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20 JAN 20. GOOD RIDDANCE! Law firm which made millions drumming up alleged war crime cases against soldiers goes bust owing £6.3m.
A law firm which made millions drumming up alleged war crime cases against soldiers has gone bust owing £6.3m.
Disgraced solicitor Phil Shiner’s firm owes the money to about 70 creditors — including barristers’ chambers used to fight the cases.
Shiner, 64, sparked outrage as he made millions using legal aid to sue the Ministry of Defence over alleged misdeeds by troops in Iraq.
He was named solicitor of the year, but was struck off three years ago after the Solicitors Regulation Authority found him guilty of professional misconduct of a “criminal standard”.
Joint liquidator Stratford Hamilton’s team said it recovered £168,000 to pay some bills despite Shiner claiming he should have the cash to settle his personal bankruptcy debts.
Astonishingly, his defunct law firm is still owed about £700,000 in legal aid payments from cases which it won.
A report from Mr Hamilton said: “We are aware of funds which are potentially available from government departments and other third parties.
“It should be noted that this amount is uncertain and subject to ongoing discussions with the Legal Aid Authority.”
BATTLESPACE Comment: There will be red faces galore in the MoD about this announcement as the MoD had pledged to repatriate the money spent with Shiner, some £15m which he obtained by using false witness statements. This just shows how the MoD was prepared to sacrifice soldier’s livelihoods, including Alexander Balckman to show fairness to their adversaries. It is time that soldiers livelihoods were protected from marauding lawyers who will stop start nothing to make money. Sgt. Blackman and his family deserve a public apology
10 Jan 20. West’s reluctance to share tech pushes Turkey further into Russian orbit. The West’s reluctance to transfer critical air defense technology to Turkey may be pushing the NATO ally further into the orbit of Russian-made weapons systems, particularly for the acquisition of the S-500 platform currently in development.
Turkey has shown interest in the American-made Patriot air defense system, and while the government in Ankara said it set no preconditions for such a deal, Washington has repeatedly pressured Turkey to not activate its Russian-made S-400 air defense systems.
In addition, Turkey has accused France of obstructing the former’s attempts to acquire the SAMP/T, an air defense system made by the European company Eurosam.
“Any Western reluctance to share technology for political reasons would lead us to look for alternative technologies in countries with which we do not have political problems,” a defense procurement official familiar with Turkey’s air defense efforts told Defense News. “Most exclusively including Russia.”
He declined to discuss specifics about the state of S-500 negotiations with Russia, but said: “All is going well as planned.”
Russia announced Dec. 28 that it will start preliminary tests of its latest air defense missile system, the S-500 Prometheus, in 2020. In May 2018, Russia conducted a surface-to-air missile test with the S-500.
The platform is expected to have a maximum firing range of 600 kilometers when targeting ballistic missiles and 500 kilometers for other aerial threats. The S-500 would be able to detect and simultaneously engage up to 10 ballistic hypersonic targets that are flying at a speed ranging from about 11,000 mph to 16,000 mph.
The S-500, which has a maximum range of 3,500 kilometers, is also expected to be able to track and destroy ballistic missiles. It’s being designed with for mobility, with launcher canisters mounted on the 10-wheel drive military truck chassis BAZ-69096.
“There is an understanding [in Ankara] to go as far as possible in earning Russian technology as long as our Western allies keep depriving us of similar technology,” a senior Turkish diplomat involved in security matters told Defense News. “And that includes the emerging S-500 system.”
Last year Turkey received, as part of a $2.5 billion deal, its first batch of the Russian S-400 system consisting of two batteries, despite concerns from NATO allies. In response, Washington suspended Turkey’s partnership in the U.S.-led, multinational Joint Strike Fighter program that builds the F-35 fighter jet. The U.S. asked Turkey not to activate the S-400 system, but Ankara remains keen to make the system operational this year.
“We did not buy it [the S-400s] to keep it in a warehouse,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusşoğlu had said in response to American pressure.
In May, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said an S-500 deal was likely to come in the form of co-production.
In December, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said Ankara and Moscow were in talks for the acquisition of a second fleet of S-400s, noting that Turkey is seeking co-production, technology transfer and the right to export to third countries in any new S-400 deal.
Also last month, İsmail Demir, head of the Turkish Defence Industry Directorate, confirmed Ankara was still interested in buying the Patriot system.
Turkey also has been in talks with the Franco-Italian business Eurosam for co-production of the SAMP/T air defense system in partnership with Turkey’s state-controlled electronics specialist Aselsan and missile-maker Roketsan.
But Demir accused France on Jan. 7 of obstructing the SAMP/T effort. He said the French government has impeded progress on a potential deal ever since Turkey’s military incursion into northern Syria in October.
“We are at the stage of definition study now. France has a negative attitude for the next phase. It creates troubles to go one step further,” Demir said. “If this attitude continues, we will proceed with the other partner [Italy].”
The SAMP/T air defense system takes a test shot in 2015. (MBDA)
Turkey and Eurosam signed in early 2018 a preliminary, 18-month deal to examine co-production of a national Turkish air defense system based on the SAMP/T.
Since the 2000s Turkey has been trying to build an indigenous long-range air defense system, but there’s ben a lack of progress. Only in October 2019 did Turkey’s first indigenous, low-altitude air defense system, Hisar-A, successfully passed field tests. The system, co-produced by Aselsan and Roketsan, will now come under serial production with a planned delivery in 2021.
Hisar-A provides protection against a multitude of airborne targets due to its vertical launch capability. The system is mounted on a self-propelled armored vehicle and can be fully autonomous by means of 3D radar, an electro-optic sensor suite and fire control. It’s to be used to protect military bases, ports, airports and mobile troops. The system targets fixed- and rotor-wing aircraft, drones, cruise missiles, and air-to-ground missiles.
Aselsan and Roketsan are also developing Hisar-O, the medium-altitude version. It’s expected to enter the Turkish military’s inventory in 2022.
Hisar-O’s operation invovles a ground station and three batteries, each of which has a sufficient amount of launchers, missiles, radars, command-and-control and communication systems, and other support equipment.
When combined, Hisar-A and Hisar-O will provide Turkey the ability to destroy threats at low and medium altitudes. The Hisar program involves the development and production of two types of ground systems and the missile itself, which is being designed to launch from a self-propelled system or an armored, wheeled vehicle. (Source: Defense News)
09 Jan 20. Finland Begins Testing Replacements for Dated Hornet Fleet. Finland’s Air force began testing candidate aircraft vying to replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of fighter jets on Thursday, as the government weighs a purchasing decision due next year. Each of the five short-listed manufacturers will bring their aircraft to Finland for a week of flight tests at the Satakunta Air Command in Pirkkala, in the Tampere region. The field tests will run until the end of February.
The first fighter jet up for assessment is the Eurofighter Typhoon, followed by Lockheed Martin’s multi-purpose F-35 combat aircraft and Boeing’s F/A 18 Super Hornet. French firm Dassault’s Rafale and Swedish Saab’s Gripen E round out the contenders to replace the fleet of fighter jets.
Finland has sent all five manufacturers follow-up invitations to tender bids to completely replace the current Hornet fleet. Their responses are expected by the end of January.
A final binding invitation to tender will be sent out later this year and the government will make a purchasing decision in 2021. The aim is to commission the new fleet between 2025 and 2030. The total estimated cost of the acquisition has been pegged at between seven and 10bn euros, excluding lifetime costs such as spare parts and maintenance. The original Hornet fleet was purchased in 1992 and will be phased out by 2025. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Finnish Broadcasting Corp., YLE)
10 Jan 20. UK nuclear weapons programme £1.3bn over budget. The Ministry Of Defence’s “poor management” of Britain’s nuclear weapons programme has led to rising costs and lengthy delays, according to the government spending watchdog. The National Audit Office looked at three security sites in England, known as the Defence Nuclear Estate. It found the infrastructure projects face delays of between one and six years, with costs increasing by £1.3bn.
The MoD said it would carefully look at the report’s findings.
The projects, initially valued at £2.5bn, are being built to enhance or replace existing facilities at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, where four new submarines are being built by BAE Systems to carry Trident missiles.
The other sites are Raynesway near Derby, where Rolls Royce is developing nuclear reactors to power the submarines, and at Burghfield in Berkshire, where the Atomic Weapons Establishment are assembling nuclear warheads.
Nearly half of the £1.3bn in increased costs are due to construction starting too early and then having to be revised, the NAO found.
The watchdog acknowledged there have been unique challenges, including the need to comply with stricter security and safety regulations for the nuclear industry, such as the construction of buildings able to withstand seismic activity.
But it said the MoD did not have the controls in place to overcome these barriers and prevent infrastructure designs from being over-specified and to ensure designs are “cost-effective”.
The NAO also criticised what it called “poor contracts”, with the MoD taking all the risks and with the work being carried out by “monopolistic” suppliers.
BAE Systems earned an extra £10m in management fees following cost increases.
The company has no liability for costs and damages relating to non-performance. AWE also received additional fees when work was deferred.
The report said it was disappointing to see the MoD making similar mistakes to ones it made 30 years ago.
It says the department should not have allowed work to start too early and should have more control to agree to cost-effective designs.
In not doing so, the MoD’s early management of the programme has “not delivered value for money”, said the NAO.
Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said the “MoD’s failure to mitigate commercial and delivery risks early on has led to project delays and cost increases as well as impacting its wider work”.
The spending watchdog did acknowledge oversight had recently improved.
But the criticisms will likely catch the attention of the prime minister’s chief special adviser, Dominic Cummings, who wants to overhaul the way the MoD buys military equipment.
Mr Cummings, who has been a harsh critic of defence procurement, has already held talks with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace about ways of tackling waste.
Mr Wallace recently admitted there was a shortfall in the department’s budget.
In a statement the Ministry of Defence said it was carefully examining the conclusions of the report but was committed to strengthening the management of its nuclear programme. (Source: BBC)
09 Jan 20. Source, Data Protection Enter Swiss Fighter Competition. Irrespectively of which combat aircraft wins Switzerland’s ongoing fighter competition, the fundamental decision will be whether the Swiss government wants to make itself dependent on Europe of on the United States for its security.
Two of the four aircraft left in the competition after Saab pulled out last year are European (Dassault Rafale and Airbus Eurofighter) and two are American (Boeing F-18E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35A.)
Separately, the ‘Group for a Switzerland without an army’ (GsoA), the Greens and the SP yesterday launched the referendum against the air-defense modernization program, Swiss SRT radio reported Jan. 8, claiming that “Combat aircraft are useless in connection with cyber war, terrorism or cruise missiles.” They have until April 9, 2020 to collect the necessary 50,000 signatures to force a popular vote.
GsoA secretary Lewin Lempert also spoke of “wasting money”. With maintenance and operation, the combat aircraft cost not CHF 6bn but CHF 24bn, SRT reported. This money would then be missing in the fight against climate change or in health care. “The referendum is therefore mandatory,” said Lempert.
Whichever models meet the requirements, Switzerland’s real choice will be whether it wants to make itself dependent on Europe or the USA in terms of security, according to former Swiss Ambassador Marcel Stutz.
Europe or the United States?
That is a crucial question, Stutz told Swiss SRF radio yesterday. “In terms of foreign policy, we are tying ourselves to a country or a bloc for thirty years. I cannot imagine that citizens will allow this discussion to be avoided.”
The foreign policy dimension is already missing in the report of the Defense Department DDPS on the new combat aircraft, says Stutz. “There are only two or three pages where there are strategic considerations about who you want to do something with, and where the partners are in a conflict that will hopefully never occur.”
The retired ambassador has a clear opinion when it comes to US or European technology. “In the scenario of a European conflict, I would be very interested in owning war equipment that my immediate neighbors also have,” former Swiss Ambassador Marcel Stutz told Swiss SRF radio yesterday.
Critics note that the Swiss government decided to first obtain popular backing of the entire Air2030 air-defense modernization program, and decide the winning fighter only later, so as to avoid the losing strategy that blocked a previous attempt to buy new fighters. At the time, Switzerland first chose the winner and then called for a popular vote to approve it. It lost, however, when opponents of any fighter buy were supported by the backers of the losing competitors.
Who controls the data?
Socialist Party (SP) security politician Priska Seiler-Graf has a similar opinion. She points to another point, namely who controls the data of the warplanes: “With American types – especially with the F-35 – we would be completely dependent on the United States for information technology.” She does not want that.
While the United States keep most of its fighter jet data for itself, it is less so in European countries, says Seiler-Graf. This is an important point if Switzerland wants to remain as independent as possible in terms of security policy.
When asked, the Swiss Ministry of Defence says that the evaluation only takes technical aspects into account, and this also include the question of technological dependence. Political questions are a matter for the Federal Council, which can also include foreign, economic or European policy aspects.
What is new, however, is that the DDPS and the Federal Council alone should only make these political considerations, and only after the vote. When purchasing the Gripen six years ago, however, the procurement process was monitored by a sub-committee of the Parliament.
That sub-committee was chaired by SVP security politician Thomas Hurter: “The idea behind it was that the political questions came up for discussion at an early stage.” The sub-committee was able to ensure that the relevant contracts of the providers had been drawn up well.
Avoiding divisions before the vote
Even though parliamentary cooperation was helpful at the time, Hurter believes that it is no longer necessary today. It is important to ensure the renewal of Switzerland’s air defense, and he does not want to commit himself at this time: Whether the technology comes from the USA or Europe, “both regions meet the requirements.”
Several other members of the Security Committee are also refraining from commenting publicly on this issue, and are following the defence ministry’s strategy of not having a debate on the choice of aircraft until after the vote. They want to prevent supporters of the fighter acquisition from being split, as happened when a popular vote blocked the Gripen acquisition in 2014 after supporters of the different fighters in the running opposed each other as much as the other opponents of the fighter buy. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)
08 Jan 20. France blocks missile development with Turkey, Altay MBT delayed by lack of powerpack, SSB head says. France is blocking missile development with Turkey while production of the Altay main battle tank (MBT) has been delayed because of the lack of an engine, İsmail Demir, head of Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB), told a press conference on 6 January. Demir said the French government had been blocking progress with Turkey on the joint production of anti-ballistic missiles with Eurosam, Turkish media reported the same day. Paris condemned Turkey’s Operation ‘Peace Spring’ launched into northern Syria last October.
“We are in the definition study phase now. France has a negative attitude on the next phase. This is causing problems for further steps,” Demir said, adding, “If this attitude continues, we will proceed with the other partner,” referring to Italy. (Source: Jane’s)
07 Jan 20. Britain’s defence strategy needs a reality check. Reform of the military and how it procures equipment is long overdue. The phrase “Global Britain” has been used time and again by Number 10 as it has tried to define the UK’s overseas ambitions after Brexit. It may have a certain ring to it but as a strategy it is woefully lacking. The unfolding crisis in the Middle East, sparked by America’s assassination of Iran’s leading military figure, is a poignant reminder that a new global presence requires a new defence and security strategy. Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s chief adviser, has threatened a shake-up of the Ministry of Defence after concerns it has wasted billions in purchasing equipment. Reform of procurement is a priority but it should only be one aspect of the strategic defence review that has been promised by Boris Johnson. Ever since the 2016 Brexit referendum little thought has been given to what Britain’s national interests should be after it leaves the European Union. A strategic defence review must start by setting out clearly where these interests lie. Only then can the government determine what Britain’s defence capabilities should be — and how these might fit in to the country’s continuing membership of Nato. A good starting point would be to accept that Britain’s military ambitions have, for too long, been laced with nostalgia for past glory.
The UK is no pocket superpower, capable of dominance in every field from nuclear submarines to infantry power. It does not have the resources; the latest assessment of the defence ministry’s equipment budget forecasts a £15bn affordability gap over the next decade. The Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers have come to symbolise all that is wrong with Britain’s unrealistic and poorly executed military ambitions: at a combined cost of £6.2bn they are double their original estimate and were delivered years late. Even worse, the government cannot afford to buy as many of the 138 F-35 fighter jets it originally said would fly from the ships. Mistakes were made not just by the MoD but by everyone involved. The admirals share some of the blame. As Iran’s seizure of a UK tanker last July underlined, the navy urgently needs more frigates and destroyers, capable of defending shipping. It does not need symbols of power like aircraft carriers. There has been speculation that one of the carriers could be mothballed or sold. Defence experts rightly argue it would make no sense to relinquish the capability now. They are still valuable assets and are most likely to be deployed as part of an international alliance with the US or France. As such, Britain’s carriers could deploy US or French planes. Alliances are part of the future for a post-Brexit Britain. There also needs to be a debate about the role of the army as the prospect of large land wars diminishes and recruitment is under strain. A smaller, well-equipped army could be effective if deployed in targeted interventions but material cuts would break up the tradition of the regimental system. Mr Cummings rightly wants to shift the balance of investment from legacy platforms like the carriers to areas of cyber security, drones and space. There will still though be a need for aircraft, tanks and ships. Dreadnought, the nuclear deterrent renewal programme, swallows a large chunk of the budget but is vital to national security. The MoD’s procurement methods must become more efficient. Better quality and better paid personnel are key — and would help civil servants to stand up to industry to reduce costs. A post-Brexit Britain must retain the tools to defend its interests. It will also have to sustain military and industrial ties with Europe, while working with a maverick American president. Above all, it will have to be nimble. (Source: FT.com)
06 Jan 20. On Monday, the Editor had great pleasure in meeting Sergeant Alexander Blackman, Marine ‘A,’ who we supported in his campaign to gain justice. It was clear during the conversation that here was a man whose life and family had been ruined by a government trying to find fault in our brave soldiers who risk their lives for our country. He confirmed, as I suspected that there was no Post Mortem and that the Taliban he was supposed to have murdered had been buried. So, the first British soldier to be charged with murder since the Second World war was convicted without a Post Mortem on the victim. Sergeant Blackman is rebuilding his and his wife Claire’s lives and working for a veterans organisation Exforplus and bears no anger for his accusers I was very concerned to hear that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, commented publicly on the case during the legal process a totally unprofessional move which clearly had ramifications to the final outcome.
06 Jan 20. 182nd Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session – NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium. The Military Committee, NATO’s highest Military Authority, will meet in Chiefs of Defence (CHODs) Session on 14 and 15 January 2020, at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the Military Committee, will preside over the sessions and will be supported by General Tod Wolters (Supreme Allied Commander Europe, SACEUR) and General André Lanata (Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, SACT).
The Allied Chiefs of Defence will meet to discuss the outcomes of the Leaders’ Meeting held in London last December. The Chiefs of Defence will provide the guidance for the development of the necessary requirements to implement the measures agreed by the Heads of State and Government. The two-day meeting will focus on NATO’s Deterrence and Defence Posture, including the Deterrence and Defence Euro-Atlantic Area Concept, the Enablement of SACEUR’s Area of Responsibility as well as NATO’s Operations, Missions and Activities. The Chiefs of Defence will also hold a special session with Partner Georgia.
The programme will start with a joint meeting between the Chiefs of Defence and the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg who will provide the political context to frame subsequent discussions. The following session will set the strategic scene for the morning meetings as the Chiefs of Defence discuss NATO’s ongoing operational commitments, force generation and future requirements. The Chiefs of Defence will then meet, in dedicated sessions, with the Operational Partners from the Resolute Support Mission, the NATO Mission Iraq and the KFOR Mission.
The afternoon will be devoted to the Concept for the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area and the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept. These two concepts flow from the NATO Military Strategy, which sets out NATO’s military priorities as well as its approach to current and future threats, and will enable NATO Commanders to deal with the changing security environment.
On the second day, the Chiefs of Defence will turn their attention to NATO’s Southern Flank and discuss the ongoing work strands and enhancing the cooperation with partners and institutions with common interests in the region, such as the African Union, the EU and the UN. In the next session, the Chiefs of Defence will review the different elements related the Enablement of SACEUR’s Area of Responsibility, including the Joint Forces Command Norfolk and the Joint Support and Enabling Command. In the final session with Partner Georgia, the Chiefs of Defence will receive an update on the current security situation, recent developments and discuss future cooperation.
The Military Committee meets twice a year at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, at the level of Chiefs of Defence to discuss NATO operations and missions and provide the North Atlantic Council with consensus-based military advice on how the Alliance can best meet global security challenges, and once a year they meet in an Allied member country. On a day-to-day basis, their work is carried out by permanent Military Representatives at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. (Source: NATO)
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