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09 Dec 22. Italian defense-investment hikes appear to taper off. Italy’s new right-wing government is set to keep the country’s defense-procurement spending on an even keel in 2023 without pushing for the big hikes seen in recent years, an analyst has told Defense News.
Defense spending in the first budget prepared by new prime minister Giorgia Meloni’s government includes a procurement outlay of around €8.25bn ($8.7bn) for 2023, on par or slightly higher than this year, said Francesco Vignarca, co-founder of Mil€x, a news site analyzing Italian military expenditure.
The total contains €6.1bn in procurement spending from the defense ministry and another €2.15bn top-up from Italy’s industry ministry, said Vignarca, who combed through budget numbers which are being debated in parliament now and must be signed off by year’s end.
Last year, Italy spent €7.85bn on procurement thanks to combined funding from the two ministries according to official documents. That is apparently less than Vignarca’s estimate for 2023, but he said that was due to calculating methods.
“We add in loan repayments on previous procurements while the government doesn’t,” he said. “Numbers may also be revised and we don’t have all the details, but it appears that procurement spending next year will not change greatly compared to the rises seen in previous years,” he said.
“2023 procurement spending looks like a stationary trend, albeit staying at the current highest historical peak,” he added.
This year’s procurement outlay of €7.85bn euros was up from €6.76bn in 2021, which in turn was up from €5.45bn in 2020.
Giorgia Meloni led a right-wing coalition to electoral victory in Italy in September which committed to pushing up spending to reach the target of 2% of GDP set down by NATO.
“I predict Italian spending in 2023 will be just less than 1.5% of GDP,” said Vignarca.
A big-ticket item in this year’s spending was the sixth-generation Tempest fighter teaming Italy with the U.K., which received €220m in funding.
Italy will now be looking to maintain funding after it signed up on Friday to the Global Combat Air Programme effort, which morphs Tempest into a tri-nation deal with Japan and the U.K.
The agreement brings together BAE Systems, Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Italy’s Leonardo, which said the Italian team would also include Italian universities and firms including Avio Aero, MBDA Italia electronic-warfare firm Elettronica.
In September, Italian Air Force chief Gen. Luca Goretti told Defense News he had been invited by his Japanese counterpart to Japan to discuss teaming on sixth-generation fighter technology.
Goretti has also predicted that France, Spain and Germany will combine efforts with Britain, Italy and now Japan on a joint fighter program in the future. (Source: Defense News)
10 Dec 22. Royal Navy completes major European deployment. The Royal Navy has completed a major European deployment from the North Sea to the Mediterranean, strengthening bonds with NATO allies.
Nine warships, F-35B Lightning jets, helicopters and thousands of sailors and Royal Marines Commandos were part of Operation Achillean.
The operation concluded on Saturday (10 December) as HMS Albion’s amphibious task group returned to the UK after three months operating in Europe in a demonstration of NATO unity.
HMS Albion’s task force of four ships – RFA Argus, HMS Defender, and RFA Mounts Bay, together known as Littoral Response Group North – sailed nearly 50,000 miles and visited more than a dozen countries across three continents. Meanwhile, flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group completed flying operations in the North Sea.
Captain Marcus Hember, HMS Albion’s new commanding officer who took over from Captain Simon Kelly in Gibraltar earlier this week, said: “It is remarkable what the task group achieved in these busy months.
“It is a testament to the skill, hard work, and dedication of each sailor and Commando.
“The task group has visited more than a dozen countries, forging closer links with our allies and partners. I have no doubt that the ship’s company will continue to deliver to the end of this deployment and in the year ahead in 2023.”
The task group operated in the central and eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Adriatic, working in Spain, Libya, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt, Montenegro, Croatia, Malta, Tunisia, Greece, Algeria and Italy.
RFA Argus deployed with an air group of Merlin and Wildcat helicopters from Commando Helicopter Force’s 847 and 845 Naval Air Squadrons. They recently played a key role in boarding operations training alongside Royal Marines from 47 and 42 Commando and the Algerian Armed Forces.
Along the North African coast, HMS Albion became the first Royal Navy ship in eight years to visit Tripoli in Libya, before visiting Cyprus where Royal Marines of 45 Commando led amphibious operations alongside the British Army.
The task group then visited western Turkey to host members of NATO’s Land Command and carry out flying operations with the Turkish Air Force and naval exercises with their landing ships.
Returning to North Africa, HMS Albion was in Alexandria in Egypt to mark the 80th anniversary of the Second Battle of El Alamein in the Second World War.
Heading into the Adriatic Sea, the task group worked closely with NATO’s leading Mediterranean security task force, Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, and the US Navy Carrier USS George H. W. Bush before heading into Montenegro.
There, the task group moved on to Exercise Lion Strike with one of NATO’s newest members, Montenegro, which joined the strategic alliance in 2017.
Merlin and Wildcat helicopters from 845 and 847 Naval Air Squadrons, as well as Royal Marines from 45 Commando, worked with the Montenegrin Armed Forces on land, at sea and in the air.
Lion Strike culminated in HMS Albion hosting the country’s Prime Minister, Dritan Abazović, for a demonstration of boarding, and search-and-rescue operations.
Weapons Engineer Kieran Colville said: “Not only was the chance to share expertise with Montenegro’s armed forces a professional highlight of the deployment, but the country itself was simply stunning, and the people incredibly welcoming.”
Meanwhile, HMS Defender carried out four days of naval warfare exercises before heading to Split, Croatia, later working with Croatian warship Vukovar. Further defence engagement followed, with the task group visiting Valletta, Malta; Tunis, Tunisia; and Souda Bay in Crete.
In Greece, Type 45 Defender trained in air defence and carried out exercises in surface and electronic warfare with Greek frigate HS Elli after a port visit in Piraeus where she hosted dignitaries and held demonstrations on board.
In late November the task group carried out electronic warfare exercises with NATO allies and partners in the Gulf of Taranto, Italy, before a five-day stop in Civitavecchia to deepen defence relationships and allow some downtime for the ship’s company in Rome.
During their time in Italy, HMS Albion hosted and accompanied His Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Scotland, who performed at various locations across the Eternal City including The Colosseum and the British Ambassador’s residence.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also visited the ship during his visit to Italy to meet Italian counterpart Guido Crosetto.
(Source: Royal Navy)
09 Dec 22. PM announces new international coalition to develop the next generation of combat aircraft. The UK, Italy and Japan will join forces to develop the fighter jets of the future.
- The UK, Italy and Japan will join forces to develop the fighter jets of the future.
- By combining the expertise of our defence industries, the new international grouping aims to deliver a step change in our air power and defence capability.
- The programme is expected to create high-skilled jobs in the UK and in partner countries over the next decade and beyond.
The UK will work with Italy and Japan to adapt and respond to the security threats of the future, through an unprecedented international aerospace coalition announced by the Prime Minister today (Friday).
The Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) is a new partnership and ambitious endeavour between the UK, Japan and Italy to deliver the next generation of combat air fighter jets.
The Prime Minister will visit a UK RAF base today to launch the first major phase of the programme, which aims to harness the combined expertise and strength of our countries’ defence technology industries to push the boundaries of what has been achieved in aerospace engineering to date.
Due to take to the skies by 2035, the ambition is for this to be a next-generation jet enhanced by a network of capabilities such as uncrewed aircraft, advanced sensors, cutting-edge weapons and innovative data systems.
By combining forces with Italy and Japan on the next phase of the programme, the UK will utilise their expertise, share costs and ensure the RAF remains interoperable with our closest partners. The project is expected to create high-skilled jobs in all three countries, strengthening our industrial base and driving innovation with benefits beyond pure military use.
The Prime Minister said: “The security of the United Kingdom, both today and for future generations, will always be of paramount importance to this Government. That’s why we need to stay at the cutting-edge of advancements in defence technology – outpacing and out-manoeuvring those who seek to do us harm. The international partnership we have announced today with Italy and Japan aims to do just that, underlining that the security of the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions are indivisible. The next-generation of combat aircraft we design will protect us and our allies around the world by harnessing the strength of our world-beating defence industry – creating jobs while saving lives.”
It is anticipated that more likeminded countries may buy into GCAP in due course or collaborate on wider capabilities – boosting UK exports. The combat aircraft developed through GCAP is also expected to be compatible with other NATO partners’ fighter jets.
During a visit to RAF Coningsby today, the Prime Minister will view the Typhoon aircraft which have been at the heart of the UK’s air policing for two decades. The new combat aircraft designed by GCAP is expected to replace the Typhoon when it comes out of service. The Prime Minister will also meet Quick Reaction Alert Station engineers and pilots, who protect the UK’s skies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The UK, Italy and Japan will now work intensively to establish the core platform concept and set up the structures needed to deliver this massive defence project, ready to launch the development phase in 2025. Ahead of the development phase, partners will also agree the cost-sharing arrangements based on a joint assessment of costs and national budgets.
Alongside the development of the core future combat aircraft with Italy and Japan, the UK will assess our needs on any additional capabilities, for example weapons and Uncrewed Air Vehicles.
A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers last year, suggested the UK taking a core role in a combat air system could support an average of 21,000 jobs a year and contribute an estimated £26.2bn to the economy by 2050.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “This international partnership with Italy and Japan to create and design the next-generation of Combat Aircraft, represents the best collaboration of cutting edge defence technology and expertise shared across our nations, providing highly skilled jobs across the sector and long-term security for Britain and our allies.”
GCAP sits alongside our other defence cooperation with international allies, including the AUKUS partnership and NATO – to which the UK remains the leading European contributor.
The UK defence industry is already leading the world in advanced aerospace engineering. At BAE Systems’ new ‘factory of the future’ in Lancashire, for example, the company is pioneering the use of advanced 3D printing and autonomous robotics in military aircraft.
09 Dec 22. The UK’s sovereign industry partners, under Team Tempest, will support the significant endeavour announced today by the Governments of the UK, Japan and Italy, which will see the three nations build a truly international programme, with a shared ambition to develop a next generation fighter aircraft under a new Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP).
The joint announcement, highlights the close government, military and industrial links between the nations and reinforces the UK’s international commitment to future combat air. The programme will build on the substantial progress already made in the UK by BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK, Rolls-Royce and the UK Ministry of Defence who have been working in partnership since 2018 as Team Tempest to research, evaluate and develop a host of next generation future combat air systems capabilities.
The Prime Minister, said: “The security of the United Kingdom, both today and for future generations, will always be of paramount importance to this Government. That’s why we need to stay at the cutting-edge of advancements in defence technology – outpacing and out-manoeuvring those who seek to do us harm. The international partnership we have announced today with Italy and Japan aims to do just that, underlining that the security of the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions are indivisible. The next-generation of combat aircraft we design will protect us and our allies around the world by harnessing the strength of our world-beating defence industry – creating jobs while saving lives.”
Charles Woodburn, Chief Executive BAE Systems, said: “The launch of the Global Combat Air Programme firmly positions the UK, alongside Japan and Italy, as leaders in the design, development and production of next generation combat air capability. With our UK industry partners, we look forward to strengthening our ties with Japanese and Italian industries as we work together to deliver this programme of huge importance to our global defence and security. The agreement with Japan and Italy is fundamental to meeting the goals set out in the UK Combat Air Strategy and is set to create and sustain thousands of high value jobs and benefit hundreds of companies across the UK, contributing to long-term economic prosperity and safeguarding sovereign combat air capability for generations to come.”
Mark Hamilton, Managing Director Electronics UK, Leonardo, said: “The emergence of a single international programme, backed by three Governments, represents a major point of maturity for our shared combat air vision and a strong vote of confidence in the readiness of industry to deliver the programme. At Leonardo, we are privileged to be a core part of this endeavour. The future aircraft’s integrated sensing, non-kinetic effects and integrated communications (ISANKE & ICS) will be at the heart of the system’s capability, ensuring that our Armed Forces can effectively respond to the threats of the future. We look forward to working with our International colleagues to deliver this critical capability.”
Chris Allam, MBDA Executive Group Director Engineering and Managing Director UK, said: “Today’s announcement is a significant step in the internationalisation of the Combat Air System Programme which will drive a step change in future capability and help sustain and develop critical skills across the defence industry. MBDA was founded on the principle of nations working together to deliver sovereign capability, leveraging innovation and driving economic benefits. We have a proud history of collaboration with Italy and welcome the opportunity to strengthen our relationship with Japan. We will work with multi-national industrial partners to enable seamless integration, rapid evolution and effector networking to make any platform, any sensor, any effector a reality.”
Alex Zino, Executive Vice President, Business Development and Future Programmes, Rolls-Royce Defence, said: “We welcome today’s announcement and the positive momentum we are building with our partners in Japan and Italy towards developing power and propulsion technology for the next generation fighter aircraft. In December 2021, we announced a target to jointly design, build and test an engine demonstrator. This work is progressing well and on track to deliver. Today’s announcement reinforces the strong and longstanding relationships we value with both Italy and Japan, and I look forward to us deepening that collaboration through this programme.”
Enzo Benigni, Elettronica’s President and CEO, comments the announcement of the launch of the GCAP international program – Global Combat Air Programme “Starting from a relevant collaborative experience as co-design for the electronic warfare of the EFA Typhoon Fighter aircraft, Elettronica will bring to the GCAP (GLOBAL COMBAT AIR PROGRAMME) project a solid fundamental engineering and systems maturity in a context in which the challenge of electronic warfare is very complex and strategic. The GCAP program is destined to revolutionize the technological capabilities of the industries, the future of the electronic defence in Europe and the way in which military operational scenarios have been operated so far, where interoperability capabilities, network connectivity, information superiority will be enhanced in order to fuel a deep integration within the main platform and between various piloted and unmanned platforms. Specifically, the ISANKE & ICS (Integrated Sensing And Non Kinetic Effects & Integrated Communication System) domain will deal with these aspects, of which Elettronica will be the national champion in the EW, in the context of an international collaboration that also involves Leonardo and Mitsubishi Electronic Company, with the ambition of generating and preserving solid technological sovereignty”.
The UK’s combat air industry not only supports national defence and security, but the £6bn-a-year sector also delivers substantial economic and social value. The GCAP could secure or create thousands of UK jobs while keeping irreplaceable combat air engineering skills onshore for another generation. A report published last year by analysts at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) concluded that should the UK take a core role in a next generation fighter jet programme, it could expect to support an average of 21,000 jobs a year and contribution an estimated £26.2bn to the economy by 2050.
In the UK, around 2,500 people are already working on the programme as part of Team Tempest and wider industry. Beyond the Team Tempest partners, more than 580 organisations are already on contract across the UK, including 91 SMEs and 26 academic institutions. The Team Tempest partners have recruited more than 1,000 apprentices and graduates since the launch of the project in 2018, with young people nationwide inspired by the opportunity to be part of a once-in-a-generation combat air programme.
The UK industry partners have already generated strong working relationships with their counterparts in Italy and Japan, which will progress into the new joint development. These include IHI Corporation, Mitsubishi Electric and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan, and Avio Aero, Elettronica and Leonardo in Italy.
It is expected that GCAP will generate long-term technological, industrial and social benefits for the three partner countries and inspire the next generation of engineering talent.
About Team Tempest
Team Tempest comprises the expertise of the UK Ministry of Defence and world leading industry and sovereign capability providers: BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, Rolls-Royce and MBDA UK. Launched in 2018, alongside the UK’s Combat Air Strategy Team Tempest brings together future combat air capability in four key technology areas: advanced combat air systems and integration (BAE Systems); advanced power and propulsion systems (Rolls-Royce); Integrated sensors and non-kinetic effects & integrated communications systems (Leonardo UK); and advanced weapon systems (MBDA).
08 Dec 22. EU scrambles to channel hefty defense-spending boost into joint buys. The European Union is targeting a €70bn ($74m) increase in defense spending over the next three years, and rushing to promote more joint procurements among its members, officials said Dec. 8.
Russia’s war against Ukraine has forced Europe to face the return of conventional warfare on its continent, and with that, the impact of decades of underinvestment in its defense capabilities. Dwindling munitions stockpiles, in particular, have officials scrambling to rebuild those arms chests collectively.
But collaborative procurement efforts have so far failed to materialize at scale. At the European Defense Agency’s (EDA) annual conference, held Thursday in Brussels as well as virtually, stakeholders from the union’s civil and defense leadership parsed out what has made it so tough for EU members to effectively buy equipment together.
The EDA’s annual defense data report, released during the conference, had positive news to share. In 2021, the union spent €214bn (U.S. $225bn) on defense, a new high for the alliance, a 6% increase over 2020′s numbers, and the first time it surpassed €200 bn in spending.
Member states spent €52bn ($54.6bn) on procurement and research-and-development (R&D) efforts, also an all-time high at 24% of total defense investments, and 16% more than was spent on those areas in 2020. Of that amount, €3.6bn was specifically used for R&D programs. The report tracks defense spending for 26 of the EU’s 27 member nations, excluding Denmark.
EU foreign policy and defense chief Josep Borrell hailed these investments in his opening remarks at the conference, but set the bar even higher with a pledge from member nations to add €70bn ($73.6bn) to defense spending within the next three years. Acknowledging that this goalpost will prove to be a challenge, Borrell warned that focusing solely on national, present-term defense priorities and relying on off-the-shelf acquisitions will only extend the current “fragmented European Union capability landscape.”
Borrell also noted key areas of needed improvement for the union: joint procurement efforts remain lower than desired, and investment commitments are lopsided among members.
Joint purchases totaled about €8bn, and only 18% of all defense investments, in 2021. That’s up from the 11% share in 2020, but also far lower than the EDA’s “modest benchmark” of 35%, Borrell noted.
“When less than 20% of all investment in defense programs is conducted in cooperation, we have to say, it’s not a good way of spending European money,” he added.
Borrell and others at the conference called for member states to address short- and medium-term equipment needs by “buying more, and buying more together.” Ongoing support for delivering weapons and equipment to Ukraine also remained unequivocally supported by the conference’s panelists.
But the ministers and stakeholders present were also realistic about the challenges to joint EU procurement efforts. While the delays and struggles to launch high-profile projects such as the trinational Future Combat Air System (FCAS) have made headlines, even smaller projects launched under initiatives such as the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) have failed to get off the ground after years of planning.
The union has long suffered from expectation management for initiatives like PESCO, said Jan Jireš, the Czech Republic’s deputy minister for defense policy and strategy.
Member nations “have repeatedly made the mistake of hyping some initiative, and actually promoting it as a real game changer in defense security, and then inevitably, disappointment came,” Jireš said during a panel discussion at the conference.
He noted that member nations have flexibility in how they choose to cooperate on defense investments. For example, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have each committed to procuring new CV-90 infantry fighting vehicles from Sweden, with over 350 vehicles to be delivered collectively, Jireš said.
He emphasized that this would not be a “joint” procurement effort in the sense of tendering a single contract for the two nations. “But still, we have tried to coordinate, let’s say, our negotiations with the Swedish government, for example, in order to achieve economics of scale,” he noted.
“Collaborating in joint procurement and capability development can take many different forms, and the spectrum … is very broad,” he concluded.
Officials at the conference noted that the war in Ukraine has presented a window of opportunity for purchases to replace obsolete, Soviet-made equipment among EU member nations. That has, to an extent, already been taking place, as Germany this year established a “Ringtausch,” or “Ringswap,” equipment exchange program aimed at encouraging allies to send their Soviet-era equipment to Ukraine and receive NATO-compatible equipment in return.
More could be done to connect the European Union and NATO to help refill needed stockpiles and increase joint defense procurement, conference panelists also said.
NATO members specifically can take advantage of a key online tool to coordinate their investments, said Stacy Cummings, general manager of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA).
Cummings said she has presented alliance officials with the concept of “an online clearinghouse,” which would be based on the NATO Logistics Stock Exchange, an online marketplace. It would allow member-states to access existing contracts with industry, but also view each other’s excess stock, “so that nations can seamlessly offer stock, or other defense systems, to other participating nations,” she explained.
But there has long been “a sheer lack of information-sharing” between the EU and NATO, which isolates non-EU NATO members like the United States, Canada, and Norway, and hinders the union’s ability to share its defense investment efforts with those countries, Jireš, the Czech deputy defense minister, said.
As Prague wraps up its role as the EU Council presidency at the end of this month, Jireš claimed it was the first presidency that has consistently briefed non-EU NATO allies on European Union defense and security-related ambitions, plans, and proposals.
“I very much hope the upcoming presidencies will continue in this tradition,” he said, while acknowledging that the next EU Council president, Sweden, may not yet be a full member of NATO by the time it takes the helm in January. “So, that might be a challenge.”
(Source: Defense News)
07 Dec 22. U.S., U.K. Military Chiefs Discuss Ukraine, China.
The vicious Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, far from breaking the back of Ukrainian civilians, have increased resistance to Vladimir Putin’s invasion, senior U.S. and British military leaders said yesterday.
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Royal Navy Adm. Sir Tony Radakin, the United Kingdom’s chief of defense staff, said the Russian leader has continued to make calamitous mistakes in Russia’s war on Ukraine. The two men spoke during the Wall Street Journal’s Chief Executive Officer Council meeting in Washington, D.C.
The two men also discussed Chinese challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Russian war on Ukraine has now lasted 10 months and Putin has failed across the board, Milley said. The Ukrainians defeated the initial attack on Kyiv and then more than held their own in the battles in the eastern part of the nation. Ukrainian forces launched a counterattack in Kharkiv that drove the Russians back from the second-largest city in the country and then pushed the Russians out of the strategic city of Kherson, Milley said.
But Russia still occupies portions of Ukrainian territory, “and there’s still a significant amount of fighting to go.,” Milley said. “But right this minute the situation on the ground … is the lines are stabilizing and as winter rolls in, things will slow down a little bit as a result of the freezing cold. Then there’ll be some potential opportunity for offensive action by either side in the depth of the winter because of the weather and the terrain. So we’ll see what happens with respect to that.”
Right now, Russia is also attacking the civilian population of Ukraine launching waves of missiles into the country attacking the energy infrastructure of Ukraine. “That is an attack on the civilian population of Ukraine,” the chairman said. “The Ukrainian military … is not dependent upon that energy infrastructure for the conduct of the military operations.”
The missile attacks are attacks on civilians. “That’s just flat out unacceptable,” he said. “What they’re trying to do is break the back, break the will, of the Ukrainian people. What you’ll see is it’s not breaking the back but increasing the level of resilience and resistance on part of the Ukrainian people.”
Radakin said the Russian missile attacks are not effective in the least. “This is an existential conflict for Ukraine, … the brutality of this is fueling an even stronger resolve in the Ukrainian people,” he said. “You’re seeing that on a daily basis.”
The illegal attacks also strengthen the resolve of nations supporting Ukraine, the admiral said.
Neither Milley nor Radakin would put a timeline on the war in Ukraine, but both essentially said their nations would support Ukraine as long as it takes.
“Russia has made this catastrophic mistake,” Radakin said.
Not only has the attack galvanized Ukrainian resistance. But it has provoked “a phenomenal reaction” from nations around the world. “For those of us that are in Europe, we’ve got to pay tribute to the extraordinary support that America has provided, once again, to Europe,” the admiral said.
The two were asked if the Russian invasion of Ukraine would embolden China to possibly attack Taiwan. Radakin challenged the very premise of the question that the Russian invasion encouraged war. “The calamitous nature of the invasion by Russia into Ukraine, and the consequences that have flowed … doesn’t create a case that looks very attractive for other leaders,” he said. He noted that Russia is isolated diplomatically, and economically crippled. Their tactics and strategy have been exposed as flawed or incompetent. The war on Ukraine should act as a deterrent for other nations thinking along those lines, Radakin said.
Milley said that no one should underestimate the strength, power and expertise of the United States military. “It’s the number one military in the world, and it’s the most capable that combined arms maneuver,” the general said. “We’re one of the few militaries remaining in the world that can bring it all together in time and space and in all the domains of space, cyber, land, sea and air and undersea. We are very skilled and talented at doing all that. And, and no adversary should underestimate our capabilities.” (Source: US DoD)
08 Dec 22. German police set to make more arrests after coup plot thwarted.
- Police set for further arrests as probe coup plot
- Germans shocked by plan to overthrow government
- Judge orders first group of plotters to be detained
German authorities expect further arrests in the coming days as they investigate a far-right group that prosecutors say was preparing to overthrow the state and install a former member of a German royal family as national leader.
A former parliamentary lawmaker from the far-right Alternative For Germany (AfD) was also among those detained, according to German prosecutors.
“Based on my experience, there is usually a second wave of arrests,” Georg Maier, the interior minister of the eastern German state of Thuringia, told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Thursday.
The leader of the alleged plot and their would-be regent is a minor aristocrat called Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, a descendant of the royal House of Reuss in Thuringia. Aged 71, he has been working as a real estate developer.
Neither the House of Reuss nor Prince Reuss’ office responded to requests for comment.
Twenty-five suspected members and supporters of the group were detained on Wednesday in raids involving some 3,000 security personnel that Maier described as unprecedented in modern German history.
Although right-wing groups have been on the rise in Germany, the discovery of the alleged plot came as a shock in one of Europe’s most stable democracies and largest economy.
“It’s not really comprehensible: you hear about such plans from other countries but for this to happen outside my front door?” said Melanie Merle, who lives close to the apartment in the financial capital Frankfurt where Prince Reuss was arrested.
“The government we have is not ideal but probably better than what they had planned,” she laughed.
Prosecutors said the group was inspired by the deep state conspiracy theories of Germany’s Reichsbuerger and QAnon, whose advocates were among those arrested after the storming of the U.S. Capitol in January 2021.
Members of the Reichsbuerger (Citizens of the Reich) do not recognise modern-day Germany and its borders as a legitimate state. Some are devoted to the old German “Reich” (empire) under a monarchy, with some also sharing Nazi ideas and believing Germany is under military occupation.
REMANDED IN CUSTODY
Nineteen of the alleged plotters were remanded in custody on Wednesday, while another six were expected to go before a judge on Thursday, prosecutors said.
Holger Muench, head of the federal police office, told broadcaster ARD on Thursday that the number of suspects in the case now stood at 54, and that that figure could rise further.
Police in their raids on Wednesday found equipment ranging from protective vests to crossbows, rifles and ammunition, Muench said, as well as plans to build up a “homeland protection command” and evidence of recruitment.
“We have a dangerous mixture of people who are following irrational convictions, some with a lot of money, others in possession of weapons and a plan to launch attacks and expand their structures,” Muench said.
Thuringia minister Maier singled out the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which is in the state parliament, for becoming an interface for right-wing extremists and spreading what he called fantasies about toppling the state.
“People are scared, and the AfD takes advantage of that and offers simple solutions,” said Maier, who is from Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party.
The AfD had in a statement on Wednesday condemned the far-right group’s efforts and expressed confidence in the authorities’ ability to bring clarity to the situation quickly and completely. (Source: Reuters)
07 Dec 22. Germany: Nationwide anti-terrorist operation highlights threat posed by far-right groups. Earlier on 7 December, the security forces arrested at least 25 alleged members of a far-right terrorist group suspected of plotting an armed coup. Preliminary reports indicate that the suspects are linked to the Reichsbürger (‘Citizens of the Reich’) movement which rejects the legitimacy of the modern German state. The movement is connected to numerous other far-right and conspiracy outfits. According to media reports, many of the suspects are former soldiers; at least one is reportedly a current member of the Bundeswehr’s Special Forces Command (KSK). The suspected involvement of military personnel in the network will exacerbate pre-existing concerns about the penetration of security structures by far-right elements. Although the government has prioritised tackling far-right extremism, the issue is highly likely to persist. (Source: Sibylline)
07 Dec 22. Kosovo: Explosions, gunshots underscore persistent ethno-religious tensions in northern Kosovo. On 6 December, explosions and gunshots were heard in two towns in northern Kosovo, an area inhabited mostly by an ethnic Serb minority. The Kosovar police said that no injuries or deaths were reported. While details remain unclear, Kosovo’s government blamed the incidents on pro-Serbia criminals; Belgrade claimed the explosions and gunshots took place amid a confrontation between the Kosovar police and ethnic Serbs. The incidents come after Serbia and Kosovo reached an agreement last month regarding licence plate registration. Following the agreement, most ethnic Serb public officials, including the police, resigned from their positions in northern Kosovo. While the agreement was a positive development towards reducing tensions between the two countries, ethno-religious issues will remain elevated in the short to long term, especially in northern Kosovo. (Source: Sibylline)
07 Dec 22. New plans to strengthen tech ties between UK and Japan.
UK and Japan to collaborate on joint digital priorities including supply chain resilience, cyber security and data. Today the UK and Japan have unveiled details of a new digital partnership to turbocharge their joint working in an era of increasing global competition on tech and data.
The UK and Japan are modern tech powerhouses, with combined IT sectors worth more than £406 bn. The newly launched partnership will develop the unique strengths of both countries and deliver on the UK’s ambition, set out in this year’s Digital Strategy, to increase international collaboration on complex tech issues.
The partnership will structure engagement between the UK and Japanese governments on a range of digital issues, including how to improve the resilience of globally significant supply chains such as semiconductors and telecommunications. The countries will develop joint research and development initiatives to share expertise about these vital technologies.
The UK and Japan will strengthen foundations for trade and investment between their tech economies and make it easier for businesses to operate in both countries by aligning approaches to digital regulation.
Improving cyber resilience is a priority for the partnership, which will see the UK and Japan promote initiatives to standardise the security of internet-connected products and apps and address the risks of digital services in supply chains.
Collaboration between the UK’s data regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and Japanese regulators will be supported through the partnership to give businesses and citizens greater certainty about the security of data sharing between both countries.
At the centre of the partnership will be the UK-Japan Digital Council, an annual meeting between ministers from the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Digital Agency to drive forward new priorities.
UK Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “The UK’s relationship with Japan has grown from strength to strength in recent years based on a foundation of shared goals and values. Our thriving tech sectors are another opportunity for us to work together to benefit citizens and businesses across both countries. I look forward to deepening our relationship through the UK-Japan Digital Partnership in the future.”
Both governments will use international settings such as Japan’s G7 Presidency and the G20 to tackle shared goals and challenges with other global partners.
This new partnership further delivers on the UK’s goal, set out in the Integrated Review, to become the European nation with the broadest presence in the Indo-Pacific region which is increasingly critical as global tech competition and international assertiveness intensifies.
06 Dec 22. Nato commander responsible for deployment of troops says ‘we don’t have time.’ A senior Nato commander who is responsible for the rapid deployment of troops and equipment anywhere in Europe has warned, Nato allies need to sit down together as they “don’t have time”.
German Lieutenant General Alexander Sollfrank, who is the senior commander of Nato’s Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC) – based in Ulm, southern Germany. The JSEC’s role is to co-ordinate the reinforcement of troops and supplies from across the alliance and sustain military forces in the entire Euro-Atlantic area. (Source: forces.net)
05 Dec 22. Estonia buys HIMARS, as eastern allies boost artillery arsenals. Estonia has signed a contract with the United States to purchase six M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS launchers, joining a rapidly expanding group of Eastern European allies who eye the weapons in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2024, initiating what Tallinn calls “Estonia’s largest ever arms procurement project,” the Estonian Centre for Defence Investments (ECDI) said in a statement. The deal, signed between the ECDI and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), is worth more than $200m.
“As part of the contract, in addition to the weapon system, Estonia will also procure ammunition, communications solutions, as well as training, logistics, and life-cycle solutions. The package includes rockets with different effects, ranging from 70 to 300 kilometers,” said Ramil Lipp, the Armament Category Manager at the ECDI.
HIMARS is a long-range, mobile rocket launcher produced by American defense company Lockheed Martin. Ukraine’s use of the U.S.-supplied systems to fight against Russia’s invasion of its territory has encouraged a number of NATO’s Eastern European members to purchase the weapons.
Among others, while Poland is awaiting the delivery of the 20 launchers the nation ordered in 2019, it is already planning to place a second HIMARS order. Last May, Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak signed a letter of request to buy as many as 500 launchers. However, Poland’s subsequent purchase of some 288 K239 Chunmoo multiple-rocket launchers signals the country’s government understands it will unable to acquire as many U.S. systems as it initially planned.
Meanwhile, in addition to Estonia, other Eastern flank allies who aim to purchase HIMARS include the remaining two Baltic States, Lithuania and Latvia.
Last month, the U.S. State Department approved a potential foreign military sale of eight HIMARS launchers with related gear to Lithuania under a deal estimated to be worth $495m. In July 2022, the Latvian Ministry of Defence said it had sent a letter of request to purchase an undisclosed number of launchers from the United States. (Source: Defense News)
05 Dec 22. New UK investigative unit launched to handle serious criminal offences across defence. A new, tri-service and independent body has been launched to investigate criminal offences within the Armed Forces, including rape and sexual assault, the Defence Secretary has announced.
The Defence Serious Crime Command (DSCC) and Defence Serious Crime Unit (DSCU) has the jurisdiction to investigate the most serious crimes alleged to have been committed by persons subject to service law in both the UK and overseas.
The unit, based in Southwick Park, replaces the existing Special Investigation Branches (SIB) and in its place forms an independent crime capability for Defence as part of its commitment to reforming the Service Justice System (SJS). This includes implementing the recommended changes to improve the experience for victims, who will be at the heart of the investigative process.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “This Unit is a step change to improving the quality and capability of the Armed Forces to investigate serious crimes. Fully independent, it will create a critical mass of experience and personnel to ensure our investigations are thorough, high quality and timely.”
Lieutenant General James Swift, Chief of Defence People said: “All members of the Armed Forces should have the confidence to report a crime and know that it will be fully investigated. The Defence Serious Crime Unit becoming operational today will be completely independent of the Chain of Command. This will give our Service men and women reassurance that their concerns will be taken seriously, investigated independently and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Colonel Mark John, Provost Marshal (Serious Crime) said: “This marks a significant improvement for Defence Policing and an opportunity we have seized. We have taken onboard key learnings, best practice and insight from civilian police forces to ensure that victims are central to the investigation. We will continue to work closely with a wide array of partners to maximise the effectiveness of this unit.
The new unit will deliver a more effective policing service staffed by officers trained to the same standard as their civilian counterparts.”
All DSCU investigators will be sexual offences investigator trained as standard; special investigators will be sent on the Sexual Offences Liaison Officers courses delivered by the College of Policing, as well as to the Family Liaison Officers Course, the Senior Investigating Officers Course and the Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) interview course.
The unit operates as part of the DSCC which was established in April this year and will also see a new Victim and Witness Care Unit (VWCU) being set up. This will ensure victim care is central to every stage of the investigative and judicial process. This has been done in consultation with specialist external organisations, such as the Survivors Trust and the office of the Victims Commissioner and is expected to be fully operational in early 2023.
The DSCU is further proof that the SJS is fit for purpose, as recognised in the judge led ‘Henriques Review’ in 2020. The SJS will continue to support and provide justice for our personnel wherever they are in the world, which isn’t possible in the civilian justice system. All of this has been implemented alongside work to raise awareness of sexual offending, reporting mechanisms and implications to ensure that service personnel know that they will be believed and that we will act upon any allegation of an offence. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
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