Sponsored by Exensor
04 Jun 20. Trump orders Pentagon to remove thousands of troops from Germany: report. President Trump has directed the Department of Defense to send 9,500 troops home from Germany, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, which would bring the total stationed there down to 25,000.
A defense official told the Journal the plan, which was ordered by national security adviser Robert O’Brien, has been underway since September and is not related to rising tensions between Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, who also served as Trump’s ambassador to Germany, has advocated for the reduction of troops in Germany and pushed for Berlin to spend more on its own defense.
When asked, National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot did not confirm the move to The Hill, but said Trump “continually reassesses the best posture for the United States military forces and our presence overseas.”
“The United States remains committed to working with our strong ally Germany to ensure our mutual defense, as well as on many other important issues,” Ullyot said.
The Hill has reached out to the Department of Defense and the White House for further comment.
The Journal noted under current conditions, there can be up to 52,000 U.S. troops in Germany at a time as units rotate in and out or take part in training exercises.
The troop reduction will reportedly take place by September.
Trump has pushed for fewer U.S. service members to be deployed overseas, including in Afghanistan, the site of America’s longest military conflict. (Source: News Now/The Hill)
05 Jun 20. USAF Conducts Large Force Exercise Amid COVID-19. U.S. Air Force F-15s assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England; F-16s assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy; F-16s assigned to the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; KC-135s assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England and NATO Airborne Warning And Control System aircraft from Geilenkirchen Air Base, Germany, participated in a large force exercise in the United Kingdom’s North Sea airspace.
Exercises of this nature are not new for the units assigned to U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, but with the COVID-19 crisis, participating units have identified a way to integrate multiple assets and ensure combat readiness for the collective defense of the NATO alliance.
During the large force exercise, aircrews conducted dissimilar air combat training to enhance combat readiness and increase tactical proficiency needed to maintain a ready and capable combat force. The purpose of the exercise was to continue high-end training with U.S. Air Forces in Europe and NATO partners to counter near-peer threats in the area of responsibility, according to Air Force Capt. Nathan Hartoin, a pilot with the 493rd Fighter Squadron and the chief of weapons for the 48th Fighter Wing.
“Large force exercises allow us to validate and enforce important tactics that are tested at many of the major exercises that occur around Europe and the United States,” he said. “The North Sea airspace allows fourth-to-fourth-generation fighter integration on a large scale and is one of the best around for simulated air-to-air engagements.”
Hartoin said the planning process for such an exercise is complex and begins when commanders determine the need for a training event. Once interest in an exercise is established, a date is set based on tanker
After projecting a date, exercise planners focus on the finer points, such as the exercise scenario, fuel requests and the exercise timeline, he said.
“The aerial refueling provided by the 100th Air Refueling Wing was vital in showing the capability to execute long range Defensive Counter Air,” Hartoin said. “With this in mind, the tanker plan was the primary detail that was constantly adapted all the way through execution.
For this exercise, each unit was given specific tasks to complete, and the 48th Fighter Wing coordinated the effort. (Source: US DoD)
04 Jun 20. Huawei 5G could block US F-35 deployments to UK: US Senator Tom Cotton. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton has warned that the UK’s decision to allow Huawei to build aspects of its 5G network could block future deployments of American F-35s.
Cotton made the comments while giving evidence to Parliament’s Defence Select Committee during a hearing discussing the security of 5G. During the debate, the topic of how allowing Huawei into the 5G network could hamper relationships across the Atlantic was addressed.
Cotton warned that the deployment of Huawei 5G technology could allow hackers from the People’s Liberation Army to track the movements of parts used for the F-35.
He said: “I fear China is trying to drive a high-tech wedge between us [the US and UK] with Huawei.”
During the hearing, the Senator said that as the US pivots its focus to meeting the challenge posed by China in the Pacific, keeping US forces in the UK was already becoming a point of debate. He added that the UK’s decision to allow Huawei to build aspects of the UK’s 5G network added to the risks of deploying forces here.
Cotton compared using Chinese 5G equipment to allowing Russia to build NATO submarines during the cold war. Cotton said it: “would be as if we had relied on adversarial nations in the cold war to build our submarines, or to build our tanks. It’s just not something that we would have ever considered.”
In January, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that Huawei would be allowed to build non-core sections of the UK’s 5G network. The amount of Huawei equipment that can be installed on the network is capped at 35%.
Cotton has been a vocal critic of Huawei and China, and in the past has condemned the UK decision to use Huawei equipment. After Johnson announced his decision in January Cotton said: “This decision is deeply disappointing for American supporters of the Special Relationship. I fear London has freed itself from Brussels only to cede sovereignty to Beijing. Allowing Huawei to build the UK’s 5G networks today is like allowing the KGB to build its telephone network during the Cold War.
“The Chinese Communist Party will now have a foothold to conduct pervasive espionage on British society and has increased economic and political leverage over the United Kingdom. The short-term savings aren’t worth the long-term costs. In light of this decision, the US Director of National Intelligence should conduct a thorough review of US-UK intelligence-sharing.”
Cotton told the committee that he was not speaking on behalf of the US Government but that the views he was expressing were shared by several people in Washington DC.
The comments follow after Cotton backed an amendment to the 2021 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) that would block the deployment of US F-35s to any country that utilises 5G equipment built by the Chinese telecoms provider.
The US Air Force operates out of several bases owned by the Royal Air Force and routinely deploys fighter jets and strategic bombers to the UK to maintain an aerial presence in Europe. At present, the US is set to deploy F-35 fighters to the UK next year.
Responding to the comments Huawei VP Victor Zhang said: “The committee concentrated on America’s desire for a home-grown 5G company that can ‘match’ or ‘beat’ Huawei. It’s clear its market position, rather than security concerns, underpins America’s attack on Huawei as the committee was given no evidence to substantiate security allegations. We welcome open and fair competition as it fosters innovation and drives down costs for everyone.
“Over the last 20 years, we have worked hard with our customers and partners for building Britain’s robust and secure 3G and 4G networks and we are now focused on delivering the 5G network to the same high standards. This is fundamental to achieving the government’s Gigabit broadband target by 2025.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
04 Jun 20. Labour urges ban on riot control gear exports. The Labour Party is urging the UK Government to ban the export of non-lethal riot control weapons exports to the US in light of the response to ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd.
In a letter, Labour Shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry said that ‘it would be a disgrace for the UK’ to supply the Trump administration with types of equipment being used to suppress protests taking place across the US.
Last year, the UK’s Department of International Trade licensed the export of tear gas, riot shields, and anti-riot munitions, including rubber bullets, to the US. Police in the US have come under intense criticism for their heavy-handed response to the protests, which have also seen the National Guard and active-duty military personnel deployed.
In one video circulated on social media a US National Guard medevac helicopter was used reportedly to threaten protestors prompting the Secretary of Defence Mark Esper to order an inquiry as to why the helicopter was flying so low above protestors.
Under UK export rules, the government cannot approve the export of goods that might be used for internal oppression, such as to quell peaceful protests.
In her letter, Thornberry wrote: “At a time when Donald Trump is gearing up to use the US military to crush the legitimate protests taking place across America over the murder of Black civilians, it would be a disgrace for the UK to supply him with the arms and equipment he will use to do so.
“If this were any other leader, in any other country in the world, the suspension of any such exports is the least we could expect from the British government in response to their actions, and our historic alliance with the United States is no reason to shirk that responsibility now.”
Thornberry’s letter asked the government to “a. Publish a comprehensive list of all current export licences to the USA of riot control projectiles and equipment, along with all available end-user data to clarify who has purchased these items and for what declared purpose within the last five years; and
“b. Suspend all existing licences and halt the issue of any new licences for the export of riot control projectiles and equipment to the United States until you have determined whether any of these items are being used in response to the ongoing protests, or risk being used in the coming days if the US military is deployed as part of that response.”
Thornberry’s letter added: “Indeed, because our alliance is above all based on the values we share with the American people, that is all the more reason why we must not supply arms and equipment that Donald Trump is willing to use to attack his own people, in total contravention of those values.
“The British public deserve to know how arms exported by this country are being used across the world, and the American public deserves the right to protest peacefully without the threat of violent repression.”
Responding to a question in Parliament on the export of riot-control equipment, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “All exports are conducted in accordance with a consolidated guidance and the UK is possibly the most scrupulous country in that respect in the world.”
Tear Gas and the Geneva Protocols
A highly visible response to the protests has been US police forces use of tear gas to disperse protestors. Tear gas is a chemical weapon that targets the eyes, nose and mouth causing eye irritation and respiratory pain and in some cases has been known to leave its victims blind.
Despite being commonly used by police forces to disperse protestors, the weapon is banned internationally for use in warfare under the Geneva Protocols which prohibit the use of “asphyxiating gas, or any other kind of gas, liquids, substances or similar materials” in conflict.
Commenting on the effects of tear gas experienced during training, a former US Marine said: “My eyes burned, my face burned, but I could breathe. Drill instructor made everyone stand up straight, heads up and take a deep breath. Lungs on fire, eyes ears, nose, everything was on fire. The door opened and we had to walk out in single file. I could barely see as my eyes were barely open. The sunlight hurt almost as much as the gas. Coughing and gasping for air I stumbled out onto the grass. I poured my canteen of water into my eyes and all over my face. My sinus cavity had drained entirely, with long massive trails of snot down to the ground. Slowly the stinging subsided and I was able to breathe a bit better. I laid back in the grass with a fresh canteen to drink and continued to rinse the gas off of me as it seemed to be in every fibre of the fabric.
“Feeling better, I got up to watch the next group go in and laugh at them when they came out. Tear gas is chemical warfare. Don’t think otherwise, and don’t let someone tell you it only makes you cry.” (Source: army-technology.com)
02 Jun 20. Eurosatory cancelled: The defence industry reacts to a season without events. France’s Eurosatory has been cancelled, along with most other defence events and military exercises, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Berenice Baker finds out how organisers, exhibitors and attendees are mitigating the impact of event cancellations. The Covid-19 outbreak had already established a deadly foothold in France before the World Health Organisation declared it a pandemic on 11 March. When on 17 March Prime Minister Édouard Philippe banned public gatherings of 100 people or more, the writing was on the wall for Eurosatory.
Cancellations of the 2020 Farnborough Air Show and the Royal International Air Tattoo in the UK were announced on 20 March, despite there still being some speculation that it would all blow over by summer. Due to open its doors to defence industry experts from 8 to 12 June, Eurosatory was the last to blink, finally confirming cancellation on 28 March.
Organiser GICAT (the French Land and Airland Defence and Security Association) and its defence events subsidiary COGES said on the Eurosatory website: “The conditions for preparing and running the exhibition, which would protect the health and safety of the 100,000 expected participants, visitors, exhibitors and organisers, cannot be met.
“Many international and French exhibitors registered for the Eurosatory trade fair scheduled from June 8 to 12, 2020 are no longer able to prepare their participation and configure or transport the necessary equipment. It also appears that the very large number of foreign visitors expected to participate in the fair can no longer plan their trip to France.”
Running since 1967, the biennial event usually takes place in Paris’s vast Parc des expositions de Paris-Nord Villepinte and alternates with London’s DSEI. In 2018 it attracted 1,802 exhibitors from 63 countries and over 98,700 attendees from 153 countries.
The knock-on effect of defence event cancellations
The coronavirus pandemic has already caused factory closures, military exercise cancellations and a dip in orders, which, combined with the decimation of the 2020 events season, will likely impact the entire supply chain. Defence primes are taking a big hit, but are still fulfilling multi-million-dollar contracts and remain largely optimistic.
A Lockheed Martin spokesperson said: “Eurosatory is a great event that brings together some of the most compelling thought leaders in defence and security. We look forward to participating in a future conference.”
“Most events don’t cancel until as late in the day as possible; the chance of getting funds back quickly or at all are very slim.”
However, small and medium-sized businesses in the supply chain will be hit much harder.
A spokesperson for one told us anonymously: “It’s all a bit ‘brave new world’ at the moment, and we’re trying to find our feet. The trouble is, most events don’t cancel until as late in the day as possible; the chance of getting funds back quickly or at all are very slim. There is no additional budget for advertising which means no additional channels to promote outside of the agreed plan. It’s a catch-22.”
Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the UK Ministry of Defence’s trading entity, is a regular presence at Eurosatory and other defence trade fairs, as part of its role to provide equipment and services for the British Armed Forces.
A spokesperson for DE&S said: “DE&S understands the decisions to cancel upcoming external events due to the Covid-19 pandemic and will monitor the ongoing situation alongside Her Majesty’s Government guidance. The organisation continues to engage with our international and national industry partners and armed forces customers going forward.”
Organiser Clarion is optimistic about DSEI going ahead in 2021 and is planning virtual conferences in the meantime.
Cautious optimism for DSEI and other 2021 events
While it is too early to speculate about the fate of events scheduled for later in 2020, event participants are cautiously optimistic about a return to a degree of normality next year.
Clarion Defence and Security organises Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEI), which takes place at the ExCel Centre in London’s docklands – currently converted into an NHS Nightingale hospital for treating coronavirus patients – on alternate years to Eurosatory.
Clarion group managing director Tim Porter says: “The decision to postpone or cancel a major event is never taken lightly, but in this unprecedented situation when there is sometimes no alternative option, the immediate focus is on communicating with and supporting our customers and attendees as best we can.
“No tradeshow exists in isolation, and one of the strengths of the defence industry is its breadth and depth, which all of the main global shows have a role in supporting. It is important for the overall health of this industry that all the events in the two-year cycle are successful for their exhibitors and visitors, and therefore we are doing everything we can in supporting industry through this difficult time so that we can all get back to ‘business as usual’ as soon as possible.”
“No tradeshow exists in isolation, and one of the strengths of the defence industry is its breadth and depth, which all of the main global shows have a role in supporting.”
Porter says that Clarion has already rescheduled several of its defence events to take place later in the year, including Counter Terror Expo, IT²EC, UDT and Electronic Warfare Europe, and it is preparing for the EDEX biennial tri-service event in Egypt in December.
“This work is always undertaken with the support of both government and industry stakeholders, as well as the speaker community, but as always the health and safety of our participants remains our top priority in all of our forward planning,” he says.
Porter explains that supporting exhibitors is an important part of developing trust with the defence community and is part of the obligation of organisers. “Events are created in partnership with exhibitors, so when something unplanned occurs, the most important thing is that we communicate in a clear and transparent way,” he says. “We are conscious that all of our customers are operating in an exceptionally challenging environment, and are juggling multiple commitments so the sooner we can present a clear plan of action for everyone involved in our events, the easier this is for everyone.”
Promoting business: alternatives to events
Tradeshows are a vital medium for brand marketing and driving business development, but Porter says that while that option isn’t available there are alternative ways to promote company messaging.
“We would encourage our exhibitor community to stay engaged with the industry as much as possible,” he says. “We are also exploring options for a series of virtual conference events over the summer to maintain engagement and help our audience plan ahead for those events that have been rescheduled.
“The current circumstances have highlighted how important events are to the global drumbeat of the industry and how keenly their temporary absence has been felt. That same sentiment will, in turn, drive renewed enthusiasm for the next show cycle. While significant advancements have been made in virtual technology, there is no replacement for seeing equipment first-hand and engaging with partners, customers and suppliers in person.”
“We are also exploring options for a series of virtual conference events over the summer to maintain engagement.”
The defence industry and global militaries may have been back-footed by the coronavirus pandemic but they have been among the first to step forward to contribute to the fight against it.
“Stepping outside of the tradeshow world for a moment, the unfolding situation has also demonstrated to us all the vital and varied role that armed forces play in protecting and supporting civilian populations in times of crisis,” says Porter.
“It has also shown the innovative capability of a great number of high-tech manufacturing and aerospace companies, many of them DSEI exhibitors, that have collectively worked at a remarkable pace to build up engineering capacity and support national healthcare efforts.” (Source: army-technology.com)
03 Jun 20. Naval sales buoy French arms exports in new tally. France remained in the world’s top five defense exporters in 2019 with €8.3bn ($9.3bn) worth of contracts signed, notably with European partners Belgium, the Netherlands, Hungary and Spain, according to a defense ministry report published this week.
Half of these contracts were in the naval sector, a very sharp rise from the average 10 percent this sector represented in the past. The contract to replace the mine-hunters for the navies of Belgium and the Netherlands, a program piloted by Belgium on behalf of the two nations, accounted for more than 40 percent of naval sector sales.
These sales also partially explain the very sharp rise in 2019 of exports to EU member states: 42 percent of the total, a figure that rises to almost 45 percent if one includes European non-EU members, compared to 25 percent in 2018 and an average 10-15 percent in previous years. The next major export client was the United Arab Emirates (with the Gowind corvette contract) but the 30 percent share of exports in the Africa/Middle East zone was 20 points down compared to 2018 but also compared to the average of the past decade.
The report notes that France’s exports are, above all, aimed at preserving its own security by establishing bilateral cooperations with European countries and strengthening transatlantic ties. The bilateral cooperations are high-level, long-term, intergovernmental agreements and exports to help the partner nations strengthen and adapt their military capacity. The sale of 16 H225M helicopters and 20 H145M helicopters to Hungary, of two telecommunication satellites to Spain and of the mine-hunters to Belgium and the Netherlands illustrate this philosophy.
These exports are on par with those of the past decade “and were obtained in a particularly competitive context with the confirmation of U.S. supremacy and the emergence of new major exporters (notably China).” The parliamentary report also notes that Russia “occupies a very strong position on markets with limited financial resources […] notably to conquer clients outside its traditional sphere of influence. Over the past few years, Russia has strengthened its position on the Asian markets, in the Middle-East and in north Africa.”
There were 4,634 export licenses delivered in 2019, either for transfer of equipment (within the European Union) or for export (to all non-EU countries). But each license does not necessarily mean that an export took place, they merely give the framework for the authorization and establish the conditions for the export. Twenty-five license requests were turned down and some 110 were withdrawn by the applicant. (Source: Defense News)
03 Jun 20. British troops ‘unlikely’ to be prosecuted over Iraq abuse claims. Defence chiefs should apologise to soldiers for failing to “stand behind their own” against thousands of false war crimes allegations, a leading lawyer said, as it was announced that further prosecutions were unlikely.
Andrew Cayley, QC, director of the Service Prosecuting Authority, said that an independent investigation into thousands of allegations from the invasion of Iraq in 2003 would probably produce no prosecutions.
He told the BBC that the “low level” of offending and lack of credible evidence had led most cases to be dismissed. Only one remains outstanding, while more than a thousand war crime accusations tabled against troops in the Middle East have been dismissed.
Hilary Meredith, a solicitor who specialises in acting for current and former military personnel, blamed the Ministry of Defence for not protecting soldiers from a stream of false claims.
Phil Shiner, a former solicitor, made more than 1,000 claims involving the British military after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He was struck off in 2017 after being found guilty of misconduct and dishonesty relating to false abuse claims against British troops.
Ms Meredith accused Mr Shiner of instructing agents to distribute thousands of questionnaires in Iraq and then embellishing the responses when they were translated into English.
In principle, the troops affected by the false allegations could sue both Mr Shiner for making fraudulent claims and the government for failing to maintain a duty of care, she said, although she pointed out that bringing proceedings would be prohibitively expensive.
“What is needed at the very least, however,” Ms Meredith said, “is an apology from the Ministry of Defence that recognises that it did not stand behind their own.”
She added: “At long last, this witch-hunt is coming to an end. Thousands of lives have been ruined.”
She blamed the Iraq historic allegations team (IHAT), which investigated alleged war crimes committed by British troops during the occupation of Iraq, and Operation Northmoor, which investigated alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, for having “hounded hundreds of innocent troops over vile war crime slurs”. Both were closed down in 2017.
Ms Meredith said: “IHAT’s closure also came at a price — not only the cost to the taxpayer but the shattered lives, careers, marriages and health of those falsely accused over many years. I am now calling for a meaningful, public apology.”
Mr Cayley said it was “quite possible” that not a single accusation involving British personnel in Iraq would ultimately result in prosecution. He also expressed confidence that no action would be taken in a separate International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into alleged abuses by British soldiers.
In 2014 Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor at the ICC in the Hague, reopened a preliminary examination of cases involving alleged British abuses in Iraq.
Mr Cayley said: “My sense is these matters are coming to a conclusion; [Ms Bensouda] will close the preliminary examination this year in respect of Iraq and the United Kingdom.”
Johnny Mercer, the defence minister, said that legislation aimed to prevent future “lawfare” scandals. The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill contains a “triple lock” of measures to curb vexatious claims. These include a statutory presumption against criminal prosecution once five years have elapsed after an alleged crime on overseas operations.
The legislation has proven controversial. Dominic Grieve, QC, the former attorney-general and MP, has argued that trying to impose a time limit will damage Britain’s international reputation for upholding the Geneva Convention. (Source: The Times)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Home land Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company