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28 Sep 23. Slovakia: Tight election will shape EU relations, carry moderate policy, business implications. On 30 September, snap elections will take place in Slovakia, with the last polls being published on 27 September. In one poll, the pro-EU Progressive (PS) party led by the Vice Chairman of the European Parliament Michal Šimečka is leading. In the two other major polls, the populist EU sceptic Smer-SD party led by former Prime Minister Robert Fico has a marginal lead. Both PS and Smer-SD would likely face challenging and protracted talks to form a government and would have to rely on a number of smaller parties. PS would likely continue Slovakia’s pro-EU and Ukraine stance if they are able to form a government. By contrast, Smer-SD would highly likely pursue a more confrontational position towards the EU over sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine. A government led (formally or informally) by Fico would also raise concerns over corruption, likely negatively impacting the wider investment climate for Western businesses. (Source: Sibylline)
28 Sep 23. Czech 2024 Defense Spending to Exceed 2% of GDP for First Time. Expenditures of the Department of Defense will reach a record 151.2bn crowns ($6.52bn–Ed.), which also include state defense expenditures in other chapters, which amount to 8.6bn crowns. In total, this amounts to 159.8bn crowns, which for the first time since the Czech Republic joined NATO reaches the threshold of 2% of GDP, to which the Czech Republic has committed. The year-on-year increase in the budget goes overwhelmingly to investments in the modernization of the army. The budget with these parameters was approved by the government today and sent to the lower house for further discussion.
“In the program statement, we clearly stated that defense is one of our priorities. And shortly after my government took office, unprovoked Russian aggression against Ukraine began, which only underscored the need to modernize and strengthen the army. Today, when for the first time we approved a budget with defense spending at the level of two percent of GDP, is proof that we are really serious about investments in defense,” said Prime Minister Petr Fiala.
The increase in defense spending is essential especially from the point of view of modernization projects for the Army of the Czech Republic, which in many areas uses outdated equipment from the Warsaw Pact era. The budget of the Ministry of Defense will increase by 39.4bn crowns year-on-year, and the largest increase of 33.2bn crowns is reflected in the area of investments.
“In past decades, the military was always the first place to cut. And accordingly, its equipment looks like, from uniforms to heavy equipment, which often remembers the previous regime. Today’s approval of the budget in a record amount will allow us to continue with the modernization projects already underway, among which next year will be the acquisition of CV90 tracked infantry fighting vehicles, which will form the basis of the heavy brigade,” said Minister of Defense Jana Černochová.
The demand for defense spending of at least two percent of GDP has resulted from our membership in NATO for many years. However, the Czech Republic will not fulfill it for the first time until 2024. One of the reasons is the new law on defense financing, which came into force this year. “In addition to the obligation to spend at least two percent of GDP, the law also defines defense spending more clearly and imposes on other budget chapters that will also manage defense spending to report these funds to us. Thanks to this, we have an overall overview of the funds related to the defense of the state, which are also in the budgets of other chapters,” explained the senior director of the economic section, Blanka Cupáková.
Acquisition spending is the number one priority for the Department of Defense. They include both investment expenses and, in the area of current expenses, for example contracts for the procurement of ammunition, fuel, equipment, as well as service, maintenance and repair services for equipment to ensure their operability. Next year, 93.8bn crowns are earmarked for these acquisitions, which is almost 36bn crowns more than in this year’s budget.
“I am aware that the current times are difficult for many people and that they have the impression that defense funding should not be so high. But the defense of the country is the foundation upon which our present and future prosperity rests. In addition, it is necessary to look at how many times defense has been saved in the past decades. And such an investigation is not worthwhile, because if one day we need to protect this country, and we are not ready for it, it cannot be caught up with a wave of a magic wand, defense must be built over the long term,” said Minister Černochová. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Czech Republic Ministry of Defence)
27 Sep 23. Typhoon road landing: Nato trial Finland’s highways as airstrips. In Finland, Nato has been trialling its fighters in landing on roads as part of a dispersed air combat operation. New Nato member Finland has been the testbed for Nato dispersed air force operations, as two Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoons in Finland performed the first landing of the airframe on a civilian road.
The aircraft touched down on a single lane-road in Tervo, according to an announcement from the RAF on 24 September.
Tervo was the site of another instance of pioneering aviation on 21 September, as an F-35A, flown by Royal Norwegian Air force pilots, made a conventional landing on a motorway before ‘hot-pit’ refuelling and returning to the skies.
Major General Rolf Folland, Chief of the Royal Norwegian Air Force, recognised the landing of F-35A fighters as “a milestone, not only for the Norwegian Air Force, but also for the Nordic countries and for NATO. This demonstrates our ability to execute a concept of dispersal.
“Fighter jets are vulnerable on the ground, so being able to use small airfields – and now motorways – increases our survivability in war. In addition, this is also a demonstration of the exciting development we have initiated within the military-air cooperation in the Nordic region.”
Finland joined Nato in April this year, bringing the expansive landmass to the north-east of Europe into the Alliance. Nato has taken this as an opportunity to test dispersed air operations, looking at the capability of existing Nato fighters improve their survivability by landing on small air strips and roads.
“With Finland’s entry into Nato and Sweden’s imminent membership, the Nordic countries have a particular responsibility for developing and coordinating NATO’s deterrence in the northern regions,” said Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram.
Finland has an existing dispersed operations combat method involving road base landings that it trials annually as a part of exercise BAANA. This year, in BAANA 23, aircraft from allied nations took part for the first time.
The Officer Commanding the 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron that oversaw the landing of the two RAF Typhoons on a single-lane Finnish road, praised the exercise for providing “an opportunity to work with one of our newest NATO partners on an exercise in Agile Combat Employment.
“The Finnish have worked hard for decades on disparate operations should they be attacked and need to disperse their aircraft.”
With so much at stake in the High North in terms of marine routes, resource access, climate protection, and territorial claims, Nato has made securing the area a top priority. The High North is seeing an increase in Nato’s presence and alertness, as the Allies continue to deter aggression and ensure the security of its member states.
“With Finland’s entry into NATO and Sweden’s imminent membership, the Nordic countries have a particular responsibility for developing and coordinating NATO’s deterrence in the northern regions,” said Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
27 Sep 23. Estonian 2024 Defense Budget to Exceed 3% of GDP. Pevkur on the National Defense Budget: “We have to consider the need to contribute more of our common wealth to national defense than before.” In 2024, the defense budget will exceed three percent of the gross domestic product for the first time, i.e. the new state budget strategy will allocate an additional 350m euros to ammunition stocks to strengthen the defense capability, i.e. in total, the country will acquire ammunition for 1.35bn euros in the coming years.
“National defense is one of the focuses of the 2024 state budget. As a small country, we have to contribute every day to maintain our independence. For this, it is necessary to develop both Estonia’s independent defense capability and the readiness to defend Estonia together with our NATO allies at an early pace,” said Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur.
2024-2027 the total defense costs for 2018 are nearly 5.6bn, which means a projected share of 3.03-3.21 percent of the gross domestic product. “Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine has shown that the eastern neighbor has enough political will, public support and resources to implement its policy of conquest. The security situation in Europe and the world at large remains the worst in decades, so we must consider the need to contribute more of our common wealth to national defense than before,” said Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur.
More than 50 percent of the defense budget is directed to procurements, i.e. directly to the creation of defense capabilities, with which Estonia is at the forefront in comparison to NATO.
“The goal of the Ministry of Defense is for every euro entrusted by the taxpayer to produce maximum defense capability,” said Pevkur.
Over the course of four years, new armor, additional mobile artillery, HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, anti-aircraft munitions and mortars will be procured for ground forces. “Furthermore, we are building a central air defense system, which is the largest defense procurement in our history and will significantly make Estonian airspace safer. Also, our indirect fire capability is making a leap in development and we are adopting anti-ship missiles,” explained Pevkur.
Investing in state defenders and their equipment is important. “Snake Words exercise is currently underway to increase the combat capability of the land defense and we will continue to maintain it. The Defense Association will receive nearly 300m euros over the next four years, of which 65m will be for procurements supporting land protection,” said Pevkur.
In 2024-2027, nearly 442m euros will be invested in the infrastructure. The most important of them are ammunition depots and storages, Nursipalu town, military and disaster medicine center, combat school and national defense buildings in Tartu, Ämari air base canteen and the workshop of armored personnel carriers of the 2nd infantry brigade.
“In our four-year development plan, we made painful decisions for a total of 34m euros, reorganized object protection, reduced the size of the war and disaster medical center to be built in Tartu. We will further optimize fuel and energy costs,” Pevkur introduced the ministry’s cutbacks. “However, this saving will increase our defense capacity, because according to the agreement, the saved funds will be directed back to the national defense, perhaps we can primarily buy more ammunition,” added Pevkur.
The defense budget reaching more than three percent means that a large part of this growth will also revive the Estonian economy as a whole. Thus, for example, in 2022, 265.5m euros, or 53 percent, returned to the Estonian economy from defense investments and economic costs under the Ministry of Defense’s jurisdiction. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Estonia Ministry of Defence)
26 Sep 23. U.S. and Albania Strengthen Defense Ties With Key Bilateral Consultation in Tirana. Spencer Boyer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy, and Gelardina Prodani, the Secretary General of the Albanian Ministry of Defense, jointly chaired the U.S.-Albania Bilateral Defense Consultations on Sep. 21, 2023. The event was inaugurated with remarks from Albanian Defense Minister Niko Peleshi.
During these consultations, both delegations exchanged views on the security landscape in the Western Balkans, particularly in light of Russia’s unprovoked and aggressive actions in Ukraine. The meetings focused on a number of bilateral security cooperation issues, including the enhancement of Albania’s military capabilities in infantry, rotary wing, explosive ordnance, and cyber defense.
Additionally, delegations discussed strategies to bolster the Albanian Ministry of Defense’s logistical and resource management abilities, along with improved personnel recruitment and retention methods. The highlight of the event was the signing of a guiding framework by the co-chairs, outlining future bilateral security collaboration endeavors.
Both sides emphasized the significance of the enduring U.S.-Albania strategic alliance, underlining their mutual commitment to upholding shared values and promoting shared security objectives. (Source: US DoD)
25 Sep 23. Türkiye’s Maritime Power Grows as 2 Naval Patrol Ships Join Fleet. The first two of 10 ships targeted for construction within the scope of the Offshore Patrol Vessel Project, initiated to meet the needs of the Turkish Naval Forces, have been recently launched, marking a new significant step for the ever-developing defense industry.
Two offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) named TCG Akhisar and TCG Koçhisar were launched during a Saturday ceremony held at the Istanbul Shipyard Command.
The event was attended by Defense Minister Yaşar Güler and Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) head Haluk Görgün.
The newly launched ships are set to play a role in various maritime operations, including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), search and rescue missions (SAR), counterterrorism operations, maritime surveillance and special operations.
“With the addition of these ships to our navy, which demonstrates the distinguished level of our domestic and national industry, our naval forces will further increase their operational capability and effectiveness in the Blue Homeland and reinforce their distinguished place among the world’s leading naval forces,” Güler said during the ceremony.
“As the Defense Ministry and the Turkish Armed Forces, we will continue to work day and night for the survival of our country and our noble nation, including the development of domestic and national defense.”
In a separate development at the ceremony, Türkiye delivered the ship named “Babur” to Pakistan under its national warship initiative, Milgem. The shipbuilding project was part of a 2018 contract signed between Türkiye and Pakistan, leading to the sale of four corvettes.
“With this project, which demonstrates the superior level reached by the Turkish defense industry, the strategic cooperation between our countries has become even stronger, and the successful completion of the project will lead to new business opportunities,” Güler noted, expressing his delight for Pakistan’s participation in the Milgem project.
The ships being built under the main sponsorship of Turkish state-owned defense firm ASFAT are expected to start port acceptance tests soon.
Emre Koray Gençsoy, the director of maritime programs at ASFAT, noted in an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA) Sunday that there was a great deal of effort and labor behind the simultaneous launch of the first two HISAR-class offshore patrol ships, emphasizing that this was a significant achievement for the Turkish defense industry.
He also highlighted that, in addition to these two ships, they were simultaneously constructing seven sea platforms in Türkiye and Pakistan.
Developed as a variant of the MILGEM-class corvettes, the HISAR-class OPV has been redesigned with a different main propulsion system and a different structural and general layout concept, allowing it to be built in a shorter time and at a lower cost.
Gençsoy pointed out that simultaneously managing these projects required detailed planning, identifying certain risks, acting accordingly to those risks and having a flexible structure to solve encountered issues.
“The production period of the project is only 26 months. That’s a pretty short period. It is an important target for our defense industry for complex platforms of this size in naval platforms. This is also a first,” Gençsoy explained.
Elaborating on the characteristics of the vessel, Gençsoy further said, “When you look at the ship, you see MILGEM, but the analysis has been done from scratch and it is a lighter ship. A ship whose propeller systems and shaft systems have been changed.”
“In fact, there is a first here too. All analyses of our propellers, from underwater noise to traces, were made in laboratories at Istanbul Technical University (ITU) in Türkiye,” he added.
Gençsoy pointed out that the project also uses the “ready on-site” concept, which will allow the subsequent integration of newly developed national weapon and sensor systems. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/ Daily Sabah)
25 Sep 23. Swedish Government Details 28% Increase in 2024 Defense Budget. Sweden is currently facing the most serious security situation since the Second World War. This places new demands on military defence.
Together with earlier decisions and annual adjustments, the appropriations for military defence, i.e. appropriations 1:1 to 1:13 in expenditure area 6, will increase by more than SEK 27bn between 2023 and 2024, an increase of 28 percent.
These appropriations will have thus doubled since 2020. In comparison with what was presented in earlier budgets, military defence appropriations will increase by approximately SEK 700m in 2024, SEK 1.2 bn in 2025 and SEK 7.4 bn in 2026.
According to NATO’s definition of defence expenditure, which is broader and includes more items than just appropriations 1:1–1:13 in expenditure area 6, Sweden will already meet the NATO target of two percent of GDP in 2024. The NATO guideline also calls for Allies to spend at least 20 percent of annual defence expenditure on new equipment. The Government intends to continue proposing additional resources in the coming years so that the military defence appropriations (1:1–1:13) will equate to two percent of GDP.
Resources for personnel recruitment and retention
Reprioritisation of appropriations for 2024–2025 and planned additional funding for 2026 will enable specific investments in Swedish Armed Forces’ personnel. The aim is to increase numbers and adjust for the effects of new collective agreements and decisions regarding salaries and supplements. With these resources, the Swedish Armed Forces will be better equipped to address longstanding problems with personal protective equipment.
The growth of the Swedish Armed Forces together with planned retirements means recruitment of new officers must increase. Swedish NATO membership will also require NATO structures to be staffed with Swedish officers, further intensifying the need.
The Government will therefore increase the appropriation for officer training by SEK 25m for 2024, SEK 38 m for 2025 and SEK 50m for 2026, in comparison with the 2023 appropriation. This means that the appropriation will total SEK 305m for 2024, SEK 331m for 2025 and SEK 351m for 2026.
Activities relating to NATO deterrence and defence measures
Sweden will be a credible, reliable and loyal member of NATO. The Government’s budget includes increased appropriations to the Swedish Armed Forces that will make it possible to plan for activities within NATO’s deterrence and defence measures.
In line with the 2020 Defence Resolution and subsequent agreements, the Budget Bill for 2024 includes substantial increases in the appropriations for military defence aimed at implementing the planned expansion of the war- and peacetime organisations. The enhanced defence capability will benefit both Sweden and NATO.
As a member, Sweden will contribute to NATO’s common budget. In the Budget Bill for 2024, the Government has proposed setting aside SEK 600 m for NATO’s 2024 military budget.
Defence research, development and innovation
The Government will increase the appropriations for defence research, development and innovation so as to improve Sweden’s ability to meet future threats.
Additional funds will be provided to the Swedish Defence Research Agency in 2024–2026. SEK 100m will be invested in 2024, SEK 143m in 2025 and SEK 189m in 2026.
Funding for innovation procurement
Civilian technological development offers an outstanding opportunity for a country like Sweden to solve military problems by adapting new technologies to military applications. If the potential of new technologies cannot be harnessed for military purposes, the development of defence materiel in Sweden will fall behind. The Government will increase the funding for defence innovation and research by SEK 88m in 2024, SEK 90m in 2025 and SEK 247m in 2026.
As a NATO member, Sweden will also contribute to the NATO Innovation Fund, which finances technological development within the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA). Sweden will initially contribute approximately SEK 44m per year.
Investments in foreign intelligence capability
Threats are growing and becoming increasingly complex, and so the need for analysis and assessments by intelligence agencies is increasing. Moreover, technological developments are placing greater demands on technical and digital capabilities. To address growing threats, increasing demands and technological developments, and to ensure that foreign intelligence capability is proportionate to 9other investments in military defence, additional resources must be allocated starting in 2024.
To enhance foreign intelligence capabilities, based on previous decisions the National Defence Radio Establishment’s appropriation will increase by SEK 200m in 2024, SEK 600m in 2025 and SEK 700 m per year starting in 2026, in comparison with the appropriation for 2023. Moreover, additional funding will be allocated to the Military Intelligence and Security Service within the framework of the increases of appropriation 1:1 Unit activities and readiness.
Procurement and development of defence materiel
The appropriation for the development, procurement, replenishment and phasing out of defence materiel and facilities will increase by SEK 20bn, from SEK 28bn in 2023 to SEK 48bn in 2024. This appropriation will also fund intended updates to technical capabilities and performance, which includes extending materiel service life. In addition, the appropriation may be used to fund initial procurements of readiness supplies and procurements aimed at increasing minimum stockpiles of readiness supplies. This appropriation funds any reorganisation and phasing out costs that may arise within the framework of ongoing restructuring of logistics and defence materiel supply, and research and development.
Readiness and availability
The deterioration of the security environment has necessitated an increased focus on readiness. This entails continuous adaptations to improve readiness and the introduction of more exercises.
The Government’s budget priorities also aim to improve resilience and increase operational capabilities. In the Budget Bill for 2024, the Government has proposed redistributing funds between appropriation items so as to implement initiatives concerning maintenance of existing defence materiel, with the aim of ensuring a general improvement in the availability of defence materiel and the ability to replenish and increase stockpiles of readiness supplies, including ammunition. This also contributes to the resilience of the Swedish Armed Forces. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Swedish Government)
26 Sep 23. Kosovo: Heightened security force presence almost certain in coming days; escalation remains possible. On 25 September, authorities in the city of Mitrovica (North Kosovo) released images of around 20 vehicles and a large weapons cache that was reportedly used by ethnic Serb gunmen in an armed clash on 24 September. While Pristina claims this is proof that the gunmen were supported by Serbia, this remains unconfirmed and is denied by Belgrade. Six gunmen involved in the clash have been arrested, but it remains unclear whether the remaining gunmen are in hiding in North Kosovo or have crossed the border into Serbian territory, as Pristina claims. There will almost certainly be a heightened Kosovar police force presence in North Kosovo in the coming days. Consequently, another major security incident akin to the 24 September incident is unlikely. However, the situation remains highly volatile and an escalation, either in terms of domestic unrest or an isolated attack, is possible. Ongoing searches for hiding gunmen will remain a potential flashpoint. (Source: Sibylline)
26 Sep 23. Ireland: Overall security threat landscape remains low despite wide range of threat actors. On 25 September, Assistant Commissioner Michael McElgunn stated during an interview on Ireland’s threat landscape that authorities recently blocked an Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K) member from entering Ireland, amid claims that IS-K has emerged as a threat in over half of EU member states. On the wider threat of Islamist terrorism, McEglgunn stated that the authorities identify around 60 cases of terrorist financing per year, underscoring that banks, charities and online payment companies face exposure to illicit financing risks. Separately, McElgunn recognised the potential threat posed by ‘illegals’ (foreign spies operating as ordinary citizens). ‘Illegals’ are likely to attempt to infiltrate sensitive sectors, including government, defence, energy and telecommunications. Following a far-right protest outside parliament buildings on 20 September, prompting concerns over the growing far-right presence in Ireland, McElgunn noted that there had been a decrease in the number of people attending far-right-linked protests since Covid-19 restrictions were lifted. (Source: Sibylline)
25 Sep 23. Kosovo-Serbia: More attacks are possible due to escalation; direct military confrontation is unlikely. On 24 September, a group of ethnic-Serbian gunmen operating armoured vehicles engaged in a shoot-out with the local police at a monastery near Leposavic (North Kosovo). One police officer and three gunmen were killed, while two police officers and two gunmen were wounded. A ‘clearance operation’ following the incident ended the siege later that day, though it remains unclear if all the gunmen were apprehended; further attacks therefore remain a realistic possibility in the area amid ongoing police operations. Kosovar Prime Minister Alber Kurti accused Serbia of backing the gunmen, a claim which Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic denies. Travel disruption due to closed borders is almost certain. Further incidents of unrest and violence are likely. Due to inflammatory statements by both leaders, bilateral escalation remains a realistic possibility. However, direct military confrontation between the two countries remains unlikely given the presence of NATO peacekeepers in the region. (Source: Sibylline)
24 Sep 23. The Metropolitan Police has called in the army to help provide counter-terrorism support after firearms officers downed their weapons in protest at the charging of an officer with the murder of an unarmed man. In an effort to quell the rebellion and signal her government’s support for policing, home secretary Suella Braverman said she had launched a review into armed policing. “They mustn’t fear ending up in the dock for carrying out their duties,” she wrote on social media platform X. “Officers risking their lives to keep us safe have my full backing and I will do everything in my power to support them.” Chris Kaba, who was 24 and whose partner was expecting a child, was killed in September 2022 by a serving police officer in south London. Kaba was later found to have been unarmed. An unidentified officer, referred to as NX121, was charged with murder this week following a review of evidence by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which carried out a six-month investigation. More than 100 counter-terrorism firearms officers responded this weekend by saying they no longer felt comfortable doing their job if they could face the same outcome. Military personnel called in to provide back-up support will not be deployed on the streets of London, nor will they have powers of arrest and they will only be called on for specific tasks where a capability cannot be provided by the police, said a person briefed on the agreement. Sir Mark Rowley, Met Police commissioner, welcomed Braverman’s review into armed policing and demanded reform of how armed police are held to account for wrongdoing, as he sought to respond to protesting officers. In an open letter, Rowley argued that the threshold for investigating police use of force by the IOPC and the Crown Prosecution Service should be raised and protection strengthened for officers who use force, among other things. “There is a concern on the part of firearms officers that, even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given, they will face years of protracted legal proceedings which impact on their personal wellbeing and that of their family,” he wrote. “Officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, and the confidence that it will be applied consistently and without fear or favour.” At the time of his death, Kaba was driving an Audi car that was not registered to him. An automatic number plate-recognition camera had identified the vehicle as having been involved in a previous firearms incident. He was shot through the driver’s side window and died two hours later. He was found to have been unarmed, according to the IOPC. Following the charging of the officer, Kaba’s family issued a statement saying they welcomed the move and “hope and pray that justice will be served”. The Met Police said: “The ministry of defence has agreed to a request to provide the Met with counter-terrorism support should it be needed.” The ministry said: “We have accepted a Military Aid to the Civil Authorities request from the Home Office to provide routine counter-terrorism contingency support to the Metropolitan Police, should it be needed.” Event details and information What is Shaping the 2024(Source: FT.com)
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