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24 Nov 19. Airbus boss Guillaume Faury urges fighter deal. The new chief executive of Airbus has called for a single European fighter jet programme and warned that the continent needs to bolster its defence industry. The intervention by Guillaume Faury, who took over at the aerospace giant in April, comes amid tensions over Brexit and the Nato transatlantic alliance.
Faury, previously boss of Airbus’s commercial aircraft and helicopter divisions, said it would make sense to combine Europe’s two next-generation combat aircraft programmes — Tempest, which involves the UK, Italy and Sweden, and a Franco-German initiative.
“Europe needs one strong project for securing its air and space sovereignty,” he said. “Can we do one project today at the time of Brexit? Probably not. So it’s important that the FCAS [Franco-German project] keeps moving forward. Will there be a possibility to have one European project at a later stage? I hope so.”
Europe is wrestling with questions over defence and sovereignty amid calls from Donald Trump for a bigger financial contribution to Nato, particularly by Germany.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, recently accused Nato of “brain death”, and called for Europe to become “autonomous in terms of military strategy and capability”. That has set up a fractious Nato summit in London next month to celebrate the pact’s 70th anniversary.
Faury, whose company builds the Eurofighter Typhoon as well as half the world’s passenger planes, said initiatives such as the multibillion-euro European Defence Fund were important for the continent to be “self-sustaining” on defence. “In this transatlantic partnership with the US . . . both players have to be strong,” he added. (Source: The Sunday Times)
BATTLESPACE Comment: We are back to the post-Tornado EFA thinking process where, arch nationalist French Company Dassault persuaded the French government to go it alone with Rafale. This time Dassault has Airbus as a partner and maybe Airbus policy will win the day?
24 Nov 19. UK Top brass plans to shrink army. Defence chiefs are discussing plans to slash the size of the British Army and lend one of the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carriers to the UK’s allies amid fears they may be forced into further defence cuts.
The Tory manifesto, published today, will ditch an explicit commitment made just two years ago by Theresa May to “maintain the overall size of the armed forces”.
Instead, it will vow to maintain defence spending at more than 2% of GDP and raise it each year at half a percentage point above inflation. However, defence sources say service chiefs are already in conflict over plans that would refocus Britain’s war-fighting capability and cut the number of personnel. Senior officers are discussing an army of between 60,000 and 65,000, the smallest for centuries.
The 2015 Tory manifesto promised that the army’s strength would not fall below 82,000, but that commitment has already been dropped, with the army now just 73,000 strong.
In a move that will cause uproar in the navy, army chiefs are pressing to mothball one of Britain’s new aircraft carriers — or lease it to the Americans. Navy chiefs, in turn, have joined forces with the army to press for the RAF to see a cut in manpower.
One source said: “The army hates the aircraft carriers, which they have always seen as white elephants, but the Americans love them. They’re cutting-edge because they can operate with far fewer crew than the US carriers.
“The army can’t recruit or retain the people it needs. Both the army and the navy think that the job of the RAF will soon be done by drones.”
The work is at an early stage but follows instructions from the defence secretary, Ben Wallace, that the armed forces must “cut their cloth” to the resources available.
He secured £2.2bn extra from the Treasury and has told it he will not “hollow out” the forces further but would prefer to cut capabilities and do a smaller number of things better.
Wallace has challenged the three service chiefs to focus on one priority. The army has been told to sort out recruitment or get no more kit. The navy was ordered to “get your ships working” and the chief of the air staff has been told to fix a shortfall of 250 pilots.
Wallace told navy chiefs the aircraft carriers could be deployed with US aircraft or escorted by Nato ships from other countries to cut costs.
The defence secretary is not thought to be aware of the full scope of the discussions, which have stepped up since the election campaign began, and oppose a smaller army. But a source said: “While ministers are away fighting the election, a lot of thinking has been going on.”
Reducing the size of the army would have a profound effect on a pledge in the 2015 strategic defence and security review to remain capable of deploying a “war-fighting division” in battle.
During the Iraq War in 2003, the army was 102,000 strong and deployed a division of 26,000 troops, a level it would be difficult to sustain with just 65,000 soldiers in total.
Defence sources say the shape of the changes might depend on who succeeds General Sir Nick Carter as the chief of the defence staff, an appointment that is expected to be made next year.
The cuts to the army are most likely if the first sea lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, wins the race, while the carriers are at greater risk if Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, the chief of the general staff, gets the job.
The navy has not had a chief of the defence staff since 2003, a period in which the army has held the post four times and the RAF twice. (Source: The Sunday Times)
12 Nov 19. Defence Ministers set expectations ahead of first CARD Report. The European Defence Agency’s (EDA) ministerial Steering Board met today under the chairmanship of the Head of the Agency, Federica Mogherini. Defence ministers shared their expectations and views ahead of the presentation of the first full CARD Report which will be delivered to the Steering Board in November 2020.
Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD)
Ministers took the opportunity to highlight their expectations and share success factors they deem important ahead of delivery of the first full CARD Report. The discussions come at an important juncture in the CARD process, as EDA together with the EU Military Staff (EUMS) are currently carrying out bilateral dialogues with each Member State to complement and consolidate information it has already gathered on national defence planning.
Ministers discussions focused around CARD’s relevance for national defence planning and its contribution to other EU defence initiatives. Ministers expressed their views on how best to structurally integrate CARD into national planning and decision-making and how to incentivise the translation of CARD recommendations into new collaborative projects.
CARD provides an overview that will allow Member States to better coordinate their defence planning and spending and engage in collaborative projects, improving consistency in Member States defence spending and overall coherence of the European capability landscape.
“CARD is designed to be a ‘pathfinder’ helping Member States to get a better picture of the European capability landscape and identify new opportunities for cooperation on capability development and procurement, while avoiding duplication of work with NATO. CARD will over time play a crucial role in providing a comprehensive picture of Member States’ defence plans and capabilities, the state of collaboration, as well as progress towards EU capability development priorities.” Jorge Domecq, EDA’s Chief Executive, commented.
Ministers also approved the Agency’s general budget 2020 on the basis of a proposal made by the Head of the Agency at the level of €34.125 M. This is with the understanding that pending further clarification of the Brexit situation in 2020, an Amending Budget, that takes into account the role EDA plays in the context of major EU defence initiatives and the Agency’s core activities, will be submitted by the Agency to the Steering Board
EDA to take forward PESCO project on CBRN surveillance
EDA has for the first time been chosen to support the development of a PESCO project as an Agency initiative, in line with the PESCO commitment to use EDA as the European forum for project capability development. The project, CBRN Surveillance as a Service (CBRN SaaS), will provide a rapidly deployable 24/7 chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) surveillance capability.
CBRN SaaS involves four contributing Member States (cMS), Austria (lead), Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia. Following a request from the project lead, on behalf of the cMS, CBRN SaaS will be taken forward as an EDA project. The transfer was formalised today during a signing ceremony in the margins of the EDA Steering Board. (Source: EDA)
20 Nov 19. Germany and France vie for European leadership at NATO. France and Germany each sought to claim European leadership within NATO on Wednesday in the first ministerial meeting since French President Emmanuel Macron warned that the U.S.-led military alliance was experiencing “brain death.”
Public questioning of the alliance comes ahead of a summit in London for NATO’s 70th anniversary in two weeks and reflects both broader transatlantic frictions and the space in leadership left by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU).
Amid questions about U.S. President Trump’s reliability, anger at Turkey’s incursion into Syria last month and American doubts over Europe’s commitment to its own defence, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Europe must not go it alone.
Maas instead proposed to counterparts at a NATO foreign ministers meeting that Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg create a commission of experts to debate strategic issues.
Separately from Berlin’s proposal, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also raised the idea of a “wise persons” group to consider NATO’s future, two diplomats said, although details were not immediately available.
Both ideas would widen NATO’s original remit, since its 1949 foundation, of protecting Europe and North America, to potentially encompass new areas such as Syria’s eight-year-old civil war and the Middle East.
Macron, in a Nov. 7 interview with the Economist, expressed doubt about NATO’s security maxim that an attack on one ally is an attack on all. He called for more European defence integration to allow for speedier reactions to crises near Europe’s borders without NATO or the United States.
Macron said there was also a lack of coordination between European allies on the one hand and the United States and Turkey, with NATO’s second largest military, on the other.
“What is important is that the political arm of NATO is strengthened,” Germany’s Maas told reporters as he arrived at the meeting of 29 allies that included U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling NATO Europe’s “life insurance.”
Berlin also proposed informal meetings, free of the prepared statements that ministers often read out in NATO’s inner sanctum, the North Atlantic Council, to allow more discussion.
The ideas would also allow NATO to have more of a common vision about the direction of the alliance, which has modernised militarily since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea but which has a limited role in resolving the world’s conflicts.
Le Drian did not speak publicly at NATO but some allied diplomats said they now looked to Paris to raise taboo questions, such as the quality of U.S. leadership given Trump’s previous stance that NATO was obsolete.
Slideshow (3 Images)
“This is about who the natural leader of Europe should be, Paris or Berlin, or possibly both together, and where NATO is heading,” one senior NATO diplomat told Reuters.
Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide welcomed Berlin’s proposals but others sought more consultations. Hungary’s Peter Szijjarto said that while he welcomed the initiative, he was unsure it would solve all issues.
Since taking office in 2017, Trump has accused European NATO allies of not shouldering their fair share of the cost of defending Europe. He demanded they double NATO’s defence spending goal of 2% of economic output, set in 2014.
On Tuesday, NATO foreign ministers agreed to make space a domain of warfare and agreed to closely monitor China’s growing military might, two decisions aimed at showing Trump that the alliance is an asset for U.S. interests. (Source: Reuters)
19 Nov 19. European defense projects need single export license: Leonardo CEO. European defense programs should be issued with a single weapons export license so policy changes of an individual state do not affect the supply chain, the CEO of Italian defense company Leonardo (LDOF.MI) said on Tuesday.
Germany imposed a ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia in 2018 after the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The ban has been criticized by Germany’s European allies since it put a question mark over billions of euros of military orders.
These included a 10bn pound ($13.27bn) deal to sell Eurofighter Typhoon jets, built by a consortium of Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain, represented by Airbus (AIR.PA), BAE Systems (BAES.L) and Leonardo, to Riyadh.
Germany has not formally stopped existing deals, but equipment from other European countries with German parts has been held up.
The ban has highlighted how Europe’s highly integrated defense industry supply chain can be disrupted by a single government.
Currently, each European company involved in a joint program must receive an export license from their respective governments. If one government withdraws or does not issue a license an export can be unilaterally blocked.
“We have to work on understanding how to have an export license that could be valid for many countries which are involved in the same program,” Alessandro Profumo told Reuters at the Dubai Airshow.
“If there is a program where the value chain is integrated we need, in my opinion, the prime country, that at (under) certain conditions, can be the one who gives the authorization for all the others.”
European states are divided on banning weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. Some have banned sales to the country and its ally the United Arab Emirates over their involvement in Yemen. (Source: glstrade.com/Reuters)
21 Nov 19. Croatia signs MoU on strategic cooperation with Kongsberg, Patria. Croatia’s economy ministry said that it has signed a memorandum of understanding for a possible strategic cooperation with Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace and Kongsberg Aviation Maintenance Services, as well as Finland’s Patria.
The agreement is aimed at meeting the needs of Croatia’s military and civil aviation and creating a regional technological hub on the country’s territory, the economy ministry said in a press release.
Croatia hopes to turn its state-owned aircraft maintenance company Zrakoplovno-Tehnicki Centar (ZTC), which oversees the maintenance, overhaul and repairs of aircraft operated by the nation’s armed and police forces, into a new regional logistics hub, economy minister Darko Horvat said in the press release.
“I believe that once all needed documentation is provided, at the beginning of next year we could launch the transformation of ZTC into a new logistics hub that will operate as a regional centre – a facility that does not exist in our region,” Horvat said.
The memorandum of understanding is the first step towards possible cooperation between the signing parties, while the signing of a strategic economic partnership agreement planned for the near future, the ministry said.
Kongsberg is an international technology group providing high-technology systems and solutions to a variety of industries, including defence, aerospace, renewables, merchant marine, and offshore oil and gas.
Patria is an international provider of defence, security and aviation life cycle support services and equipment, pilot training and technology solutions. It has several locations including Finland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Estonia and Spain. Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, part of Kongsberg Group, owns 49.9% of Patria, while the remaining 50.1% belong to the Finnish state.
Croatian media reported earlier this year that Patria is interested in setting up a plant for maintenance, overhaul and repair of airplanes and helicopters at the ZTC’s base in Velika Gorica, near Zagreb. (Source: Google/https://seenews.com/)
18 Nov 19. Nato makes early bid to avert summit discord. London gathering to focus on topics likely to please Donald Trump. Last year’s Nato summit in Brussels ended in acrimony, with US president Donald Trump lambasting US allies. Nato is planning a 70th birthday summit in London with themes likely to please US president Donald Trump, in a bid to avoid the kind of clashes between the US and European allies that marred last years’ meeting. Foreign ministers from the western military alliance will meet in Brussels this week to agree an agenda including outer space and new evidence that European countries are responding to pressure from the US leader to spend more on their militaries, diplomats said. The summit comes at a time of rising tensions within the western military alliance. Emmanuel Macron, French president, angered some fellow members this month when he declared the alliance was suffering “brain death” because of a lack of co-ordination among states, notably over the continuing incursion by Nato ally Turkey into Syria. Jonathan Eyal, an expert on European security at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, said the London meeting would “turn the concept of summits on its head”. “At most of these events, despite all the differences, the idea is that getting all the leaders together in one room will help ease these conflicts,” he said. “But this time round, most governments seem to be approaching the event with trepidation.”
People were traumatised [by the previous Nato conclave]. No one wants to repeat that experience Nato official Some Nato country diplomats fear the meeting will do more harm than good if it falls into the disarray seen at last year’s Brussels summit. At that meeting, Mr Trump lambasted European allies for failing to spend more on their militaries and publicly attacked Germany over its Nord Stream 2 project to pipe in Russian gas. “People were traumatised,” one official said. “No one wants to repeat that experience — especially the Germans.” Another member state diplomat acknowledged worries that the London event would “go off the rails. Definitely looking at what’s happening, there is the potential for problems”. Draft plans for the London agenda so far include an early evening reception with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace on December 3, with no formal dinner afterwards.
Mr Trump and other leaders are due to hold a morning working session at the luxury Grove hotel — and golf course — north-west of central London. No lunch is scheduled, leaving leaders free for bilateral meetings — or a visit to the nearby The Making of Harry Potter studio tour or to do some Christmas shopping. The out-of-city site has raised eyebrows among some Nato member state diplomats. UK officials insist — unlike The Grove’s own website — that the hotel is in London as it lies just inside the capital’s M25 ring road. Diplomats from other countries point out that the location will help lessen the chances of public protests against Mr Trump such as those that occurred during his state visit to Britain in June. A main theme of the meeting will be burden-sharing by the 29 Nato member countries — a perennial preoccupation of Mr Trump’s, who described the alliance as “obsolete” while on the presidential campaign trail. Summit organisers have noted that the US administration last week demanded a fivefold increase in South Korea’s contribution to hosting US troops in the country. Nato hopes to pre-empt any criticism of the allies by producing new figures showing more member states are closing in on a target to spend the equivalent of 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence by 2024.
Alliance leaders are also due to discuss the global strategic environment, counter-terrorism efforts and outer space — another subject that has engaged Mr Trump, who last year announced the creation of a US space force. Nato says the formal agenda will deliberately be brief, as the meeting has long been intended mainly as a commemoration of the organisation’s creation in 1949. From the archive FT Podcast The fraying transatlantic alliance Mr Trump did not host a Washington event on April 4 that marked the 70th anniversary of the signing of the alliance’s foundational North Atlantic Treaty. Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, welcomed Nato foreign ministers instead. “This is a meeting of leaders to commemorate our 70th anniversary,” a Nato official said of the UK event. “It’s not a full summit this time.” The meeting will also bring Mr Macron face to face with central and eastern European leaders dismayed by his criticism of Nato, which they believe weakens the alliance in the eyes of Russia.
One summit organiser said the French president’s intervention had triggered mixed emotions in London. “On one hand, there’s the view this draws more attention to the meeting, which is what we want,” the person said. “On the other hand, it’s, ‘how dare he?’” The UK’s December 12 general election is another wild card, with the possibility that Mr Trump — who has previously praised Boris Johnson, the Conservative prime minister, and criticised Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour party — might try to intervene in the election campaign. As one European diplomat put it: “If Trump is in London that close to an election, what’s he going to say — not just about Nato, but everything else?” (Source: FT.com)
18 Nov 19. Demonstrator contract for Franco-German fighter jet project expected by January. France and Germany have reached an agreement on their joint fighter programme and are expected to award a contract to demonstrate the validity of the planned technology by January, Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) chief executive said on Monday. The contract was initially expected to be awarded this year and the delay had sparked Dassault and Airbus (AIR.PA), the leading industrial partners in the project, to pressure France and Germany to make progress.
“There is no more issue right now between the French and German (governments) as far as the FCAS (Future Combat Air System) is concerned,” Dassault CEO Eric Trappier told Reuters at the Dubai Airshow.
“There is an agreement at the top level and the next step should be the first contract for a demonstrator before the end of January 2020.”
He also said talks between France’s Safran (SAF.PA) and Germany’s MTU Aero Engines (MTXGn.DE), which are making the engines, were progressing and that he hoped an agreement would be reached this year.
The project to build a new generation of manned and unmanned warplanes was announced by the leaders of France and Germany two years ago and expanded earlier this year to include Spain.
Dassault and Airbus won a 65m euro (£55.4m) contract in January to develop the concept.
The first test fight of the demonstrator remains on track for 2026, Trappier said, having earlier warned that date could be at risk from delays to the programme. The warplane system is expected to be operational from 2040, with a view to replacing Dassault’s Rafale and the four-nation Eurofighter, in which Airbus represents both Germany and Spain
“We are preparing not for the future of tomorrow but for the future of after tomorrow,” Trappier said.
The European joint project faces competition from a British new generation fighter jet project dubbed “Tempest,” which Italy joined last month. Trappier said he did not mind that Britain was pursuing its own programme and that it could still join the Franco-German project, but only after the first demonstrator flight. (Source: Reuters)
18 Nov 19. Twenty years since, at the request of the then Secretary of State for Defence, the now Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, then First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jock Slater and Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns agreed what they at that time perceived would be required for the re-establishment of UK Carrier Strike capability; eleven years since the contracts to build the two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy were signed and a little over eight years since the first steel was cut on the second Queen Elizabeth class ship, HMS Prince of Wales, how wonderful it was over the weekend to observe pictures of the ship arriving at her home base of Portsmouth for the very first time.
The largest ships ever built for the Royal Navy, the building of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a group consisting of BAE Systems, Thales, Babcock International and the Ministry of Defence, has been a story of absolute success. Equally, it is a story of success for the UK as a whole as well as for the Royal Navy and indeed, the Royal Air Force.
Having on several occasions been on board both ships during the final assembly process at Babcock’s Rosyth shipbuilding facility and also at the various BAE Systems shipyards where the various sections of the ships had been separately built before being moved by sea to Rosyth please allow me to raise a huge cheer for all those involved in this absolutely fantastic project and for what has now been achieved.
This really is that this has not only been a great success story for UK defence, the UK naval shipbuilding industry but all those involved right across the supply chain, the thousands of sub-contractors, small and medium sized enterprises and all those involved in the design and build process. In modern times there has never been anything like this. The nation should be proud of what has been achieved by BAE Systems, Babcock International, Thales working together within the Aircraft Carrier Alliance just as it also should be of other brilliant UK based companies involved such as Rolls-Royce which supplied the gas turbines, generators, motors, GE, Ultra Electronics Electro Optical Systems , QinetiQ which supplied combat systems support, Leonardo and many others involved too.
HMS Prince of Wales will be commissioned into the Royal Navy around three weeks from now. She will then follow in the footsteps of her sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth in the process of sea trials and the full rebuilding of carrier strike capability. The success of HMS Queen Elizabeth in the process her sea trials over the past two years and of the massive amount of testing done with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter STOVL aircraft has already been well demonstrated and needs no further comment form me except to say that it has been an absolute pleasure for me to also observe the real partnership that has grown between the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force in the rebuilding of Carrier Striker capability.
(Addendum: Although I had not suggested in yesterday’s piece in respect of the arrival of HMS Prince of Wales at Portsmouth that there had been agreement between the former Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns and former First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jock Slater that the weight of the two aircraft carriers should be 65,000 tonnes in respect of their original agreement on formation of Joint Force Harrier and a requirement for two new aircraft carriers, I have been asked to point out what the two then service chiefs had agreed back then in respect of carrier weight. Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard [as recorded in Hansard and in his own excellent book ‘Bolts from the Blue] agreed a need for two aircraft carriers of a weight up to 40000 tonnes. In evidence given to the House of Commons Defence Committee, Admiral Sir Jock Slater had said that “I believe that two 30,000 tonnes to 40,000 tonnes carriers is the right answer set against the assumptions that we made about what their tasks will be”.) (Source: Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.)
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