Sponsored by Exensor
06 May 22. First Sea Lord encourages Royal Navy to invest in global partnerships and embrace technology. Britain’s most senior sailor has today said the Royal Navy’s commitment to operating with international partners and embracing technology are as important as ever amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Speaking at today’s Sea Power Conference at Arundel House, in London, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key reflected on the last defence review and said Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine reinforced the Integrated Review’s conclusions.
In his speech to the conference, held in conjunction with the International Institute of Strategic Studies, Admiral Key also spoke about the need for defence and the Royal Navy to futureproof themselves by embracing technology and how countries can work together against aggression.
Addressing both in-person and virtual attendees, he said his ‘call to arms’ speech delivered in Rosyth in February (in the shipbuilding hall where Type 31 frigates will be built) recognised a huge and ambitious investment in the Royal Navy.
“Of course, we now know that at the same time, President Putin was making his final preparations for operations against and subsequently invading Ukraine,” Admiral Key said.
“So has Ukraine changed the IR? Do we need to revisit its conclusions? In fact, I think it doubles down on some of those conclusions.
“We will have to react, we will have to respond to the reality of what we see going on around, we have to recognise that some of our assumptions about Russia are clearly wrong and what they mean.”
He said the Review concluded there was an increasing risk of a return to state-on-state conflict; saw the importance of alliances and partnerships; reaffirmed the need for us in Defence to futureproof, by embracing technology and innovation and reiterated the need for joined-up approach across Government.
“When we talk about the return to state-on-state warfare, when we talk about the need to operate at high levels of intense warfare, we know that we’re not going to do so alone,” he said.
“NATO remains the key cornerstone of what we are going to do. As signalled in the IR, we have to be ready to defend our homeland.
“But we are not constrained to the Euro Atlantic and I welcome the announcement today by the Prime Minister about closer Defence ties with Japan. Just as we have made long standing commitments with our friends and allies including in New Zealand and Australia.
“So we count on the strength of our alliances and partnerships.”
Delivering his 20-minute speech at the conference, also attended by Minister for Armed Forces and key note speaker James Heappey, Admiral Key spoke about the Royal Navy’s efforts to become the foremost naval power in Europe.
He added: “It’s about mindset, it’s about an impact and it’s about being bolder, it’s about being operationally effective. It’s about being globally deployed, persistently present alongside those who matter to us and espousing the values of our nation.
“Operating at the heart of an integrated force and a leading contributor to defence and deterrence of what we hold dear. To achieve that, we will have to be digitised, we will have to data driven and innovative.
“But we will only achieve all of that if at our heart we are people orientated. We must attract, train and retain the very best of the talent available to us across our diverse and wonderful nation.”
The Royal Navy’s relationship with the United States was also highlighted, with the UK Carrier Strike Group working with US Marine Corps personnel and being escorted by US Navy ship USS The Sullivans. First Sea Lord also confirmed HMS Prince of Wales will host the Atlantic Future Forum in the US later this year.
He finished: “I’m heartened by the strength of everything that I see. And while I know that there are huge challenges ahead for our Service, we have the opportunity, working alongside all of you, whether international friends, commercial and industrial partners, or those who are at risk as well. I’m confident we can achieve what has been asked of us.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
04 May 22. Serbia showcases modernised combat aircraft, debuts armed UAV. Serbia showcased its first modernised MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum’ and SOKO Orao combat aircraft, and debuted the Pegaz armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at the Štit (Shield) 2022 military power demonstration held on 30 April at Batajnica air base. 10 MiG-29s were seen at the event near Belgrade. Of Serbia’s fleet of 11 single-seat and 3 twin-seat aircraft, six single-seat jets have to date been modernised to the MiG-29SM standard with Russian assistance. The static-displayed MiG-29SM (18151) showcased the new capabilities of the Fulcrum fleet. Identified as MiG-29SM+ by Nenad Miloradović, assistant minister for material resources in the Serbian Ministry of Defence (MoD), this aircraft’s weapons fit proved that Serbia recently acquired new missiles that, when combined with the modernised aircraft radar and the newly installed Ural Optic-Mechanical Plant’s KOLS-13SM infrared search and track (IRST) sensor, have turned Serbian MiG-29SMs into multirole combat aircraft. (Source: Janes)
03 May 22. Spain: Pegasus Scandal. On 2 May, Spanish government minister for the presidency Felix Bolanos disclosed that Israeli security firm NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware was detected in the mobile phones of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Defence Minister Margarita Robles.
- Details regarding this incident, including the perpetrator’s identity, are limited at present, though an initial investigation revealed that Prime Minister Sanchez’s phone was infected in May 2021. Spanish authorities did not disclose what attack vector the unknown threat actor used to infect the two government officials’ devices. However, it is likely that the “one-click” technology that was used in previously discovered Pegasus spyware campaigns was exploited during these latest attacks. Bolanos claimed that these “interventions were illicit and external. External means carried out by non-official bodies and without state authorisation”.
- This disclosure follows Canadian cyber security centre Citizen Lab’s 18 April report that the Pegasus spyware was used to target politicians, journalists, lawyers, and activists linked to the Catalan independence movement (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 20 April 2022). While Citizen Lab did not attribute the Catalan-related attacks to any specific actor, the organisation claimed that circumstantial evidence suggests it is likely linked to the Spanish government. While Spanish authorities have since announced the launch of a “full investigation” into the hacking allegations, Catalonia’s pro-independence party ERC, and key ally to Spain’s minority government, has stated that it will no longer support the government in parliament until Madrid can “restore confidence” through a “clear, strong, and transparent” response.
Despite the timing of this discovery, there is currently no evidence to suggest that the compromise of Sanchez’s and Robes’ devices was in retaliation to the alleged espionage campaigns launched against the Catalan independence movement members. Indeed, NSO Group allegedly only permits its spyware technology to be sold to “vetted government bodies” for authorised purposes such as combatting terrorism or crime. As such, there is a low likelihood that any Catalonian independence groups were able to license NSO Group’s technology to spy on the Spanish prime minister.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding this incident, these latest series of Pegasus-enabled attacks underscore the worsening trend of data security and privacy rights across several jurisdictions. Moreover, they will also further elevate tensions between the Spanish government and the EU, with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU’s data watchdog, having previously called for the Pegasus spyware to be banned due to its abuse by governments, such as India or Morocco, to spy on dissident groups.
More broadly, there will also remain a latent risk of domestic unrest emerging as a result of these latest revelations, especially in the scenario where Madrid’s response to its spying allegations in the coming weeks is perceived as insufficient by Catalan independence groups. Such a scenario would also likely spark a prolonged political rift between Spain’s coalition parties and the ERC, increasing the risk of government and policy instability in the coming six months. (Source: Sibylline)
03 May 22. Netherlands: Dutch government highlights persistent threats from North Korea to Western industries. On 29 April, the General Intelligence and Security Agency of the Netherlands (AIVD) disclosed that several Dutch servers were used by North Korean state-linked hackers to launch cyber operations throughout 2021. The AIVD claimed that the Netherlands was “high on the list of countries whose infrastructure is abused in cyber attacks” due to the speed and reliability of its internet. In one notable example, the intelligence agency claimed that “Western cyber security researchers” were targeted to assess how much they knew about North Korean cyber capabilities. These operations underscore Pyongyang’s continued targeting of cyber security professionals in recent years. Such activity has been largely designed to either assess the threat posed by cyber security agencies and/or discover undisclosed security vulnerabilities that could be deployed against industries of strategic interest, such as defence or finance. Issues related to North Korea’s declining socio-economic health and ongoing tensions with Western countries, such as the US, will remain the driving forces behind Pyongyang’s cyber activity. As such, financially motivated and/or intelligence gathering operations will continue to constitute the main cyber threat emanating out of North Korea in the coming year. (Source: Sibylline)
03 May 22. Labour Fails to Commit to Raising Defence Spending. Having just listened to the leader of the Labour Party, Sir Kier Starmer, interviewed by Martha Kearney on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme we can be pretty clear that under his leadership a Labour administration would have no intention of raising spending on defence. That said, his absolute support for HMG policy on Ukraine is reassuring and he is right to say that this is a time for all UK political parties to demonstrate to Ukraine and its adversaries that the UK is united in contempt of the Russian invasion and will do all that it can to assist the beleaguered state as it attempts to defend itself against Russian aggression.
But in failing to provide reassurance that under Labour Britain would react to a raised level of threat to peace and stability by spending whatever is necessary to ensure that the UK is properly equipped is a sad indictment of Starmer’s first two years as leader of the Labour Party.
Handshake at events apart, I could never say that I met either Tony Blair or Gordon Brown for a decent discussion. But I did meet with Blair’s predecessor as Labour leader, the late John Smith. Dining with him privately in the House of Commons back in 1993 and to my surprise at the time, his personal invitation, I recall our conversation on defence and his absolute commitment to strong defence. Smith, unlike Blair or Brown in my view, understood the need for strong defence as opposed to merely accepting it. Under Blair and Brown spending as a percentage of defence continued to decline just as it has under subsequent Coalition and Conservative governments until, in theory at least, the past year.
Kier Starmer’s interview on the Today programme this morning will in my view have done him more harm than good. All credit – on this occasion – to Martha Kearney who did not let him off the hook. His answers to a variety of points failed to impress and his lack of clarity on raising of taxes be they those of the current government in relation to raised national insurance charges for some and of how many would actually see the level that they pay actually go down under the present policy showed that he was struggling. As to raising tax on oil and gas producers, looking for other ways of raising taxes on those who invest in what he termed ‘stocks and shares’ and which provide dividend income, less said the better.
Meanwhile, I note that the chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood is once again pushing for the UK to spend 3% of GDP (as opposed to the currently portrayed level of 2%) on defence. If, as many anticipate, UK GDP actually goes down over the next few years as the UK adjusts to ‘Brexit’ and global events such as falling growth caused by Ukraine and subsequent inflation and shortage of certain materials, Ellwood’s wish will quickly come true – unless of course the Chancellor of Exchequer has other ideas.
Rather than fight for a specific percentage spend on defence that equates to the movable feast of UK GDP why not push for spending on defence to match requirement, ambition and actual need? As I have said before, rather than politically made commitments and false promises what defence needs more than ever is real and underlying honesty and integrity. (Source: Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Homeland Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company