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08 Sep 22. The Editor was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11. yesterday. Her amazing and sometimes trying reign spanning decades of warfare, peace, sadness, her annus horribilis, tragedy and happiness in world affairs and her own family. Throughout of all of this she remained not only stoic but resolutely fair in her dealings with everyone. Her engaging smile could disarm anyone at a thousand yards and calm anyone with a nervous disposition when meeting her. From a personal point of view the highlight was seeing her and her family on the racecourse and the wonderful laughing photograph of her and John Warren when winning the Ascot Gold Cup. She also had a distinct likeness to my late mother who was sometimes mistaken for her!
09 Sep 22. UK: Death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11.
• On 8 September, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral, precipitating the accession of King Charles III as King of the United Kingdom and the 14 Commonwealth Realms. The event has initiated Operation London Bridge to manage large international travel into the country, ensure the smooth transition of power and organise the Queen’s funeral on the 10th day following her death.
• Following the Queen’s death, the British government is unlikely to face serious political instability in the immediate aftermath, despite the fact that Prime Minister Liz Truss’ government is only three days old and is facing a historic cost-of-living crisis. However, potential instability is set to steadily rise across the 14 Commonwealth Realms where republican sentiment is strongest, though debates are likely to remain calm and decisions on possible transitions to a republic are unlikely to be made rapidly.
• Authorities have now implemented robust security measures across the United Kingdom to manage the large number of foreign and domestic visitors arriving to royal sites across the country. This will ensure the continued operation of public transport and healthcare services and mitigate any threats relating to terrorism or disorder.
On 8 September, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died aged 96 in Balmoral Castle, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The Queen’s death in Scotland has triggered Operation Unicorn, a set of protocols established for in the event that the Queen died in Scotland. The event has also triggered Operation London Bridge, drawn up by the Cabinet Office for the days following Queen Elizabeth II’s passing – a day that is referred to as D-Day by government agencies.
Operation London Bridge would take place in conjunction with Operation Spring Tide – a plan to ensure the swift and smooth transition of power to His Majesty King Charles III. While the exact details of the Operation remain unknown, the event is set to trigger robust security measures to manage the entry of large numbers of mourners to the United Kingdom, large crowds across the country and especially in London, with low likelihood but high impact terror attack scenarios.
Schedule of events once Operation Unicorn is triggered
Operation Unicorn includes detailed plans in the event of the Queen’s death in Scotland, rather than England. The event has triggered the immediate suspension of activities of the Scottish Parliament, and authorities will have 36 hours from this to prepare for a motion of condolence in the chamber. Overall, suspension of parliamentary activities could result in the loss of up to six parliamentary days.
Local traditional media outlets reported that authorities will move the Queen’s body from Balmoral to the Palace of Holyrood House by car on 11 September, the third day after the Queen’s death (D+3). The following day, D+4, large crowds of mourners are set to line the Royal Mile in Edinburgh for a procession to take the Queen’s body to St Giles’ Cathedral. Members of the royal family, including King Charles III, will attend a ceremonial procession from the palace along the Royal Mile for a service at the Cathedral. After this, the Cathedral is expected to open to the public for 24 hours, with visitors allowed to pay their respects. After attending the service at St Giles’ Cathedral, the King will have his first audience with Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon. He is also set to receive a motion of condolence at the Scottish parliament.
On 13 September (D+5), the Royal Train is set to transport the Queen’s coffin from Edinburgh’s Waverley Station to St Pancras in London via the East Coast Main Line. However, recent reports suggest that authorities are considering air travel as an alternative. If the journey takes place by royal train as originally outlined in Operation Unicorn protocols, members of the Armed Forces and the emergency services will form an honour guard on every platform along the route. The Royal Train journey is expected to be very slow, to allow crowds of mourners along the route to pay their respects. The procession will be subject to heightened security measures, with a high police presence. Crowds are set to congregate at level crossings and on station platforms along the route and news outlets have reported that railway authorities plan to send a sweeper train along the track after the Royal Train to clear debris from floral tributes and prevent it from blocking the track for passenger services.
The absolute priority given to the Royal Train is likely to result in delays to passenger rail along the East Coast Main Line route. In London, the Royal Train is set to pass through Hadley Wood, New Barnet, Oakleigh Park, New Southgate, Alexandra Palace, Hornsey, Harringay and Finsbury Park stations, before reaching St Pancras. However, railway authorities will restrict access to these stations when the Royal Train passes, likely to generate disruptions to usual service schedules for several hours. Upon return to London on D+5, the Queen’s body will be taken to the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace.
Schedule of events under Operation London Bridge
Operation London Bridge outlines the procedures for the days following the Queen’s death. In adherence with the plans outlined in leaked documents, the Queen’s private secretary notified Prime Minister Liz Truss and the cabinet secretary of the Queen’s death. Media reports indicate that this took place at 16:30 (BST) on 8 September. At 18:30 (BST), Buckingham Palace published its official statement announcing the death of Queen Elizabeth and BBC News broadcaster Huw Edwards repeated the statement to the public on live television. Following the announcement, Prime Minister Truss released an official statement, being the first government official allowed to do so.
Due to the public announcement of the Queen’s death in the late afternoon, Operation London Bridge plans have been postponed by one day. As such, the country will enter a period of mourning expected to last for 10 days from 9 September, D+1, instead of 8 September. The service of remembrance will now take place on 9 September, rescheduled from original plans for it to take place on the day of the Queen’s death. The service will take place at St Paul’s Cathedral at 18:00, with the King set to address the nation as part of a prayer service and reflection. All members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords will take the oath of allegiance to the King. Television programmes inappropriate for mourning may return on D+1, though some shops and attractions will remain closed.
Parliament will sit for tributes to the late Queen on 9 September and 10 September (D+2). After this session concludes, Parliament will adjourn and suspend parliamentary business for 10 days. During this period, Parliament will not pass new laws or make new announcements, though urgent business such as Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s scheduled fiscal statement could prompt Parliament to reconvene. The Operation’s social media strategy also prohibits non-urgent content and retweets for all government social media pages.
On D+2, the proclamation of Charles III as King will be read at St James’s Palace, in front of the Accession Council, a ceremonial body comprised of members of the Privy Council. This is expected to attract attendance from a few hundred people. Meanwhile, Camilla, previously known as the Duchess of Cornwall, will become Queen Consort, with Queen Elizabeth II having explicitly approved the title in her Platinum Jubilee message.
On the third day after the Queen’s death, on 11 September, the King will tour the United Kingdom for several days, starting with visiting the Scottish Parliament and attending a service at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. On D+4, the King will travel to Northern Ireland to attend a service at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast. On D+7, he will attend a service at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff, Wales, before returning to London.
On D+5, the Queen’s coffin will be transferred to Buckingham Palace, but the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers will meet the coffin at St Pancras station in London beforehand. The procession of the Queen’s coffin – also called Operation Lion – will take place from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster and will be followed by a service at Westminster Hall. Following the procession, the public will be allowed to visit Queen Elizabeth’s coffin at the Palace of Westminster 23 hours a day for three days before the funeral. As such, unprecedented numbers of visitors are expected to pay a visit to the Palace of Westminster to pay respects to the Queen.
The Queen’s state funeral is scheduled to take place 10 days after her death. The Royal Family is yet to confirm an exact date, likely to be either Sunday 18 September or Monday 19 September. According to Operation London Bridge, if the funeral falls on a weekend, an additional day of mourning will not take place. The funeral will fall on a Day of National Mourning, though a decision has not yet been made as to whether it will also be a bank holiday. The day is nevertheless likely to be treated as an unofficial bank holiday, subject to the discretion of employers. Shops are likely to remain closed or observe reduced hours. If the funeral takes place on 19 September, schools are set to remain open, though the London Stock Exchange and banks are set to close for the day. The UK will observe a national two-minute silence at midday, 12:00 (BST).
The state funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey and a committal service will be held at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Authorities have not disclosed specific details of the funeral, though Westminster Abbey holds an official capacity of 2,000 people. The coronavirus pandemic represents a reduced concern in the UK. As such, more people are likely to attend the Queen’s funeral than when Prince Philip died in 2021.
Robust security measures will manage unprecedented crowds and mitigate the low risk of incidents
Following Her Majesty’s death, unprecedentedly large crowds will materialise in the United Kingdom, potentially leading to disruption to travel services across not only the capital but across the country. In particular, the Queen’s death at Balmoral will attract an influx of tourists and mourners to Scotland, in particular Edinburgh. Large crowds are expected to gather around the Palace of Holyrood House and St Giles’ Cathedral and many mourners will also head to London ahead of the funeral, substantially increasing demands for flights, hotels and other hospitality venues.
Security will as a result be extremely tight, with security forces and law enforcement likely to employ unprecedented measures in order to ensure the security of not only state ceremonies but also the large crowds. Buckingham Palace, the Mall, St James’ Palace, Kensington Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, and Parliament Square will be amongst the locations likely to see continuous crowds until after the funeral, though urban centres across the Commonwealth will likely see large crowds throughout.
Enhanced social media monitoring and communication blackouts around sensitive locations will be likely in the immediate aftermath of the triggering of Operation London Bridge, which may lead to some short-term communication disruptions, particularly during the funeral. Given the nature of such a massive event, the potential for a terrorist attack in London or elsewhere will remain elevated, with Islamist groups likely to present the biggest threat to major concentrations of crowds, including via vehicular and bladed weapon attacks. However, police officers, security service personnel and military personnel will surge into the capital from across the country, and as a result significantly enhance the Metropolitan police and counter-terrorism capabilities. This will likely mitigate the low likelihood threat of a successful attack to a significant extent.
Suspension of strikes and protests will mitigate travel disruptions and support law enforcement
The Queen’s death has prompted the suspension of planned strike action by postal workers on 9 September, as well as by Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union rail workers on 15 and 17 September. Meanwhile, the train drivers’ union Aslef has also postponed a strike planned for 15 September. As a result, Network Rail and the Rail Delivery Group have confirmed that planned services are set to run as normal. Meanwhile, possible railway works will likely be postponed to after the ten-day mourning period in a bid to reduce the likelihood of disruptions affecting the increased passenger levels expected to travel to London ahead of the Queen’s funeral. Nevertheless, strikes are set to resume in the weeks following the Queen’s funeral, with postal workers reportedly planning to strike on 30 September and 1 October.
In addition, climate activism group Extinction Rebellion (XR) have postponed a ‘Festival of Resistance’ scheduled to take place in Hyde Park, which is one of London’s eight Royal Parks. The three-day demonstration was set to take place between 10-12 September and will remain postponed until further notice. Previous XR events have drawn large crowds in central London, with demonstrations generating localised travel disruptions, particularly in central London. As such, the suspension of protest activity during the national mourning period will reduce strains on the capacity of the Metropolitan Police to manage the large crowds.
The Queen’s passing will threaten political instability in the Commonwealth Realms
Upon the news that the Queen has passed, government instability could rise across the entire Commonwealth, but particularly in the 14 Commonwealth Realms where His Majesty the King is now Head of State. The monarch’s death will represent a flashpoint for latent republican movements, with groups likely to attempt to capitalise on the King’s accession to push for sweeping constitutional changes, though debates are likely to remain calm.
As such, political instability is likely to be most acutely felt in Australia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica in the aftermath of Operation London Bridge. This is highlighted by Adam Bandt, head of Australia’s Green Party, when he used his statement of condolence on the day of the Queen’s death to call for the establishment of a republic. Meanwhile, the Queen’s passing is likely to further support the Jamaican government’s announcement in June of plans to become a republic by 2025. However, all Realms will likely see varying degrees of instability as the Queen’s death will threaten to trigger constitutional crises in each state, including in Canada.
Elevated pressures following the Queen’s passing will likely force ruling and opposition political parties to take a stance on whether to transition to a republic or retain the monarchy, with the resultant debates likely to severely strain parliamentary and government stability. Should a government take a stance in either direction, political resignations will be increasingly likely. Amid these potential political crises, demonstrations by both anti-monarchy activists and supporters of the monarchy will likely become an increasing possibility in the Commonwealth Realms, particularly after the initial grief and public mourning passes and attention switches to wider constitutional debates ahead of the King’s Coronation at Westminster Abbey. The Coronation itself, expected to take place within a year of the death of Her Majesty the Queen, will remain a key flashpoint for unrest, including in the United Kingdom – though security will be unprecedentedly high across the country.
In the United Kingdom, the new government led by Prime Minister Liz Truss (see Sibylline Alert – 7 September 2022), will face extreme public and international scrutiny over its handling of Operation London Bridge. Any perceived mishandling of even small details is likely to severely damage the government, at least in the short term. However, the most notable political instability will be felt in Commonwealth Realms where latent republican sentiment could precipitate a transition to a republic, particularly in Jamaica, but also other Caribbean Realms and to a lesser extent Australia.
Nevertheless, the British government is unlikely to face serious political instability in the immediate aftermath, despite the fact that Liz Truss’ government is only three days old. Ultimately, the expected smooth transition from Queen Elizabeth II to King Charles III is highly likely to mitigate political instability for the British government, and will in all likelihood ease many of the trigger points and socio-economic tensions we had previously anticipated would dominate the first few weeks of Liz Truss’ premiership (see Sibylline Alert – 7 September). Despite the policy debates and the mounting cost-of-living crisis, Her Majesty’s death is likely to represent an historic unifying moment for the nation during the initial period of mourning, mitigating instability.
The temporary suspension of industrial action will reduce the likelihood of widespread strike-related travel disruptions in the coming weeks, facilitating the expected travel of large crowds of mourners to London in the run-up to the funeral on D+10. However, the high volume of passengers travelling to Scotland and London in the coming days and weeks are likely to generate disruptions to existing travel plans and services. Increased demand will likely heavily impact the hospitality sector throughout, with unprecedented crowds likely to drive demand for hotels and place extreme pressure on booking services, supply chains as well as hotel security ahead of the Queen’s funeral.
The Queen’s death during a period with no remaining Covid-19 restrictions will result in increased crowd sizes, though has mitigated the threat of anti-lockdown protests. Separately, the postponement of the scheduled three-day XR demonstration at Hyde Park is likely to free up Metropolitan Police capacity to focus on managing crowds of mourners in the coming days and weeks. Overall, the sombre nature of the death of a monarch is likely to significantly mitigate the risk of violence at ceremonial events, processions and the funeral.
The death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will result in increased security measures and limited disruptions to business operations. On 7 September, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving monarch in British history, died at Balmoral, her royal estate in northern Scotland. Operation Unicorn/London Bridge will now be initiated, outlining the contingency plans for managing significant foreign travel into the UK, ensuring a seamless handover of power, and organising the Queen’s funeral on the 10th day after her death (19 September). The Queen’s death will attract large crowds to key sites such as Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, Trafalgar Square, and Parliament Square, likely causing localised traffic disruptions and potentially affecting business distribution operations. However, increased security measures and the nature of the period of mourning mean all events are highly likely to proceed peacefully. Furthermore, on the day of the Queen’s funeral, robust security measures will be enforced to mitigate the risk of an attack due to the unprecedented crowds expected to materialise across London. (Source: Sibylline)
09 Sep 22. Greece-Turkey: Regional tensions increase after Turkish President Erdogan threatens Greek islands. Earlier this week, the Foreign Minister of Greece called on the European Union, the United Nations as well as NATO to condemn Turkish President Erdogan for comments that could have been interpreted as threatening. Over the past weeks, President Erdogan has been claiming that Greece is militarising its islands in the Aegean Sea, going against international agreements, and saying that Ankara is prepared to “do what is necessary”. As Turkey prepares for a general election next year, we will almost certainly see President Erdogan pursuing a more hostile foreign policy in the near term in order to shift the discourse from domestic challenges in the runup to the election. As such, regional tensions with Greece over the alleged militarisation of Greek islands and maritime resources will almost certainly increase, elevating tensions with NATO and the EU as well. (Source: Sibylline)
08 Sep 22. Paratroopers ‘fly under the radar’ in milestone trials.
The RAF needs to show its new Atlas aircraft is capable of conducting low-level parachuting before the Hercules fleet is retired. The trials have seen the successful completion of several sorties for ‘mass para insertion’ over Salisbury Plain.
British soldiers have conducted parachute trials from planes flying low enough to avoid radar.
The RAF’s new Atlas aircraft has been taking part in exercises to take on the role of tactical transport aircraft from the Hercules fleet, which is going out of service.
The trials have seen the successful completion of several sorties for “mass para insertion” over Salisbury Plain for the first time.
Paratroopers from 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team and 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines took part in the trials.
The RAF needs to show the Atlas is capable of conducting low-level parachuting (LLP) – dropping troops and resupply loads from around 450 feet – before the Hercules fleet is retired if Britain is not to lose this critical military capability.
Until Atlas is cleared for LLP, troops have been using the MC-6 parachute, a different canopy which has been tested and approved by the MoD for high-level jumps.
The aircraft has already completed successful trials of natural surface operations, whereby the plane is able to operate from rough, unprepared landing strips, and air-drop of light stores from higher altitudes.
“This significant step…keeps the programme on track to transfer low-level and high-altitude parachuting capability from C130J Hercules onto the Atlas next year.
“Adding both parachuting capabilities to the range of other tactical capabilities that are already in service – such as the ability to air-drop supplies, air-to-air refuelling, and landing on natural surfaces – puts the Atlas in a good position to take over from the Hercules in 2023.”
The mass parachute insertion saw RAF despatchers from the parachute test team work on board the aircraft, from 206 Squadron, based at RAF Brize Norton, Oxon.
The RAF personnel assisted the parachutists in the safe fitting and checking of equipment, conducted final checks prior to despatch and recovered their static lines after the airborne soldiers and marines had jumped from the aircraft.
Major Philpott, airborne plans officer in the Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, said: “The speed and reach of deploying by air are the defining characteristics of air manoeuvre forces, and vital to 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team’s role as part of UK Defence’s Rapid Reaction Force.
“Across a wide range of strategic and tactical scenarios, parachuting retains significant relevance for contemporary operations through enabling us to hold the initiative.
“We can take off from the UK to deliver troops by parachute to where they are needed rapidly, outmanoeuvring the enemy and putting us in position to win the first battle when, where and how we want to fight it.
“The Atlas has a key role to play in our future, offering a significant boost to our capabilities through its ability to carry more paratroopers over a greater distance.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
07 Sep 22. UK: Energy Costs.
On 6 September Boris Johnson handed in his resignation to Her Majesty the Queen, whereafter she appointed Liz Truss the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Truss’s appointment came shortly after she was elected leader of the ruling Conservative Party on 5 September, securing 57.4 percent of the vote to her rival Rishi Sunak’s 42.6 percent. With Truss having now appointed her full cabinet, the new government is set to prioritise spending on introducing an energy cap, cutting taxes and increasing defence spending.
• During her first Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons today, Truss reiterated her priorities for her premiership. In particular, she doubled down on her pledges to cut taxes, including reversing the proposed rise in corporation tax and the rise in National Insurance payments. Similarly, she explicitly stated that she was against windfall taxes on oil and gas profits. However, government spokesperson has subsequently clarified that the government will keep the current windfall tax on energy companies introduced by the previous chancellor Rishi Sunak, but that no further windfall taxes will be introduced. Notably, Truss also reiterated her support for expanding oil and gas exploration in the North Sea and commitments to build new nuclear power plants. Number 10 has also hinted today that the current ban on fracking for shale gas could be lifted as early as this week.
• Truss also confirmed that she will take immediate action on tackling mounting energy bills, with an announcement in the House of Commons tomorrow, 8 September. This immediate support is highly likely to take the form of an energy price cap, which economists estimate could cost anywhere between GBP 90-130 bn over the next year. This will likely mitigate further inflation rises and support struggling households to maintain current spending levels, but it will also increase the likelihood of further interest rate hikes later this year. Amid such large-scale spending, the Bank of England could increase rates to 3 percent by December, with a 0.75 percentage point rate hike increasingly likely during the next Monetary Policy Committee meeting on 15 September. Nevertheless, an estimated GBP 40 bn could be earmarked for a wholesale energy cap for businesses over the next six months, which will mitigate business costs over the winter.
• The new government has also announced that it will shelve the proposed Bill of Rights bill, arguing that it needs a comprehensive overhaul. The bill had been tabled under outgoing Justice Secretary Dominic Raab to provide British courts more room to diverge from rulings by the European Court of Justice. It remains unclear whether a revised bill will be tabled. However, given that Truss and her new Home Secretary Suella Braverman have committed to upholding the Rwanda deportation policy, which the European Court of Human Rights is challenging, some means of establishing the supremacy of UK courts are likely in the coming months.
• Following several weeks of infrastructure strikes that have impacted public transport and the port of Felixstowe, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has already responded to Truss’s appointment. General Secretary of TUC, Frances O’Grady, warned on 7 September that there was an increasing number of strike ballots at the moment. The TUC Congress in Brighton on 11-14 September will likely set the tone for the next few months of industrial action in the UK, with major unions including Unite and PCS tabling motions calling for greater coordination on strike action – though calls for a general strike is not being tabled. Truss has previously pledged to curb ‘militant unions’, including legislating for minimum service levels for critical infrastructure within her government’s first 30 days in office. As such, industrial relations could deteriorate quickly in the month ahead, which will also increase the risk of anti-government protests and accompanying single-issue activism engagement.
Liz Truss has now appointed her full cabinet, removing many Boris Johnson loyalists and replacing them with her own allies from broadly the right of the parliamentary Conservative Party. Many leading members of the new cabinet, including Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, and International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch, are all small state, free market supporters. As such, the new cabinet is set to be a low-tax, pro-business government aimed at encouraging investment.
However, the major spending commitments of the new government, including the energy cap, tax cuts and defence spending increases, are likely to present one of the largest spending packages in recent years. This is widely expected to drive up interest rates and push the UK’s debt to GDP ratio well above the 100 percent caused by pandemic spending. Nevertheless, with the energy crisis threatening to plunge half of British households into energy poverty this winter, the energy cap will mitigate the risk of major socio-economic unrest in the coming months. Ultimately, however, industrial relations are still set to deteriorate further if Truss pushes through plans to strengthen anti-strike legislation, as she has pledged to do in her first month in office.
For further context and analysis around the Conservative Party leadership election and the policy implications of a Truss premiership, see Sibylline Situation Update Brief – 2 September. (Source: Sibylline)
06 Sep 22. Royal Navy keeps watch as Russian warships sail close to the UK. Three Royal Navy warships have been on a concerted operation shadowing a Russian Navy task force in waters close to the UK.
Type 23 frigates HMS Westminster, HMS Lancaster and HMS Richmond tracked Slava-class cruiser, Marshal Ustinov – the sister ship of the ill-fated Moskva which sunk in the Black Sea in April – and Udaloy-class destroyer, Vice-Admiral Kulakov, plus their tanker Vyazma.
The British ships tracked the Russian task group as they made their journey home from the eastern Mediterranean after supporting Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine since February.
The frigates and their helicopters used an array of cutting-edge sensors and modern naval technology to keep close watch in the Celtic Sea and through the English Channel.
HMS Westminster’s Commanding Officer, Commander Ed Moss-Ward, said: “Maritime security in the sea areas around the UK is crucial to our prosperity and resilience.
“The Royal Navy routinely responds to escort warships in UK territorial waters and the adjacent sea areas to ensure compliance with maritime law, to deter malign activity and to protect our national interests.
“Escorting the Russian task group has demonstrated that the Royal Navy is committed to maintaining maritime security and to co-operating with our NATO Allies.”
HMS Lancaster shadowed the Russian ships from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Celtic Sea as part of NATO’s fast response task force in the Atlantic (Standing NATO Maritime Task Group 1).
“Working together allows NATO allies to respond to security challenges at pace and collectively deter potential aggressors,” said Commander Tom Johnson, Commanding Officer of HMS Lancaster.
“Exchange of personnel further deepens NATO cohesion and interoperability so that the alliance can swiftly and efficiently react to any threat. Lancaster’s team work exceptionally hard to ensure we are always ready to respond to any threat at a moment’s notice.”
HMS Westminster deployed from Portsmouth to intercept the Russian ships in the Celtic Sea, where they paused, dispersing up to 60 nautical miles while the Marshal Ustinov was refuelled by the tanker Vyazma.
HMS Richmond was called upon to keep watch in the English Channel.
Commanding Officer, Commander Chris L’Amie said: “At short notice, HMS Richmond intercepted the Russian Federation Navy’s Surface Action Group in the English Channel. We will closely monitor the task group’s activity whilst demonstrating the UK’s resolve, and the capability and professionalism of the Royal Navy.”
Meanwhile, as this operation was underway, Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Mersey shadowed Russian military research vessel Akademik Ioffe on its journey south through the Dover shipping lanes and into the Channel.
05 Sep 22. Nearly all big UK defence projects over budget and behind time. The vast majority of the Ministry of Defence’s big programmes are still not on time or on budget, according to figures revealed by Labour.
An analysis of official data found that 42 out of 45 projects, 93 per cent, have been given a rating of “amber” or “red”, meaning their delivery is deemed unachievable or they have significant issues.
Nine of the projects, including the £5.5 bn Ajax light tank programme and the F-35B Lightning jets, have been rated red — a significant increase from three last year.
The Crowsnest radar system, which is to be fitted to the Royal Navy Merlin helicopters protecting the aircraft carrier strike groups, has also been rated red, according to Ministry of Defence Major Projects data for 2021-22.
The system is needed to provide surveillance in the skies above the £3.2bn warships and their escort ships.
A total of ten defence programmes saw costs rocket by at least £7.5bn in the past year.
John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, said: “Ministers have lost control of costs and contracts, and the defence secretary has no plan to get a grip of problems.
“He is failing British troops and failing British taxpayers and with threats increasing, risks leaving our armed forces without the equipment they need to fulfil our Nato obligations.”
He repeated earlier pledges to conduct a full audit of MoD waste if Labour were in government.
According to the latest figures, published in July, 33 programmes, including the Dreadnought class submarines that will replace the Vanguard class, carrying the nuclear deterrent, and E-7 Wedgetail early warning aircraft received an amber rating this year.
Projects that have seen cost increases include the Protector drone programme, which has risen by £170m to £1.5bn. The MoD said in 2019 that it had delayed delivery of the cutting-edge unmanned aerial vehicle due to affordability challenges.
The drone, which has also been known as the MQ-9B SkyGuardian, can carry more missiles and laser- guided bombs than the MQ-9 Reaper drone, currently in service. It can also fly consistently for up to 40 hours,
The project to modernise defence infrastructure, known as the Defence Estate Optimisation Portfolio, has increased by more than £4 bn to £5.4bn. Last year, the MoD reported that the whole-life cost of this programme was £1.3 bn. Due to these increased costs, the MoD is now “considering whether these projects remain a viable proposition”.
In last year’s National Audit Office report Optimising the Defence Estate, it highlighted the MoD’s mismanagement of this programme, stating that the “department’s initial plans to reduce the size of its estate were not realistic or achievable”.
Labour said the true cost increase for the MoD’s major projects could be much higher as costs for programmes such as the Ajax vehicle have not been revealed by ministers. A total of £3.1bn has been spent on the programme to date and only 26 vehicles out of the promised 589 have been delivered.
An MoD spokesman said: “A project being rated as red or amber does not necessarily mean that it will not be delivered on time or to budget, but that we have identified risks that need managing. We see this as effective programme management.” (Source: The Times)
04 Sep 22. UK Armed Forces continue to strengthen interoperability with Finland and Sweden. British troops have taken part in Exercise Vigilant Knife alongside Swedish and Finnish Armed Forces. British troops have taken part in Exercise Vigilant Knife alongside Swedish and Finnish Armed Forces, further strengthening our interoperability in anticipation of Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO.
The short notice command-post exercise took place in Rovaniemi and Rovajärvi, northern Finland from 29 August to 2 September 2022 and built on the success of Exercise Vigilant Fox which took place in July.
Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace said:
Whilst there is war in Europe, it is more important than ever to strengthen our international partnerships. We welcome Finland and Sweden’s application to join NATO and will continue to exercise together so we are ready to face shared security challenges.
Exercise Vigilant Knife is an invaluable opportunity for UK personnel to develop their skills and experience of warfighting in cold weather conditions, enabling them to be effective on the battlefield alongside their Finnish and Swedish counterparts.
Around 80 British Army personnel from C Company, 2 Rifles Battlegroup took part in the exercise, travelling from the island of Santahamina in the south of Finland where they are undertaking a 3 month training deployment as part of a security agreement between the UK and Finland.
Formed of over 2,000 troops, the international force practiced delivering and receiving international assistance as well as enhancing tactical and technical interoperability.
As a light infantry company, British personnel provided anti-tank, sniper and reconnaissance capabilities to the exercise and were primarily involved in both offensive and defensive actions to test the readiness of the Finnish forces alongside the Swedish unit.
This added to the invaluable experience that UK troops have already enjoyed whilst on deployment in Finland. Operating in northern Finland presented new challenges enabling troops to train in heavily wooded terrain.
Enhancing our forces through international exercises is crucial preparation should we need to deploy alongside our European partners in the future, enabling us to be effective on the battlefield. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
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