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02 June 22. The German parliament has voted to approve a €100bn fund to modernise the country’s armed forces, reflecting the fundamental shift in Berlin’s defence and security policy triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Ahead of the vote, Christine Lambrecht, defence minister, told the Bundestag that “security has its price”, and Germany “must be able to defend its values by military means”. Annalena Baerbock, foreign minister, said Germany owed it to its Nato and European allies to beef up its armed forces, which have been starved of investment for years. “We are at a moment where Germany is saying we are there when Europe needs us, and Europe needs us now,” she said. Germany’s constitution has to be amended to allow for the creation of the debt-financed fund which will not be subject to the “debt brake”, the country’s strict curb on new borrowing. But the opposition Christian Democrats said in advance of the vote that they would support the fund, ensuring the two-thirds parliamentary majority required for the historic change. In the end, 567 MPs voted for the amendment, and 96 against, with 20 abstentions. The special fund was proposed by Olaf Scholz, chancellor, in a landmark speech three days after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in which he said the war marked a “watershed” moment, for Germany and the world. The €100bn fund would help create “a powerful, cutting-edge, progressive Bundeswehr that can be relied upon to protect us”. There is no definite spending plan for the fund, but it is already clear that a chunk will go on the 35 American-made F-35 fighter jets that Germany said it will buy in March, as well as on 60 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, used to transport troops and equipment. As well as the modernisation fund, Scholz also promised to spend more than 2 per cent of Germany’s gross domestic product on the military, a Nato goal it signed up to in 2014 but has never fulfilled. Germany has long been under pressure to step up its defence spending. Former US president Donald Trump repeatedly castigated ex-chancellor Angela Merkel for her failure to meet the 2 per cent goal, telling her: “Angela, you gotta pay”. His predecessor Barack Obama also had Germany in his sights when in 2016 he criticised “free-riders” exploiting American security guarantees and not paying their fair share towards Nato’s collective defence. In her speech to MPs on Friday, Lambrecht said the Bundeswehr had been “neglected and degraded for decades”, creating “huge gaps” in the availability of crucial equipment. In conversations with soldiers Lambrecht said she was frequently told “we don’t have this, we have too little of that, this is used up, that is defective — and we have to put a stop to all that”. (Source: FT.com)
02 June 22. Austin, Stoltenberg Discuss NATO Future During Pentagon Meeting. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III continued discussions with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as the alliance faces challenges from Russia and the need to agree on a new strategic concept for the alliance.
Austin noted that this was the 21st time he has met with Stoltenberg since taking office 16 months ago. In fact, the first call Austin made after taking office was to the secretary general.
Austin, Stoltenberg and their staffs are preparing for the NATO defense ministerial beginning June 14 and the NATO summit in Madrid that begins June 28.
Stoltenberg was due to step down as secretary general at the summit, but given the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO nation leaders asked him to serve another year.
“I especially want to thank you for your firm and principled leadership of this indispensable alliance during this historic time,” Austin said at the beginning of the Pentagon meeting. “In the face of Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, NATO has grown stronger, and more united.
“We couldn’t have done what’s been done, … without your strong leadership,” the secretary continued. “That’s why we got on bended knee and asked you to stay a year longer, and we’re grateful for you doing that.”
Austin said that he has never seen the alliance “more energized, more united, and so it’s a special time for me having been around NATO for most of my adult life.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin thought he would be able to break NATO and separate allies from one another, Austin told Stoltenberg. “Instead, he galvanized the world by his actions,” he said.
The Russian invasion has changed the international calculus, and the defense leaders are looking to adopt a new strategic concept that will strengthen deterrence and make the alliance more combat credible, Austin said.
Austin also talked about defense spending within the alliance. “Let me just say that spending 2% of is a floor and not a ceiling,” he said. “It’s also important to increase the amount of common funding so that NATO has the resources that it needs to accomplish the tasks our leaders assigned us, and we fully support your efforts and applaud your efforts to ensure that NATO has the resources that it needs.”
Stoltenberg thanked Austin for his strong personal commitment and leadership in NATO. The U.S. response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine has reassured allies facing Russia and the resources sent to the Ukrainian military have made differences on the battlefield.
“What has impressed me in not only the magnitude and the scale of the support, but also how swiftly and quickly you were able to act when Ukraine needed our support,” the secretary general said.
Since Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014 and illegally annexed Crimea, the European allies have stepped up with more troops to the eastern flank of the alliance and more money dedicated to defense spending, the secretary general said.
“I agree with you that 2% is a minimum, and therefore we need to make sure that we continue to ensure that NATO allies are investing more,” he said. “Across Europe and Canada, we have seen now seven consecutive years of increased defense spending and more and more allies are meeting the 2% guideline.” (Source: US DoD)
02 June 22. Opinion: Germany & France Waltzing Around the NGF.
The New Generation Fighter (NGF), part of the French-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System, is still in limbo, and two recent events have shown just how frozen the project is. On May 9, during their first meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz discussed the NGF. The German side proposed a joint-venture (50/50) on the flight controls which was declined by President Macron himself.
The next day, on May 1, Mr. Joel Barre, head of the French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), met his German counterpart, Lt. Gen. Benedikt Zimmer, for an overview of bilateral co-operation programs. According to several sources, nothing was decided to move forward.
From sticking points….
These developments confirm that the sticking points are still here, namely:
–The governance of the project is still confused. Last March, the CEO of the French manufacturer, Dassault Aviation, Éric Trappier, did not hide his irritation before the claims of Airbus and made clear several key points:
“Somewhere, I think we have made enough efforts so that, now, we can get there. […] I agree to be a leader only if I have the levers to be so. If it’s to co-co-co, since there are three of us now, I won’t do it because it would be lying to our armed forces to be able to do something in co-development without a leader and to ensure performance, time and cost” (…)
“With France, which is the leader on the contract, Dassault Aviation is ready to sign. We did everything we needed to be able to sign with Airbus. I am waiting for Airbus’ signature. […] In 2022, we will have to decide, we cannot remain in arms, at some point we say yes or we say no.”
The role of the three States should be clarified because such a project will obviously find more hurdles on its way. In such cases, what is the real power of the States and what are the margins of maneuvers of the designated team leader, Dassault Aviation?
With Spain and Germany already accustomed to co-operate, notably on the Eurofighter EF-2000, the French side could be opposed by its two partners and put under pressure, despite its official leadership role in the program.
Several other technical and technological issues such as the flight controls, the functional architecture, stealth, man-machine interface and, of course, the IP background of all these fields remain undecided.
They form the core of any fighter, and have been mastered by Dassault Aviation for decades and are viewed as key for assuming its role of prime contractor of the program.
However, the workshare is still contested by the German side, despite the fact that 68% of the fighter will be produced by Airbus Germany & Spain.
All these points have been sum-up by the General Delegate for Armaments, Joël Barre, in a hearing before the Defence Committee of the French Senate:
“On this point, I defend the following position: there is an agreement between the two industrialists concerning phase 1B – which was to be started in 2021 and which we can hope to start by the end of 2022 if we manage to conclude the discussions – covering the period 2022-2025. Airbus must sign the contract that Dassault has offered.”
“I agree […] that we must be firm with the German side regarding the commitments that have already been made – in particular the industrial organization providing for clear responsibility for each pillar. You need a project manager and an architect for the plane. The best in the field must be designated in this case, namely Dassault France and not Airbus Germany. Finally, the balance between the two countries must be assessed in the light of all the cooperation programs”.
…to plan B, both in France and in Germany?
GO/NO GO? The hesitation waltz around the NGF is also visible in the various Plan Bs being discreetly drafted both in France and in Germany.
In France, the Rafale will undergo major enhancements through its various standards: F4 and soon F5; the French fighter confirms its premises of being an “omnirole” and evolving combat aircraft. The F5 Standard is planned for 2035, giving the French Air Force a very capable fighter for almost two decades. This should give DGA and Dassault Aviation enough time to think about a new revolutionary aircraft (a space fighter?), full of disruptive technologies and capabilities.
In Germany, with the agreement on the Special Fund, the MoD and Airbus will essentially focus their efforts in the development of a new version of the Eurofighter: the ECR version, which is, from an operational point of view, quite absurd for a fighter designed to be only a defensive interceptor.
Besides, the purchase of key American platforms (P-8 Poseidon and of course the F-35) should direct the German Air Force towards the hermetic American bubble, like so many European countries recently. This should close the operational access of any future European fighter or air combat system for a long time.
All in all, observing all these developments, one could wonder whether the FCAS is still needed…(Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/)
01 June 22. Denmark votes to end EU defence opt-out in historic referendum. Large majority in favour of joining Brussels policymaking body after Russian invasion of Ukraine. Denmark will join the EU’s defence policy in the latest shake-up of Europe’s security architecture following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In the largest ever pro-EU vote in the traditionally Eurosceptic Scandinavian country, 67 per cent of Danes voted in favour of ending the opt-out in a historic referendum. It is the first time in three attempts that Denmark has voted to end one of its hard-won opt-outs, after it rejected the Maastricht treaty in 1992. The result also came two weeks after Finland and Sweden submitted applications to join Nato. “Tonight, Denmark has sent a very important signal — to our allies in Europe, and to [Russian president Vladimir] Putin. We show that when Putin invades a free country and threatens the stability of Europe, so we others move closer together,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. Analysts said the Danish referendum and Finnish and Swedish decisions to seek Nato membership should lead to a strengthening of the Nordic region and its influence in Europe. “This is a powerful signal that Denmark stands united with Ukraine and our allies in the fight for freedom and democracy,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister and Nato secretary-general. Denmark’s centre-left government argued the Scandinavian country needed to be at the heart of Europe, especially after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Copenhagen still views Nato as its main tool for defence and security, but is currently excluded from discussions about EU policy in this area and cannot take part in the bloc’s missions, mostly in Africa and the Balkans. Denmark has held referendums on scrapping its other two opt-outs — over the euro in 2000 and justice and home affairs in 2015 — but in both cases voted no. Copenhagen is increasing its military budget and opening up to allowing foreign troops to train and exercise on its soil for the first time since the 1950s as part of a huge shift in defence policy across Europe. “The people of Denmark have made a historic choice. The world has changed since Russia invaded Ukraine. This decision will benefit Europe and make both the EU and the Danish people safer and stronger,” said Charles Michel, president of the European Council. The other 26 EU members take part in the bloc’s defence policy, which some politicians, such as France’s president Emmanuel Macron, have tried to boost in importance. Recommended The Big Read How war in Ukraine convinced Germany to rebuild its army Opponents of ending the opt-out argued Denmark should rely solely on Nato. The no vote was a crushing defeat for the nationalist Danish People’s party, whose support has dwindled since the Social Democrat government began to copy its harsh policies on immigration. “The Danes choose co-operation in this incredibly complicated situation we are in. I am so happy about that,” health minister Magnus Heunicke said. Many had seen Denmark as a possible candidate to follow the UK out of the EU, but even the Danish People’s party has backed away from Dexit, while the government has turned from London to Berlin on a number of policies. Lykke Friis, director of the Europa think-tank and a former centre-right minister, said: “The most important message is that since 2016 we have seen a very big shift in support of EU membership. What we are seeing now is also a major Ukraine effect.” (Source: FT.com)
01 June 22. Netherlands Prepares to Bolster Defense. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has spurred countries across Europe to re-examine their long-neglected militaries, with nation after nation formally declaring their intent to increase defense funding and bolster respective capabilities. The latest country to roll out a new defense approach is the Netherlands, which on June 1 unveiled an updated Defense White Paper. The strategy aims to reverse the decades-long erosion of the Dutch force structure and improve the military’s resilience and logistical and medical tooth-to-tail strength. Greater cooperation and operational cohesion with European partners – particularly Germany – will be emphasized.
To fund all of the improvements, the Netherlands’ defense budget will receive an additional EUR5 bn ($5.37 bn) on a structural basis, amounting to a 40 percent increase over the current fiscal year allocation of EUR12.4 bn ($13.3 bn).
By a large margin, the Dutch Parliament – the Tweede Kamer – pushed for this measure back on February 28, shortly after the launch of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Hence, finding broad-based political support for an increase in military funding will present little challenge for the government. In fact, in late 2021, plans were announced to top-up defense investment by EUR11.8 bn over a four-year period (just under EUR3 bn per year). Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine provided the Dutch Defense Ministry with the additional political support required to sign off on the spending increase, with further expenditure added to the total.
The aim going forward will be to reach NATO’s minimum benchmark for investment in defense of 2 percent of annual GDP in 2024 and 2025. The Dutch defense figure for 2021 amounted to 1.43 percent of GDP – a figure aided by the economic contraction of 2020 and a 4.8 percent real-term year-on-year funding increase.
The big question is, where will all the additional funding go?
Like so many dual EU-NATO members, the Netherlands was quick to cash in on the “peace dividend” resulting from the end of the Cold War. Its once strong military shrank from above 105,000 troops in 1989 to just 36,000 by 2020. Capacity and capability both atrophied, while an economic recession in 2009 and a concurrent spike in the nation’s budget deficit prompted Dutch lawmakers to seek ways to wring savings from the government checkbook.
Adding to the military’s deficiencies is that the Netherlands has shipped anti-air and anti-tank missiles, howitzers and other materiel to Ukraine to support Kiev’s war effort, leaving already-dwindling military stockpiles low.
The first step, therefore, will be to increase the inventories of ammunition, rockets, missiles, small arms and fuel while tackling equipment maintenance backlogs. The military medical chain will also be promptly addressed, as will the support and material benefits provided to the common soldier in hopes of improving recruitment and retention of personnel.
In terms of acquisition, the Defense Ministry plans to add six F-35s to the currently planned acquisition figure of 46 jet fighters. Also on tap will be the acquisition of an additional military transport aircraft to supplement the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s current air mobility capability. In addition, the Special Forces and Royal Netherlands Marines will be allocated a special helicopter unit.
Air defense in the land, sea and air domains will be strengthened, with the Royal Netherlands Navy receiving Tomahawk cruise missiles. For aerial strike purposes, four additional MQ-9 Reapers will be ordered and armed. In the land domain, reports indicate that an order for an unspecified number of HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) multiple rocket launchers will be pursued.
Funding will also go toward improving and hardening the government’s IT infrastructure, reinforcing national intelligence capability, purchasing new sensors, and expanding offensive and defensive cyber warfare capabilities. Finally, expansion of fire support and ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) effectiveness is being prioritized.
Should the latest plans unfold as intended, the future Dutch armed forces will be made more agile, more deployable, and more sustainable in the field. The latter aspect in particular represents a major shortcoming across the armies of Europe.
More fundamentally, the goal is to increase collective firepower through tighter cooperation within current structures, which for the Royal Netherlands Army means the joint 1st German Netherlands Corps (1GNC) and various integrative measures previously undertaken such as a tank battalion and mechanized and air mobile brigades. The Royal Netherlands Navy, meanwhile, will continue integration with its counterpart in Belgium through the Admiral Benelux arrangement.
The latest initiative may not return the Dutch armed forces to their Cold War-era strength, but if supported and seen through should go far in reversing the hollowing out of a once capable military.
01 June 22. United Kingdom: Government stability risks again heighten as Prime Minister’s support among Tory MPs wanes. By 31 May, more than 40 Conservative MPs have publicly questioned Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s fitness for office following the publication of the Sue Gray report last week that criticised the culture and leadership at 10 Downing Street. Since the publication of the report, at least 18 Tory MPs have also asked for a confidence vote. In order to trigger a vote of confidence, at least 54 Conservative MPs have to send a letter to the chair of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers. The Prime Minister would have to secure the votes of 180 MPs in order to stay in office. It looks increasingly likely that Conservatives will gather the necessary 54 votes to trigger the vote of confidence, which would take place next week potentially, significantly increasing government stability risks in the short to near term. (Source: Sibylline)
31 May 22. German “Zeitenwende” to materialize in encrypted radios, ships and air defence. Germany will use a 100 bn euro special fund set up for its military to buy encrypted radios, new frigates and corvettes and a short range air defence system, according to a draft seen by Reuters and a defence source. The draft gives a broad sketch of how the German government aims to spend the fund announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in what he called a “Zeitenwende”, or turning point.
It was a major policy shift after decades of military restraint that were rooted partly in Germany’s bloody 20th-century history and resulting pacifism.
Hours after Moscow launched what it calls a “special military operation” on Feb. 24, the chief of the German army said his troops were starkly ill-equipped for military action and that he was “fed up” with Germany’s neglect of the military.
With the 100 bn euro fund, Scholz aims to bring the Bundeswehr’s weapons and equipment back up to standard after decades of attrition following the end of the Cold War.
Some 20.7 bn euros of the fund will be earmarked to modernize the military’s command and control systems alone, the document said, including the acquisition of encrypted radios, integration into the vehicles and the roll-out of a battle management system.
In the past, German troops have borrowed encrypted radios from forces they cooperated with in places such as Mali in order not to jeopardize joint operations.
Berlin will also buy five more corvettes of the K-130 type, according to the defence source, likely to replace an older batch of these ships, and trigger an option to purchase two more F-126 frigates.
The German shipyard Luerssen was the main contractor for the latest batch of corvettes, whereas the frigate is produced by the Dutch Damen shipyard in cooperation with Blohm + Voss.
The draft also lists the acquisition of an air defence system, which the source specified as a ground-based short and medium range air defence as well as a drone protection system.
This kind of air defence, which is in very short supply with the German military, is used to protect troops while they are vulnerable on the way into and during a deployment close to the frontlines.
The military will also get more Boeing (BA.N) P-8A maritime patrol aircraft, according to the source, and more and more heavily armed light utility helicopters.
The Bundeswehr is flying the H145M helicopter built by Airbus (AIR.PA), and arming this model more heavily will bring it closer to the capabilities of an attack helicopter.
The lion’s share of the special funds, with some 40bn euros, will be spent on air capabilities, as Reuters reported in April.
The list also includes projects already announced, such as the planned purchase of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet and the development of an electronic warfare capability for Airbus’ Eurofighter, including the purchase of additional Eurofighters for this role. (Source: Reuters)
4831 May 22. The MoD ‘cost-saving’ move that will end up costing taxpayers £300m. Inflation means that delaying delivery of Chinook helicopters by three years will lead to bigger bill than if they had been bought last year
Britain’s decision to delay the purchase of 14 Chinook helicopters to save money will actually cost taxpayers £300m because they will be more expensive later, an official report has found, amid warnings of a “worrying inability to control costs”.
The National Audit Office (NAO) accused the Ministry of Defence of “complacency” in its budgeting as civil servants try to save money in the short term by pushing back the purchase of equipment into later years.
Rising inflation means that delaying the delivery of 14 RAF Chinooks from Boeing by three years will cost £295m more than if they had been bought last year as planned.
The Government said it had delayed the purchase “as a direct result of the worldwide impact of Covid-19” and its effect on Whitehall budgets.
‘Complacency’ at MoD criticised
But the NAO said it was “frustrated to see the complacency with which the department assumes its plan is now affordable for the first time in four years”.
“This is despite its worrying inability to control costs in its large programmes, including the Dreadnought class of nuclear submarines, and its reliance on bns of pounds of future cost reductions, many of which have no plans supporting how they might actually be delivered,” it said.
“The prospect of rising inflation will only make pressure on affordability worse.”
The public accounts committee, which scrutinises government spending on behalf of MPs, said the MoD “continually fails to learn from its mistakes” and warned of “wastage of taxpayers’ money running into the billions”.
‘Ministers are failing British Forces and taxpayers’
On Tuesday Labour called for a full audit of MoD wastage and accused ministers of wasting money.
Chris Evans, the party’s shadow defence procurement minister, said: “Dither and delay at the Ministry of Defence is now costing taxpayers hundreds of ms of pounds.
“Whilst the MoD has wasted £15bn of taxpayers’ money since 2010, this Government has put in place 15 tax rises.
“Not only are delays expensive, they mean our service personnel are left without the kit they need. Ministers are failing British Forces and British taxpayers.” The MoD was contacted for comment. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
29 May 22. Germany to change constitution to enable $110 bn defense fund. Germany has agreed to change its constitution to allow for a credit-based special defense fund of 100 bn euros ($107.35 bn) proposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the German finance ministry announced on Sunday. Germany’s centre-right opposition and ruling coalition with centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) said they reached the required two-thirds majority to exempt the defense fund from a constitutional debt brake. According to sources familiar with the matter, the negotiations were led by FDP leader Christian Lindner, SPD’s Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, Greens leader Annalena Baerbock and the opposition’s vice whip Mathias Middelberg. The money is to be used over several years to increase Germany’s regular defense budget of around 50 bn euros and enable the country to meet the NATO target of spending 2% of its economic output on defense each year. ($1 = 0.9315 euros)(Source: Defense News Early Bird/Reuters)
30 May 22. Germany: Coalition government, CDU agree €100bn military boost. The center-right opposition has backed the German government’s plans to massively increase military spending. The plan was sparked by the war in Ukraine and will help the country meet its NATO commitments. Germany’s coalition government and the conservative CDU/CSU alliance on Sunday agreed on the details of a €100bn ($107bn) boost to the country’s military spending.
After more than three hours of talks in Berlin, both sides finalized the plan to create a special fund for the armed forces.
Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht called it an “urgently needed step.” In a statement posted to Twitter, she said: “Finally, we can equip our troops as they deserve and as they urgently need to ensure national and alliance defense.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also called the special fund “a huge step” for the security of Germany and Europe. “With 100 bn, we ensure that the Bundeswehr can fulfill its defense mission better than ever before,” he wrote on Twitter.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has welcomed the agreement. It is “a good compromise, one in which we ensure that NATO can rely on us,” she said on German public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Monday.
The proposal needed a two-thirds majority in both parliamentary chambers, so Chancellor Olaf Scholz sought pre-approval from the center-right opposition parties.
The massive investment in the German armed forces was sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
What has been agreed?
A statement from the Finance Ministry published by news agencies said: “In doing so, the so-called NATO 2% target [of GDP on military spending] will be achieved on a multi-year average.”
Why is Germany hiking military spending?
Scholz announced that the government would increase military spending just two days after Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine.
He also committed the country to spend 2% of GDP per year on defense, which all NATO members signed up to in 2006 but Germany has yet to honor.
Announcing the move, Scholz said, “It’s clear we need to invest significantly more in the security of our country in order to protect our freedom and our democracy.”
Germany has often been criticized by the United States and other NATO allies for not investing enough in defense.
Germany had already set aside a budget of €53bn for the Defense Ministry in 2022, a 3.2% increase from last year.
For the country to meet NATO’s 2% target, it would need to spend around €70 bn per year. If approved by parliament, the additional spending will represent the largest jump in military. (Source: https://www.dw.com/)
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