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15 Sep 22. German and Spanish Air Forces jointly execute Nato eAP mission. The mission included nine Eurofighters, operated by 60 Spanish and 140 German Air Forces’ personnel. Eurofighter detachments from the German and Spanish Air Forces have jointly carried out NATO ’s enhanced Air Policing (eAP) mission for the first time. Conducted as part of a ‘plug-and-fight’ concept, the mission involved the integration of the German detachment’s 140 personnel with around 60 personnel from the Spanish Air Force, at Ämari Air Base in Estonia.
Together the German-Spanish forces operated a total of nine Eurofighter aircraft. During the eAP operation, NATO ’s northern Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem in Germany ordered the launch of the fighter jets. One Eurofighter, each from German and Spanish Air Forces, then conducted a combined sortie to identify and escort a non-NATO aircraft above the Baltic region.
Spanish Detachment commander major Miguel Ángel López García said: “With these combined alert missions, we have achieved great success as a result of teamwork and thanks to the interoperability of our advanced weapons system.
“Shared maintenance has reduced the logistics footprint, deploying fewer personnel and material by each country for this type of operation, and twice the joint operability of the Eurofighters has been generated than would have been obtained if both countries had worked separately.”
This mission also marked the first time the German Air Force, a Eurofighter user nation, provided smaller spare parts as well as guided missiles, arms and ammunition for the weapons aboard the Spanish aircraft.
Moreover, the German tank trucks also provided fuel to the Spanish force aircraft. A detailed case-by-case review was conducted at times when instant replacement, support or exchange was not possible, as both nations use different Eurofighter versions. The three weeks of this combined flying mission allowed the forces to enhance cooperation and interoperability. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
15 Sep 22. Sweden: Right-Wing Bloc Wins Majority. Following the 11 September general elections in Sweden, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, leader of the Social Democrats, conceded to the right-wing bloc led by the conservative Moderates, marking an end to the 8-year rule of the centre-left Social Democrats. The right-wing alliance includes the far-right Sweden Democrats, the Moderates, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals, while the centre-left bloc consisted of the Social Democrats, the Left Party, the centre-right Centre Party and the Green Party. Government instability will remain high in the coming weeks and months while parties negotiate potential government coalitions. Nevertheless, even if the far-right Sweden Democrat party manages to form a majority coalition government, deep ideological and political divides will likely undermine decision-making processes and ensure that a degree of government instability remains elevated into the medium-to-longer term.
- According to final election results, the right-wing bloc won 176 parliamentary seats while the centre-left alliance gained 173 seats in the 349-seat parliament, in an extremely close electoral race. Notably, the Social Democrats won the most votes with 30.5 percent while the far-right Sweden Democrats became the second largest party in the parliament for the first time in the party’s history with 20.6 percent of the vote, overtaking the conservative Moderates. Ulf Kristersson, the leader of the Moderates and the right-wing alliance, will be tasked with forming a government and will likely become the country’s new prime minister.
- While the Moderates’ calculations of including the far-right Sweden Democrats in their electoral alliance for the first time proved successful, a right-wing coalition government will almost certainly face significant challenges due to deep ideological and political divides within the right-wing bloc. In turn, this will ensure that government instability risks remain elevated for the foreseeable future. For instance, the Liberals have previously stated that they will not work with a governing coalition that includes the Sweden Democrats. Meanwhile, the Moderates cannot afford not to include the far-right party in their government considering the latter’s considerable success in the election. As such, it is almost certain that the Sweden Democrats will have a defining role in the new coalition, making it impossible for the Moderates to push through any policy without the support of the Sweden Democrats, or support from the opposition. As such, more frequent policy gridlocks are likely in the months ahead. Furthermore, considering the deep divisions within the right-wing electoral alliance, including on the issues of tax cuts, unemployment benefits and criminal justice, it is possible that Sweden’s next coalition government will be a minority government, making prompt legislation to address the energy crunch and the cost-of-living crisis challenging.
- In terms of foreign policy, however, the new government is unlikely to bring significant changes. The Moderates, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals have long pushed for the country’s NATO membership, while the far-right Sweden Democrats have also changed their stance and started supporting Sweden’s NATO accession following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Due to Russia’s long-standing history of regularly violating Sweden’s borders and airspace and conducting low-level cyber attacks against the country, anti-NATO sentiment and pro-Kremlin sentiment in Sweden are considerably low and are unlikely to change in the short-to-long term.
The victory of the right-wing alliance in the 11 September general election will bring considerable economic, policy and societal changes as it ends the Social Democrats’ 8-year rule. The Moderates will almost certainly include the Christian Democrats in their new coalition government, however, it remains to be seen whether the two other parties of the bloc, the Liberals and the far-right Sweden Democrats, would be willing to join the same coalition. Considerable policy and ideological differences within the right-wing bloc will almost certainly hamper legislation in the near future, elevating government stability risks as well as undermining effective policy-making.
However, policy risks for businesses will be limited due to the Moderates’ and the Liberals’ business-friendly agenda. Foreign policy will almost certainly remain unchanged under the new government, with Sweden’s population continuing to support the country’s NATO membership. Domestic unrest and terrorism risks as well as ethno-religious tensions, however, will highly likely increase in the country as the far-right Sweden Democrats’ surge in popularity and entrance into mainstream politics will likely further drive far-right sentiments in the country.
15 Sep 22. Sweden: Prime minister announces resignation, elevating government instability risks. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced her resignation on 15 September following her Social Democrat party’s defeat in the 11 September election. The leader of the right-wing bloc and the Moderate party, Ulf Kristersson, said he will start working to form a government. The country’s electoral commission will announce the official results later on 15 September. The latest indications suggest that the right-wing alliance gained 176 seats while the centre-left bloc led by the Social Democrats won 173 seats in Parliament. Due to the refusal of the free-market Liberals and the far-right Sweden Democrats to work together, the new right-wing government will almost certainly face considerable challenges in pushing legislation through Parliament. Internal divides within the bloc will likely keep government instability risks elevated in the coming weeks. (Source: Sibylline)
12 Sep 22. UK slips full operating capability for F-35B. The UK is to delay declaring full operating capability (FOC) for its Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning fleet, with a government minister saying it will now happen in 2025 rather than the earlier stated 2023.
Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, made the disclosure while answering a question in the House of Commons on 12 September.
“Full operating capability for the Lightning Force is expected in 2025, at which point the Lightning Force will be able to operationally deploy both [617 and 809] squadrons concurrently,” he said.
Heappey’s comments marked a departure from the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) earlier stated timeline of declaring initial operating capability (IOC) for the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B in 2023, by which time both 617 Squadron and 809 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) would have been stood-up as the first two front-line units for the type and able to deploy with 12 aircraft each. At this time, 42 of the 48 contracted aircraft would have been delivered, and HMS Prince of Wales (Source: Janes)
12 Sep 22. Germany outlines aim to become Europe’s leading military force. Defence minister says Berlin must use its ‘heft’ as Russia’s war in Ukraine changes. Germany must become Europe’s leading military power, the country’s defence minister has said, as the government prepares a new national security strategy based on a significantly beefed-up role for Berlin in the western alliance. The comments by Christine Lambrecht underscore the revolution in German strategic thinking triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has increased pressure on Berlin to assume a bigger role in Europe’s security architecture. The new role came almost by default, she said in a keynote speech at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in Berlin. “It has to do with our size, our geographical location, our economic power, in short with our heft,” she said. “That makes us a leading power whether we like it or not — in the military sense, too.” It built on the speech delivered by Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the Bundestag, just days after Russian troops marched into Ukraine in February, in which he broke with a decades-long policy of military restraint, announcing a huge increase in defence spending and a €100bn investment fund for the country’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr. Describing the invasion as a “Zeitenwende” or “turning point”, Scholz also vowed to send weapons to Ukraine and promised to wean the country off its dependence on Russian oil and gas. Echoing Scholz’s speech, Lambrecht said Germany must meet the Nato target of spending 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence “over the long term”, not just for the next couple of years. “We must avoid a situation where, in a few years, we cannot afford to maintain the equipment we are purchasing now,” she said. Lambrecht also reiterated plans for Germany to set up three combat-ready army divisions by the early 2030s, “fully equipped, each with three brigades, plus additional troops”. Lambrecht also called for strict rules on military exports to be relaxed to allow it to take part in European defence projects. “What partner is going to co-invest with us in projects when he or she will always worry that we’ll prevent the export [of the weapons]?” But some sceptical voices at the DGAP event said the strategic shift was not as profound as ministers had suggested, in particular echoing accusations from some allies that Berlin’s support for Kyiv was less than wholehearted. Claudia Major, a military analyst at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said many in central and eastern Europe felt the aid provided by Berlin to Ukraine was “too slow, hesitant and small-scale”. There was a feeling, she said, that “we have squandered their trust”. Lambrecht dismissed the charge while reiterating that Berlin had no intention of acceding to a request from Kyiv for battle tanks. “No country has delivered western-built infantry fighting vehicles or main battle tanks so far,” she said. Recommended The Big Read From the archive: How war in Ukraine convinced Germany to rebuild its army Lambrecht said the US would remain Europe’s main protector but the rise in tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan meant that “we are called on to do more than before for Europe”, adding: “Germany is prepared to make a decisive contribution to fair burden-sharing.” She was speaking less than two weeks after Scholz’s cabinet formally announced the start of work on a national security strategy, the first in Germany’s history, which will redefine its foreign and defence policy. She said the west must “draw the necessary conclusions” from Ukraine’s war with Russia — that “we ourselves need strong, combat-ready troops so we can defend ourselves and our alliance if we have to”. Lambrecht acknowledged that Germany’s Nazi-era crimes and the “war of destruction” waged by its army in Europe between 1939 and 1945 had turned “scepticism about the military into a kind of virtue”. But she said Germany could only guarantee peace and freedom for its people if it abandoned its “old self-image” and defined security as “the central task of this country”. She said Germans had got used to seeing the Bundeswehr as a kind of disaster relief agency that helped with pandemics, floods and forest fires and took part in missions to places such as Afghanistan and Mali. “But those times are over,” she said. “The Bundeswehr is not just an item in the budget — in conceptual terms, it’s a primary institution for our security.” (Source: FT.com)
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