Sponsored by Exensor
13 Feb 20. Changes at the MoD: Who survived Britain’s government reshuffle? British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has escaped the ax in a ministerial reshuffle.
However, the Ministry of Defence has found itself with a new armed forces minister after Jeremy Quin took over from Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who was promoted to secretary of state for international development.
Wallace, who was in Brussels Thursday for a NATO defense ministers meeting, had been widely tipped to be a casualty of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s reshuffle just two months since winning a general election victory in early December.
Rumors of Wallace’s likely demise had been circulating the defense sector for weeks, with the defense secretary thought to have clashed with Johnson and his advisers over the funding and direction of the military in the defense and security review now starting to get underway.
Wallace also found himself on the wrong side of the argument when the government opted to allow Chinese communications giant Huawei to build part of Britain’s 5G network, despite concerns by allies like the U.S. and Australia that it would be a security risk.
That Wallace has kept his post likely caused a sigh of relief at a ministry that has recently seen a high turnover of defense secretaries.
Quin, the new armed forces minister, joins the MoD from a recent posting as an undersecretary at the Cabinet Office. The role will see him responsible for armed forces activity including operations, operational legal matters, force generation and international defense engagement. The lawmaker has no previous military experience.
He has been a member of Parliament since 2015, and much of his previous experience is in finance. (Source: Defense News)
06 Feb 20. Federal Minister Tanner Insists on Reparation for the Republic of Austria. With the published agreement between Airbus and the US authorities, the so-called Deferred Prosecution Agreements, Airbus has admitted having committed massive misconduct to the US Department of Justice and US Department of State in several cases and has also incurred high fines.
The agreement expressly confirms unfair conduct on the part of Airbus in connection with the sale of Eurofighters to the Republic of Austria in 2003, and confirms the suspicion of fraud reported by the Federal Ministry of Defense in 2017 that part of the amount paid by the Republic of Austria for the Eurofighter as the purchase price of €183.4m had flowed through Germany into the dubious Vector network and to others, through brokers and mailboxes to serve unfair business goals.
“Immediately after I took office, I took up the matter and gave the order to vigorously pursue the Republic of Austria’s claims for reparation against Airbus,” said Federal Minister Klaudia Tanner.
In February 2017, the Financial Procurator for the Republic of Austria joined the fraud proceedings in Austria against Airbus and others, with a claim for damages of at least €183.4m. Airbus has recently admitted serious misconduct and unlawful business practices to the French and British authorities. Airbus had to pay substantial fines for this. In the agreement with the US authorities, Airbus has now openly admitted its misconduct and unlawful business practices. In Austria, the judge’s report to the parliamentary committee of inquiry, which only ended in 2019, unequivocally stated that the Republic of Austria had been misled in the purchase and had only paid €183.4m too much because of this.
“We have been pursuing the legitimate claims of the Republic of Austria against Airbus for years with all the means of the rule of law. Airbus’ admission should now also bring charges to Austria,” said Wolfgang Peschorn, President of the Financial Procurator.
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Austrian Ministry of Defence)
10 Feb 20. European Defense Initiative funding drops in defense budget request. The Pentagon is requesting $4.5bn in funds for the European Deterrence Initiative, the second straight year that the department has cut its request for the program.
The EDI is a special part of the department’s Overseas Contingency Operations funding, focused on reassuring allies in Europe and deterring Russian aggression on the continent.
The Pentagon requested $4.8bn for EDI in FY18, a request which grew to $6.5bn in FY19. The FY20 request, however, dropped it down to $5.9bn. Congress plussed up the funding to $6.5bn, meaning the department’s request for this year would be a $1.5bn cut.
Funding will go towards rotational force deployment and the implementation of previously funded multiyear agreements. It will also support additional exercises in Europe and the prepositioning of U.S. equipment on the continent.
Two European officials contacted by Defense News downplayed concerns, with one saying that a drop in funding is normal given the number of infrastructure projects that are being completed.
Included in the EDI funding is $250m for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which can be used to replace any “weapons or defensive articles” provided to Ukraine by the U.S. government. Such funding became a flashpoint in 2019, eventually leading to the impeachment of President Donald Trump, who was acquitted in the Senate last week.
In the last National Defense Authorization Act, Congress requested that the Pentagon submit a five-year plan for EDI in FY21.
Overall, the OCO funding request is $69 bn, slightly down from the $71.3bn enacted by Congress for FY20. Other major OCO funds include $16.2bn for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria; $7.6bn for the replenishment of major munitions that have been expended around the globe; and $4bn to train and support Afghanistan security forces.
OCO also funds $600m in security cooperation funding, which has now been rebranded as the National Defense Strategy-Implementation fund, or NDS-I. (Source: Defense News)
10 Feb 20. NATO’s image worsens sharply in France, United States, study shows. NATO’s public image in the United States and France worsened sharply last year, according to a Pew Research Center study, after U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron questioned the value of the Western alliance.
Positive views of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which relies on the commitment of its allies to collective defence, fell to 52% in the United States last year, from 64% in 2018, the study released on Monday said.
In France, where Macron said last year the alliance was experiencing “brain death” because of a perceived failure to help resolve world conflicts, support fell to 49%, from 60% in 2017 and 71% in 2009. A figure for 2018 was not available.
NATO diplomats have long feared that Trump’s portrayal of NATO as an alliance in crisis might erode U.S. public support.
NATO, founded in 1949 to contain a military threat from the Soviet Union, relies on U.S. military superiority to face down a host of threats on Europe’s borders, including a resurgent, nuclear-armed Russia and militant attacks.
While Macron’s comments stunned other NATO leaders on the eve of a December summit in Britain, Trump has harangued allies since taking office in 2017 over perceived under-spending on defence. Trump threatened to pull America out of the alliance in 2018 and last year called low-spending allies “delinquent”.
The Pew study noted that several countries “have soured on the alliance”, including Germany, where support for NATO fell to 57% in 2019, from 63% in 2018.
Macron has defended his remarks as a useful wake-up call for allies, who he said were too focused on defence spending and other internal issues, rather than relations with Russia, NATO-member Turkey in Syria and the Middle East.
In Britain, however, where NATO is taking on greater symbolic importance following the country’s decision to leave the European Union, favourable views of NATO improved to 65% of Britons last year from 62% in 2017.
Overall, the study said 53% of people in 16 NATO members had a positive opinion of NATO, with less than a third expressing a negative view. The alliance is seen most favourably in Poland and least liked in Turkey. (Source: Reuters)
08 Feb 20. Macron seeks leading role in post-Brexit EU nuclear strategy. French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday advocated a more coordinated European Union defense strategy in which France, the bloc’s only post-Brexit nuclear power, and its arsenal would hold a central role.
Addressing military officers graduating in Paris, Macron set out his country’s nuclear strategy in a bid to show leadership one week after nuclear-armed Britain officially exited the EU.
Macron highlighted how France sees its nuclear weapons as a deterrent against attacks from belligerent foes, though he conceded France’s nuclear might is diminished after its military scaled down its arsenal to under 300 nuclear weapons.
But the speech aimed to project strength, as Macron refused to sign any treaty at this stage to further reduce the French arsenal, announced an increase in military spending and positioned himself as the driving force for a united EU — using France’s military clout to make his point. Macron also touted the French military’s role in spots such as Africa’s Sahel, where he has just pledged an additional 600 troops to fight extremists.
The central idea in the keynote speech, however, was that of a boosted Europe-wide role for the French nuclear arsenal in a more coordinated European defense policy.
Macron said it the strategy would prevent Europe “confining itself to a spectator role” in an environment dominated by Russia, the United States and China.
“Europeans must collectively realize that, in the absence of a legal framework, they could quickly find themselves exposed to the resumption of a conventional, even nuclear, arms race on their soil,” Macron warned.
His remarks come at a time when NATO allies, who would ordinarily look to the United States for help in a nuclear standoff, worry about Washington’s retreat from the multilateral stage. This could create new tensions within NATO, where Macron ruffled feathers last year by saying the lack of U.S. leadership is causing the “brain death” of the military alliance.
Last year, Russia and the U.S. pulled out of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty — dating from the era of the Soviet Union — and each blamed the other for its failure. Evoking the tearing-up of the INF treaty, Macron said he wanted the Europeans to propose their own “international arms control agenda together.”
President Donald Trump didn’t mince words when talking about the French premier’s comments about the NATO alliance.
Friday’s speech was part of Macron’s long-running push for a stronger European defense, as U.S. President Donald Trump has pulled away from European allies and admonished them to pay more for their own protection.
Macron explained his vision as “an offer of dialogue” and “service” to Europeans to assert their autonomy “in defense and arms control.”
There was no immediate reaction from the EU commission on Macron’s proposals. A spokeswoman said the bloc’s executive arm first needs to assess details of his plan. There was also no immediate comment from NATO, which includes two other nuclear powers — the U.S. and Britain. (Source: Defense News)
10 Feb 20. Record spending with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) this year will be highlighted by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead when he speaks at Venturefest South in March. This year (2019/20) Dstl has already committed to spend £41m on research directly with SMEs, up from £38m last year. Dstl places around 26% of its outsourced research with SMEs and the aspiration is to continue to increase this percentage. At Venturefest Dstl will be exhibiting some of its work with industry, such as a scale model of the MAST (Maritime Autonomous Surface Testbed) boat. Initially conceived by an SME, this pioneering vessel is being developed for the Royal Navy and increases protection and information by detecting threats and operating beyond the visual line of sight. There will also be a Dstl talk on the innovative development of synthetic biology for the sustainable manufacture of products, such as medicines, materials, foodstuffs and fine chemicals, to meet the present and future needs of society.
Dstl and DASA (Defence and Security Accelerator) representatives will be available to discuss collaboration and funding opportunities and Dstl’s Searchlight initiative to attract non-traditional suppliers to work with the defence community.”
Gary Aitkenhead commented: “This will be my first visit to Venturefest and I am looking forward to discussing how Dstl can work even more closely with SMEs and businesses in the region.”
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Home land Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company