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27 Dec 19. German Arms Exports Shoot to Record High, Hungary Biggest Buyer. German arms exports rose 65% from January to mid-December 2019 compared to 2018, and hit a record of €7.95bn ($8.8bn), according to Economy Ministry figures. Politicians from the socialist Left Party and the Greens requested the data, which was obtained by Germany’s DPA news agency. The figures show government-approved exports of weapons, vehicles, and warships beat the previous record in 2015, which then led to three years of declines. Germany’s total export licenses had already exceeded last year’s total of €5.3bn by the middle of the year, the figures revealed.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier blamed the huge increase on a backlog caused by the months-long wrangling to form a coalition following Germany’s 2017 federal election.
Hungary was biggest client
The largest [volume] of German weapons deliveries in 2019 went to Hungary, where exports reached €1.77bn, followed by Egypt on €802m and the United States with €483m.
Exports to Budapest made up almost a quarter of all approvals. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing, nationalist government is currently engaged in a massive military upgrade. The share of the most controversial exports to so-called third countries that are neither European Union or NATO members fell from 52.9% to 44.2% compared to the previous year. But absolute sales rose by €1bn and five of the top 10 export destinations were third countries. The new figures have, meanwhile, raised concerns that Germany has continued to export weapons used in the war in Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
The Berlin government agreed to halt arms exports the countries involved in the conflict as part of the coalition deal reached in 2018. It later banned all exports to Saudi Arabia following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Weapons still meant for Yemen?
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, however, are founding members of the Saudi alliance fighting to restore the government of ousted Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. This year, the UAE was Germany’s ninth-largest arms export destination, although in August, the country announced it would pull its troops out of Yemen.
“These sizeable figures show that the entire export control system is simply not working,” said Left Party politician Sevim Dagdelen.
Green Party arms expert Katja Keul said the figures show that despite the announcement of a more restrictive export policy, arms sales continue to rise.
“What we need is an Arms Export Control Act, which obliges the federal government to give foreign and security policy justifications for their decisions,” Keul said. (Source: (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Deutsche Welle German radio)
23 Dec 19. UK’s military seeks new place in world after Brexit. Defence ministry facing £1bn shortfall as Boris Johnson launches defence review. Nick Carter, head of the British armed forces, has high ambitions for next year’s strategic defence review: in setting a new direction, he said, the country’s leaders must think boldly and be prepared to “shatter some Shibboleths”. Continuing dangers posed by Isis in the Middle East, escalating Russian activity in the north Atlantic, as well as new threats to freedom of navigation in the Gulf necessitated a change of tack, General Sir Nick, the chief of the defence staff, argued earlier this month. “We have returned to an era of great power competition, even constant conflict,” he told an audience at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), a UK defence think-tank. “This requires a strategic response that integrates all of the levers of national power”. UK prime minister Boris Johnson has duly announced a strategic review — the third in five years — and promised it will be “radical”, covering all aspects of international policy ranging from defence and diplomacy to development. However, in setting out the parameters, Downing Street has also fired a warning shot: the new strategy will seek to modernise defence capabilities, while reducing costs in the long term. Even before the review has begun, the spectre of budgetary constraint is already causing anxiety within the military, with the heads of the armed forces battling to close a shortfall of more than £1bn in next year’s allocation, as the FT reported last week. Defence secretary Ben Wallace confirmed the funding gap, adding in an interview with the BBC that it was now “widely accepted” that a previous defence review in 2015 was not “correctly funded”.
This is in addition to a forecast £15bn affordability gap in the defence ministry’s equipment budget over the next decade — the part of the department’s annual £39bn budget that pays for new fighter jets, warships and submarines. The involvement of Mr Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, in the review has given military personnel added cause for concern. Mr Cummings — known for his insurgent views on Whitehall’s inefficiencies — has been a particularly vocal critic of Ministry of Defence procurement. He described the £6.2bn spent on Britain’s two new aircraft carriers as an ongoing “farce” that was “squander[ing] billions of pounds”, in a blog published in March. The difficulty is that while there are many critics of MoD procurement and spending, there are fewer people identifying concrete savings. There have been reports — played down by the MoD — that the UK’s second aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, could be mothballed or the army cut from its current size of 74,000 to 60,000. Malcolm Chalmers, deputy-director of Rusi, is adamant the review must address the issue of what can be cut. “There’s a concern within the services that a strong rhetoric on the ineffectiveness of defence procurement will be used to undermine the case for a good budget settlement, without coming up with a proper strategy on how savings can be made,” he said. Meanwhile Britain’s adversaries such as Russia and China are investing in new technologies such as robotics, hypersonic missiles, microbiology and cyber disruption. Mr Cummings has argued that the UK should shift the balance of its spending away from legacy platforms such as aircraft carriers towards artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and robotics.
But while Britain is making some advancements in these areas, experts say weaponising them is an entirely different — and costly — prospect. “It’s too early to get rid of more traditional military capability, especially because that’s what often buys you influence with allies,” said David Richards, a former chief of the defence staff. “And it’s too early to invest solely in new technology, which is untested and unproven. For some while yet, you have to ride two horses and that’s potentially expensive.” Unlike previous defence reviews, this strategy will also have to identify a new role for Britain post-Brexit. As foreign secretary, Mr Johnson expressed his desire to reverse the UK’s historical disengagement in the Middle East and Asia and deploy forces in new forward positions such as the naval support facility in Bahrain. There is also talk of bases in the Caribbean and Far East. As the UK prepares to leave the EU on January 31 and Brexit moves into a period of complicated trade talks, the UK will need more diplomats advancing its economic priorities. However, for all the opportunities this may present, there are also potential difficulties. “After Brexit, Britain will be more distinctive as an international power, but also more vulnerable,” said Michael Clarke, a former director-general of Rusi and previously a defence adviser to the British government. “If Britain takes positions on security that another power doesn’t like, they can use trade as a one-to-one punishment once Britain is out the EU trading club.” (Source: FT.com)
19 Dec 19. Swiss Air2030: Planning Decree on Combat Aircraft: Parliament May Proceed with Final Vote. Foreign companies that are awarded contracts in the context of the acquisition of combat aircraft must compensate 60% of the contractual value with orders in Switzerland.
This must include 20% of direct and 40% of indirect offsets awarded orders to companies of the technology and security industrial base, namely in the following industrial fields: metallurgical and machine industry, electronics and electrical engineering industry, optical industry, watch industry, vehicle and wagon construction industry, rubber products and plastics, chemicals, aeronautics and space, the computer industry and software engineering, and cooperation with universities and research institutes.
The Council of States approved this proposal by 41 votes and 3 abstentions, and the National Council by 122 votes against 66 and 4 abstentions.
60 percent, but with third industry sectors
The Conciliation Conference became necessary because there were still differences of opinion between the Councils, after each of them had discussed article by article three times. Composed of 26 members (thirteen delegates from each of the committees responsible for the preliminary examination of the concerned project), the conciliation conference presented to the two councils a proposal for conciliation which eliminates all the remaining differences. If one of the councils rejects this proposal, the whole project is deemed to be refused, and the project is thus wound up.
The conciliation was successful. Originally, the National Council followed the proposal of the Federal Council by demanding 20% direct and 40% indirect offsets, exclusively in the field of the security technology and industrial base. The Council of States 40% more indirect compensation in other industrial sectors. It then reduced this percentage to 20%.
Fixed distribution key
With the resolution of the differences, the bill providing for a maximum financial volume of 6bn francs for the acquisition of new combat aircraft will pass to the final vote in Parliament on December 20, 2019.
The compromise solution diverges on another point of the Federal Council project: the two Chambers asked to enter the key for the distribution of compensatory cases between the different parts of the country, at the rate of 65% for German-speaking Switzerland, 30% for French-speaking Switzerland and 5% for [Italian-speaking] Ticino. These percentages were already included in the Federal Council’s message on the planning order for new combat aircraft.
The date of September 27, 2020 has been retained for a possible referendum poll. The choice of the type of the new combat aircraft and the long-range surface-to-air defense system is expected in early 2021.
The long-range surface-to-air defense system must be acquired for an amount of 2bn Ffrancs according to the usual procedure.
In the event of a popular vote, it should be stressed that even if the planning decree is accepted by the people, the Federal Council will have to present a concrete acquisition project to Parliament as part of a message on the army (probably in 2022).
For the protection of residents in Switzerland
The Air Force must replace all of its combat aircraft in order to continue to protect and defend the country and its people beyond 2030, including the infrastructure necessary for the proper functioning of society. The 30 F / A-18 Hornet fighter jets will reach the end of their useful life around 2030. As for the 26 F-5 Tiger fighters, which are only operational for the air police during the day and in good visibility, they would have no chance against a modern adversary. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Swiss Dept. of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports)
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