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14 Oct 23. Romanian troops boost NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. NATO said on Saturday that more than 130 troops from Romania had reinforced its Kosovo Force (KFOR) peacekeeping mission following the worst violence in northern Kosovo for years.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization authorised additional forces for Kosovo at the end of September after a battle between police and armed Serbs holed up in a monastery turned a quiet village in northern Kosovo into a war zone on Sept. 24.
It did not specify then how many troops would be added or from which country.
The military alliance said in a statement that 200 British soldiers had been deployed earlier this month and that the troops from Romania arrived on Friday. (Source: Reuters)
13 Oct 23. Lithuania Defence Minister calls for Nato to implement Vilnius decisions. Lithuania wants to implement the rotational deployment of ground-based air defences on Nato’s eastern flank; what other Vilnius decisions are being overlooked?
It has been three months since Nato’s summit in Vilnius, where partner nations met to agree upon various decisions such as increasing defence spending, expanding ammunition production and building closer security ties with Ukraine as it continues to wage its four-month long counter-offensive against invading Russian forces.
However, the host nation has expressed its desire to see these commitments come into fruition.
On the sidelines of the Nato Defence Ministers’ meeting this week, Lithuania’s Minister of National Defence, Arvydas Anušauskas, urged the military alliance that it must quicken the pace for delivering pledges made at Vilnius.
“We [must] quickly implement the decisions made in Vilnius. The feasibility of Nato’s defence plans is of particular importance.”
Anušauskas is interested in one pledge in particular: implementing the rotational air defence model across Nato’s eastern borders.
“Lithuania is also asking for the practical implementation of the Rotary Nato air defence model in our country. This is particularly important for us,” Anušauskas insisted. (Source: army-technology.com)
13 Oct 23. Finland’s 2024 defense budget targets arms restocking, border security. Finland’s 2024 defense budget is primed to include funds meant to strengthen the country’s 830-mile-long border with Russia as well as replenish military equipment and weapons supplied to Ukraine over the last two years.
The budget, which is on course to be ratified by the end of October, puts defense spending at about €6.2bn (U.S. $6.6bn) — a nearly 5% rise from 2023. The Defence Ministry approved the draft budget with amendments in September.
The elevated level of spending is directly linked to Finland’s accession to NATO as well as heightened tension in the region following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The expected budget increases Finland’s defense spending to 2.3% of its gross domestic product, lifting it above NATO’s 2% goal for member states.
A border-reinforcement plan embedded in the 2024 budget includes the construction of 125 miles of so-called smart fencing supported by advanced sensors and drones operated by the Finnish Border Guard. The smart fence, erected at strategic points along the Finnish-Russian border, costs between $400m and $500m.
The budget also includes a $272m reimbursement to the ministry to cover the cost of replacing military equipment and weapons donated to Ukraine. The formalized budget will provide the Finnish military with $1.6bn to spend on materiel procurement in 2024.
Finnish Defence Minister Antti Häkkänen described the budget increase as “fundamental to national security and enhancing defense capability.”
“We cannot ignore how the war instigated by Russia has changed the security landscape in our Nordic region and in the wider neighborhood. The world around Finland is becoming an increasingly dangerous place. Despite Finland’s economic challenges, we are now part of NATO and with membership comes added costs and responsibilities,” Häkkänen said.
Although Russia’s defense-industrial base is in overdrive and the country is expanding its military bases along Finland’s border, Häkkänen said the government does not feel under threat.
Russia’s Alakurtti base, which is east of the Finnish border region of Lapland, houses the Russian Army’s arctic motor rifle brigade. And construction efforts at the Petrozavodsk base, south of Alakurtti, include work on a large military storage site and new buildings to house tanks, armored transport vehicles and mobile artillery pieces.
Based on Finnish Army intelligence, movements to and from Petrozavodsk suggest the base is being used as a regional depot to deliver equipment to Russian front-line motorized brigade forces attacking Ukraine.
“Russia repeatedly warned us that it would strengthen its near-border bases if Finland joined NATO. We are not surprised by these activities. Our intelligence is that these new structural works at military bases are part of normal Russian operations. We do not believe they pose a threat,” Häkkänen said.
Finland spent about $3.87bn on defense in 2020, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which cites the figures in current prices, converted at the exchange rate for the given year.
The next year, Finland spent about $3.8bn on defense, followed by $4.8 in 2022, the Swedish think tank reported. Its 2023 defense budget was about $6.3bn. (Source: Defense News)
13 Oct 23. French 2024 Defense Budget Request: Salient Points. The Minister of the Armed Forces presented the 2024 Finance Bill (PLF) this Wednesday, October 11, before the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee. The budget is up 7.5% compared to 2023, and there are five main salient points.
In 2024, the Defense budget will amount to 47.2 billion euros (excluding pensions), or 3.3 billion euros more than the previous year — an increase of 7.5% compared to this year. It is 7th consecutive annual increase for the defense budget, but this year’s increase of 3.3 billion euros is the largest since 2017. It will make it possible to implement the priorities defined with Parliament during the discussion on the 2024-2030 Military Program Law (LPM).
“In total, the budget of our armies will have increased by 46% between 2017 and 2024. This considerable effort by the Nation for its defense obliges us,” underlines Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of the Armed Forces.
Continue restoring the military and begin their transformation
The PLF 2024 is part of a movement initiated in 2017 and which aims to respond to the urgent need to restore the power our military forces so they are able to face the deterioration of the international context. This involves repairing the components damaged by three decades of budgetary disinvestment, which began after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the end of the Cold War.
The PLF 2024 is the first step of the LPM 2024-2030 which aims to modernize and transform our armies to enable them to face the entire spectrum of current and future threats. In this respect, it sets 6 main priorities:
— Strengthening of operational preparation;
— Strengthening of support capabilities;
— Modernization of infrastructure;
— Modernization of our nuclear deterrent;
— Overall increase in ammunition stocks and reinforcement of ground-to-air defense systems;
— Ensuring personnel satisfaction.
Prioritize mass consistency to fulfill our operational contracts
Before the Defense and Armed Forces Committee of the National Assembly, Sébastien Lecornu said that “it would be pointless to have hundreds of Caesar cannons on our shelves, if we do not have the women and the men to operate them, the support and repair infrastructure to accommodate them, the ammunition, the hours of training and operational training that go with them and, finally, the logistical means to deploy them and support them in operations.”
Thus, the PLF 2024 provides a first response to a strong ambition of the LPM 2024-2030, one which aims to act jointly on different levers to find the optimal coherence of our army model, rather than the spectacular award of massive orders to the most visible sectors.
For the year 2024, this search for consistency results in the combination of 5 factors:
— The delivery of major equipment: 13 Rafale, a nuclear attack submarine, the first FDI defense and intervention frigate, 138 Griffon and 103 SERVAL armored vehicles;
— Improving operational readiness: more equipment available, bigger ammunition stocks, and more hours of “high-end” training;
— A clear increase in staff: 456 full-time equivalents positions with a clear focus on priority sectors (support, cyber, intelligence, overseas, etc.);
— Bigger reserves: recruitment, beginning in 2024, of 3,800 reservists with quantified objectives at each level of the Ministry of the Armed Forces;
— An increase in support and infrastructure.
Preparing for tomorrow’s war
The current strategic context is characterized by the appearance of new spaces of conflict that our competitors are trying to militarize. This is particularly the case for cyber, space and the seabed. On this subject, Sébastien Lecornu stressed the importance for France of achieving technological leaps: “Nothing would be more dangerous than to prepare ourselves for tomorrow’s war with yesterday’s means. Preparing for the wars of tomorrow is not measured solely by the amounts invested. It is also about organizing ourselves to anticipate and innovate.”
The PLF 2024 therefore devotes nearly 600 million euros to strengthening our presence in space, thanks in particular to the launch of the CSO observation satellite or even 500 million euros for intelligence.
The conflict in Ukraine has confirmed to us the importance of remotely operated drones and munitions. From 2024, this involves starting to finance technological breakthroughs to enable France to become a leader in the coming years. Nearly 430 million euros will be put on the table, an increase of 43% compared to 2023 with the delivery of 8 underwater drones and 4 Patroller drones.
In 2024, anticipating and financing technological leaps will consist of pursuing an ambitious research and development policy in key areas where the French military have taken a leading position: artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
For artificial intelligence, the PLF 2024 will deploy 100 million euros to accelerate the mapping of the seabed and especially to begin the deployment of Artemis AI. This massive data processing platform will considerably strengthen the analytic capabilities of the Directorate of Military Intelligence and the Armed Forces Health Service.
Enhancing the moral forces of our armies and the Nation
The importance of successful technological leaps should not make us forget the permanent reality of defense challenges. War was, is and always will be lethal. Throughout the long history of France, its most prestigious military leaders have never failed to emphasize the importance of moral forces and the link between the military and the Nation. In this area, the PLF 2024 aims to consolidate a French specificity: we are today one of the rare Western countries capable of accepting military losses as the price of achieving the goals we set for our military.
On this subject, the PLF 2024 sets three priorities:
— The recognition of the Nation to its soldiers by notably strengthening support for the wounded;
— Passing on the spirit of defense to the youngest;
— The participation of the armies in the major events which will bring the Nation together in 2024. These include the 80th anniversary of the Landing and the Liberation as well as the Olympic and Paralympic Games of Paris 2024. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
(Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ French Ministry of the Armed Forces; issued Oct 12, 2023)
13 Oct 23. 5th Annual India-France Defense Dialogue. Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu and his counterpart Rajnath Singh held the 5th annual France-India defense dialogue yesterday in Paris. The exchanges made it possible to address numerous bilateral and regional issues as well as industrial cooperation issues.
The two ministers welcomed the 25th anniversary of the strategic partnership between France and India, signed in January 1998 between President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Vajpayee. In this context, the Minister of the Armed Forces recalled the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the ceremonies of July 14, 2023, the high point of this quarter of a century of bilateral partnership.
This partnership is particularly visible on the operational level: this year was thus marked by the deployment of the French carrier group in the Indian Ocean in January, followed in March by an amphibious exercise with the Jeanne d’Arc Mission in India and the multilateral Exercise La Pérouse. Finally, the participation of Indian Rafales in the ORION joint exercise in France and the Varuna 23.2 exercise in the Arabian Sea marked an upscaling of the operational partnership with complex exercises.
Another major subject on the exchange program is industrial cooperation in defense matters, with particular emphasis on “Make in India”.
Furthermore, the ministers recognized their convergences on a certain number of strategic and defense issues and wished to make space an axis of future collaboration.
They also pledged to strengthen their cooperation in bilateral, regional and multilateral forums, with emphasis on the Indo-Pacific region. As part of its presidency of the “Indian Ocean Naval Symposium” (IONS), France is actively working with India to deepen the regional maritime security architecture.
As part of his trip to France, Mr. Rajnath Singh visited a SAFRAN company site in the greater Paris region. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)(Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ French Ministry of the Armed Forces; issued Oct 12, 2023)
13 Oct 23. NATO Strengthens Joint Air Power Cooperation. Two initiatives were signed in the margins of the NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting this week (11-12 October 2023), demonstrating Allies’ commitment to work together to strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence in the air domain.
On Wednesday (11 October 2023), Germany and the United Kingdom joined the NATO Flight Training Europe (NFTE) High Visibility Project, bringing the total number of participants to 12 (Belgium, Czechia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Spain, Türkiye, United Kingdom).
NFTE aims to ensure that sufficient state-of-the-art pilot training is available around Europe in a cost-efficient and interoperable manner. NFTE will leverage existing national and multinational facilities in Europe and, where necessary, expand or create new training capacity to address training requirements for different types of pilots. These can include basic, intermediate, and advanced categories of training for fighter jet, helicopter, and transport pilots, as well as personnel who remotely pilot unmanned aircraft. This is a high priority, especially for many smaller European NATO Allies whose training requirements do not justify the creation of national training centres.
NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană said: “NATO’s strength comes from our unity, our posture, the related forces and capabilities, and from systematically training together and forging trusting relationships in the process. This carries particular importance at a time when we need to ensure the executability of our defence plans. NATO Flight Training Europe is an excellent example of this. This important multinational effort will help us develop a shared approach to training the next generations of aircrews.”
On Thursday (12 October 2023), 13 Allies (Albania, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Türkiye) and invitee Sweden signed an agreement to cooperate on cross-border airspace. This reflects the participating nations’ commitment to ensure that Allied civil and military authorities can collaborate on the use of air space for NATO training and exercises, and other air activities in several regions of Europe.
The use of larger volumes of national airspace by NATO requires close coordination between civil and military authorities to deliver airspace solutions in a safe and flexible manner. As the recent Air Defender 23 exercise showed, NATO’s ability to train at scale in the air domain is a critical element of the Alliance’s overall deterrence and defence.
Mr Geoană said: “The solutions will be considered across several European regions and will deliver a flexible approach to airspace management. They will help the Alliance to strengthen NATO’s air and missile defense capabilities. Close collaboration will be required between civil and military users of our airspace […] This has also set an excellent example of close collaboration between our military forces and our civilian aviation colleagues.” (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/NATO)
13 Oct 23. NATO to respond if Baltic Sea pipeline damage deliberate – alliance chief.
- Damage to pipeline and telecom cable being investigated
- Pipeline and cable connect NATO members Finland, Estonia
- Kremlin says damage ‘disturbing’
- Incident occurred just over year after Nord Stream bombings
NATO will discuss damage to a gas pipeline and data cable running between member states Finland and Estonia, and will mount a “determined” response if a deliberate attack is proven, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.
Damage to the Balticconnector pipeline and telecommunications cable was confirmed on Tuesday after one of the two pipeline operators, Finland’s Gasgrid, noted a drop in pressure and possible leak on Sunday night during a storm.
Helsinki, which is investigating, has said the damage was probably caused by “outside activity”. That has stoked concern over regional energy security and pushed gas prices higher.
“The important thing now is to establish what happened and how this could happen,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels ahead of a meeting of the military alliance.
“If it is proven to be a deliberate attack on NATO-critical infrastructure, then this will be, of course, serious, but it will also be met by a united and determined response from NATO.”
Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation said “external marks” had been found on the seabed beside the damaged pipeline and that it was reviewing the movements of vessels in the area at the time of the rupture.
“We are now focusing on the technical investigation of the pipe damage site and examining the seabed at the scene,” bureau chief Robin Lardot told reporters on Wednesday.
Risto Lohi, the bureau’s chief investigator, told a news conference that anchor damage had not been ruled out, adding: “At the moment it looks like the damage was caused by mechanical force, not an explosion.”
Location of damaged gas pipe
The pipeline runs between Inkoo in Finland and Paldiski in Estonia across the Gulf of Finland, part of the Baltic Sea which stretches eastward into Russian waters and ends at the port of St Petersburg.
NATO defence ministers will discuss the damage on Thursday when they gather for a second day of meetings in Brussels, Finnish defence minister Antti Hakkanen told reporters late on Wednesday.
“We do know that the infrastructure is vulnerable and needs to be better protected,” Hakkanen said.
Balticconnector is jointly operated by Estonian electricity and gas system operator Elering and Finnish gas transmission system operator Gasgrid, which each own half of the pipeline.
The operators said in a statement that planning and carrying out repairs to the pipeline would take at least five months, with gas transfers unlikely to resume before April.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the incident as “disturbing” and told a regular news briefing that the September 2022 attack on the Nord Stream pipelines that cross the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany have set a dangerous precedent.
Those larger gas pipelines were damaged by explosions that authorities have said were caused by sabotage.
Henri Vanhanen, research fellow at the Finnish Institute for International Affairs, said the central issue was how NATO would react if there was evidence that a state actor was behind the new pipeline damage.
“I think the big question in the long term is … do we have a clear set of potential countermeasures for such (sabotage) activities? What is the deterrence?” he said.
President Sauli Niinisto and other officials were briefed on Wednesday and preparedness levels raised at critical infrastructure facilities, the Finnish government said. Meanwhile, Norway and Lithuania moved to tighten security at onshore energy installations.
PIPELINE ‘PULLED FROM ONE SIDE’
“It can clearly be seen that these damages are caused by quite heavy force,” Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur told Reuters, with possible causes including “mechanical impact or mechanical destruction.”
The pipeline and telecoms cable run in parallel at a “significant” distance from each other, according to the cable operator, Elisa.
The two were damaged “within the same time frame” early on Sunday, Finnish investigators said, with the pipeline break believed to have been in Finnish waters while the cable breach was in Estonian waters.
The pipeline, encased in concrete for protection, looks like “someone tore it on the side”, Estonian Navy Commander Juri Saska told public broadcaster ERR. “The concrete has broken, or peeled off, specifically at that point of injury.”
The damage would not impact Finland’s electricity system, grid operator Fingrid said. Gas accounts for 5% of Finland’s energy needs.
The Balticconnector pipeline opened in December 2019 to help integrate gas markets in the region, giving Finland and the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania more flexibility of supply. (Source: Reuters)
13 Oct 23. France to Invest €13bn in Rafale and SCAF by 2035. France will invest over €13bn in its combat aviation over the next decade, with major investments in the production of Rafale fighters for the French air force, the development of the next Rafale F5 version, and initial development of the next-generation SCAF fighter with Germany and Spain.
The armed forces ministry has earmarked €6.4bn in the 2023-2026 defense program law to finance various aspects of the Rafale program, the French La Tribune website reported Oct. 12, with another €5.36bn budgeted for the program beyond 2026. Total expenditure on Rafale over the next decade will total €11.76 billion.
Rafale F4 production and F5 development
This substantial amount will finance the development and production of the Rafale F4 version (€2.27 billion), which will feature improved connected collaborative combat capabilities, and whose latest F4.2 variant is already being developed.
The armed forces ministry’s 2024 budget also includes initial funding of €211.9 million for the next Rafale version, designated F5. This amount will also fund the development of the F5’s next-generation RBE2 XG radar, as well as related risk reduction studies. Rafale F5 will notably be able to operate with ‘loyal wingman’ unmanned aircraft, and Dassault is working to update its Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle for this purpose. The ministry has budgeted €128 million for Neuron in the 2024 budget, which adds up to €340 million for the F5/Neuron development just in 2024.
However, the largest investment in Rafale – €8.5bn – is earmarked to pay for the delivery of additional production aircraft to the French air force. In 2023-2026, €3.7 bn will pay for 13 aircraft to be delivered in 2023 and 2024, La Tribune reported. These will be the final French F3R production aircraft, and will subsequently upgraded to the F4.2 version together with the entire French fleet.
In addition, the French armed forces ministry is negotiating a new order for 42 additional Rafale, which should be signed by the end of the year. This order will increase France’s Rafale fleet to 178 air force Rafale B/C and navy Rafale M aircraft by 2030, and to 225 aircraft by 2035. This was the number of aircraft planned when the program was launched, but had been reduced for financial reasons. This will bring the total of new orders by the French armed forces ministry to 55 aircraft.
Spending on SCAF to increase
In parallel, France is ratcheting up spending on its the Future Air Combat System (SCAF) program, together with Germany and Spain, and has budgeted €1.3bn for the program over the next four years (2023-2026), La Tribune reported.
Most of that sum will go to pay France’s one-third share of the cost of the phase 1B of the SCAF program (Next Generation Weapon System). Awarded in December 2022, this 36-month contract amounts to over €3bn, shared equally between Germany, Spain and France.
In addition, France has also budgeted an additional €300m for additional SCAF-related activities beyond 2026, according to La Tribune, bringing the total budgeted for SCAF to date to €1.65bn.
13 Oct 23. UK accelerates military support to Northern Europe following visit to Sweden. The Prime Minister has vowed to step up the UK’s presence in Northern Europe, deepen cooperation on tackling hybrid threats and protect Critical National Infrastructure with Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) partners as he met fellow leaders today. 20,000 British troops to be deployed across Northern Europe
- More than 20,000 British troops to be deployed across Northern Europe next year
- Comes as the Prime Minister warns we must not be complacent after Putin’s embarrassing failures in Ukraine embolden his disruptive behaviour elsewhere
- Prime Minister meets Joint Expeditionary Force leaders in Gotland after staying on board Royal Navy warship – the first Prime Minister to do so in more than 50 years
The Prime Minister has vowed to step up the UK’s presence in northern Europe, deepen cooperation on tackling hybrid threats and protect Critical National Infrastructure with Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) partners as he met fellow leaders today.
More than 20,000 British troops will be deployed to the region next year, which is vital for the protection of Critical National Infrastructure, as the exploitation of hybrid activities and strategic competition in the area accelerates.
Meeting northern European leaders today on the strategically important island of Gotland to discuss the challenges facing the region, as well as the situation in Israel, the Prime Minister warned that Putin’s failures in Ukraine were emboldening Russia’s irresponsible behaviour in other parts of Europe.
He told leaders that while Putin had lost significant ground in Ukraine since he launched his barbaric invasion, allies and partners should not be lulled into a false sense of security. The Kremlin was reinvesting in military capability and turning to a diminishing number of malevolent and marginalised partners to try and rebuild its strength and undermine global stability.
His warning came after damage was detected earlier this week to two pipelines between Estonia and Finland, and HMS Queen Elizabeth was forced to launch fast jets from her deck in the Arctic last week to escort Russian Maritime Patrol Aircraft that flew close to the Carrier Strike Group operating in the region.
JEF leaders discussed today how they can address Russia’s sabotaging behaviour in the region, both through stronger defence collaboration and increasing industrial cooperation.
The Prime Minister outlined how accelerating defence industrial cooperation within Europe and across the Atlantic was vital to ensuring nations maintain a technological advantage over Russia and protect partners from Russian attacks for generations to come.
As part of that ambition, the Prime Minister also set out how the UK will accelerate its military cooperation in the region to help detect, deter and defuse traditional and hybrid threats.
That acceleration will include sending more than 20,000 soldiers, sailors, marines and air men and women to the region next year, alongside 8 Royal Navy ships, 25 fast jets and an aviation task force of Apache, Chinook and Wildcat helicopters. They will take part in large-scale, multi-country exercises, as well as carrying out air policing and cold weather training.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “This week, we have seen yet again that our security cannot be taken for granted. It is vital that we stand united against those with malign intent. As the international order continues to be challenged by desperate dictators, rogue states, and terrorist organisations – like Hamas – we must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our international friends and partners to defend our values, security and prosperity. Northern Europe is vital to our national security, which is why it’s more important than ever that we work with our Joint Expeditionary Force neighbours to protect our backyard and deter damaging hybrid threats. ”
The UK’s Carrier Strike Group is already in the region for its autumn deployment, underlining the UK’s commitment to the area. The group is led by flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth and accompanied by five British ships, F35 Lightning II stealth fighter jets and Wildcat helicopters.
The Prime Minister stayed on destroyer HMS Diamond, which is docked in Visby, last night, before having breakfast with British sailors this morning. According to Royal Navy archives, he is the first Prime Minister to overnight on a Royal Navy warship since the late Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1968.
The ship is a vital component of the strike group, providing state-of-the-art air and missile defence capabilities. It is docked in Visby as part of the group’s work with Sweden during their autumn deployment.
The carrier group, including HMS Queen Elizabeth, will return early next year to lead the UK’s contribution to the first phase of NATO’s most ambitious military drill since the Cold War, Exercise Steadfast Defender.
The operation will span almost six months and see 16,000 UK soldiers deploy to Estonia and Norway.
The deployments come as the Prime Minister deepened the UK’s relationship with Sweden today, signing a strategic partnership with the Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.
The partnership will expand cooperation on security and defence, innovation, science, energy, trade and investment. It builds on the UK’s security assurances to Sweden, which were signed last year ahead of the country’s accession to NATO.
The Prime Minister also agreed a new ambitious Green Industrial Partnership with Norway, which will seek to drive both countries’ transition to more clean and secure energy by enabling deeper cooperation on areas like offshore wind, low emission transport and critical minerals.
The agreement will benefit supply chains and support skills in low carbon sectors, as well as improving the security and resilience of critical infrastructure. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
13 Oct 23. Poland: General election unlikely to deliver majority government, elevating near-term policy risks. On 15 October, Poland will hold a general election. Polls indicate that neither the nationalist ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) nor the centrist opposition led by the Civic Platform (PO) will secure a majority. It is possible that PiS will require the support of the right-wing Confederation party to form a government. However, negotiations will be very difficult, and a confidence and supply agreement is more likely. A PiS-led government would broadly entail policy continuity, while relations with the EU would remain strained. The opposition’s prospects – hindered by a largely pro-government media environment – will depend partly on female voter turnout. Weeks of uncertainty are likely to follow the vote. Should the opposition form a government, the most significant implication would be improved relations with the EU. EU funding has been a key driver of economic growth in Poland but has been restricted in recent years due to disputes between Brussels and PiS. (Source: Sibylline)
13 Oct 23. US B-1B Lancers touch down in the UK, bolstering transatlantic security. The deployment of the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron strengthened US-Nato collective defence.
In a strategic move to bolster transatlantic security, over 100 Airmen and B-1B Lancer aircraft from the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron have arrived at RAF Fairford for Bomber Task Force-Europe 24-1.
This deployment underpins the US and Nato commitment to collective defence and is a deterrent against potential aggressors worldwide.
The 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, hailing from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, touched down at RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, on Thursday, marking a milestone in bolstering transatlantic security measures. The deployment is part of the long-planned Bomber Task Force-Europe 24-1.
This strategic move is pivotal as global security dynamics continue to evolve. Gen. James Hecker, commander of US Air Forces in Europe, US Air Forces Africa, and NATO Allied Command emphasised the importance of these missions. “In today’s challenging and dynamic security environment, the significance of these missions cannot be overemphasised,” stated Gen. Hecker.
“We’re not only demonstrating our commitment to collective defence but also strengthening our ability to respond to potential challenges. This underscores the enduring commitment of the United States to our Allies and partners.”
The deployment of the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron aligns with US European Command objectives. By operating an array of aircraft and units in Europe, the US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa maintain a state of readiness, ensuring a quick and effective response to regional and global operations.
Lt. Col. Philip Atkinson, director of operations for the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, expressed eagerness about the prospect of building and solidifying partnerships across the region. He noted, “We’re excited about building and solidifying critical partnerships throughout the region and demonstrating the ability to hold potential adversaries at risk at anytime, anywhere in the world.”
As the B-1B Lancers stand on the tarmac of RAF Fairford, they symbolise the collective resolve to safeguard the security and interests of the United States and its NATO allies. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
12 Oct 23. NATO Defense Ministers Deal With Range of Alliance Issues. While the situation in Ukraine and the Middle East dominated, NATO defense ministers dealt with a range of issues during their defense ministerial in Brussels today.
The ministers discussed progress made in strengthening deterrence in the region and the various NATO missions and operations, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during a news conference following the meeting at NATO headquarters.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III attended the meeting and chaired a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group immediately prior to the NATO ministerial.
Stoltenberg said Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant briefed the ministers on the horrific terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel, and Israel’s ongoing response.
“The allies strongly condemned Hamas’ indefensible attacks on civilians, and called for the immediate release of all hostages,” the secretary general said. “Israel has the right to defend itself. And as the conflict unfolds, the protection of civilians is essential. No nation or organization hostile to Israel should seek to take advantage of the situation, or to escalate the conflict.”
The NATO ministers also addressed alliance missions and operations, including in the Western Balkans and in Iraq. “In response to recent tensions in Kosovo, NATO has deployed hundreds of additional reserve forces to our operation in recent weeks,” he said.
The KFOR is conducting more patrols in the northern part of Kosovo. “These are prudent steps to ensure KFOR has the forces it needs to fulfil its U.N. mandate impartially,” Stoltenberg said.
He said leaders in Serbia and Kosovo must behave responsibly, refrain from destabilizing actions and re-engage in the European Union-sponsored dialogue. “This is the only way to lasting peace in Kosovo,” he said.
In Iraq, the NATO mission is expanding support to Iraqi security institutions, to help prevent the return of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “Terrorism remains the most direct asymmetric threat to the alliance,” he said.
To combat this, Stoltenberg announced that Assistant Secretary General Tom Goffus will serve as special coordinator for counterterrorism. “He will ensure that NATO’s response to terrorism remains strong, effective and coherent,” Stoltenberg said.
Defense ministers also discussed moves to strengthen alliance defenses announced during the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania last summer. NATO leaders agreed on the most robust defense plans since the end of the Cold War, the secretary general said. “We are now taking the next steps: This means assigning the necessary forces, developing new capabilities and adjusting our command and control structures,” he said.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has rattled the nuclear saber. “Russia’s war on Ukraine is a reminder of the important role NATO’s nuclear weapons play in deterring aggression,” Stoltenberg said. “Next week, NATO will hold its annual nuclear exercise, Steadfast Noon. This is a routine training event that happens every October.”
The exercise will take place over Italy, Croatia and the Mediterranean Sea. “Our exercise will help to ensure the credibility, effectiveness and security of our nuclear deterrent,” he said. “It sends a clear message that NATO will protect and defend all allies.”
The ministers also discussed damage to critical undersea infrastructure in the Baltic Sea. A gas pipeline and a communications cable connecting NATO allies, Finland and Estonia were damaged Oct. 10. The allies will work with Finland and Estonia to establish the facts behind the incident. “If this is proven to be a deliberate attack on critical infrastructure, it would be a serious incident, and it would be met by a united and determined response,” Stoltenberg said.
Finally, the secretary general raised the need to move forward on the ratification of Swedish membership in the alliance. “I’m glad that the Turkish defense minister confirmed that Turkey stands by the agreement from Vilnius to finalize Swedish accession,” he said. “I now expect that the Turkish government will submit the accession protocol to the Grand National Assembly and work with the assembly to ensure speedy ratification.” (Source: US DoD)
12 Oct 23. Current arms treaties won’t keep up with weapons development, experts warn. The war in Ukraine is likely to shape missile and drone development for decades, according to new research.
However, it also warns that current arms treaties will not be able to cope with a vast increase in these types of weapons.
The research paper by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) says the conflict will fuel demand for cruise and ballistic missiles as well as low-cost military-grade drones.
It says that nations that do not have them in depth, will be looking for ways to buy them on the world market or build their own.
Speaking to Forces News, Timothy Wright, Research Associate at the IISS, said that you may see, “less priority on focusing on the highest-end Gucci kit, trying to instead focus a bit more on what can we produce cheaply and at scale”.
“Simple doesn’t mean bad and simple doesn’t mean that it’s unsophisticated.”
The paper says Ukraine will accelerate the development of more capable missiles, including multi-use munitions, that can be used against land and sea targets. (Source: forces.net)
12 Oct 23. EU: Plan to bolster undersea cables underscores heightened security concerns, though delays are likely. On 11 October, reports emerged that the EU wants to invest in vital undersea cable projects to reduce its dependence on a limited number of internet connections and enhance security. This initiative, set to commence in early 2024, is part of a broader strategy to strengthen internet infrastructure and reduce vulnerabilities to sabotage. Brussels will provide non-binding recommendations to member states on secure subsea infrastructure for Europe, promoting the finance of ‘Cable Projects of European Interest’. Highlighted by the recent allegations that damage to the Balticconnector gas pipeline and a separate telecom cable were caused by ‘external activity’, security concerns surrounding Europe’s undersea infrastructure remain heightened. While the proposal underscores the current risks posed to undersea infrastructure, in the long term it will possibly bolster resiliency to potential sabotage operations. However, as the EU currently faces gridlock on a number of policy priorities, including immigration and debt control, it is likely the plans will face delays in implementation. (Source: Sibylline)
12 Oct 23. Only 9 of 18 Original Members Sign MoU for Germany’s European Sky Shield (ESSI). 10 NATO Allies Take Further Step to Boost European Air and Missile Defence Capabilities. Defence Ministers from 10 NATO Allies came together on Wednesday (11 October 2023) to sign a memorandum of understanding to further develop the European Sky Shield Initiative. Under Germany’s leadership, the initiative aims to bolster European air and missile defence through the joint acquisition of air defence equipment and missiles by European nations. This will strengthen NATO’s integrated air and missile defence.
“European Sky Shield Initiative, under Germany’s leadership, shows the value of Allies stepping up to meet NATO’s requirements, while ensuring interoperability and integration,” said NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană. He added: “This initiative therefore, helps translate Allied commitments on defence spending into tangible capabilities available for our collective defence. It demonstrates the clear commitment of European Allies to fair burden sharing as well.”
The European Sky Shield Initiative enables participating nations to jointly procure an air and missile defence system in an efficient and cost-effective way using interoperable, off-the-shelf solutions. This multinational approach offers a flexible and scalable way for nations to strengthen their deterrence and defence.
The 10 NATO Allies participating in the initiative are: Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands and Slovenia.
(defense-aerospace.com EDITOR’S NOTE: When ESSI was first announced in October 2022, 14 NATO members and Finland had already signed a Letter of Intent for the German-led project. Four other countries joined later: Denmark and Sweden joined in February 2023 and Austria and Switzerland joined in July 2023, bringing the total to 19 member nations.
Wednesday’s MoU was signed by only nine countries in addition to Germany, just half of the 18 countries that had signed the original LoI.
Interestingly, all the signatories are second-tier players in European defense, both militarily and industrially.
Slovakia, a signatory of the LOI, announced earlier this month that it would buy the Israeli Barak medium-range air-defense system, which it had found both better suited to its military requirements and significantly less expensive than its competitors.
It appears some countries believe that ESSI unduly favors German industry, as it includes the German-made Diehl Defence IRIS-T surface-launched missile selected by Germany, and excludes some other European systems like MBDA’s CAMM, selected by the UK, Poland and Italy; the French-Italian SAMP/T and the Kongsberg-developed NASAMS.
There is reason to believe other countries will follow Slovakia’s lead.)
10 Oct 23. Western firms have supplied critical components for Turkish drones. Turkey has escalated its use of airstrikes in its fight against the PKK and allies in Iraq and Syria in recent years.
Many of the strikes are carried out by armed drones, including the Bayraktar TB2, according to local officials in Iraq and weapons experts.
The drone’s maker, Istanbul-based company Baykar, is run by brothers Haluk and Selcuk Bayraktar. The latter is married to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s daughter. The company was founded in the 1980s by their father Özdemir and began to focus on drones in 2005. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
At least two Western companies have supplied critical components for the drones. Among them are optical sensors. Weapons experts say these sensors enable unmanned aerial vehicles to surveil and identify targets on the ground and execute airstrikes. There is no indication that Western companies have violated sanctions.
German defence electronics manufacturer Hensoldt told Reuters it has been equipping the Bayraktar TB2 with its ARGOS II optical sensor since 2020. It said it had also supplied the sensor to Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and Lentatek, two other Turkish manufacturers of drones. Hensoldt said the quantities and exact delivery dates of the sensors were confidential and could not be shared.
“Without these types of sensors drones as we know them wouldn’t work,” said Kelsey Gallagher, a researcher with Project Ploughshares, a Canadian peace research institute.
Hensoldt added that the ARGOS II is developed and manufactured by its subsidiary in South Africa and is free of any components governed by German export law or the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which control the export of a wide range of military equipment and technologies that can be used in weapons. (Source: glstrade.com/Reuters)
10 Oct 23. Turkish Naval Drones Sink Ship in UAV-backed Trial. A fleet of Türkiye’s homegrown kamikaze sea drones successfully struck a target in a sea trial featuring a joint operation with the country’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
Developed by a pioneering defense contractor, Aselsan, a swarm of Albatros-S unmanned surface vessels (USVs) consisting of eight kamikaze sea drones engaged in a test targeting a 22-meter (72.18-foot) ship off the coast of Mersin province in the Eastern Mediterranean, the statement said.
Detected by the famed Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicle, the target ship sank within minutes after being approached and hit by one of the USVs equipped with a warhead produced by another top local defense manufacturer, Roketsan.
“For the first time in the world, a swarm attack was carried out with the USV-UAV joint operation,” the Defense Ministry said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
The Albatros-S is a USV system boasting a high level of autonomy, capable of navigating and performing tasks in swarm formation independent of central control.
The Defense Ministry said meticulous precautions were taken to minimize the environmental impact during the sea trial. Prior to the test, the target ship underwent thorough cleaning procedures to remove pollutants such as fuel and oil.
The approximately 7-meter-long USV features a speed of over 40 knots, a cruising range of over 200 nautical miles, and a significant payload capacity.
Herd AUSVs will be capable of pursuing their missions against various obstacles with capabilities such as a domestic communication system, control system, multi-communication system architecture, and a global navigation satellite system (GNSS). The drones also have the ability to perform duties in a non-communication environment.
Unveiling a new dimension in the maritime landscape, they will offer important operational capabilities in safeguarding Türkiye’s surrounding seas, collectively dubbed the “Blue Homeland.”
The AUSVs will add to the security and protection of the country’s maritime continental shelf and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with features such as autonomous navigation in swarms, autonomous formation change and autonomous mission execution. (Source: Defense-Aerospace.com/ Daily Sabah)
10 Oct 23. Hungary: Rheinmetall’s European Eldorado. Since 2018, Hungary has become the Eldorado of Rheinmetall: year after year, the Düsseldorf-based defence group has clinched at least eight contracts and will heavily invest in four defence manufacturing plants. Its existing Hungarian positions will certainly grow in size and importance with the co-development of the KF-51 Panther, which has been selected by the Hungarian Government in August.
If the current negotiations are successful, this rival of the Franco-German MGCS will also be developed and produced in Hungary and exported from it.
Step by step, contract after contract, Rheinmetall builds in Hungary a cutting-edge and robust infrastructure independent from KMW and a strong manufacturing base for its multi-domestic strategy (Australia, Italy, Switzerland, South-Africa, Ukraine, etc).
Having a look at the company’s contracts and infrastructures in Hungary shows that Amin Papperger has been building a long-term relationship with Budapest, allowing him first to address the central Europe countries but also, and foremost, to bypass Germany’s restrictive export control regulations, that Berlin might impose to its Franco-German competitor, if ever the MGCS program still is to have a future. (Source: Defense-Aerospace.com)
11 Oct 23. UK: Activists will possibly escalate tactics targeting defence sector, affiliated entities. On 10 October, Palestine Action (PA) activists continued conducting disruptive protests targeting businesses with links to Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest weapons manufacturer. Following the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza conflict, the group released a ‘target’ list of 50 business linked to Elbit Systems on the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter). These targets range from military hardware sites, manufacturing support, legal services, government facilities, financial institutions, trade associations and logistics firms. Protests follow the launch of Palestine Action Underground in August, a covert chapter of the group, aimed at encouraging local cells to conduct disruptive action. Given the potential of PA to conduct highly sophisticated and disruptive protests, activism risks will remain particularly elevated for the defence sector, but also for companies with links to the Israeli state. While spraying paint on a building’s exterior remains the primary modus operandi, there is a realistic possibility that activists will escalate tactics in the coming weeks. (Source: Sibylline)
11 Oct 23. Slovakia: Likely coalition led by populist Smer party will increase policy risks. On 10 October, the leader of the centre-left Hlas party, Peter Pellegrini, stated his preference for coalition talks with the election-winning populist party Smer, which is led by former prime minister Robert Fico. To form a government, both Smer and the Progressive party (which gained the second-largest vote share) require support from Hlas, which came third in the 30 September election. It is unsurprising that Hlas prefers a coalition with Smer as Hlas seceded from Smer in 2020; Pellegrini has worked closely alongside Fico. Smer and Hlas share ideological tenets, despite Hlas not sharing Smer’s strong scepticism of the EU and Ukraine. However, in a coalition led by Smer, it is highly likely that Fico’s ideological conviction will dominate. This chance increases as a coalition between Smer and Hlas will likely be supported by the Slovak National Party, which holds similar views to Smer. With this coalition, it is highly likely that Slovakia will attempt to obstruct elements of EU policy, especially on (military) aid to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia. (Source: Sibylline)
10 Oct 23. Norway army chief says Leopard 2 option cut in favor of air defenses.
“What we’re seeing now is that the current war in Ukraine illustrates that we need to be capable of staying in the fight for a longer duration and that requires volume,” Lars Lervik, chief of staff of the Norwegian Army, told Breaking Defense.
Norway has decided against exercising an option for 18 German-made Leopard 2A8 main battle tanks to instead invest in air defense and long-range fire capabilities, the country’s top army official told Breaking Defense.
Despite turning down the option, Lars Lervik, Chief of Staff of the Norwegian Army, said in an interview that an earlier order of 54 tanks, under contract with manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMV), would be enough to enable Oslo to stand up a heavy mechanized brigade in line with NATO requirements and fits into national “wartime plans.”
All deliveries of the new Leopard vehicles are expected to be completed by “mid-2027,” according to Lervik.
He also expressed concern about Europe’s ammunition shortage crisis that has left countries across the continent scrambling to restore stockpiles left wanting by supplies made to Ukraine.
The amount of time “it will take to both re-balance the ammunition we have donated, but also to reach the sufficient level of readiness for the future” remains of issue, said Lervik. “What we’re seeing now is that the current war in Ukraine illustrates that we need to be capable of staying in the fight for a longer duration and that requires volume.”
At a political level, Oslo had considered dropping required levels of ammunition to sustain supplies to Ukraine, subject to approval by lawmakers. Lervik said he could not comment on such a matter because “details on stockpiles” are confidential.
Even so, he stressed that there are “no quick fixes” to the ammunition problem and backed support for longer production contracts for industry, echoing similar calls made by Norway’s national ammunition producer, Nammo.
In addition to spending 10.7 bn NOK ($99 m USD) on military aid to Ukraine in 2022, Oslo has also introduced a multiyear program of assistance that covers 75 bn NOK issued between 2023 through 2027. Fifteen bn NOK will be offered up each year.
That level of support has not been without controversy, with the government coming under pressure to increase aid to Ukraine under a shadow of making substantial natural gas profits after countries across Europe diversified away from Russian gas.
“I don’t have any comment to that, but I think Norway has come up with a five-year plan that recommends substantial money, both military and civilian aid to Ukraine, and I think that Ukrainians are very happy with that approach,” said Lervik. “There’s a long-term commitment.”
Elsewhere, Nordic military co-operation is also expected to be expanded once Sweden joins NATO. Levrik said that when the entry happens, interoperability and “classifications” will be two key items that will change co-operation for the better.
“We are in a very good position at the tactical level to really make that work as soon as both countries are members of NATO,” added Lervik, referring to Sweden and recent entrant Finland.
Additionally, military ties will also be strengthened by Norway, Finland and Sweden taking part in the Nordic Response training exercise next year.
Lervik stressed that one of his main priories at the AUSA expo in Washington, DC, this week will be holding discussions with industry on counter-UAS systems, which could influence how the technology could eventually be integrated into a layered air defense system.
On the acquisition front, he said he hopes to see a long-range fires tender issued to industry as soon as possible, accelerating a previous timeframe that aimed for the end of 2023, and, should additional money be made available, investments approved for additional K9 self propelled howitzers and K10 ammunition resupply vehicles. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
09 Oct 23. Norwegian government proposes a $1bn defence budget increase. With war in Europe and their military commitments, Norway hopes to surpass Nato’s 2% GDP defence spending threshold.
Norway’s Government has put forward a proposal to expand the 2024 defence budget by a nominal increase of NKr15bn ($1.38bn) compared to the approved budget for 2023.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who has led the country’s centre-left government since October 2021, responds to a souring geopolitical environment in which Norway must look to strengthen its military capability while contributing to Nato and donating equipment to Ukraine.
Adjusted for inflation, compensations, technical changes and increased income, the budget increases by a little over $1bn in prospective budget worth $8.36bn.
This is a proposal that Norway’s Defence Minister, Bjørn Arild Gram, says “puts us ahead of the plan to reach [Nato’s] 2% GDP [spending threshold] in 2026.”
During 2018–22, Norway’s defence budget declined slowly, from $6.8bn in 2018 to $6.6bn in 2020, before rising again to $7.4bn in 2021, according to GlobalData intelligence. Now, the nation’s budget is anticipated to rise from its current $8bn in 2022 to $9.8bn in 2027, an increase of $1.7bn over 2022–27 at a compound annual growth rate of 3.4%.
“In 2024 the main priorities are increasing the number of personnel, increased stockpiling, strengthening of the Home Guard, increased ability to receive allied reinforcements and improved situational awareness in the North,” the Ministry of Defence asserted in a 6 October press release.
Norway’s Arctic presence
With defence strategies prizing the so-called ‘High North’, otherwise known as the Arctic region, Norway’s allies consider the nation to be is a strategic partner in the polar theatre as a Scandinavian country with nearly half of its territory inside the Arctic circle. (Source: army-technology.com)
11 Oct 23. Britain today has a new ship dedicated to underwater surveillance in areas of UK sovereign interest.
Dedicated at a ceremony in the heart of London, RFA Proteus will serve as the launchpad for remotely-operated vehicles and a home to a suite of specialist capabilities similar to those found in the oil and gas industries.
The ship, which will be operated by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – the crucial support arm of the Royal Navy – was formally dedicated on the Thames in the presence of the RFA Commodore-in Chief, Prince Edward, The Duke of Edinburgh, and businesswoman and wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Akshata Murty, who will be Proteus’ sponsor throughout the ship’s active life.
A ship’s sponsor is an honorary title which is served to bestow good luck on a ship. The sponsor is regarded as a permanent member of the ship’s crew, and attends key moments in a vessel’s life.
Proteus will serve as a testbed for advancing science and technological development enabling the UK to maintain the competitive edge beneath the waves.
“Bringing a ship into service is a demanding endeavour which relies on a diverse, multi-skilled team, strong leadership, and unflinching determination. Proteus is no different and I pay tribute to the men and women in the UK, military and civilian who have contributed to this project and made today possible.”
It’s just 11 months since the MOD committed to invest in Proteus – named after the god of rivers and water in Greek mythology – as the first ship in its Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance (MROS) programme.
Since arriving at the Cammell Laird yard in Birkenhead in January, the 6,000-tonne vessel has undergone conversion and alterations ready for her unique mission.
Crewed by 26 Royal Fleet Auxiliary officers and sailors, augmented by 60 Royal Navy specialists responsible for the undersea surveillance, survey and warfare systems, the ship began life as an oil rig-support vessel.
The ship left Merseyside last month to undergo trials and training off Portland before heading to the capital to berth alongside iconic wartime cruiser HMS Belfast for today’s service of dedication.
Commanding Officer Captain Martin Jones RFA said:
“It is a huge honour to be able to bring RFA Proteus to the City of London for her official naming ceremony.
“To be berthed at such an auspicious location alongside HMS Belfast on the River Thames, is a unique opportunity to present the RFA to the public eye and allow the ships company to enjoy the sights and sounds of London.”
Proteus is equipped with a flight deck and a 1,000-square metre cargo deck, plus a heavy-duty crane for lifting and lowering operations. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
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