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12 Dec 19. NGOs petition ICC to probe European firms’ role in alleged war crimes. Six non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate European defence companies’ role in the alleged war crimes in Yemen. The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Amnesty International, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Mwatana for Human Rights, Centre Delàs and Rete Disarmo appealed to the Prosecutor of the ICC to investigate the role of senior officials of the arms companies linked to the allegations.
In a 300-page document, the NGOs called for a fair investigation to determine whether responsibility could be fixed on company executives and government officials for supplying arms that were used by the Saudi-led coalition in the conflict.
The file accused that the executives of the arms manufacturers and other officials should be held accountable for equipping the coalition with weapons and equipment that were used in 26 airstrikes on schools, civilian population, hospitals and world heritage sites.
The complaint accused several companies of complicity in the alleged war crimes. The list includes BAE Systems, Airbus units in Germany and Spain, Dassault Aviation, MBDA UK, MBDA France, Raytheon Systems UK, Rheinmetall’s Italian arm, Thales France, and Leonardo.
Amnesty International Arms Control Researcher Patrick Wilcken said: “An ICC investigation would be an historic step towards holding arms company executives accountable for their business decisions.
“The reality is that everybody involved in selling weapons to the Saudi Arabia / UAE-led coalition bears some responsibility for how those weapons are used. This includes company executives, as well as government officials.
“The ICC Prosecutor can send a clear message that it will hold corporate actors to account if they are involved in the most serious crimes.”
In a release, Amnesty argued that company officials cannot hide behind the argument that the responsibility solely lies with the governments as they are the approving authority for granting export licences.
The NGO stated that the executives could have made a decision to stop providing their equipment to the coalition in the wake of evidence suggesting violations in the war-torn country. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
12 Dec 19. RAF Eurofighter Typhoons conclude Nato Air Policing mission in Iceland. The Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft have completed the contribution to the Nato Air Policing mission in Iceland to safeguard the country’s airspace. The RAF sent four Typhoon fighter jets to the Keflavik Air Base to conduct the UK’s first Nato Air Policing mission in the Nordic country. The aircraft from 1 (Fighter) Squadron left to return to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. Iceland does not have a military of its own. Nato is helping the country secure its airspace through the ongoing air policing mission, carried out by Nato allies on a rotation basis.
The UK contingent deployed to the Keflavik Air Base last month included 129 RAF regular and reserve personnel.
1 (Fighter) Squadron Wing Commander Mark Baker said: “We’ve achieved the mission, first and foremost, ensuring the integrity of Nato airspace. I think we’ve also developed some excellent relationships with the people of Iceland.”
Typhoon jets were prepared to respond to the threat of unidentified aircraft flying close to the Icelandic airspace at all times during the month-long deployment.
The aircraft conducted more than 180 practice intercepts and 59 training sorties.
Baker added: “It’s been a challenging deployment for us into a colder environment and climate than the weather conditions we’re used to back home. From an engineering perspective, that has meant certain equipment has been challenging to operate and flying has been different as well.”
Recently, two Typhoon jets from RAF Coningsby intercepted an aircraft that lost contact over south-east England. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
12 Dec 19. Defender Europe 20: Building bridges and NATO readiness. Next year the US will undertake the largest deployment of US forces to Europe for 20 years, moving 20,000 personnel and 13,000 pieces of equipment from the US to Europe and back again. Here is everything you need to know about Defender Europe 20. Defender Europe 20 will build bridges, both literally and metaphorically, as the US uses the deployment to prove it is ready to defend Europe at a moment’s notice, but also validate that European infrastructure is up to the task.
During a telephone press briefing on Monday, US Army Europe Deputy Chief of Staff Brigadier General Sean Bernabe gave more details about the enormous undertaking. The event, designed to build “strategic readiness” for the US Army, will deliver “20,000 US Army soldiers with their assigned equipment from the United States to Europe, and then move those soldiers to training areas throughout Europe to participate in other, smaller exercises.” Bernabe said.
On arrival, the troops are set to participate in a number of exercises across the continent including the multinational parachute exercise Swift Response, Sabre Strike the bi-annual ground manoeuvre across the Baltics and Exercise Allied Spirit “focused on interoperability at the brigade level and below between allies and partners.” After these conclude, the 20,000 troops will then redeploy back to the US.
Building bridges to build interoperability
Despite the centrepiece of the exercise being the massive cross-Atlantic troop move, the smaller linked exercises are just as important in cementing defensive collaboration between the US and Europe.
Commenting on possible Polish cooperation during Defender Europe 20, Bernabe said: “Poland will be one of the epicentres of one of those smaller, linked exercises I mentioned – in this case, exercise Allied Spirit. Allied Spirit features a live wet gap crossing, so in other words a river crossing, that will take place at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in north-western Poland.
“This will be a division-size exercise led by the United States Army 1st Cavalry Division, but with multinational participants, including the 12th Mech from Poland and the 9th Mech from Poland”
In this instance, the Polish Ninth Mechanised Infantry Division will act as the adversary giving the US and Polish forces “a tough, realistic enemy force to practice against,” according to Bernabe. However, the general added that not just Poland will benefit from building a bridge to build interoperability, with a multinational bridging team, and rotary and fixed-wing support coming from the US and the Czech armed forces.
Defender Europe 20 will come as Poland runs its own large scale Exercise Anaconda, which has in the past incorporated ten NATO allies and around 10,000 personnel.
The US has previously completed a number of bridging exercises in Europe, with support from Romani, and other countries. However, Bernabe added: “Nonetheless, it is a great exercise to build our interoperability at that tactical level.”
Building NATO “readiness”
Readiness is discussed all corners of the military, the need to improve it touted across almost every country’s armed forces. It is also a key function of Defender Europe 20, proving that the US is ready to cross the Atlantic and deploy to Europe when necessary. A graphic detailing the Defender Europe 20 mission makes this clear saying: “[Defender Europe 20] Demonstrates the US military’s ability to quickly deploy a large force to support NATO and respond to any crisis.”
Bernabe built on this saying that the Defender Europe 20, while not supporting the NATO readiness initiative directly, was important in achieving the same goals.
Bernabe said: “We are not only building strategic readiness by moving these 20,000 forces from the continental United States to Europe and then moving them across the continent to training areas but then we’re also building tactical readiness with every one of these smaller exercises.
“As we build that tactical readiness, as we give all of these units a chance to practice tactical tasks, and as we allow some of the key headquarters from the NATO force structure – for example, the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, or Multinational Corps Northeast – as we allow them to practice commanding and controlling large-scale ground combat operations in simulation or in microcosm live exercises, we are certainly building readiness for NATO as a whole.”
Bernabe also offered insight into how the massive deployment will get from the US to Europe, and having arrived how personnel would move through bustling metropolitan areas. Most of the 13,000 pieces of equipment the exercise will use are already pre-positioned; however, these will still need to be manoeuvred from storage to staging area.
Focusing on Germany, Bernabe explained some of the logistical effort: “Germany will see the transit of convoys moving from the seaports to the training areas in Poland or in the Baltic states, and will likely – we’ll also see the arrival of forces into airports and then the movement of those forces by ground convoy or by bus to those training areas.”
Bernabe went on to explain that the mammoth task has been months in the planning to allow the “heavy lift” to go off without a hitch. He explained: “That’s why the entire army enterprise – frankly, the entire joint enterprise on the United States side – is completely engaged in this. And frankly, our allies here on the continent are well postured as well to receive those forces at the four ports, seaports, of debarkation, and then to move them by convoy, by rail, by line haul, by bus across the continent rapidly and expeditiously.
“So it’ll be difficult, but I can’t say enough about the work our allies and partners have done and are doing to make sure that this goes smoothly.”
Why make the move?
The reason behind the exercise comes back to building readiness, and reassuring European allies that the US can cross the Atlantic in its time of need. Bernabe made clear readiness was the point of Defender Europe 20 and detailed its dual purpose to verify that Europe can handle such a large force movement.
Bernabe said: “The primary purpose of exercise Defender-Europe 20 is to practice projecting 20,000 forces from the United States to Europe. And then, of course, I think it’s important that we validate the infrastructure in Europe, our procedures and policies in Europe, to be able to move those forces quickly, efficiently, expeditiously to a point of need on the continent.”
Moving forces to Europe is relatively straightforward, however, moving those forces from coastal countries to Central and Eastern Europe is the wider test. In doing so Defender Europe 20 will not only boost the US’s and Europe’s ability to move masses of forces but also reassure the continent that if needed the US can make the trip. (Source: army-technology.com)
10 Dec 19. Turkey reveals path to boost defense and aerospace exports by $10.2bn in 2023. Turkey plans to boost its defense and aerospace exports to $10.2 bn by 2023, from $2bn in 2018, according to a government document. The “Strategic Plan 2019-2023,” released by the country’s procurement agency, SSB, is also aiming for the annual revenue of the defense and aerospace industry to rise to $26.9bn in 2023, from $6.7bn in 2018.
Also by 2023, domestic industry will meet 75 percent of military requirements, up from 65 percent in 2018, according to the plan.
To his these targets, the government plans to restructure its defense export incentive system. In addition, Turkey is to launch a government-to-government sales scheme, whereas SSB will open defense export promotion agencies in 20 countries.
Other critical targets detailed in the document include switching to a new procurement model; prioritizing programs that minimize dependency on foreign-made systems; and supporting models that bolster Turkey’s ability to compete in high-tech markets internationally.
Since coming to power in 2002, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sharply increased local input in defense procurement. The government’s strong priority to drop off-the-shelf procurement options and instead go for indigenous design and production has produced scores of local programs including drones, naval vessels, armored vehicles, helicopters, trainer aircraft, a new-generation main battle tank and an ambitious program to locally build a fighter jet.
But an Ankara-based defense analyst warned that some of the government’s targets do not look feasible.
“Take the export target, for instance,” the analyst told Defense News. “The original export target for 2023 was $25bn. Now they have come down to a still-difficult $10.2bn. That’s a long way from the current level of around $2bn.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
10 Dec 19. New EU lending practice aims to buoy cooperative arms programs short on cash. The European Defence Agency is readying a new program for underwriting cooperative defense programs whose funding is at risk due to temporary budgeting hiccups in the member nations.
EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq signed an agreement to that effect, dubbed the Cooperative Financial Mechanism, or CFM, with European Investment Bank Vice President Alexander Stubb on Monday. The idea is to provide a stream of money for multilateral programs in cases where countries want to participate but can’t because their national bureaucracies have yet to clear the required funds.
According to a 2016 EDA assessment, 10-20 percent of collaborative program funding is affected by these disparities among member states. They can occur when parliaments have yet to approve funds needed at a certain time, for example, or because disparate budgeting cycles hinder synchronization.
“The agency’s role is to promote and incentivize collaborative defense projects in Europe and to help create the right conditions for that,” Domecq said. “The CFM adds a very powerful instrument to our toolbox in the context of an enhanced momentum for defense cooperation fostered by the EU defense initiatives. In future, mismatching budgetary cycles or provisional gaps in funding should no longer exclude member states from participating in multinational programs.”
The new lending project comes at a time when European Union-wide defense efforts are beginning to hum along, and officials are looking for clues of what has worked and what has not. The bloc wants to achieve a higher degree of autonomy from the United States, with initial research funding spread far and wide across the spectrum of military requirements.
The new funding mechanism will work in two ways: European Defence Agency officials will either dole out increments of a $6bn line of credit underwritten by the European Investment Bank, or they can broker funding advances from member states with excess liquidity to those needing cash.
“Europe has to be at the forefront of the development of key strategic defense technologies, including AI [artificial intelligence] and digitalization,” Stubb said. “A lack of access to suitable financing solutions allowing to better synchronize joint resources is seen as one of the major impediments to the launch or implementation of defense-related cooperative projects. This is where the EU bank comes into play.”
The CFM lending arrangement is expected to enter into force during the first half of 2020, once all member states that want to partake have signed on. Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain are already in; Germany, Italy, Malta, Poland and Romania are expected to join in the coming months. (Source: Defense News)
10 Dec 19. Congress wants five-year budget plan for European defense fund. Congress wants the Pentagon to produce a five-year plan for the European Deterrence Initiative fund, much like what is required each year when the Defense Department rolls out its base budget request.
In the fiscal 2020 defense policy bill’s conference report released Dec. 9, Congress gives the Pentagon a tight deadline to produce a future years plan for the EDI account for FY20 — no later than the end of the year — that covers “not fewer than the four succeeding fiscal years.”
Congress wants the defense secretary and the head of U.S. European Command to submit to congressional defense committees subsequent future five-year plans beginning in FY21 at the same time as budget requests are submitted.
The EDI account — initially called the European Reassurance Initiative — was created to help Eastern European allies deter Russia from further incursion into Europe following its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and continued military activity in the region.
The U.S. Army’s presence at the time of the annexation had dwindled from roughly 200,000 troops in Europe in the 1980s to around 33,000 in 2015. The Army had only two permanently stationed brigade combat teams, had closed more than 100 sites since 2006, and was concentrated in Italy and Germany rather than along NATO’s eastern flank.
The plans should contain a description of the “intended force structure and posture” of the assigned forces in Europe for the last fiscal year as well as “the manner in which such force structure and posture support the implementation of the National Defense Strategy,” according to the bill’s report.
The plan should also detail infrastructure and military construction investments and the assessment of resources including cost estimates for each project needed to achieve requirements such as increased presence, exercises, training, enhanced pre-positioning of stocks and building partnership capacity, the bill noted.
The Pentagon should also include a timeline to achieve force posture and capabilities to include permanent posture requirements as well as a detailed account of what has changed from the previous year, according to the bill.
Additionally, the Defense Department is required to submit a report no later than the end of November 2020 and each year after summarizing in detail funds obligated for EDI for the past fiscal year, as well as a comparison of funds requested for the following fiscal year.
Under the bill, the Pentagon must also provide an interim briefing no later than the end of March 2021 and each year after covering the status of all matters to be included in the future years plans and reports on EDI.
Funding for EDI has continued to grow since its inception almost five years ago. In FY19, the Pentagon requested $6.5bn, up from $4.8bn in FY18 and $3.4bn in FY17. Only in FY20 did the funding come down, when the Pentagon cut the account by 10 percent.
The Pentagon said the cut accounted for some one-time expenses such as military construction and a look toward increased burden-sharing from allies. (Source: Defense News)
09 Dec 19. French Air Force Declares F3-R Operational Rafale Standard. On Friday, December 06, 2019, the initial operational capability of the Rafale F3-R standard was declared by the French Air Force. This announcement follows several months of training of crews and technical staff of the Air Force Command and the Strategic Air Force Command on this standard since it was officially accepted in July.
While continuing to ramp up the operational units, this key step before the integration in early 2020 of the METEOR missile and the TALIOS laser designator pod allows the Air Force to use the Rafale F3-R for its permanent missions of nuclear deterrence, foreign operations and protection of French airspace, known as Posture Permanente de Sûreté (Permanent Security Posture). This is a major step towards service introduction of the Rafale F3-R, which will integrate the two new payloads by the end of the first half of 2020. This standard is nevertheless just one step, and confirms the Rafale’s growth potential. The development of the F4 standard was launched in late 2018. It will continue to evolve to bring combat aircraft to the Future Air Combat System (SCAF). (Source: defense-aerospace.com/French Air Force)
09 Dec 19. DOD Official Cites NATO’s Contributions to World Peace, Security. The threat from Russia in its own backyard isn’t NATO’s only focus, a senior Defense Department official said, noting that the alliance also is globally focused. Speaking Dec. 7 at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, John C. Rood, undersecretary of defense for policy, said that with its goal of preserving freedom and democracy, NATO has come to realize the economic, military and societal threat from China’s authoritarian regime.
NATO nations see China as a shared security concern, Rood said, particularly with its Huawei 5G network, which could be used to collect information from the alliance and its partners.
Elsewhere, NATO troops are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, noting that some 8,700 non-U.S. NATO troops are training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces.
Last year, NATO participated in Trident Juncture in Scandinavia, an exercise that involved more than 50,000 troops and “got Russia’s attention,” Rood said. Next year, he added, the alliance plans to participate in an exercise called Defender 2020. The United States is planning to send a full Army division to Europe for the exercise to show speed of assembly, speed of maneuver and the ability to mass forces where needed, Rood said.
NATO also is stepping up its military spending, the undersecretary noted. The alliance has increased defense spending by $130bn over the last three years, he said, and NATO nations have pledged by 2024 to spend at least 2% of gross national product on defense, with 20% of that money earmarked for procurement of new capabilities. (Source: US DoD)
07 Dec 19. Germany in talks with Lockheed Martin over ‘fragile’ missile defense program. German defense officials are negotiating with contractors Lockheed Martin and MBDA Deutschland about a bid proposal for a next-generation antimissile program that the government believes is missing crucial components, according to a new defense ministry report.
Information about the status of the high-profile TLVS program, short for Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem, is included in the latest, unclassified portion of a biannual assessment by the defense ministry on the progress of key military acquisition programs.
The document constitutes the defense ministry’s first public evaluation of the U.S.-German industry consortium’s second and final bid, submitted in June.
“The analysis of the second offer shows that the proposal still falls short of the government’s requirements because key elements and services were not included, some of which had been previously agreed,” the document states. Additionally, some performance requirements, which are left unexplained in the report, were not addressed in the industry bid, it adds.
Talks with the companies are ongoing to clarify outstanding issues by the end of 2019, the defense ministry wrote.
Overall, the government considers the program to be “fragile” based on a high degree of technological and managerial complexity. That is compared to a more upbeat assessment in the previous report, dated June, which found “significant progress” had been made over the previous six months.
The defense ministry did not respond to a request for comment on what elements the Lockheed Martin-MBDA proposal was lacking. A Lockheed spokesman referred questions to the German government, writing in an email, “It is a matter for the German MoD to comment on the content of its latest project report and position relating to TLVS.”
The report offers an explanation for why defense officials have been unable to articulate a time table for submitting the multibillion-dollar program to the German parliament for consideration.
For one, the government must first wait for a foreign military sales process to play out with the United States over access to key performance data of the Lockheed-made PAC-3 MSE interceptor, the primary missile of the TLVS system. Germany launched the petition for the requisite goods and services in April 2019.
In addition, officials are unable to formulate a path for integrating a secondary interceptor into the system, the IRIS-T SL, to be made by Germany’s Diehl Defence, officials wrote. That is because the most recent Lockheed-MBDA proposal lacks the detailed interface documentation that would be needed to integrate such an interceptor into TLVS. Without that information, however, officials are unable to solicit a bid from Diehl, according to the report.
German officials consider the ability to use IRIS-T missile a must-have for TLVS because those missiles are domestically made and because they are cheaper.
Amid the runaway program complexity giving officials headaches, the government still appears to believe in the promise of the TLVS system as a replacement of the country’s fleet of Patriot batteries. If it can be made to work, the military expects a “technological advantage” that will position the country as a NATO leader in missile defense, the report states. Officials will make decisions about the way ahead after ongoing talks with industry come to an end, it adds. (Source: Defense News)
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