Sponsored by Exensor
03 Sep 20. NATO Signals Turkey-Greece Breakthrough, Athens Denies Deal. Greece denied that talks on de-escalating tensions with Turkey are planned, just hours after NATO announced a deal. Hopes for a breakthrough in quelling the rising tensions in the eastern Mediterranean Sea dimmed on Thursday after Greek officials denied that they’d agreed to talks with regional rival Turkey.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced that the two sides had agreed to “technical talks” to avoid accidental military clashes in the region. “I remain in close touch with all concerned Allies to find a solution to the tensions in the spirit of NATO solidarity,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter. Just hours later, Athens denied that such talks were planned, with one Greek official telling the Associated Press that the NATO statement “does not correspond with reality.”
“De-escalation would only be achieved with the immediate withdrawal of all Turkish ships from the Greek continental shelf,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AP.
Turkey backs talks
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement backing the NATO initiative, adding that the talks weren’t intended to solve bilateral problems but rather focused on the actions of the two countries’ militaries.
“We want to reiterate that our country is ready for unconditional dialogue to find lasting and just solutions with Greece on all problems between us in the framework of international law,” the statement said.
Germany has also been leading a push for more dialogue between Greece and Turkey, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel holding talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday.
The two leaders agreed on a “need to reduce regional tensions,” Merkel’s spokesman said.
Greece and Turkey have been locked in a dispute over gas exploration, with concerns about a potential military conflict running high.
In recent weeks, the two NATO allies have been carrying out military maneuvers with naval ships and fighter jets involved. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Deutsche Welle German radio)
04 Sep 20. Norway sets the standard for allied attack submarine basing. As global tensions continue to require an increasing rotation of US force multipliers and strategic deterrence assets, Norway is setting the benchmark for allied ‘home porting’, as the Nordic nation expands its basing arrangements for US Navy attack submarines.
Next-generation submarines are emerging as another battleground for the competing superpowers, with the US, Russia, UK, China, France and India all seeking to develop and introduce ever more deadly, silent and persistent submarines to sea.
The frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Arctic Sea have long been a battleground for submarine warfare, throughout the First and Second World War as German and allied submarines played a tense game of tactical and strategic cat and mouse to turn the tide of the global conflict.
Throughout the Cold War, the US, British and French navies competed with the vast Soviet submarine arm to ensure that the nuclear balance of power preventing global nuclear conflict between the superpowers.
While the collapse of the Soviet Union saw the submarine competition of the Cold War significantly diminish, the competition didn’t completely fade into the ether, as Russia reorientates itself and begins to flex its muscle off the back of Russian engagement in the Middle East and increasingly assertive actions towards central and western Europe.
In response, the US and its traditional allies have sought to increasingly counter balance the resurgent capabilities of the Russian Navy, particularly the growing number of increasingly capable Russian conventional and nuclear-powered submarines operating in the Mediterranean, Baltic, Atlantic and Arctic waterways challenging the the security of the region.
At the forefront of this concerted effort is an increasing US Navy submarine presence in the UK and, increasingly, in Norway as the US seeks to counter efforts of Russia’s active Northern Fleet and its capabilities as they transit into the northern Atlantic.
In a major shift and escalation of America’s presence in the region, it has collaborated with Norway to provide an enhanced and increasingly frequent US forward deployment of US nuclear attack submarines.
Paul McLeary of Breaking Defense speaking to Marita Isaksen Wangberg, a spokesperson for the Norwegian military, revealed work currently underway at the Norwegian port of Tromso would enable the successful port visit of US Navy nuclear submarines.
“[Works] are now doing necessary adjustments and changes to various local regulations and plans. This work has to be finalised before nuclear submarines can visit the actual harbour,” Wangberg explained.
While the details of the works remain highly secretive, the model establishes a basis for broader US and allied collaboration for the basing and shared infrastructure investment to support the forward deployment of nuclear submarines, while promoting increased interoperability between allied forces.
Forward deployment as ‘burden sharing’
For Australia, a continent and nation at the fulcrum of the Indo-Pacific, supporting greater interoperability and enhancing the ‘special relationship’ alliance with both the US and UK is a critical component of the nation’s long-term defence and strategic posture.
Promoting increased forward deployment of major tactical and strategic force multipliers like carrier strike groups and fast attack submarine squadrons in Australia is a central part of supporting these efforts.
There has been significant conversation in recent decades about the permanent basing and development of supporting infrastructure to accommodate nuclear submarines at key ports like Fremantle in Western Australia.
Domestically, there has been significant debate about Australia’s nuclear energy potential, with much of the debate being dominated to the costs and time frame associated with developing such energy production, the idea of permanently basing forward deployed carrier strike groups and nuclear-powered fast attack submarines provides two interesting options:
- An option for embedding Australian enlisted, non-commissioned and submarine officers into both Royal and US Navy fast attack submarines forward deployed to key facilities to better develop such a capability domestically; and
- To share the costs associated with developing the infrastructure necessary to support nuclear-powered vessels with flow-on benefits for the Australian economy and local development of a viable, world-leading nuclear energy industry.
Spreading the infrastructure costs
Australia’s relative isolation from potential attack when compared with the likes of Guam, Yokosuka and Honolulu presents Australian, US and UK strategic leaders with an attractive alternative to jointly develop the infrastructure necessary to sustain, maintain, repair and overhaul nuclear-powered vessels.
However, simply developing a single iteration of the infrastructure required, ranging from dry docking facilities through to the refuelling and complex overhaul support and containment facilities required, would provide limited benefit to supporting the vessels and the concurrent development of Australia’s own domestic nuclear power industry.
Accordingly, two locations serve as ideal possibilities, namely Fremantle, which has long been proposed as a potential facility to accommodate major US naval forces, and Osborne, the hub of Australia’s submarine and naval shipbuilding enterprise and within close proximity to potential radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel storage facilities.
Spreading the costs for developing the critical infrastructure across the three nations provides each with incalculable benefits, ranging from increased tactical and strategic availability and presence, through to greater levels of interoperability and independent capability of allied forces and economic independence. (Source: Defence Connect)
02 Sep 20. UK reaffirms aid spending target, dismisses report that cash could be diverted. Britain reaffirmed its commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on aid and development on Wednesday, describing a report that it was seeking to divert billions of pounds from the aid budget to pay for intelligence and defence as “tittle-tattle”.
As the coronavirus crisis eats up government spending, finance minister Rishi Sunak is grappling with soaring expenditure and an expected decline in tax revenues as the economy is in recession.
Asked if the government’s pledge on aid spending would be honoured, foreign minister Dominic Raab said: “Oh, absolutely … It’s a manifesto commitment, it’s written into law.”
Britain is currently reviewing foreign, defence and security policy, seeking to define a new role for itself in the world after leaving the European Union.
“The chancellor has been clear that if the review isn’t cost-neutral it is only right that any extra spending comes out of the 0.7 per cent,” a Whitehall source was quoted by The Times newspaper as saying.
Sunak is understood to believe that the aid pledge should be abandoned or redefined so that the cash could be spent on a wider set of programmes, The Times reported.
A spokesman for the British Treasury declined to comment but Raab, speaking on the day the international development department is merged with the foreign office, dismissed The Times report.
“There’s a load of tittle-tattle, rather colourful, in the media, and I’m not going to prejudice the comprehensive spending review but we’re absolutely committed to helping the bottom billion, to making sure we link up with our wider foreign policy goals, most obviously climate change”, he said. (Source: Reuters)
02 Sep 20. UK foreign minister dismisses report on diverting aid spending to defence. British foreign minister Dominic Raab said a media report that Britain was seeking to divert aid spending to defence and intelligence projects was “tittle tattle”, and that the government remained committed to its aid target.
“There’s a load of tittle tattle, rather colourful, in the media,” he said in an interview. “I’m not going to prejudice the comprehensive spending review but we’re absolutely committed to helping the bottom billion, to making sure we link up with our wider foreign policy goals, most obviously climate change.”
The Times newspaper reported finance minister Rishi Sunak was seeking to divert billions of pounds from foreign aid to pay for upgrades to Britain’s intelligence and defence capabilities.
Asked if the government’s pledge to spend 0.7% of GDP on aid and development would be honoured Raab said: “ Oh, absolutely … It’s a manifesto commitment, it’s written into law.” (Source: Reuters)
02 Sep 20. Foreign aid billions to be spent on British spies. Chancellor seeks new round of defence spending. Rishi Sunak is seeking to divert billions of pounds from foreign aid to pay for upgrades to Britain’s intelligence and defence capabilities. The chancellor has told cabinet colleagues that increased spending on items such as enhanced cyberweapons and AI-enabled drones must come from the aid budget.
The Treasury is gearing up for a fight over the pledge that commits Britain to spending 0.7 per cent of national income on development projects.
An overhaul of foreign, defence and security policy is due to conclude in November. A desire to develop cutting-edge military technologies risks being compromised by a multibillion-pound deficit in the Ministry of Defence’s funding plans for existing kit programmes.
“The chancellor has been clear that if the review isn’t cost-neutral it is only right that any extra spending comes out of the 0.7 per cent,” a Whitehall source said.
Mr Sunak is understood to believe that the pledge should be abandoned or redefined so that the cash could be spent on a wider set of programmes.
The aid budget, which is based on a proportion of gross national income, was on course to total £15.8bn this year before the economy was hit by the coronavirus crisis.
Allies of the chancellor acknowledge that any redefining of internationally agreed definitions of aid spending would require changes to the law enshrining the 0.7 per cent pledge and could be almost as contentious as any decision to abolish it.
Previous attempts to widen the definition of aid spending to allow more military investment have failed to gain the support of other countries. The government could press ahead with a unilateral definition that allowed it to claim it was spending the budget for global “good”.
Mr Sunak is yet to win agreement from Boris Johnson or other cabinet ministers for his approach and some ministers are eyeing other uses for diverted aid cash. Downing Street said yesterday that the government remained committed to the 0.7 per cent aid pledge, with Mr Johnson’s official spokesman saying that there was “no change” to the longstanding policy.
Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, will mark the formal merger between the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development today by announcing £119m in aid to protect the world’s poorest from famine and coronavirus. Mr Raab will avoid re-committing to the 0.7 per cent pledge but make a point of praising Britain’s “world leading aid expertise”.
“Global Britain, as a force for good in the world, is leading by example and bringing the international community together to tackle these deadly threats, because it’s the right thing to do and protects British interests,” he will say.
One Whitehall source said that it could be more politically effective to create jobs by diverting aid cash to the domestic defence industry, which is regarded by the Treasury as offering a good return on investment. “If we are going to say that 0.1 per cent of the 0.7 per cent can be spent on a wider definition of helping the world, why not use it more visibly and directly help some of those ‘red wall’ seats?”
Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director-general of the Royal United Services Institute, said: “There’s clearly an aspiration to spend more on cyber-capabilities, where an extra couple of hundred million in the annual budget would make a significant difference, and on space capabilities where competition between the major powers is accelerating. The MoD has also made clear that it wants to move as swiftly as possible towards greater automation of its capabilities, developing new, deadlier, AI-operated drones.”
General Sir Richard Barrons, former commander Joint Forces Command, said that extra money for defence would be “an investment in prosperity as much as capability, as you would be making things you could sell to others”.
He said that extra funding could help to plug the deficit of up to £13bn in the military’s ten-year kit programme, “so you can have the things you’ve already said you want to have”.
Another option could be to use some of the existing aid budget to procure one or several hospital ships, which cannot be funded by overseas development assistance under existing rules.
Francis Tusa, editor of the industry newsletter Defence Analysis, said that acquiring three hospital or disaster relief ships could cost as little as £100m if the government bought and converted second-hand ferries, or around £500m to build them from scratch, which would have the benefit of creating British jobs.
Separately, the chancellor has been warned that raising fuel duty for the first time in a decade would be “political suicide”. Mr Sunak is considering ending the freeze on the duty, which has cost the Treasury tens of billions in lost revenue since 2011, in the budget this autumn. Rob Halfon, the Tory MP for Harlow, said: “Now is not the time to clobber workers, families, white van men and women and our public services with a fuel duty increase.” (Source: The Times)
02 Sep. 20. Ukraine and Turkey in talks to bolster industrial cooperation. Ukraine and its Black Sea neighbor Turkey are striving to deepen their emerging defense and aerospace industry cooperation, with high-level visits and talks on joint programs.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Urusky visited Ankara on Aug. 28 to discuss enhancing defense industry ties and forming partnerships for new projects. He told Ukrinform news agency that Ukraine was particularly hopeful on joint efforts to develop an aircraft engine.
Urusky said two Ukrainian companies, Ivchenko-Progress and Motor Sich, would hold talks with Turkish defense companies. He also said Ukrainian aircraft-maker Antonov hopes to enhance its partnership with Turkey’s state-controlled missile-maker Roketsan.
Urusky also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Turkish capital.
A Turkish aerospace official said Ukraine was offering Turkey the opportunity to assess co-production possibilities for Antonov’s cargo aircraft, the AN-178. “We are discussing co-production opportunities … in Ukraine or in Turkey,” the official said.
One of the major weaknesses of the Turkish industry is the lack of engine technology. For instance, Turkey’s most ambitious indigenous program — the design, development and production of a national fighter jet, dubbed TF-X — appears stalled, as Turkish aerospace authorities are yet to find an engine for the planned aircraft. The TF-X program was officially launched in December 2010. In January 2015 then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that the planned fighter would have a twin engine. That was when the search for an engine began.
Turkish-Ukrainian defense and aerospace cooperation took off with a 2019 deal for the sale of six Bayraktar TB2 drones, built by the privately owned Turkish company Baykar Makina, to Ukraine. The $69m contract involved the sale of ammunition for the armed version of the TB2.
Later that year, state-controlled Ukrainian company Ukrspecexport and Baykar Makina signed what they view as a strategic cooperation deal. The agreement involves development and production of “sensitive technologies in defense and aerospace.” At the heart of the agreement is the planned development and production of advanced drone systems, both armed and unarmed. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
01 Sep. 20. Greece in talks with France over fighter jets, as East Med tensions rise – source. Greece is in talks with France and other countries over arms purchases to boost its armed forces, a government official told Reuters on Tuesday, as tensions grow over energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
A day earlier, Greece’s finance minister said the country is ready to spend part of its cash reserves on arms purchases and other means which will help increase its “deterrence force”, after years of belt-tightening in defence spending.
“We are in talks with France, and not only with France, in order to increase our country’s defence potential,” a government official told Reuters. “Within this framework, there is a discussion which includes the purchase of aircraft.”
The official added that no final decisions had been made. Greek media reported on Monday that Athens had agreed to acquire 18 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets from France.
“There is no agreement as written in several media. However, there are discussions on a number of subjects,” a French government source said, without providing further detail.
Greece has been at odds with neighbouring Turkey over a range of issues including overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the region, based on conflicting claims over the extent of their continental shelves.
Tensions escalated last month after Ankara dispatched the Oruc Reis seismic survey vessel in a disputed area following a pact between Athens and Cairo ratifying maritime boundaries.
France and Germany have tried to mediate to defuse the tension, while Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held two calls with United States President Donald Trump last week. On Monday night, Turkey extended the Oruc Reis vessel’s work until Sept. 12. The Turkish advisory came after the EU called for dialogue with Ankara.
Greece’s foreign ministry called the advisory illegal and urged Turkey “to desist from its daily rants and to work for security and stability in the region.” (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Reuters)
31 Aug 20. Turkey needs three aircraft carriers to be ‘a deterrent at sea.’ President Erdogan of Turkey was quoted in local media saying that the country requires three aircraft carriers in order to be a “a deterrent at sea”.
“Turkey is among the 10 countries that can design and produce its own warships. I see some shipbuilders with us today. We can build the second and third aircraft carriers, right? Can we? Because we need those to be a deterrent at sea. We continue to work and produce with the conscience that we don’t have a minute to lose.”
Is this realistic?
Turkey can certainly build the ships. The TCG Anadolu, pictured above, is an amphibious assault ship) of the Turkish Navy that can be configured as a light aircraft carrier. The ship has been designed to be capable of operating the F-35B aircraft however Turkey was removed from the F-35 programme in 2019 over security concerns.
Spanish firm Navantia provided the design, technology transfer, equipment and technical assistance to Sedef Shipyard of Turkey for the development of TCG Anadolu. It is also understood that the construction of an identical sister ship, to be named TCG Trakya, is currently being planned by the Turkish Navy.
Will they be aircraft carriers? Not really, not without fixed wing aircraft. Some Turkish military accounts are claiming that Turkey are planning on building supercarriers but I think that’s all I need to say on that.
Turkey is building helicopter carriers, not aircraft carriers. Aircraft carriers carry fixed wing aircraft, rather than just rotary wing aircraft like helicopters.
In conclusion, don’t expect to see Turkish aircraft carriers anytime soon. What you should expect to see over the next decade is another amphibious assault ship identical to the Anadolu. (Source: News Now/UKDJ)
31 Aug 20. British Army drone deployed to spot migrants in Channel. An army surveillance drone was due to have started patrolling the Channel overnight, looking for migrants trying to cross from France.
The Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle was due to undergo a seven-hour trial from 2am this morning. Launched from Lydd airport in Kent, it was operated by 47th Regiment Royal Artillery to transmit a live feed of the sea surface back to the unit.
It is the first time an army asset has been used in support of the Home Office to tackle migrant crossings. It is also the first time Watchkeeper has been used operationally in the UK.
“It will provide a leading surveillance and reconnaissance capability, feeding information back to the Border Force and allowing them to take appropriate action where necessary,” a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said last night.
If the trial is successful, the drone could become a permanent tool in the government’s arsenal to curb perilous crossings. However, its use is highly weather-dependent. The test today would have been delayed if conditions were poor.
The move follows the RAF deploying Shadow R1 intelligence aircraft over the Channel during the surge of boats crossing this summer. Last week the navy also commenced experiments in the Solent to see how rigid inflatable boats could support the Border Force.
More than 5,000 migrants are thought to have traversed the Channel in small boats to arrive in Britain so far this year, more than double last year’s figure.
A further 1,000 are known to have been intercepted by French authorities as they tried to make the dangerous 21-mile journey to the UK through some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
A move to deploy Watchkeeper drones permanently in support of the Home Office could mark a fresh start for a programme that has suffered mixed fortunes, running £400m.
It came into service in 2010 and was most recently used by the British army in Afghanistan. Several Watchkeepers have crashed in recent years, with one stalling after a technical problem during a bad weather flight test and plunging into the sea off the Welsh coast last year.
The drone is piloted by radio signals, which means troops must be close on the ground near by to fly it. For this reason it has been less suitable for deployment over Syria and Iraq than the Reaper, an RAF drone that is controlled by satellite and can be operated from thousands of miles away.
Watchkeeper drones boast a range of sensors, including electro-optic and infrared day and night video cameras. It also carries synthetic aperture radar, which provides finer resolution than conventional beam-scanning radars, and a moving target indicator radar.
The drone is 6.5m long, with a wingspan of almost 11m, and can fly for up to 14 hours. It weighs 485kg, can fly within a range of 150km from its ground station, and cruises at a speed of up to 77 knots at an altitude of 16,000ft. Made by Thales, the French defence and aerospace giant, the platforms cost around £22m each.
A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: “The deployment of Watchkeeper provides further Defence support to the Home Office in tackling the increasing number of small boats crossing the English Channel.
“It will provide a leading surveillance and reconnaissance capability, feeding information back to the Border Force and allowing them to take appropriate action where necessary.” (Source: Google/The Times)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Home land Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company