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12 Jun 20. Enhancing Australian ties with the UK. Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has revealed the details of a conversation between her British counterpart, Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin, and the efforts to maximise collaboration in the face of COVID-19 and the shared defence programs.
The relationship between Australia and the UK is the very definition of a ‘special relationship’ – Australia’s first strategic benefactor has recently taken a renewed focus on the Indo-Pacific to support the broader global ‘rules based order’ in the face of growing instability in the US and challenges from potential peer competitors in China and Russia.
This relationship has seen Australian and British forces fight side-by-side in virtually ever major conflict of the 20th century – beginning in the Middle East and southern Europe, through to combating the threats of communism during the early years of the Cold War.
The Australia-UK relationship has also proved critical to the development of Australia’s defence capability throughout the years, with key technologies and platforms operated by both nations forming a critical part of the Commonwealth’s unified defence capability.
To this end, Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has shed light on the details of a timely conversation between herself and UK Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin.
“Last night I spoke with my United Kingdom counterpart, Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin MP, about the importance of working with key partners during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minister Price said.
“I spoke with pride about Australia’s defence sector working extremely hard to keep their businesses operating safely throughout COVID-19.”
Expanding on this, Minister Price added, “We also discussed the Hunter Class Frigate Program – the largest defence acquisition Australia has undertaken in partnership with the UK.
“I reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to this program and emphasised the opportunities for our two countries to continue to work together on our frigate programs.”
Minister Price explained an ongoing conversation regarding increased access for Australian defence industry exports to the UK, with particular focus on success stories like the Thales Australia designed and manufactured Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle.
“The conversation was a great opportunity to discuss the support available to Australian industry to export, particularly to markets like the UK. I emphasised the world-leading capability offered by the Bushmaster and asked Minister Quin to keep me updated on the UK’s Multi-Role Vehicle-Protected Program,” Minister Price explained.
This collaboration paves the way for further collaboration on key programs, like the Royal Air Force’s planned acquisition of Boeing E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to replace the Cold War-era E-3 Sentry.
Minister Price added, “We are both looking forward to further discussions when we reconvene the Australia-UK Defence industry Dialogue later this year.” (Source: Defence Connect)
10 Jun 20. UK’s operational F-35 jets mark first landing on HMS Queen Elizabeth. The decks of HMS Queen Elizabeth are roaring with the sound of F-35 Lightning jets as the famous Dambusters squadron landed on the aircraft carrier for the first time today.
Pilots, engineers, cyberspace and mission support staff from 617 Squadron, the UK’s operational strike squadron, embarked the carrier over the weekend during a quick stop in Portsmouth for supplies before the aircraft themselves landed on board this afternoon.
It marks the first time 617 Squadron – famously known as the Dambusters – has fully joined HMS Queen Elizabeth as the UK prepares to deploy the next generation squadron of fighter aircraft to operate from the sea.
The F-35 jets that landed on board today will be the same aircraft that will sail next year with the ship for her maiden Global Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment.
Commander Mark Sparrow, the Commanding Officer of 617 Squadron, said: “We are excited to be on board the carrier and we have been training hard to be here.
“This is the first time the ship’s operational squadron has embarked and worked together.
“The F-35 brings next generation capability to UK Defence through its ability to find, destroy or avoid enemy air defences and enemy aircraft whilst gathering intelligence data.”
Commander Ed Phillips is the Commander Air on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. Known as ‘Wings’, Cdr Phillips is in charge of flying operations on the aircraft carrier.
He said: “Today is a significant day for HMS Queen Elizabeth on the road to delivering carrier strike operations for the Royal Navy.
“We are at the heart of a world-leading capability for the UK and will soon have on our decks two squadrons of F-35s – from the UK and US – plus the protection of a strike group made up of destroyers, frigates and support ships.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth will now enter an intense period of flying having just successfully completed four weeks of basic sea training.
The aim is to demonstrate that the jets can successfully defend the aircraft carrier by delivering combat air patrols – launching from the ship to conduct strike missions against a target – and being ready to take off at short notice.
After the initial qualification period, 617 Squadron will test their ability to work with Portsmouth-based HMS Queen Elizabeth and Merlin helicopters of Culdrose-based 820 Naval Air Squadron by conducting a number of complex training missions.
This is all in preparation for their second embarkation later in the year when the squadron will join the carrier and her task group for a large multinational training exercise with US, European and NATO allies.
The Royal Navy is transforming into a force centred around carrier strike – supporting the ships as they conduct carrier strike missions, enforce no-fly zones, deploy Royal Marine Commandos, deliver humanitarian aid, and build international partnerships with our allies. HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to return to Portsmouth later this month. (Source: Royal Navy)
08 Jun 20. France Plans Billions of Euros to Rescue Aerospace Industry. The French government will present a plan worth billions of euros to rescue its beleaguered aerospace industry, protect key suppliers from Chinese interests and may bring forward some defense orders, the transport minister said.
The aid package to be presented Tuesday is aimed at European jet manufacturer Airbus SE, engine maker Safran SA, defense group Thales SA, and hundreds of French suppliers that have seen their businesses dry up during the coronavirus pandemic. The plan will be worth as much as 10bn euros ($11.3bn), Les Echos reported Monday, although it’s not clear what will be included in the total.
“We will invest several billions over a rather long period,” French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said on LCI television Sunday. “The state will be here, the European Union will be present.”
The package will aim to kickstart air transport, relaunch manufacturing, and develop less-polluting “hybrid planes” toward 2027 and “carbon neutral” aircraft by 2035, the minister said. In exchange, the industry will have to create or relocate as many jobs as it can in Europe, he said.
However, the minister said the industry will probably have to cut jobs. With airlines grounding their fleets worldwide because of the health crisis, Airbus faces a 40% drop in its activity over at least two years, he said.
Airlines around the world are struggling to survive, with European giants Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Air France-KLM getting state bailouts and carriers desperate to salvage business from what is normally the busy summer. The French government has extended loans and guarantees worth 7bn euros to Air France-KLM, tying the funds to a reduction in carbon emissions and services on its domestic routes.
The rescue will include the creation of several funds to consolidate the industry and to prevent key suppliers from being acquired by foreign investors, Djebbari said. Chinese companies are making “offers” to small and medium-sized companies with “critical skills” that are currently weakened by the crisis, he said.
Many of the companies that have been hardest hit are small and medium-sized. While they have limited access to commercial bank funding, some are considered strategic because they are also defense suppliers.
Read More: Macron Is Set to Unveil Rescue Package for French Aerospace
Many European nations will probably agree to reopen air travel in the so-called Schengen area from June 15 assuming that the coronavirus crisis continue to recede, Djebbari added. The number of Air France’s flights may rise from 5% of its usual level to 15% from June 15, and to 40% in mid-August, he said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Bloomberg)
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