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28 Nov 19. Italy Approves Second Phase of F-35 Investment Program: Minister. Italy will continue with the investments required for its continued participation in the F-35 joint Strike Fighter program, Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini said during a Parliamentary hearing on Thursday morning. His statement appears to end 18 months of uncertainty after the previous government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte failed to authorize the necessary payments and related orders. Guerini, who replaced the Five Star Movement’s Elisabetta Trenta at the defense ministry in Conte’s second government, is a member of the PD center-left party, which backs continued participation in the F-35 program.
“As the government aims to build on the investments made so far and seize the opportunities offered by the program, I’ve decided to give a green light to the phase two,” Reuters reported Guerini as saying during a parliamentary hearing on Thursday morning.
After having initially planned to order 131 F-35s, Italy cut back its procurement plans to 90 aircraft in February 2012, split between 60 F-35A CTOL variants and 30 F-35B STOVL variants. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)
28 Nov 19. Anger as record number of maimed troops are denied disability benefit in Government’s controversial assessments.
- Hundreds of injured ex-soldiers declared fit for work by Atos Healthcare
- Royal British Legion announce rise in soldiers having claims rejected
- Soldiers forced to undergo demeaning physical tests by firm
A record number of wounded war veterans have been denied disability benefits in the past year after undergoing tests carried out by the Government’s controversial assessment company.
Hundreds of injured ex-soldiers are being declared fit for work by Atos Healthcare in spite of physical and mental injuries they suffered in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Last night, the Royal British Legion (RBL) announced a 72 per cent annual rise in former soldiers having their applications to receive Employment Support Allowance (ESA) turned down. Several hundred wounded personnel were denied the benefit on the basis of physical examinations conducted by Atos, according to the RBL.
The company is contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to assess benefits claimants’ capability to work.
In one case, Lance Corporal Mark Dryden, 35 – a former member of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers who, after an explosion in Iraq, lost his right arm and the full use of his left – was asked by Atos assessors if he was left or right-handed. He is now taking his case against the DWP to a benefits tribunal.
That case, and others, have led to accusations that Atos Healthcare is under intense pressure to produce assessments that enable the Government to reject benefits claims.
Servicemen suffering from the mental scars of combat also complain that they have been turned down for disability benefits.
Many injured troops have also described having to undergo demeaning physical tests by the firm.
Last night, Peter Poole, the Strategic Director of Combat Stress, a charity serving ex-soldiers suffering from conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, told The Mail on Sunday that, when questioned, wounded troops tended to play down the discomfort they were feeling because to make a fuss went against the military ethos.
He said this led to Atos assessors marking down military candidates.
He added: ‘Atos needs to use its resources to the best effect to ensure soldiers receive the best attention. Many of the doctors and psychologists used by Atos might not have treated troops before.’
Atos is in the process of assessing two million claimants for ESA, which replaced Incapacity Benefit in 2008.
An Atos spokesman said: ‘A physical examination is a small part of the WCA process and people are only asked to do what they can and what is comfortable, with their specific consent.’
A DWP spokesman added: ‘The percentage of people getting long-term unconditional support has more than doubled in two years, but everyone has the right to appeal if they disagree with the outcome of their assessment.’ (Source: Daily Mail)
BATTLESPACE Comment: This comes as no surprise! My late father had to go to see an MoD doctor every year, for a time after his wounding, to prove that his hands had not grown back!
27 Nov 19. Merkel says maintaining NATO is of utmost importance to German interests. Maintaining the NATO defence alliance is of utmost importance to Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday after French President Emmanuel Macron said NATO was “experiencing brain death”.
“Maintaining NATO today is even more in our very own interests as it was in the Cold War – or at least as important as it was in the Cold War,” Merkel told lawmakers in parliament.
“Because, and the foreign minister said this yesterday, Europe currently cannot defend itself on its own,” she said. (Source: Reuters)
27 Nov 19. Israeli industry foresees growth in Europe — if it can face off against foreign defense giants. Israeli defense companies are expanding their footprint in Europe through technologies such as land digitization, avionics upgrades, electronic warfare, and command-and-control systems, with sales totaling up to $2bn in 2018 for Israel’s three largest defense firms.
On Nov. 18, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced it signed a multiyear contract to supply Spike missiles and launchers to the Germany Army. The deal involves Eurospike, a joint venture of Rheinmetall Electronics and Diehl Defence. The agreement is for 1,500 Spike rounds worth about €200m (U.S. $221m).
The Spike contract is one of several recent deals in Europe involving Israeli industry. On Oct. 29, the Swiss Armed Forces selected Elbit Systems to provide a tactical software-defined radio for its Army. The company also went on to sign a $50m contract with the Portuguese Ministry of Defense to supply the Air Force with an electronic warfare suite over a five-year period.
In addition, the Italian Coast Guard has hired Israel Aerospace Industries to provide its motorboats with MiniPOP electro-optical and infrared systems.
Rafael’s Ariel Karo, executive vice president for marketing and business development, told Defense News that the company intends to maintain close relations with European partners.
“We will also deepen our cooperation with local industries as part of our commitment to share knowledge and technology and to create opportunities for domestic manufacturing of our systems, as we have for the Spike missile, which has essentially become a European missile,” Karo said. “We look forward to taking part in the major European programs taking place, such as land digitization, vehicle modernization, air force upgrades and many more.”
For its part, Elbit sees Switzerland as a strategic market. The company’s president and CEO, Bezhalel Machlis, said he wants to expand cooperation with Swiss industry.
And IAI’s executive vice president for marketing, Eli Alfassi, considers Europe a core market for the company, specifically Germany and the United Kingdom. The first two quarters of 2019 saw IAI secure $274m in European sales, and that year looks on track to outperform 2018’s $395m for the whole year. Overall global sales at IAI in 2018 came to $3.6bn, meaning Europe business represented about 10 percent of that total.
IAI’s European sales focus on its Elta Systems group as well as its aviation and UAV divisions. Elta’s focus is radars and electronics, whereas IAI’s aviation group includes both civilian and military contracts. IAI’s line of drones includes platforms such as the tactical Heron, unveiled in Paris over the summer. Rafael, which is known for its Trophy active protection system and its Iron Dome air defense system, recently acquired the UAV-maker Aeronautics in hopes of integrating new unmanned systems into its line of offers. Rafael’s sales of $2.6bn in 2018 are not broken down specifically for Europe, but the company reports that about half of those total sales cover Europe, Asia and North America.
But Israeli companies, despite their reputation for producing high-end UAVs and their technological prowess in electro-optics, air defense systems and active protection platforms, must still face down other defense giants with global footprints. The U.K., for instance, selected Boeing for an early warning and control aircraft this year in a deal valued at almost $2 bn. Israel Defense reported that Boeing was chosen over an IAI offer.
In addition, Switzerland is seeking ground-based air defense as part of its vision for 2030. Despite interest and an invitation to bid, Rafael did not pitch its David’s Sling. Meanwhile, Raytheon has offered its Patriot system to the Swiss.
Overall, the European market accounted for 26 percent of $7.5bn in 2018 sales involving Israeli defense companies. According to Elbit’s 2018 figures, 20 percent of its sales came from Europe, totaling $737 m. At the time, Elbit said its sales increased in Europe thanks to electronic warfare and armored vehicle systems. The company reports that the first half of 2019 brought in $388 m worth of sales — about 20 percent of the global total.
“There is an alignment between the operational needs of many European countries with our portfolio of capabilities,” said Ran Kril, executive vice president of international marketing and business development at Elbit. “We are witnessing in recent years a significant increase in the demand for our solutions in a variety of areas, including platforms protection, next-generation radios, C2 and cyber, as well as EW and unmanned systems. We believe that our strong industrial presence across Europe and our broad portfolio will enable us to continue to support European customers and to further grow our activities in these markets.”
Elbit’s acquisition of Israel’s IMI Systems is expected to provide the former with added value in Europe. In September, the Dutch announced that Elbit will install the Iron Fist active protection system on the Royal Netherlands Army’s CV-90 combat vehicles. Elbit also was recently awarded a $38m contract by the U.K. for its joint fires simulation training artillery systems; a deal with Greece to provide the Hellenic Coast Guard with combat suites and perform systems integration for three new patrol vessels; a contract with a European Union agency for maritime patrol drones; and a $73m contract with the German Air Force for directed infrared counter measures.
Rafael also has hopes for its Spyder air defense system. It signed a deal in 2019 with Romania’s Romaero for local production. As Poland begins arming itself with the Patriot air defense system, produced by American firm Raytheon, the country is considering further bolstering its defense with the David’s Sling stunner interceptor, which is co-produced by Raytheon and Rafael. Poland sought eight batteries of the Patriot, and it’s currently negotiating a second phase of the contract.
The demand in Europe for missile defense systems and border-patrolling drones, coupled with what a number of countries there perceive as a threat from Russia, are driving defense investments. Pressure on NATO members to increase their respective defense budgets and military modernization efforts — particularly in Eastern Europe — are proving fruitful for Israeli companies, as businesses there can offer systems already proven on the modern battlefield.
But Israel defense firms trying to go it alone may struggle in competitions involving American companies. Teports indicate that direct competition between the two markets on air defense for European customers is unwelcome. The U.S. supports Israeli development of the David’s Sling stunner interceptor, for example, via Raytheon, which sells the Patriot system. The stunner interceptor, known as SkyCeptor, can be used with the Patriot battery. This plug-and-play approach can benefit both companies, and seems to be the preferred approach over a contest where David’s Sling and Patriot are completely separate offers. (Source: Defense News)
General Lord Dannatt, 68, said that the number of people taking their own lives in Britain was a “tragedy” as he drew attention to the mental health crisis among former personnel.
Military charities estimate that 519 veterans in the UK have died by their own hand since the start of last year. There are no official statistics.
The former army chief expressed dismay at the lack of data available and shock that coroners had only recently decided to record and examine suicides of ex-military personnel.
“The coroners’ service ought to record people with a service background who have taken their own lives,” he said. “I find it quite extraordinary that that has not been the case until now.”
Speaking at Fort Cumberland in Portsmouth, he said that the government should have done more in the past to tackle the suicide crisis among veterans, and that larger charities should also have “woken up earlier” to the problem.
He said that civilians were increasingly committing suicide and he was critical of social media for heaping more pressure on people.
Last year 6,859 people killed themselves in the UK and Ireland, according to the Samaritans, with the UK recording a 10.9 per cent rise in the suicide rate, year on year.
Lord Dannatt said: “This is an epidemic. It’s a symptom of our time and the downside of social media, which can bring a lot of unwanted additional pressure on people.
“I think 21st century living has accentuated a lot of problems for some people. The tragedy is that taking your own life is a permanent solution to what should be a temporary problem.”
Lord Dannatt, who served as chief of the general staff from 2006 to 2009, played a pivotal role in setting up Help For Heroes, the charity that supports wounded British servicemen and women.
His calls come after a coroner called on the defence secretary to improve mental health care for British troops earlier this year.
James Healy-Pratt, assistant coroner for West Sussex made the intervention in April after an inquest was told that Danny Johnston, 35, a corporal in the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, took his own life after becoming traumatised by a tour of Afghanistan and having trouble sleeping.
The special forces soldier was described as a tortured soul who had been destroyed by his 14-year army career, during which he served in the Middle East, Kosovo and Northern Ireland.
Mr Healy-Pratt called on the secretary of state to oversee an increase in support for veterans of the forces.
“Our service personnel need to be looked after and protected to a greater extent than they are,” he said. “In many ways Danny’s tragic situation is an example of that. It’s the duty of this court to protect future people from that similar outcome.”
Johnny Mercer, the veterans minister, has also spoken out about the crisis, and conceded that there appeared to be a “spike” in former personnel taking their own lives.
However, he stressed that any narrative that soldiers were “broken, mad and dangerous” was wrong.
He told The Times in the summer: “We have to be careful around the narrative . . . The facts are, you are less likely to take your own life if you have served. The suicide rate in the military is less than half of the equivalent cohort outside of the military.” (Source: The Times)
27 Nov 19. UK would be ‘outgunned’ in Russia conflict – think-tank. British ground forces would be “comprehensively outgunned” in a conflict with Russia in Eastern Europe, according to a defence think-tank. Research by the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) found that the Army, as well as Nato allies, has a “critical shortage” of artillery and ammunition. It concluded that it could not maintain a credible defence position.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the UK works closely with Nato and is “well equipped to take on a leading role”.
The research comes ahead of a meeting of Nato leaders in London next week to mark the 70th anniversary of the alliance.
The UK, along with other Nato members, has positioned military forces in Eastern Europe to deter any potential Russian aggression in the wake of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Around 800 British troops are currently stationed in Estonia. The first were sent in 2017.
But the study by Rusi found that the UK armed forces lack critical firepower compared to Russia’s military.
It analysed military capabilities in the “unlikely” context of “a high-intensity conflict between Nato and Russia, in which the UK has promised to deliver a warfighting division”.
“At present, there is a risk that the UK – unable to credibly fight – can be dominated lower down the escalation ladder by powers threatening escalation,” the report said.
It said Britain is “comprehensively outgunned and outranged”, leaving enemy artillery free to defeat UK units.
Russian artillery and rocket batteries have already proved to be potent, destroying two Ukrainian battalions in 2014 within minutes.
UK and other Nato forces not only have a limited number of artillery pieces, but also a shortage of munitions stockpiles and transportation.
The report said the “rejuvenation and modernisation” of Britain’s ground-based artillery is an “urgent and critical priority”.
In response, the MoD said: “The UK does not stand alone but alongside its Nato Allies, who work closely together across air, sea, land, nuclear and cyber to deter threats and respond to crises.”
It added: “As the largest Nato defence spender in Europe, the UK’s armed forces are well equipped to take a leading role in countering threats and ensuring the safety and security of British people at home and abroad.”
The statement comes less than three weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron described Nato as “brain dead” – stressing what he sees as waning commitment to the transatlantic alliance by its main guarantor, the US.
MoD figures released in August found that the size of Britain’s armed forces had fallen for a ninth consecutive year.
The finding came just six months after the Commons spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee, claimed the MoD had a funding black hole of at least £7bn in its 10-year plan to equip the UK’s armed forces.
A delegation of Russian military personnel visited Scotland last year to observe one of Europe’s largest Nato exercises.
The visit was in line with the UK’s obligations to the Vienna Document which aims to promote mutual trust and transparency among states signed to it.
It came as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres claimed the Cold War was “back with a vengeance” as he warned about the dangers of escalating tensions over Syria. (Source: BBC)
26 Nov 19. Russia hopes to agree new S-400 missile deal with Turkey next year. Russia hopes to seal a deal to supply Turkey with more S-400 missile systems in the first half of next year, the head of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport was cited on Tuesday as saying.
Such a move could further sour ties between Turkey and the United States, which has suspended Ankara from the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme, in which it was a producer and buyer, to punish it for buying S-400 batteries earlier this year.
Washington has also warned of possible U.S. sanctions, saying the missiles are not compatible with NATO defences, but has not yet imposed them. A senior U.S. State Department official said last week that Turkey needed to get rid of the S-400s it had already bought to mend fences.
But Rosoboronexport’s Alexander Mikheev told RIA news agency Moscow and Ankara were actively discussing Ankara taking up an option in the original contract for it to receive more S-400 systems, with talks focused on financial questions.
“We hope that in the first half of 2020 we will sign the contract documents,” RIA cited Mikheev as saying. “But I want to stress that military technical cooperation with Turkey is not limited to the supply of the S-400s. We have big plans ahead.”
At a meeting in the White House earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed to ask their respective ministers and national security advisers to work on resolving the S-400 issue.
“We need to see where we get with these efforts,” broadcaster NTV reported Erdogan as saying on Tuesday of the talks, which he said would continue between the two NATO allies until April.
After the delivery of S-400 parts to Turkey began in July, Erdogan said the system would be fully deployed by April 2020.
ISSUE “RELATED TO NATO”
Turkish state media cited Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying the United States should agree to NATO experts being involved in its talks with Turkey on the S-400s.
Erdogan is set to attend a summit of NATO heads of state and government in London on Dec. 3-4.
Turkish media said on Monday F-16 warplanes would fly over the country’s capital Ankara to test the S-400 system, but Turkish officials have not confirmed that such tests took place.
Rosoboronexport’s Mikheev said the new S-400 deal option, if signed, would cover a new regiment of the defence systems and some of the components would be produced in Turkey but that it was premature to talk about which and how many.
U.S. efforts to stop other countries buying Russian military hardware had not been as effective as Washington hoped, Mikheev said.
“You can see how confident India, China, Turkey and other countries are on the international stage,” he said. “Many are openly outraged by U.S. sanctions policy, which is trying to prevent them from developing their own armed forces and technical military cooperation with Russia.”
Erdogan told members of his AK party in parliament that the country’s long-planned, locally made jet fighter should be ready for flight in 5-6 years. Ankara had previously aimed to hold the first flight by 2023.
He also said Turkey would invest in a facility to allow the charging and filling of the detonators produced for F-16 jets and drones to be manufactured locally.
While the United States has not yet imposed any sanctions on Turkey for its S-400 deal with Russia, possible limitations may threaten upgrades to Ankara’s existing fleet of F-16 jets. (Source: Reuters)
26 Nov 19. Turkey holds up NATO military plans over Syria dispute – sources. Turkey is refusing to back a NATO defence plan for the Baltics and Poland until the alliance offers Ankara more political support for its fight against Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria, four senior alliance sources said.
Ankara has told its NATO envoy not to sign off on the plan and is taking a tough line in meetings and in private conversations, demanding the alliance recognise the YPG as terrorists in the formal wording, the sources said.
Turkey’s NATO delegation was not immediately available for comment. Turkey’s defence and foreign ministries did not respond to requests for comment.
The dispute, before NATO holds its 70th anniversary summit in London next week, is a sign of divisions between Ankara and Washington over Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria against the YPG militia, which it regards as terrorists with links to Kurdish militants on Turkish soil.
NATO envoys are seeking formal approval by all 29 member states for the military plan to defend Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in the event of a Russian attack.
Without Turkey’s approval, it could be harder for NATO to step up its defences in the Baltics and Poland quickly.
“They (the Turks) are taking eastern Europeans hostage, blocking approval of this military planning until they get concessions,” one of the diplomatic sources told Reuters.
A second source called Turkey’s behaviour “disruptive” as NATO tries to show it is united after U.S. President Donald Trump voiced scepticism about the alliance and French President Emmanuel Macron suggested it was experiencing “brain death”.
Asked about the issue, NATO’s spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said: “NATO has plans for defending all allies. NATO’s commitment to the safety and security of all allies is unwavering.”
Turkey began its offensive in northern Syria after the United States pulled 1,000 troops out of the area last month. Ankara’s NATO allies fear the incursion will undermine the battle against Islamic State militants.
The plan for the Baltic states and Poland, drawn up at their request after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, has no direct bearing on Turkey’s strategy in Syria, but it raises issues about security on all of NATO’s frontiers.
Under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s 1949 founding treaty, an attack on one ally is an attack on all, and the alliance has military strategies for collective defence across its territory.
Turkey made its demands before its offensive in northern Syria but the issue has come to a head because of next week’s summit, at which security documents are to be approved.
NATO envoys still hope for a compromise because Ankara also needs leaders to approve a separate, upgraded military plan detailing how NATO would defend Turkey in the event of an attack, two of the diplomatic sources said.
Macron, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet on the summit’s margins to discuss Ankara’s Syria operation.
“Everyone is criticising them (the Turks), but if they give in, it will be at the cost of non-interference in their Syria strategy,” one of the diplomatic sources said. (Source: Reuters)
26 Nov 19. How Raytheon technology helps NATO defend Europe against missile attacks. NATO’s Europe-based missile defence system protects member states against ballistic missile threats using sensors and tracking systems to target interceptor missiles launched from the ground and the sea. Many essential components are provided by Raytheon Missile Defence. Berenice Baker caught up with the company at DSEI for a progress update on Europe’s most important shield.
Integrated air missile defence is one of the NATO’s three deterrent priorities, alongside the nuclear deterrent and conventional forces. NATO’s European allies first called for a missile defence system that would work alongside the American missile defence system to protect Europe from missile attacks in 2007, and now the European-based shield covers nearly the entire continent.
Raytheon vice-president for European business development Chris Lombardi says: “Raytheon has made a lot of contributions into that, whether it’s the sensors that are forward deployed and helping cue and give situational awareness, or in the lower tier of the Patriot systems that are tied into it, or the interceptors that are on the frigates based out of Rota [Spain], or the ones that are stuck in the tubes at sites in Poland and Romania, this is all Raytheon. We also partner with many companies in Europe to help contribute to that.”
Improving sensor capabilities across the European continent
It was a hugely significant decision for NATO to decide to go down the continent-wide missile defence route, and it became even more important when the US and then Russia suspended the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in 2018, with the US formally withdrawing from it in August 2019.
“NATO is focusing more and more on what are we going to do to make it more robust, to increase its capability,” explains Lombardi. “It’s got a very good end capability but in anything, especially missile defence, you want more robustness for resilience – additional systems that can contribute so you create redundancies.”
A key part of that is improving sensor capabilities in terms of both new technology and new geographic locations.
Raytheon director for business development strategic campaigns Jonathan Casey says: “We have Romania coming online, hopefully Poland coming online soon, to provide a tremendous capability; that come together pretty quickly.
“We had a monumental flight test recently where the TPY-2 [transportable missile defence] radar in Turkey provided an engage-on-remote data set to the Aegis site. The interceptor was able to be launched and engage the target without even using the radar at the Aegis site. That was a big event for the architecture, but we don’t want to be reliant on a single sensor. That’s why, when we look to expanding, we’ll get more sensors in the architecture, and we’re seeing some opportunities from some of the allies that are looking to contribute with that upper-tier long-range sensor.”
Once Poland comes online, that will mark the completion of phase three of the European phased adaptive approach, the US contribution to NATO’s missile defence system, and there are currently no further phrases planned. But member states are making individual purchases.
The UK, for example, is looking to purchase a ballistic missile defence sensor and is working with the US towards a possible foreign military sale opportunity to contribute to sensing. Other countries are looking for similar opportunities, and upgrading some of their sensors. There have also been some leaps forward in technology that could increase the shield’s capability.
“On the sensor side, there’s a lot of new technology that the US has invested in,” says Casey. “Gallium nitride semiconductors use energy efficiently to boost radar signal range and capability. This is something that Raytheon has invested heavily in putting all of our new systems. One of those is the SPY-6 radar – we’re building three different variants for the US Navy and the future naval fleet. They let us see twice as far with the same size radar and using the same amount of power because the new modules are much more efficient than the old technology.”
The importance of industrial partnerships
Key to Raytheon’s success in Europe is its strong partnerships with European defence companies.
“Two thirds of our international supply chain is actually based in Europe through our international partnerships,” says Lombardi. “We have a partnership with Kongsberg on the NASAMS system which is a ground-based air defence capability that 13 nations use including in the US, which uses it around the US Capitol.
“We’re partnering with Diehl on some of the work that we’re doing for ground-based air defence in Germany. Poland state-run defence group PGZ is partnering on Patriot, which is in 17 nations now with Bahrain recently coming in. Rheinmetall is a huge partnership for us across five different domains. We form local partnerships when we bring on new Patriot customers like Aerostar in Romania, and Ramiro was recently announced in Romania.
“We don’t just come over here and sell Raytheon; a lot of what we’re trying to do is develop global partners, suppliers, understand what’s needed and in some cases bring that technology back to the US as well,” Lombardi concludes. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
26 Nov 19. UK General Election 2019: Party manifestos square up on defence. The UK general election will take place on 12 December and the major parties have set out their policies in their manifestos. Army Technology reviews their pledges on defence, covering everything from veterans and Trident to a new Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).
Labour says in its manifesto that a Labour government would undertake a new “Strategic Defence and Security Review to assess the security challenges facing Britain, including new forms of hybrid, cyber and remote warfare”. This review would also factor in the climate emergency and possible future threats posed by resource competitions and involuntary migration.
The party says it is committed to maintaining defence spending of at least 2% of GDP, as is the NATO recommended level, which it would accompany with increased spending on UN Peacekeeping operations around the world.
Labour says it supports the renewal of the Trident, maintaining the UK’s continuous at-sea submarine-based nuclear deterrent but also says it “will also actively lead multilateral efforts under our obligations to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to create a nuclear-free world.”
Labour has also said it would publish a white paper on defence industrial strategy, including a national shipbuilding strategy. These plans will commit the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Axillary to building all ships inside the UK.
On veterans, the party says it is committed to improving opportunities for veterans through ‘lifelong learning and training, housing and mental and physical health services’.
The party also plans to pay surviving nuclear-test veterans £50,000 each as well as finding a way to compensate black and Asian former soldiers “for the discriminatory demob payments they received compared to their white counterparts”.
The Conservatives say they will exceed the minimum 2% of GDP defence spending target and increase defence spending by 0.5% above inflation for every year of the new parliament. This includes a pledge to modernise and invest in training and equipping the armed forces.
The manifesto says: “We will maintain our Trident nuclear deterrent, which guarantees our security.” The party also pledges to adapt to new threats by investing in cybersecurity and creating a UK Space Command.
The manifesto adds: “We will support the UK’s world-class defence industry by investing in ambitious global programmes, including building the new Type 31 frigates in British shipyards such as Rosyth and a new generation of armoured vehicles, made in Britain.”
To support military veterans, the Conservatives say they will introduce legislation to “tackle the vexatious legal claims that undermine our armed forces” and further commit the Armed Forces Covenant to law.
Plans also include offering a new veterans a railcard, guaranteed interviews for armed forces personnel applying for public sector jobs and “wraparound childcare for forces families.”
There is also joint by a pledge to continue to “acknowledge and commemorate” the role played by diaspora communities in past and current conflicts. The Conservatives also pledge to reduce National Insurance contributions for employers who employ ex-service members.
The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto commits it to spending 2% of GDP on defence, which it says it will bolster with an extra £3bn throughout parliament for the armed forces, which it says will be funded by remaining in the EU.
The Lib Dems plan to maintain the nuclear deterrent; however, the party wants to reduce the number of Trident-carrying Dreadnought submarines from four to three. The party plans to move “to a medium-readiness responsive posture and maintaining the deterrent through measures such as unpredictable and irregular patrolling patterns.”
The manifesto says the Lib Dems want to promote and institute an international treaty governing the use of technology in a warfare setting. It adds that the UK needs to “recognise the expansion of warfare into the cybersphere by investing in our security and intelligence services and acting to counter cyberattacks.”
The Lib Dems are also proposing what they call ‘golden handshakes’ worth £10,000 for STEM graduates to become armed forces engineers.
Finally, the Lib Dems say they plan to improve the state of housing given to service personnel by making the Ministry of Defence (MOD) follow the same rules as private landlords.
The Plaid Cymru manifesto says: “Plaid Cymru wants to see Wales as part of a global community where we work together to keep each other safe and secure.”
The party wants to scrap Trident, describing it as an “ineffective and unnecessary nuclear weapons system.” The party adds it is committed to blocking the renewal of the nuclear deterrent and would resist all attempts to deploy the UK’s nuclear arsenal in Wales.
It adds that any conflict should be subject to the support of all four nations in the United Kingdom adding that it would demand a vote in the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) before any UK-supported military intervention overseas.
It says they want to work with the UK Government on cyber-defences to protect Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom from online threats.
Plaid Cymru says that “successive governments” have forgotten veterans and will take responsibility for veterans based in Wales. The party says they will make sure former armed forces personnel have access to “excellent healthcare, including mental health care and adequate housing.”
The Brexit Party
The Brexit Party says it will ensure the UK’s continued relationship with NATO and keep defence spending in line with the recommended 2% of GDP as “an absolute minimum.”
The party says they will also withdraw the UK from the European Defence Union, along with EU defence procurement directives, as a means to ensure defence contracts stay in the UK.
The Green Party
The Green Party’s manifesto commits it to replacing the Ministry of Defence with a “Ministry for Security and Peace” which will have a core mission of peace enforcement.
The focus of the new ministry would be defending environments from the effects of “climate chaos” and working to help support areas suffering from humanitarian crises as a result of “climate-related disasters.”
The Green Party also says it will close the government’s arms-selling activities, including the Defence and Security Organisation (DSO). They also plan to end any subsidies given to UK companies “exporting of weapons and systems that fuel conflicts, violence and suffering across the world.”
The Greens will also cancel Trident and join the United Nation’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. They say they would work within this to push for the destruction of all nuclear weapons, adding: “We need a security system that can keep us safe from 21st-century challenges, not one that could realise cold war nightmares.”
Scottish National Party
At the time of publishing the Scottish National Party had yet to release its manifesto. Army Technology contacted the party regarding its defence policy; however, it has not yet supplied a response. (Source: army-technology.com)
26 Nov 19. Poland Sets Out New Modernisation Priorities. For the period 2021-2035, the Polish Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to spend around PLN524bn (€123bn) on various procurement and modernisation programmes aimed at strengthening the operational capability of the country’s armed forces and enhancing security.
Under the updated Technical Modernisation Plan (TMP) Poland will invest in practically all types of conventional weapon and reconnaissance systems, spreading pro-curement efforts among all five services, including the Air Force, Army, Navy, Special Forces and Territorial Defence Forces.
The main procurement goal outlined by the MoD in the new Technical Modernisation Plan is related to the planned acquisition of at least 32 F-35 LIGHTNING II 5th generation multirole fighter aircraft under the “Harpia” programme. These jets will replace the current legacy Su-22 bombers/ fighters and MiG-29 fighters as well as supplement the 48 F-16C/D Block 52+ jets. The MoD has also outlined the possibility of procuring another batch of the latter fighters as well.
The Polish MoD has also set itself the goal of improving the country’s capabilities in medium and short-range air and missile defence systems. Therefore, the MoD intends to continue the procurement of another batch of Patriot-based AMD systems under the “Wisla” programme and a number of short-range AMD batteries under the “Narew” project.
Under the first phase of the “Wisla” programme, which was signed off on March 28, 2018, Poland will procure two Patriot-based batteries in the initial 3+ configuration, along with the Northrop Grumman-developed IAMD Battle Command System (IBCS) and 208 PAC-3 MSE missiles from Lockheed Martin.
The second phase of the project, which is still being negotiated, includes pro-curement of additional 6 PATRIOT batteries. Furthermore, the “Wisla” programme calls for the acquisition of a new 360˚ AESA-GaN radar, in the same configuration as the future US Army’s radar system, as well as the future low-cost interceptor, which will supplement the PAC-3 MSE missile.
Over the next 15 years, Poland will also invest in the land platforms, such as next generation Main Battle Tanks (MBT), infantry fighting vehicles and wheeled armoured vehicles. The “Wilk” programme calls for the procurement of a series of new MBTs, that will replace the legacy T-72 and PT- 91 platforms, which no longer meet the requirements of the modern battlefield. Although Poland publicly declared its ambition to independently design and manufacture the new vehicle, the local industry seems to be unable to fulfil this requirement. Therefore, it seems more likely, that the country will eventually join one of the international, pan-European programmes.
The new TMP sets also ambitious plans for restoration of the Polish Navy’s fleet of combat vessels, such as submarines, coastal defence vessels and small rocket ships. The biggest challenge will be the renovation of Poland’s obsolete submarine fleet, which has been shrinking for the past several years. Under the “Orka” programme Poland intends to procure 2-3 modern, conventional submarines, equipped with AIP systems and capable of launching cruise missiles. However, before the acquisition of new submarines could be allocated in the MoD’s budget, the department will have to implement an interim solution, which calls for the procurement or leasing of a number of second-hand vessels from allied countries. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
25 Nov 19. British prime minister’s party practically ignores defense issues as it preps for elections. Britain’s Conservative Party launched its manifesto Nov. 24 ahead of an upcoming general election next month, but the document threw little new light on its future plans for the defense industry and the armed forces should the party stay in power.
Tucked away on page 51 of the manifesto, defense likely wouldn’t have figured a mention at all during the rollout of the document had it not been for the fact that hours before the launch, the Sunday Times reported that service chiefs are fighting over cuts to the British Army’s end strength and other money-saving tactics.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, both conservatives, quickly dismissed the suggestion that Army numbers would be cut from their nominal figure of 82,000.
Nevertheless, the manifesto made no pledges about maintaining numbers, as the then-Conservative Party leader Theresa May did in the last election in 2017.
The actual strength of the Army now stands around 73,000, and the newspaper report said the figure could be reduced to between 60,000 and 65,000. It also said cuts to Royal Air Force personnel numbers as well as mothballing or leasing one of the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers are under consideration as service chiefs scrap among themselves over potential cuts to meet budget restrictions.
Alex Ashbourne-Walmsley, a defense consultant at Ashbourne Strategic Consulting in London, believes the article could be the start of a fight between service chiefs seeking to gain advantage ahead of an upcoming defense review.
“I suspect it’s the opening salvo in an interservice squabble ahead of any strategic defense and security review next year. It won’t be the last one,” she said.
The Conservative Party’s manifesto did commit to extending its current policy of giving a 0.5 percent rise above inflation to the defense budget for the length of the next Parliament and continuing to meet NATO’s target of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense; but the document said little new beyond that.
Jon Louth, the director for defense, industry and society at the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London, said that not all the military’s upcoming requirements and commitments could be squeezed into the defense budget, possibly prompting military officials to fight among themselves.
The defense analyst said the lack of attention given to defense by the Conservative Party and its main rivals, the Labour Party, in its manifesto is “bizarre.”
“It was a lost opportunity to address some of the long-term issues. I’m underwhelmed by the attention they paid to defense at a time when NATO’s eastern flank is being threatened by Russia and China’s position is under increasing scrutiny, particularly as the situation in Hong Kong plays out,” Louth said, referring to ongoing protests in the former British territory. “There are substantial defense and security concerns out there, and voters should at least have been given a sense of where the main parties stand on these import issues.”
There’s a fair degree of skepticism in England anyway over the value of pre-election manifesto commitments. And Labour’s manifesto is about as light on substance as the Conservative’s when it comes to defense. Hard-left Labour has committed to a defense and security review. And that group said it supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent as well as retaining NATO membership — despite party leader Jeremy Corbyn campaigning against both for years.
Royal Navy security personnel stand guard on HMS Vigilant at Her Majesty’s Naval Base, Clyde, on Jan. 20, 2016, in Rhu, Scotland. (Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)
Labour’s union backers are fearful of the thousands of jobs that could be lost at the Scottish base at Faslane, headquarters to the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarine fleet.
Among Labour’s other pledges are a continuation of Britain’s NATO funding standing at 2 percent of GDP as well as a change in shipbuilding strategy to ensure all combat and logistics support ships are built in Britain.
Earlier this month the Ministry of Defence halted an international competition to build up to three large logistics ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. No precise reason for the move was given, but the MoD had been under increasing pressure to ensure the ships were built locally and not contracted out to a foreign yard.
The Conservatives are ahead in the polls, but a hung Parliament remains a possibility, which could open the door to a Labour-led coalition. That could involve the Scottish National Party, which will likely win a substantial number of parliamentary seats north of the border.
The SNP’s principle policies include getting rid of Trident as well as a new independence referendum for Scotland. Success in either policy would be a significant blow to the British defense sector.
Ashbourne-Walmsley said that could pose a big issue for Labour.
“Labour has tried to come across as ‘defense friendly,’ but I’m not the only one considering the manifesto pledges with a degree of skepticism,” she said, “not least because the SNP have already indicated their ‘red lines’ on Trident for any coalition government would be at odds with Labour’s stated claim to retain the capability.” (Source: Defense News)
25 Nov 19. U.S. Aerospace Components Manufacturers (ACM) and European Alliance cluster sign MOU. At the annual meeting of the Aerospace Components Manufacturers (ACM) in Hartford (Connecticut), Peter Huis in’t Veld signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the ACM on behalf of the European Alliance Cluster. Alliance for International Business Development of Advanced Materials and CoNectivity for DefenCe and Security Markets, is a project funded under the COSME programme for European strategic cluster partnerships, aims to mobilize cluster partners, their SMEs, large companies and other key regional innovation actors to ensure development of dual use technologies in the defence and advanced materials sectors, to define common strategies on these issues to non-EU countries. (Source: NIDV Newsletter)
25 Nov 19. The UK defence sector has increased its annual spend on R&D by 6.3% taking it to a seven-year high, the latest ONS data has revealed. Defence businesses posted growth in R&D investment of £100m, taking it to £1.7bn, according to the latest statistics1 for 2018 released last week.
However, this is still some way off the sector’s peak of £2.4bn in 2005, analysis by R&D tax relief specialist Catax shows. A total of 61% of UK defence R&D spending is funded by the UK Government, the ONS said. The amount of defence R&D funded by the UK Government remained static last year at £1bn but the amount sourced from UK businesses fell 17.9% (£20m) to £92m.
The amount that UK businesses across all sectors have invested in R&D continues to grow, rising £1.4bn to £25bn in 2018 — up 5.8%.
Manufacturing was associated with £16.3bn of R&D spending, up 4.7%, but pharmaceuticals remained the biggest product group with £4.5bn of R&D spending, up 3.3%.
The telecoms sector plotted the largest percentage increase in R&D spending, climbing 25.4% to £947m.
The number of staff employed by UK businesses also continued to grow, rising 7.3% annually to exceed 250,000 full-time equivalents for the first time.
Mark Tighe, chief executive of R&D tax relief specialists Catax, said:
“The defence industry is hugely important to the UK and it is encouraging to see strong year-on-year growth in R&D spending.
“However, it has still not returned to its pre-crisis peak and this is what we need to see happening in the next few years if Britain is to continue to breathe life into the export success story that the UK defence industry has always been regarded as.
“More broadly, this is the second full year that Brexit Britain has shrugged off the political poison after the EU referendum and posted great gains in terms of R&D investment, running head and shoulders above the long-term average.
“For the first time in history a quarter of a million people nationwide are engaged full time in keeping the UK at the cutting edge. This is going to make a huge difference to Britain’s prospects outside the EU.
“The rate at which UK businesses are adding R&D staff to the workforce remains impressive, virtually matching the previous year with a rise of 7.3%.”
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