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17 Mar 22. Slovakian Defense Minister Says Military Spending at 2% Should Be Base, Not Target. Among NATO partners, an expenditure of 2% of gross domestic product may no longer be enough for military spending, said Slovakian Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad’ during a press briefing today in Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava.
“We talked about the fact that 2% of GDP as the cost of defense is not a level that should be our objective, rather it should be just a base,” Nad’ said after a meeting with Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. “I can confirm that a number of allies already declared at the ministerial meeting that they envisage to achieve as much as 3%.”
Poland and some Baltic countries might achieve 2.5%, he said.
Nad’ also thanked Austin for a commitment of U.S. troops in Slovakia to enforce the defense of that country.
“The capabilities that they will provide is something that we are lacking here in Slovakia, and that will strengthen our defense and will strengthen it in a significant way,” Nad’ said. “The enhanced forward presence troops, this is a significant contribution to improving the defense of Slovakia.”
Austin told Nad’ the U.S. supports Slovakia’s willingness to host NATO troops in their country to bolster the defense of Europe and for its continued assistance to Ukraine.
“I commend Slovakia for its contributions to NATO, for the humanitarian and military assistance that you provided to Ukraine, and for the generosity that you’ve shown to the innocent refugees fleeing Putin’s war of choice,” Austin said. “Your actions speak volumes. The United States deeply values its bilateral cooperation with Slovakia. We stand together with Slovakia as a valued member of NATO and will stand together with you to defend our values and our common security.”
The two defense leaders also discussed modernization of the Slovakian military, which includes development of mechanized brigades and replacement of military equipment, including fighter aircraft.
When it comes to Ukraine, Austin said the Ukrainian military has so far been able to, through a variety of means, prevent the Russian military from gaining air supremacy. It’s an effort the U.S. hopes to continue to support.
“They’ve done that through effective use of air defense systems, both medium-range and short-range air defense systems,” Austin said. “Our goal has been to continue to reinforce those things that have worked for the Ukrainian forces. So, we are talking to a number of our allies and partners to ensure that we get as much capability as we can to continue to provide help to the Ukrainian forces.”
Austin also said that continued Russian attacks on civilian populations might be construed as war crimes if those attacks were deliberate.
“These attacks that we’ve seen most recently … appear to be focused directly on civilians,” Austin said. “If you … target civilians purposely, then that is a crime. So, these actions are under review by our State Department, and, of course, … there’s a process that we’ll go through to review all of this. But we call upon Mr. Putin to cease these horrible actions. Again, these are civilians and not combatants, and so they should not be targeted.” (Source: US DoD)
17 Mar 22. UK sends its ‘Sky Sabre’ air-defense system to guard Polish skies. A British air-defense system that has only been in service for a few months is being deployed to Poland to bolster that country’s capabilities, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced during a visit to Warsaw March 17.
The move is part of a wider upgrade of NATO assets in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, which has seen personnel and equipment deployed to the region to deter possible Russian aggression.
“The deployment of Sky Sabre medium-range, anti-air system to Poland with 100 personnel will help protect her airspace from any further aggression from Russia,” Wallace said following a meeting with his Polish counterpart, Mariusz Blaszczak.
Late last year London and Warsaw announced they had signed a letter of intent to develop a Polish air defense system based on Sky Sabre.
The British have yet to announce when they expect to field the system, but it is thought likely the deployment will not last longer than six months.
Provision of the system for duties in Poland is possible because a long-planned delivery to the British Army is being accelerated.
The Sky Sabre deployment is the second British initiative to bolster Eastern European nations’ air defenses.
Earlier this month the British revealed they had agreed in principle to provide StarStreak short-range air defense missiles to the Ukraine, Poland’s neighbor to the east.
The MBDA-developed Sky Sabre system officially took over from the Rapier missile as Britain’s medium-range, anti-air weapon at the start of this year. The weapon is already to be deployed in the Falkland Island as part of the British territories’ defenses.
The system comprises the Sky Sabre missile alongside a Saab-built Giraffe agile, multi-beam surveillance radar and Rafael command-and-control equipment.
Meanwhile, the German defense ministry announced Thursday it would supply Poland’s southern neighbor Slovakia with Patriot air-defense capabilities. Officials in Berlin declined to provide details, citing security concerns. Slovakia shares a border with Ukraine measuring roughly 60 miles north to south.
The commitment follows through on a pledge by Germany to also deploy a company-strong Army formation for an “enhanced vigilance activity battlegroup” to Slovakia. The unit is expected to grow to a full battlegroup size by April. (Source: Defense News)
17 Mar 22. Russian invasion spurs European demand for U.S. drones, missiles. European governments have approached the U.S. government and defense contractors with a shopping list of arms including drones, missiles and missile defenses as the Russian invasion of Ukraine drives renewed demand for U.S. weaponry. Germany, which is nearing a deal for 35 Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-35 jet fighters, has inquired about systems to defend against ballistic missiles, sources familiar with the situation said.
Meanwhile, Poland urgently wants to purchase sophisticated Reaper drone systems from the United States, a Polish government official said this week.
Requests are also coming in from other countries in Eastern Europe, where allies are keen to acquire weaponry that Ukraine has successfully used against Russia forces, two people familiar with the demand said, including anti-aircraft Stinger missiles and anti-tank Javelin missiles.
The inquiries comes as countries in Europe boost defense budgets to meet an increasingly uncertain security outlook, with Germany, Sweden and Denmark among those promising a sharp increase in spending.
European allies are “doubling down” on their defense spending, Mara Karlin, a Pentagon assistant secretary of defense, said last week after a congressional hearing where she spoke of “Russian aggression that threatens the territorial integrity of Europe.”
Since the sale of arms by U.S. contractors to foreign governments requires U.S. approval, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Administration is having weekly meetings of its European Crisis Management Team to review specific requests related to the current situation in Ukraine, a source said.
To speed up U.S. government approval for sales and transfers of arms produced by American defense contractors, the Pentagon has re-established a team to respond to the increased demand.
“The Department of Defense is exploring options to support Ukraine’s needs, rapidly replenish U.S. inventories and backfill depleted stocks of allies and partners,” a senior Defense official said, adding that the Pentagon was working with contractors on ways to “mitigate supply chain constraints (and) accelerate production timelines.”
Raytheon Technologies (RTX.N) and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) jointly produce Javelins, while Raytheon makes Stingers. The potential for a surge in sales of all types of weaponry since the invasion began Feb. 24 has lifted Lockheed stock 8.3% and Raytheon shares 3.9%.
Raytheon executive Tom Laliberty said the company recognizes “the urgent need to replenish depleted inventories of Javelin and Stinger.”
Any significant shift toward the United States as a supplier is likely to trigger a backlash from Europe’s fragmented defense industry.
The head of Dassault Aviation (AM.PA) earlier this month lambasted the German decision to order the F-35, saying it could weaken support for collaborative projects like the Franco-German FCAS fighter shared by Dassault and Airbus.
Germany is also examining U.S.-made missile defense systems like Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD), although that is not a frontrunner for purchase, a source said. An opposition politician, for example, has asked about the purchase of the short-range rocket interceptor called Iron Dome to protect Berlin. Decision-making on what to buy is in early stages.
A German defense ministry spokesman declined to comment.
Germany was already expected to decide on a new heavy lift helicopter this year, something increased spending could bring forward. Competitors for the approximately 4 billion euro deal include Lockheed Martin’s CH-53K King Stallion and Boeing’s (BA.N) H-47 Chinook.
Poland wants to buy several MQ-9 Reaper drones made by General Atomics, including under a special, accelerated procedure, and is eyeing further procurements later, Lieutenant Colonel Krzysztof Platek, a spokesperson for the Polish Defence Ministry’s Armament Agency, said in an interview on Wednesday.
“This order is an answer to (the) … security situation, particularly in central and eastern Europe,” Platek said.
Typically, U.S. defense deals take years of negotiations, approvals and vetting after countries have spent up to several years deciding on their needs. (Source: Reuters)
16 Mar 22. Lithuania to increase defence spending to 2.52% of GDP from 2022. Lithuania’s parliament has discussed a draft amendment to the State Budget to increase defence spending to 2.52% of GDP for 2022, the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 14 March. According to the government this would entail additional funding of EUR298m (USD328.2m). The motion has wide support and is expected to pass at its second reading on 17 March. A spokesperson from the Lithuanian MoD told Janes that EUR158.5m would be earmarked for the acquisition of military equipment including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), salvo fire systems, optical sights, thermal imaging, night vision, etc. They also confirmed that EUR66.8m will be allocated for ammunition; EUR40.4m for the construction of three military camps in Lithuania (Pabradė, Kazlų Rūda, and Marijampolė); EUR21.6m for body armour, communication equipment, medical supplies, and other associated equipment; and EUR10.7m for cyber-security equipment. The spokesperson was unable to elaborate on the type of cyber-security equipment the MoD was seeking to acquire. Lithuania’s initial defence allocation for this year was EUR1.2bn (USD1.35bn), equating to 2.15% of GDP. (Source: Janes)
14 Mar 22. Britain’s defence spending set to fall because of soaring inflation. Despite pressure to increase budget in wake of Russia-Ukraine war, analysis shows it is likely to drop in real terms for two years in a row.
UK defence spending will fall before the next election in real terms because of soaring inflation, ministers are warning Rishi Sunak, as political pressure builds to increase the budget.
Analysis of the defence budget, which takes into account rising prices, shows that while it increases in 2022, it actually drops in 2023 and again in 2024.
The Treasury approved a major increase in defence spending in 2020 and again allocated more money in the 2021 Budget.
It means the UK defence budget is increasing from around £40 billion in 2019 to nearly £49 billion in 2024, according to figures in Budget documents published last autumn.
However, much of the increase is front-loaded, meaning there is a bigger increase at the start of that five-year period than at the end of it.
Analysis by the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), a leading defence think tank, found that when inflation was taken into account, defence spending would actually fall in real terms in 2023 and 2024.
The analysis was conducted last autumn. Since then, inflation has only increased further, with warnings that it could peak at nine per cent.
The fall in real terms spending could call into question a promise made in the 2019 Conservative manifesto to increase the defence budget above inflation “every year”.
The drop is being cited by those in Whitehall arguing for a defence spending increase in Mr Sunak’s Spring Statement next week, given the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Currently, Number 10 and Number 11 are holding firm that there will be no increase in yearly defence spending – arguing that just two years ago, the UK announced the biggest increase since the Cold War.
But insiders arguing for a spending increase have dismissed the argument. “There’s an elephant in the room – Putin hadn’t invaded Europe then,” said one Whitehall source.
The invasion of Ukraine is in its third week and there are no signs that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is wavering – leaving ministers to warn of a long conflict ahead.
The war has triggered a wave of calls for an increase in UK defence spending, including from Cabinet ministers, moderate Tory MPs and the Labour leadership.
Prof Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director-general of Rusi, told The Telegraph: “Already overall defence spending in real terms in 2023/24 and 2024/25 is set to fall.
“Unless the Ministry of Defence gets compensation for higher inflation from the Treasury, then the real terms reduction in the defence budget in those years will be higher.”
He noted that increases in wages for soldiers and petrol costs are likely to especially eat into the defence budget, unless more money is signed off by the Treasury.
The developments add to the pressure on Mr Sunak to increase defence spending in his Spring Statement, often described as a “mini Budget”, which happens in eight days’ time.
The next general election is widely expected to take place in May 2024, meaning that the Conservatives risk going into the ballot with falling defence spending in real terms.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is pushing the Tories to end planned cuts to soldier levels, given the invasion of Ukraine.
Sir Keir told The Telegraph on Friday: “The Conservatives are pushing ahead with further cuts to the size of the Army of 10,000 soldiers by 2025.
“They must halt these cuts now. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and threats of further aggression to Nato members, we need to reassess our military capabilities.
“The Tories need to look again at the Strategic Defence Review and ensure Britain’s defences are as strong as possible.
“Labour is committed to matching overall defence spending and will always ensure we meet our Nato obligations.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
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