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07 May 20. Turkey says it is still delivering parts for U.S. F-35 jets. Turkey is still producing and delivering parts for U.S. F-35 jets despite being suspended from the programme nearly a year ago over its purchase of a Russian anti-aircraft defence system, Defence Industry Director Ismail Demir said on Thursday.
Washington announced last July, when the first Russian S-400 units arrived in Turkey, that it was suspending Ankara from the F-35 programme and expected to “wind down” Turkey’s involvement by March 2020.
The United States also said the purchase meant Turkey could be subjected to sanctions under U.S. legislation aimed at discouraging defence purchases from Moscow.
Turkey was both a parts manufacturer and major buyer of the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth jets. Washington says the S-400s jeopardise the jets – which Ankara denies – and are incompatible with NATO defence systems.
“There was an understanding in the United States that nothing would be bought from Turkey for the F-35s after March 2020, but that approach is no longer there,” Demir said. He suggested the global coronavirus pandemic meant the March deadline no longer applied, without elaborating.
“Our companies continue their production and delivery,” Demir said in an online interview, adding that Turkey remained a “loyal partner” of the F-35 programme.
Taking Turkey out of the project would cost other members of the programme up to $600 million, he said.
Turkish officials have said the deployment of the S-400s has been put back from April because of the coronavirus outbreak, but will ultimately go ahead. Demir said a new timetable for activating the S-400s would be drawn up once operations were back to full capacity after the outbreak. (Source: Reuters)
06 May 20. German government asks Lockheed, MBDA to rebid on missile defense system. The German government has given Lockheed Martin and MBDA the go-ahead to bid anew on the TLVS air defense program.
The latest request for a proposal, transmitted Wednesday, is the third iteration after previous attempts to draft a contract failed. If the vendor team decides to pursue the business, a new offer is expected by the summer.
A Lockheed spokesman confirmed receipt of the solicitation but said the company could not comment further.
The program, short for Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem, is meant to wean Germany off the venerable Patriot air defense weapon. Formerly developed in concert with the United States and Italy, TLVS boasts a 360-degree sensing and shooting capability meant to lower its footprint in the field and allow for intercepts against threats from all directions.
The Germans want a system that grants its military operators maximum national autonomy, meaning the government wants to own the rights to relevant software and hardware without having to consult with Washington to employ or modify the weapon.
That requirement previously turned out to be a major headache in the negotiations with industry, especially relating to the Lockheed-made interceptor known as the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement. It also remains to be seen how firmly Berlin sticks to its guns on the issue in the upcoming round of talks.
News of movement in the prospective multibillion-dollar program comes as the German Defence Ministry announced another major acquisition decision last month that continues to make headlines. The government has proposed a split buy of Eurofighter and F-18 fighter jets to replace its Tornado fleet by 2030, prompting spirited debates among German lawmakers, industry advocates and analysts. (Source: Defense News)
06 May 20. US senators reportedly attempting to block F-35 deployment to the UK. US Republican senators are reportedly seeking to deter the stationing of 48 F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft in the UK. The Telegraph reported that the proposed action is being led by Arkansas senator Tom Cotton and tied to the association of Huawei in the UK’s 5G network.
In January, the Chinese firm was allowed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ‘build non-core parts of the UK’s 5G networks’.
According to scheduled plans, the F-35A aircraft are expected to be permanently stationed in the UK from next year.
A summary of the proposal being put forward by Cotton was quoted by the publication as saying: “To prohibit the stationing of new aircraft at bases in host countries with at-risk vendors in their 5G or 6G networks.”
If the move becomes a law, it will ban the deployment of the fleet of F-aircraft to the UK. US Congress will make the decision.
Furthermore, it could jeopardise the relationship shared between the US and the UK.
However, Tom Cotton told The Telegraph: “While the US will do all we can to maintain and strengthen the special relationship, protecting US airmen and our national security assets must come first.”
The UK has committed to buy the initial batch of 48 F-35 aircraft with plans for a total of 138 jets. It is yet to decide on the purchase of the remaining jets. (Source: naval-technology.com)
05 May 20. US Navy returns to the Barents Sea. For the first time in decades, ships from the US Navy have sailed into the Barents Sea to assert freedom of navigation and train alongside allies in the region.
The sailing marks the first time US warships have entered the Barents Sea since the 1980s, where they worked alongside a frigate from the UK’s Royal Navy as part of wider maritime security operations in increasingly contested Arctic waters.
In a press release, the US 6th Fleet said: “U.S. Navy surface ships have not operated in the Barents since the mid-1980s. Allied and partner navies must remain proficient in all operating environments to ensure the continued security and access to the seas. This is especially critical in the Arctic, where the austere weather environment demands constant vigilance and practice.”
Three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers were joined by the USNS Supply and HMS Kent, from the Royal Navy as part of the arctic operation.
US 6th Fleet commander Vice Admiral Lisa Franchetti said: “In these challenging times, it is more important than ever that we maintain our steady drumbeat of operations across the European theatre while taking prudent measures to protect the health of our force.
“We remain committed to promoting regional security and stability while building trust and reinforcing a foundation of Arctic readiness.”
Some of the ships involved in the sailing had previously been taking part in bilateral anti-submarine warfare exercises off the coast of Norway. Before entering the sea, the US said it informed the Russian Ministry of Defence of the plans in order to ‘avoid misperceptions, reduce risk, and prevent inadvertent escalation.’
For its part, commenting on the sailing, the Royal Navy said: “The Royal Navy warship [HMS Kent] continues working with ships from the US Navy to demonstrate our commitment to freedom of navigation in the challenging conditions above the Arctic Circle.”
HMS Kent’s Operations Officer Lieutenant Commander Paul White said: “The Royal Navy is committed to maintaining long-term stability within the high north. HMS Kent, working with US allies, has demonstrated our commitment to global security and freedom of navigation while operating in a multi-national task group in an open and transparent manner.”
In the past year, HMS Kent had completed a deployment to the Gulf before turning north for its current Arctic deployment.
Commenting on the bilateral exercises, Franchetti said: “For more than 70 years, 6th Fleet has operated forces across the region in support of maritime security and stability. Our regional alliances remain strong because of our regular operations and exercises with partner navies, and we welcome this opportunity to work collaboratively at sea, while enhancing our understanding of Arctic operations,”
What is the significance of the Barents Sea?
Commenting on the importance of the Arctic, the US 6th Fleet wrote: “The United States is an Arctic nation and has enduring security interests in the Arctic Region.
“We work with our Arctic and European partners to ensure an open Arctic by continuing freedom of navigation and overflight through the region, as well conducting land, air, and sea operations required for deterrence, presence, and Arctic security.”
Separating Russia and Norway, the mass of the Barents Sea is split between the two countries territorial waters.
In recent years, Russia and China have upped investments in the Arctic region, and the sailing from the US marks part of the US Navy’s response to maintain a foothold in the region.
In the region, Russia operates a mix of submarines, warships and nuclear-powered ice breakers, designed to allow its navy to continually operate throughout the region.
With global warming changing the face of the arctic and the abundance of untapped natural recourses in the region, the Barents Sea and the wider Arctic have seen a build-up of military equipment by Russia, and increasing interest from NATO as both sides seek to maintain access to the area.
The sea is also home to Russia’s Northern Fleet, which operates from a number of ports and shipyards along the coast of the Barents Sea. (Source: naval-technology.com)
05 May 20. OCCAR delivers despite COVID-19 lockdowns. The Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) has continued to meet several contract requirements, despite nationwide lockdowns in each of its six European member states as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
France received an Airbus A400M whilst OCCAR extended the A400M Engine Support Contract by awarding it to Price Waterhouse Coopers.
Meanwhile, five Boxer A2 vehicles have been successfully retrofitted for the Bundeswehr in Germany. Negotiations for Germany’s Driver Vision System contract continued alongside preparations for the first Preliminary Design Review for the UK.
A new naval research and technology contract was also finalised between OCCAR and NAVIRIS (the Franco-Italian JV between Fincantieri and Naval Group), which has progressed onto the preparation of the Horizon MLU contract. This means that the ninth Italian FREMM vessel is ready for delivery, according to OCCAR.
Thales has also continued with negotiations for a production contract for the French/UK Maritime Mine Counter Measures programme whilst its sea trials were postponed.
Additionally, the Multinational Multirole Fleet (MMF) programme is to undergo a contract amendment, to prepare the first multirole tanker aircraft for entry into service. Negotiations have been finalised for the acquisition of another aircraft (based on the A330-200) and the development of a flexible new refuelling system.
OCCAR members are Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. Non-member participants include Finland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and Sweden. (Source: Shephard)
05 May 20. Defence industry in retreat as coronavirus attacks. The era of extravagant military purchases is surely over after the threat posed by the pandemic. When I last visited London’s Excel conference centre it was for an international arms fair, where defence enthusiasts browsed autonomous combat vehicles and queued to sit in a gleaming fighter jet. Now hastily refitted as a field hospital for Covid-19 patients, the Excel looks quite different: rows of identical beds and ventilators fill the hangar-like space. The display of defence machinery now seems absurd. The biggest threat to western nations since the second world war has not been an army but a pandemic that has killed more than 250,000 people across the globe. Political leaders talk of waging a war against the virus; faced with this adversary, the idea of human combat seems wasteful. For the military, the pandemic poses an uncomfortable question: what is the role of the defence establishment when national security is no longer about troop numbers and aircraft carriers, but personal protective equipment supply chains and testing capacity? In the short term, defence personnel are taken aback by their marginal role.
General Nick Carter, head of Britain’s armed forces, has urged his troops to move gracefully from star billing to supporting actor status. “We are, for once in our lives, not on the front line,” he said last month. “Humility is the watchword in the way that we help and respond and support others.” In the UK, a “Covid support force” is helping with National Health Service logistics, driving ambulances, manning emergency call centres and setting up mobile testing centres. The US Navy has mobilised two hospital ships to treat civilians and all 50 states have activated the National Guard. Italy used the army to enforce lockdown. The day-to-day business of defence is largely on hold. Joint military exercises — such as the Defender 2020 exercise for US and European troops — are scaled back or cancelled. Armed forces on overseas deployments have reduced activities, and training is being deferred. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin reluctantly cancelled this week’s planned 75th anniversary Victory Day military parade — the infection risk was too high. The UN Security Council is calling for a global ceasefire to protect conflict zones threatened by the virus. Once the immediate crisis is over, Beatrice Heuser, a war expert at the University of Glasgow, predicts swingeing cuts to defence budgets, hitting procurement and recruitment. It is hard to see why governments recovering from economic shock would prioritise defence spending over health and social care. Prof Heuser believes the crisis will strengthen isolationist voices in the US and UK, with critics asking why taxpayers money should fund overseas operations and international aid when resources are stretched. The role of defence will also change. “Resilience” is the word of the moment, a military outlook based on strengthening civilian infrastructure to better withstand pandemics, the effects of climate change or cyber attack.
Having felt the chill of their proximity to Russia, Nordic countries such Finland and Sweden have traditionally been much better at this. They involve the public in disaster preparedness and advise them how to survive for short periods without electricity, water or plentiful food. Security is a collective national effort, rather than the preserve of a remote military establishment. Defence chiefs argue that during a global crisis, international defence alliances provide stability. A senior officer told me last week that the forces would lean back into peacekeeping, provide disaster response, and help quell conflicts over resources or mass migration. His argument for continued spending is that shocks such as coronavirus make the world less safe. Crucial capabilities — such as missile defence — must not be allowed to wither, he says. Even so, the era of extravagant military purchases is surely over. Governments around the world racked up $1.9tn in defence spending last year, the highest figure in more than three decades, according to analysis by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Whether London’s Excel centre will have converted back to a conference venue in time for the next arms fair, planned for 2021, is not clear. But we know that delegates’ pockets will no longer be so deep. (Source: FT.com)
BATTLESPACE Comment: In response to Helen Worrall’s piece about defence being in retreat, we have to disagree. Defence is not in retreat due to COVID-19 but speeding up a process of change which began about ten years ago after the pull-out from Afghanistan. In our opinion, a war in the South China Sea is now inevitable as companies pull out of China and either rebase back home or relocate to other parts of Asia.
The Afghan conflict taught war planners that undertaking expeditionary warfare against a determined enemy at the end of a long and difficult logistics chain is a nightmare for all military planners. Vehicles have to be continually upgraded to withstand the ever increasing IED attacks, this has caused the current range of vehicles to be unsustainable in the omg run and has led to a rethink of mobility over protection. Infantry soldiers have to be protected against these IEDs and which caused horrendous casualties in that war.
So the means of warfare is evolving to keep the soldier protected from such threats by the ever growing use of unmanned ground vehicles, drones and unmanned ships. Coupled to developments in AI, Cyber, open architecture software and new means of networking, the soldier will be better protected
COVID-19 has ushered in a new form of war, which as Bill Gates said, dwarfs terrorism. Previous germ war activities have been localised and containable, this COVID-19 outbreak, if engineered by a man-made virus would change the way we live forever and rogue nations could unleash such terror using carriers on airliners to spread the virus around the world in hours.
Of more concern, given that the virus can mutate, any vaccine would be years away and the world could be disabled whilst the perpetrator could already have developed their own vaccine well before the attack.
Some of the huge funds dedicated to nuclear weapons should be ploughed into virus defeat processes. A virus attack leaves property intact which can be decontaminated, unlike a nuclear attack which devastates all property.
So, visitors to DSEI next year will see much less hardware and far more clever technology to counter an ever-evolving threat. This COVID-19 outbreak is a sign of tactics to come as the story today about the deployment by Iran of flights from China to Lebanon and other areas of the Middle East demonstrates.
05 May 20. Royal Navy’s silence, sound and light tribute for VE Day 75. The sirens of Royal Navy ships will blare and their searchlights pierce the darkness on Friday May 8 as the nation marks 75 years since VE Day.
From the immortal White Cliffs of Dover to the sands of Bahrain and Caribbean and windswept Falklands, the men and women of the Naval Service will join their countryfolk in paying homage to our greatest generation and remember the sacrifices made between 1939 and 1945.
The Royal Navy lost more than 250 warships defeating Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy; more than 40,000 sailors and Royal Marines were killed in the Atlantic, Arctic and Mediterranean.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced the cancellation of many large-scale events marking the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day – which is a national holiday – including a parade in London involving veterans.
Nevertheless, every effort is being made to ensure May 8 2020 is a day to remember reflecting both the celebration and sacrifice befitting the greatest day in the history of our isles in the 20th Century.
Among those pausing to reflect will be Warrant Officer 2nd Class Jules Cook, Bandmaster of The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines CTCRM, based at Lympstone in Devon.
“My granddad Eric Cook sadly passed away last year at the age of 99,” he said.
“He served in Africa as a gunlayer in the Royal Artillery and if I could speak to him now I’d say to him: ‘I’m still really proud of you, granddad. Miss you loads and I cannot wait to tell you some more stories one day.’”
Sailors, soldiers and Royal Marines aboard support ship RFA Argus patrolling the Caribbean to provide assistance in the event of a hurricane, have already paid their respects by spelling out 75 on the flight deck.
Events on Friday begin at 8am with all Government buildings flying the Union Flag at full mast – something they will do on all three days of the Bank Holiday weekend (lowering the standard at 8pm).
River-class patrol ship HMS Severn will patrol the White Cliffs of Dover to coincide with a Spitfire flypast and a lone piper on the clifftop.
There will be a nationwide two minutes’ silence at 11am to remember more than 400,000 British military personnel and civilians who died in World War 2.
At 3pm, Royal Navy warships and support vessels of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary at home and deployed around the world will blast their sirens for a minute to celebrate victory – the time marks the moment on Tuesday May 8 1945 when Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill addressed the nation.
The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines have produced special versions of We’ll Meet Again and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, while the Corps of Drums will perform a special event on Horse Guards Parade, all while operating under Government rules.
Finally at 9.30pm, searchlights on naval ships – both those in harbour and those at sea – will be directed skywards for five minutes; the war’s end marked the lifting of the blackout after nearly six years.
As she is exercising with the Americans in the Barents Sea – off the North Cape – it will be too light for HMS Kent’s searchlights. Instead, the frigate is flying a large battle ensign, a particularly large White Ensign traditionally used in actions to identify a ship’s nationality amid the smoke and fire of battle.
The ship will also hold a service of thanksgiving for those who gave their lives in these waters on the brutal Arctic convoys between 1941 and 1945.
Find out more about the Naval Service’s tributes to the men and women of 1939-1945 – and learn about the latter’s triumph over tyranny – on the Royal Navy’s website: https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/shinealight(Source: Royal Navy)
04 May 20. Germany Underscores Commitment to US Nuclear Deterrence. Germany will continue to make an “appropriate contribution” to deterrent NATO nuclear capability, said federal government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday, after senior Social Democrats had demanded the removal of US bombs. The United States reputedly has as many as 150 nuclear devices stored in Europe — at the Büchel air base in western Germany, in Belgium, in the Netherlands and in Italy — for carriage on warplanes, including aging German Tornados. Over the weekend, two senior Social Democrats — nominally in coalition with Merkel’s conservatives — Rolf Mützenich and Norbert Walter-Borjans called for nuclear removals from Büchel in the lead-up to federal elections due in 2021.
Replacement aircraft sought
Last month, Defence Minister and Merkel confidant Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had floated a procurement package, foreseeing the replacement of the Tornadoes with US-made Boeing F-18 jets as well as Eurofighters. Seibert on Monday said Germany, like NATO, envisaged a world without nuclear weapons, but in the meantime adhered to NATO’s nuclear deterrence concept, noting this was anchored in the Merkel coalition’s 2018 agreement.
“There are some nations that continue to regard nuclear weapons as a means of military conflict, and as long as this is the case, we believe that there is still a need to maintain nuclear deterrence,” said Seibert.
“In this context, the Federal Government will also ensure that an appropriate contribution to the preservation of these NATO capabilities is provided by Germany,” Seibert added without referring to Büchel or potential adversaries.
Do not strengthen security
Mützenich, the Social Democrats’ (SPD) parliamentary leader in the Bundestag, had told the Tagesspiegel newspaper: “It is time Germany ruled out them [US nuclear weapons] being stationed here in future.”
“Nuclear arms on German soil do not strengthen our security, quite the contrary,” said Mützenich.
Walter-Borjans, who co-chairs the SPD nationwide told Sunday’s Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper he was against “buying replacement fighters to transport nuclear bombs.”
“My position is clear against their being stationed [in Germany], being made available and of course the use of nuclear arms.”
Reiterating official coalition policy, a spokesman for Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, himself a SPD member, said Germany stood by US weapons stationing based on the understanding that this could only change through disarmament negotiations.
Lingering Cold War issue
At the height of Cold War in the 1980s hundreds of thousands of Germans demonstrated against the deployment of US Pershing missiles in Europe during a standoff with the Soviet Union armed with SS20 intermediate range ballistic missiles.
Reacting to the calls by Mützenich and Walter-Borjan, Patrick Sensberg of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) warned “our international partners will doubt Germany’s ability to fulfil its future role with the transatlantic security apparatus.” “The SPD is in total nirvana about security policy,” asserted Sensberg, adding that American nuclear weapons “serve above all to protect us.” (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Deutsche Welle German Radio)
01 May 20. Spain, France, UK take up Baltic air-policing mission. Spain, France and the United Kingdom will take up NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission starting in May, guarding the skies over the Baltic region for the next four months.
The three NATO Allies are replacing air force detachments from Belgium and Poland which have protected the airspace of NATO’s three Baltic Allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since January. The Spanish and British air force contingents will operate out of Siauliai airbase in Lithuania, while the French air force will fly from Amari in Estonia. Spain is the lead nation for the mission.
What kind of fingers do you have?
“We thank Spain, France and the UK for taking over NATO’s Baltic-air policing mission”, said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu. “This 24/7 mission demonstrates that our commitment to the security of our Allies is rock-solid and that our vital work goes on despite the coronavirus pandemic,” she stressed.
What kind of fingers do you have?
NATO’s Baltic Air Policing deployment is a defensive mission that sees allies sending planes to patrol the airspace of the three Baltic States, who do not have fighter jets of their own. The Air Policing programme keeps fighter jets on alert 24/7 and ready to scramble in case of suspicious air activity close to the Alliance’s borders.
The mission which has been running since 2004 took on greater prominence following Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. NATO aircraft routinely intercept Russian military aircraft near the Baltic States which frequently fail to adhere to international air safety norms. In 2019, Allied jets attached to NATO’s Baltic air-policing mission scrambled around 200 times to safeguard allied airspace. (Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report)
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