through Turkey, will start delivering gas to Europe.
“I cannot abandon the S-400s because of Patriots now. If you are going to give us Patriots, give them,” he was quoted as saying.
Largely thanks to good relations between the two presidents, Turkey has so far avoided U.S. sanctions that by law should be triggered by the S-400s. But the United States has banned sales of F-35 fighter jets to Ankara and removed it from a multinational programme to produce the warplane.
Erdogan said that he saw a much more positive approach to the F-35 issue from Trump. (Source: Reuters)
14 Nov 19. NATO Secretary General and Norwegian Prime Minister to speak at London Town Hall examining Alliance’s future security. Date And Location: Tuesday 3 December 2019, Central Hall Westminster, London.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Prime Minister Erna Solberg are the first speakers to be announced for the NATO Engages ‘town hall’, which will round off NATO’s 70th anniversary year.
The special event will take place ahead of the NATO Leaders’ Meeting where heads of government will convene to discuss how the Euro-Atlantic Alliance adapts and maintains security in a rapidly changing world.
Held at NATO’s inaugural home in London, ‘NATO Engages: Innovating the Alliance’ is the official outreach event bringing together policy makers and officials with other institutions such as think tanks and universities, as well as the public. Several leaders from NATO Allies have been invited to attend, and previous NATO Engages events in Washington D.C. and Brussels have included US Vice Presidents, heads of Government, defence and foreign ministers from NATO member states.
The event will look to NATO’s future, facilitating a broader conversation about how the Alliance deals with geopolitical uncertainty, changing threats and new opportunities. Discussions will cover topics including hybrid conflict, disinformation and societal resilience, cyber security, emerging and disruptive tech, shifts in great power competition and NATO’s enduring value in meeting these challenges.
Further speakers, agenda items and further details will be released in the coming weeks and updated at: https://nato-engages.org/
The event is organised by the Atlantic Council, GLOBSEC, the Royal United Services Institute, King’s College London, and the Munich Security Conference, in partnership with NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division and the UK Government.
12 Nov 19. Here’s what could cause the next Russian S-400 shipment to Turkey to arrive late. Delivery of a second Russian-made S-400 air defense system to the Turkish military may face a delay over technology transfer disagreements, Turkey’s top procurement official said.
Ismail Demir, president of the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries, said the delivery, originally scheduled for 2020, may experience a delay due to Turkey’s ongoing negotiations with Russia over technology transfer and co-production options as part of the S-400 deal.
“We are planning a timeline for next year. As opposed to the first [batch], there is joint production and technology transfer here. It is beyond the ‘let’s buy it quickly and install it’ of the first system,” Demir told private broadcaster NTV. “The joint production concept may move the timeline. We have some sensitivities regarding some of the production being here. Technical work continues.”
Turkey announced in December 2017 it would acquire the Russian system. It received the first S-400 in July but has not yet installed it.
In response to Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400, the United States suspended Ankara’s partnership in the American-led, multinational Joint Strike Fighter program that builds the F-35 fighter jet.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated Nov. 11 that his government’s decision to buy the S-400 system was irrevocable. His comments came ahead of a planned Nov. 13 visit to Washington where he will meet President Donald Trump. Presidential sources in Ankara said the S-400 dispute, and Turkey’s request for readmission into the F-35 program, will be one of the “hot topics” in Erdogan’s meeting with Trump.
Prior to its suspension from the F-35 program, Turkey committed to buy more than 100 F-35As. Turkey’s local industry produces parts for the program, including airframe structure and assemblies, landing gear components, and more than 100 F135 production engine parts to include titanium integrated blade rotors. Businesses there also produce missile remote interface units, the panoramic cockpit display, center section wiring systems, airframe structures and assemblies, hardware for the F135 engine, and an advanced precision-guided standoff missile meant to be internally carried by the F-35 aircraft.
Political observers in Ankara said the S-400 shipment delay may be intentional.
“Turkey may deliberately not wishing to have the deliveries as planned,” a Turkey specialist said. “Ankara is reluctant to fuel tensions with Washington.” (Source: Defense News)
12 Nov 19. Europe agrees to develop more weapons independently of U.S.. European Union governments gave the green light on Tuesday for 13 new defence projects in a step to develop more firepower independently of the United States. Under plans agreed by EU defence ministers in Brussels, work will begin on a new patrol vessel, an electronic jamming weapon for aircraft and technology to track ballistic missiles.
The projects took months to negotiate but French President Emmanuel Macron underlined the desire for deeper EU defence collaboration last week when he said the U.S.-led NATO defence alliance was dying.
Some 47 joint EU defence projects are now in the works following the signing of a pact by France, Germany and 23 other EU governments in late 2017 to fund, develop and deploy armed forces following Britain’s decision to quit the bloc.
Any new weapons on land, at sea or in the air and cyberspace can be put at NATO’s disposal, but U.S. President Donald Trump’s questioning of the alliance’s significance has added impetus to European defence efforts.
Macron has expressed doubt about NATO’s security maxim that an attack on one ally is an attack on all. But many European allies reject his portrayal of NATO, which will hold a summit in London on Dec. 4, as brain dead.
SEEKING MORE EFFICIENCY
Although 22 EU countries are in NATO, the bloc hopes to launch a multi-billion-euro weapons fund from 2021 requiring EU member states to work together on designing and building new tanks, ships and technology.
“We do not invest enough (in defence) and that investment is not efficient enough,” French Defence Minister Florence Parly told France Inter radio on Monday, citing 20 different types of combat aircraft in the EU, compared to six in the United States.
European defence planning, operations and weapons development foresee France taking a big role in 60% of the 47 projects, often with Germany, Italy and Spain.
Under the latest projects, France will head plans to better track ballistic missiles in space, and develop an electronic jamming weapon with Spain and Sweden for European combat aircraft to overcome enemy air defences. With Italy, France will develop a prototype for a new class of military ship, to be known as a European Patrol Corvette. (Source: Reuters)
12 Nov 19. Can a new Franco-German export agreement clear the air for Europe’s future fighter? French and German officials celebrated the signing of a new defense export agreement last month as a watershed moment, but political and industrial mistrust remains a wild card for the Future Combat Air System program — an envisioned sixth-generation fighter jet.
The export pact, which entered into force in late October with the formal exchange of government notes, is meant to streamline a contentious process that has clouded bilateral defense cooperation for some time. Namely, the agreement dictates that joint government programs, like FCAS fighter jet, be free from interference by partner nations when it comes to eventual exports.
The clause is mainly aimed at Germany, where politicians and lawmakers tend to scrutinize weapons deliveries to countries with known or suspected human rights abuses more heavily than their French colleagues.
The situation has grown more tense since the October 2018 death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who Western officials believe was murdered by order of Saudi Arabia. Germany has since frozen all exports to the kingdom, prompting an outcry from France, where companies had to stall deliveries of equipment to Saudi Arabia in all cases where even a small number of components originated from Germany.
The new agreement ensures “nobody can throw a wrench” into the other’s export planning, says Matthias Wachter, chief defense analyst at the Federation of German Industries lobbying group. Having such a guarantee in writing is good news for FCAS and its ground-focused sister project, the Franco-German future main battle tank known as the Main Ground Combat System, he added.
The language of the export pact is reminiscent of the 1971 Schmidt-Debré agreement, named for the German and French defense ministers at the time and panned in the left-leaning Spiegel magazine as an “embarrassing pact” when reporters found out about the then-secret understanding a year later.
Fast-forward almost 50 years, and defense cooperation remains a thorny subject between the two countries destined to spearhead Europe’s envisioned military autonomy in the coming decades. And there are also long-standing cultural differences that linger. There is a perception among some German lawmakers, for example, that cooperation with Paris inevitably means ceding power to French influence to the point that Germany plays only second fiddle, according to Wachter.
That sentiment has led appropriators to craft a package deal for FCAS that would release funding for the next phase — building subcomponent demonstrators — only when there are assurances that Germany’s tank makers, namely Rheinmetall, play a prominent role in the Main Ground Combat System effort. With armored vehicles traditionally being a strong suit for German industry, some here have privately complained about the 50-50 division of responsibility.
“It’s an emotional issue here in Germany,” Wachter said.
Once the money begins to flow for an additional set of contracts early next year, there is a litany of questions yet to be sorted out. The fate of intellectual property rights, for example, remains unsorted, according to the analyst. In addition, as of late October, there was no agreement on Spain’s industrial work share. Spain is something of a junior partner in the FCAS project, though officials in Madrid have said they expect equal treatment as a full member of the trinational project team.
The Spanish government in the summer designated defense electronics company Indra as the national lead for the fighter program. The move angered Airbus, where officials were hoping to give their Spanish subsidiary a role that would satisfy Madrid’s demands for industrial participation.
Another potential point of contention has to do with military requirements for the future fighter. Perhaps the most prominent issue is that French officials want a carrier-capable jet, which Germany does not need. (Source: Defense News)
11 Nov 19. Poland says France’s Macron comments on NATO ‘dangerous’ – FT. French President Emmanuel Macron’s critical remarks about NATO were “dangerous”, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in an interview published on Sunday evening by the Financial Times. Macron told The Economist last week that NATO was experiencing “brain death”, citing a lack of coordination and U.S. unpredictability under President Donald Trump. The French leader also expressed doubt about the U.S.-led alliance’s security maxim that an attack on one ally would be treated as an attack on all.
NATO was “the most important alliance in the world when it comes to preserving freedom and peace” and Macron’s questioning of whether its members could still be counted on to defend each other was “dangerous”, Morawiecki said, according to the FT.
“I think President Macron’s doubts about (NATO’s commitment to mutual defence) can make other allies wonder if perhaps it is France that has concerns about sticking to it. I hope that we can still count on France fulfilling its obligations,” Morawiecki was quoted as saying.
“France is spending below 2 per cent of GDP (on defence) . . . I think it’s worth asking why certain aspects of NATO do not look as we wish. And it’s not for the lack of U.S. commitment to the alliance, but rather the lack of reciprocity on the part of some European allies,” he said.
France has traditionally had an ambivalent role in NATO, taking no part in its strategic military planning from 1966 to 2009 despite being a founding member. Still Macron’s comments – a month before NATO’s Dec. 4 summit in London – were unexpected. (Source: Reuters)
11 Nov 19. Europe should consider renewed sanctions on Iran, Germany suggests. Germany, Britain and France should be ready to consider starting moves to reinstate international sanctions on Iran over breaches of its 2015 nuclear deal, Germany’s foreign minister said on Monday.
Europe’s position is vital as the United States has withdrawn from the deal and the other signatories, Russia and China, are allies of Iran and unlikely to start the process under which sanctions could be reimposed.
Iran said last week it had resumed low-grade uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow nuclear plant, and at the weekend said it could refine up to 60% of fissile purity, not far off the 90% level needed for nuclear bomb fuel.
“Iran must finally return to its commitments (under the 2015 accord),” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said before a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels.
“Otherwise we will reserve the right to use all mechanisms specified in the deal (for sanctions to be reimposed),” he said,
Under the deal, meant to reduce the scope for Tehran to develop nuclear weapons, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for the removal of most international sanctions.
Tehran says its latest steps have been driven by Washington’s withdrawal from the deal and its revival of U.S. sanctions that have strangled Iran’s oil exports. Tehran says it would return to compliance if Washington did so.
“MORE AND MORE DIFFICULT” TO SAVE DEAL
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she was contacting the signatories to decide what to do next. EU ministers did not discuss sanctions on Monday but it is becoming “more and more difficult” to save the accord, she said.
“We might have a Joint Commission meeting in the coming days,” Mogherini said, referring to the forum where the signatories can discuss problems and potentially set the ground for exploring sanctions.
A senior EU diplomat said the Joint Commission meeting in Vienna could be next week at the level of political directors.
Any of the signatories can trigger a dispute resolution process that could culminate at the U.N. Security Council with a so-called “snapback” of global, U.N. sanctions on Iran.
The EU countries want the International Atomic Energy Agency must first verify Iran’s latest announcements on enrichment, EU diplomats said.
Iran says it wants nuclear energy only for civilian applications.
Under President Donald Trump, the United States has said the curbs imposed on Iran were not rigorous enough, and did not address its ballistic missile programme. (Source: glstrade.com/Reuters)
11 Nov 19. UK election campaign, Brexit and European security. Defence and security rarely register near the top of voters’ concerns in UK general elections. According to a YouGov survey published last week, defence and security is the 10th most important issue in the December 12 election, far behind Brexit but also behind health, crime, the economy, the environment, immigration and asylum policy, housing, education and welfare benefits. This is understandable but, for two reasons, regrettable.
First, the contest offers a fundamentally different choice on defence and security between the Conservative and Labour candidates for prime minister — more fundamental, arguably, than at any time since 1945.
Boris Johnson, the Conservative premier, is a Brexiter but at the same time a convinced supporter of Nato and transatlantic security ties. His instincts are clearly more pro-American than pro-European, but he does not seriously question the longstanding British commitment to Europe’s defence.
Jeremy Corbyn, the opposition Labour chief, is the party’s most radical leftist leader since George Lansbury in the 1930s. He is a life-long critic of “US imperialism” and lukewarm, to put it charitably, in his attitude to Nato.
Second, the almost total lack of debate about defence and security in the UK election campaign contrasts with increasingly intense discussions in Berlin, Paris and other EU capitals about the US-European relationship and Europe’s search for “strategic autonomy”.
These discussions will have profound implications for UK-European ties after Brexit, whenever that may happen.
Pro-Brexit circles in the UK often attack the EU as dangerous and delusional in defence matters, especially when some continental policymakers float the nebulous idea of a pan-European army. Certainly, the coherence and credibility of EU foreign policy leaves much to be desired.
However, French and German thinking on European defence and security is becoming more sophisticated than its critics appreciate.
It is easy to overlook this point after French president Emmanuel Macron’s headline-grabbing interview with The Economist, in which he suggested that Nato was suffering from “brain death” and wondered aloud if the alliance’s collective security guarantee was rock-solid.
One Franco-German idea that is gaining traction is the proposed creation of a European Security Council, which would exist side by side with Nato and would include the UK.
This is the most important example of how the UK might continue to be closely aligned with continental Europe, even if Brexit resulted in the radical divergence in trade and regulatory policies that Mr Johnson wants.
Mr Macron was the first leader to air in public the idea of a European Security Council. Significantly, it was endorsed over the weekend by Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister.
“We need such a council to serve as the one venue where Europeans’ foreign and security policy actions are pooled, within the EU’s institutional framework and beyond it. The UK must be involved, even if it leaves the EU. And Washington must be a key partner,” Mr Maas wrote in an article.
His insistence on US participation is important. For the biggest risk with Mr Macron’s initiatives is that they could be interpreted — wrongly, in my view — as a kind of neo-Gaullist appeal for European independence from Washington.
If that were to happen, most central and eastern European governments would seek to strengthen their security ties with the US, as is clear from this FT interview with Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland’s prime minister. The result would be a more divided, rather than a more united, Europe. (Source: FT.com)
08 Nov 19. Serbia faces risk of U.S. sanctions over Russian arms deal. A U.S. official is expected to arrive in Belgrade on Friday to discuss the purchase of advanced Russian anti-aircraft missile systems which could expose Serbia to U.S. sanctions. Serbia’s military depends heavily on Russian and former Soviet weapons technology, but Russia’s arms sales have been hit by U.S. sanctions over its role in the conflict in east Ukraine. Serbian news agency Beta said Thomas Zarzecki, an envoy for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, would discuss compliance with the sanctions during a visit that has not been announced by the U.S. embassy.
Embassy officials could not be reached for comment and the U.S. State Department did not reply to emailed questions.
Serbia has recently purchased Pantsir anti-aircraft missile launchers from Russia and deliveries are expected in the next few months. In recent years, Belgrade has also bought Russian MiG-29 jets, helicopters, tanks and armoured personnel carriers.
U.S. concerns grew last month when Russia sent its S-400 missile defence system and Pantsir launchers to Serbia for a military drill. The move underlined Moscow’s wish to keep a traditional Slavic ally on side as Belgrade pursues links with NATO and tries to join the European Union.
Matthew Palmer, a U.S. envoy for the Balkans, said last week that Serbia could risk sanctions over its arms deals with Russia. Under the sanctions, Serbia could face punishments ranging from visa bans to denial of export licences.
Late on Thursday, President Aleksandar Vucic urged Serbs not to fear broad sanctions would be imposed on Serbia similar to those of the 1990s during the Balkan wars.
“When the U.S. are deciding about such sanctions … they are imposing it against a company or an individual, not against an entire nation,” he said.
Serbia declared military neutrality in 2006 and joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme in 2015, though it is not seeking full membership of the U.S.-led alliance.
Serbia has also relied on Russia for support in its refusal to recognise the independence of its former southern province of Kosovo, which seceded in 2008 after a guerrilla uprising. NATO peacekeepers remain in Kosovo. (Source: Reuters)
10 Nov 19. Germany warns France against undermining NATO security alliance. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned on Sunday against undermining NATO, in Berlin’s strongest response to date to French President Emmanuel Macron’s critical remarks about the security alliance.
Macron told The Economist this week that NATO was experiencing “brain death”, citing a lack of coordination and U.S. unpredictability under President Donald Trump. He also expressed doubt about the U.S.-led alliance’s security maxim that an attack on one ally would be treated as an attack on all.
“It would be a mistake if we undermined NATO. Without the United States, neither Germany nor Europe will be able to effectively protect themselves,” Maas wrote in a column published online by Der Spiegel magazine.
Maas supported Macron’s call to strengthen Europe’s defence capabilities. “That’s why together with France, we are working hard to build a Europe that works much closer together in security policy,” Maas wrote.
France has traditionally had an ambivalent role in NATO, taking no part in its strategic military planning from 1966 to 2009 despite being a founding member. Still Macron’s comments – a month before NATO’s Dec. 4 summit in London – were unexpected.
Germany, for its part, has been accused by the United States and European allies of spending too little on defence.
Maas repeated his call for the creation of a European Security Council in which Britain should also be a member, regardless of London’s planned exit from the European Union.
Maas said he was working closely on this idea with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, and Germany would present a framework for such a council during its EU presidency in the second half of 2020.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her weekly video podcast that NATO was the central pillar of Germany’s defence architecture, adding that European countries had to take on more responsibilities in the security alliance.
“We’ll also develop weapons systems together in the future. This includes the project of a new combat aircraft as well as a battle tank,” said Merkel.
The chancellor will meet Macron in Berlin later on Sunday during a dinner to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Source: Reuters)
10 Nov 19. Turkey should scrap Russian missile system or face U.S. sanctions – White House official. The United States is very upset about Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile defence systems and could impose sanctions on Ankara if it does not “get rid” of them, White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said on Sunday.
“Turkey will feel the impact of those sanctions,” O’Brien told CBS’s “Face the Nation” in an interview, referring to penalties under the U.S. law known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which he said would pass Congress with “overwhelming” bipartisan support.
His comments came ahead of a visit by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to Washington on Nov. 13 to meet U.S. President Donald Trump for likely crucial talks as the two NATO allies have been at loggerheads over a range of issues.
One key disagreement is Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, which Washington says is incompatible with NATO defences and threatens its Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) F-35 fighter jets. Despite threats of U.S. sanctions, Turkey started receiving its first S-400 deliveries in July.
In response, Washington removed Turkey from the F-35 programme, in which Ankara was a manufacturer and buyer. But so far, it has not slapped any sanctions on Ankara.
Turkey has not yet activated the S-400 batteries it received, and Washington still hopes to persuade its ally to “walk away” from the Russian systems.
“There’s no place in NATO for the S-400. There’s no place in NATO for significant Russian military purchases. That’s a message that the president will deliver to him (Erdogan) very clearly when he’s here,” O’Brien said.
Earlier this month, the head of Turkey’s Defence Industry Directorate said a second S-400 delivery to Turkey may be delayed beyond a planned 2020 timeline by talks on technology sharing and joint production.
The S-400 issue is part of a wider range of disagreements between Turkey and the United States.
Washington was incensed by Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria against U.S.-allied Kurdish YPG fighters last month. Turkey halted the incursion after the Kurds withdrew from a border region under a U.S.- brokered truce. (Source: Reuters)
08 Nov 19. Royal Navy limits commitment to Littoral Strike Ship development. Naval Technology understands that the UK Royal Navy is no closer to ‘opening the door’ to developing Littoral Strike Ships despite reports suggesting two were in development. Progress on the LSS is still at an early stage with only £5m set aside so far for work on the vessels.
The Royal Navy is still looking into developing LSS, however, the plans have yet to progress past the concept phase with no commitments made for the design or use of the ships should the plans move forward. A Royal Navy source told Naval Technology that there is currently no timeline for any further developments or news on the ships.
Early this year, then Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced plans to acquire Littoral Strike Ships, saying: “Take the Royal Navy. They are exerting British influence through greater forward presence. I want to capitalise on that, investing now to develop a new Littoral Strike Ship concept. And, if successful, we will look to dramatically accelerate their delivery.
“These globally deployable, multi-role vessels would be able to conduct a wide range of operations, from crisis support to war-fighting.”
Williamson added: “They would support our Future Commando Force, our world-renowned Royal Marines. They’ll be forward deployed at exceptionally high readiness and able to respond at a moment’s notice bringing the fight from sea to land.”
Littoral Strike Ships are designed to be cheaper to develop than traditional warships and under their designation would not necessarily have to be manufactured in the UK if the concept was to be taken further.
At the time Williamson described his ambition for the two ships to be forward-deployed in the Indo-Pacific and Mediterranean allowing the UK to base a variety of forces at sea. Despite these early pledges from Williamson, little information has been revealed about the development process of the ships since the first announcement was made.
The two vessels are eventually destined to support a revamped Royal Marines force allowing specialised commando forces to be permanently sea-based in the indo-pacific and Mediterranean, according to preliminary plans.
The Royal Navy previously said: “Littoral strike ships are vessels which can command an assault force from anywhere in the world – carrying everything from helicopters and fast boats to underwater automated vehicles and huge numbers of troops.
“They are designed to be able to get in close to land – with ‘littoral’ literally meaning the part of the sea which is closest to the shore.”
By permanently basing the ships away from the UK the Royal Navy can achieve one of the stated goals of the First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin by constantly projecting force across the world. Under plans being drawn up by the MOD, the Royal Marines are set to receive an operational and equipment shakeup, replacing their SA80 rifles with a variant of the Colt C8. The LSS in future could act as a platform for launching Royal Marines operations.
Until the LSS plans progress, the Royal Marines are expected to utilise existing amphibious assault ships to achieve their changing mission.
The plans for the LSS build on the expansion of the Royal Navy, as explained by Williamson’s February announcement: “Our vision is for these ships to form part of two Littoral Strike Groups complete with escorts, support vessels and helicopters. One would be based East of Suez in the Indo-Pacific and one based West of Suez in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Baltic.
“And, if we ever need them to, our two Littoral Strike Ships, our two aircraft carriers, our two amphibious assault ships Albion and Bulwark, and our three Bay Class landing ships can come together in one amphibious task force. This will give us sovereign, lethal, amphibious force. This will be one of the largest and best such forces anywhere in the world.”
These comments give an idea of how the LSS could slot into the Navy’s portfolio, backing up the existing forces of the Royal Navy, rather than replacing outgoing amphibious assault ships with less bespoke replacements.
Despite slow-to-little progress being made since the start of the year the LSS would mark an interesting addition to the Royal Navy’s arsenal, and slot into plans to increase force projection while maintaining a tight budget.
So far the Royal Navy has only released one concept image of the possible LSS, showing a cargo ship-like design with a large landing platform able to support multiple helicopters a key point in the Royal Marines new focus, which is set to them operate Chinooks supported by dedicated fire support from apache gunships making the need for a large landing pad clear. The graphic also shows multiple points for fast boats to deploy from either side of the ship. (Source: naval-technology.com)
08 Nov 19. Estonia to deploy troops to support international military operations. The Estonia Ministry of Defence will deploy up to 160 armed forces personnel in support of international military operations. The Estonian Parliament has also approved the deployment of 234 service members to readiness units next year.
Estonia will increase its contribution to the ongoing French-led anti-terrorism operation Barkhane in Mali.
Launched in the wake of Operation Serval, Operation Barkhane seeks to ensure stability in the five countries in Africa’s Sahel region.
Estonia Defence Minister Jüri Luik said: “The French-led operation is engaged directly in the fight against armed terrorism in Mali. Mali is definitely dangerous, but it should not be forgotten that this is one of the reasons we are in the region and the end goal of the operation is to stabilise the situation in the region to a level which allows the national authorities of countries in the region to independently ensure security.
“The operation enables us to work with our closest allies such as France.”
A total of 95 Estonian personnel will participate in the military operation in Mali. The country is also supporting the UN peacekeeping mission and the EU Training Mission in the African nation.
Estonia will contribute ten additional service members to support the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq. Inherent Resolve is military intervention against the Islamic State. The 234-strong contribution of service members to readiness units will include 210 in the Nato Response Force (NRF) and up to 24 for the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), the Estonian Ministry of Defence added. (Source: army-technology.com)
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