Sponsored by Exensor
14 Sep 20. Chief of Defence Intelligence comments on threats the UK will face in coming decades. Lieutenant-General Jim Hockenhull looks to the future, outlining the changing character of the threat and the role of UK Defence
The UK’s adversaries are developing new ways of operating, backed up by cutting edge military capabilities that leverage advanced technologies, the Chief of Defence Intelligence today warns.
In the first ever media briefing at Defence Intelligence’s Cambridgeshire base, Lt Gen Hockenhull has said that the shifting global picture has changed the character of warfare in ways that will challenge the West to keep pace with adversaries who do not play by the rules.
Global players such as Russia and China continually challenge the existing order without prompting direct conflict, operating in the expanding grey-zone between war and peacetime.
Conflict is bleeding into new domains, such as cyber and space, threatening our cohesion, our resilience and our global interests.
Chief of Defence Intelligence, Lieutenant-General Jim Hockenhull said:
Whilst conventional threats remain, we have seen our adversaries invest in Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and other ground-breaking technologies, whilst also supercharging more traditional techniques of influence and leverage.
As we have seen in Salisbury, hostile states are willing to take incredible risks. We must make sure that we have both the intent and the capability to ensure that such wanton acts of irresponsibility will not go unpunished.
Traditionally more comfortable in the shadows, Defence Intelligence [DI] have been brought to the fore by recent developments. Tasked with watching for global instability, tracking threats to the UK and monitoring human rights violations, amongst other things, analysts at DI provide advice to senior officials, shaping the Government’s approach to emerging threats and supporting UK forces deployed across the globe.
DI are already well placed to make this shift. Operating the world’s only fully integrated TOP SECRET collaboration centre, they are already working closely with 5 Eyes partners and other allied intelligence agencies.
Moreover, in their support to the Coronavirus response, they have already proved their agility and adaptability when faced with new challenges. Possessing the UK’s sole strategic medical intelligence capability, they rapidly shifted focus the Covid Assessment Team, or CAT. This moved their analysts from tasks such as assessing the UK’s overseas medical capabilities and understanding bio-hacking, to assessing the current and future threat posed by COVID-19. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
14 Sep 20. Greece orders 18 Rafale fighters. Greece plans to obtain 18 Dassault Rafale fighters and upgrade 10 of its Mirage 2000s.
“I am delighted with this announcement, which reinforces the exceptional relationship we have had with Greece for nearly half a century, and I thank the Greek authorities for their confidence in us once again,” says Eric Trappier, chairman and chief executive of Dassault Aviation.“Dassault Aviation is fully mobilised to meet the operational needs expressed by the Greek Air Force, and thus contribute to ensuring Greece’s sovereignty and the safety of the Greek people.”In addition to the acquisition of 18 Rafales, 10 Mirage 2000s will be upgraded to the Mirage 2000-5 standard. Dassault notes that Athens ordered 40 Mirage 2000s in 1985, and 15 Mirage 2000-5s in 2000.
Media reports suggest the deal is part of a larger package with France that includes four frigates.
Cirium fleets data indicates that the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) operates 187 combat aircraft.
Of these, 40 are Mirage 2000s serving in the Air Defence role. Twenty-four are Mirage 2000-5s and 16 are Mirage 2000s. The average age of the Mirage 2000 fleet is 24.3 years.
The backbone of the HAForce are 114 Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds, with an average age of 20.8 years. It also has 33 McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantoms, with an average age of 44.8 years.
Greece is upgrading 82-84 of its F-16s to the F-16V standard. This will see the jets receive an active electronically scanned array radar in the form of the Northrop Grumman APG-83, which offers a number of improvements including greater detection and tracking ranges, interleaved air-to-air and air-to-surface modes, and improved electronic protection.
Other improvements include a new centre pedestal display, a digital video and high-speed data bus, and the ability carry more advanced weapons.
In April 2019, Greek defence minister Evangelos Apostolakis said the country was considering the acquisition of up to 30 F-35 to replace the air force’s oldest F-16s. (Source: Flight Global)
12 Sep 20. UK Defence secretary denies plan to mothball Challenger 2. The BBC reported today that UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has quashed speculation that the Army will mothball all its tanks. Last month, the Times reported military chiefs were considering the idea, under plans to modernise the armed forces.
But Mr Wallace told the BBC “the idea that tanks won’t be there for the Army, upgraded and modernised, is wrong”.
However, he admitted a government review would mean “letting go” of some military equipment to invest in cyber, space and other new technologies.
Speaking on a visit to the Middle East, Mr Wallace said there would be a shift to forward-deploy British military forces around the world to protect UK interests and its allies.
Mr Wallace said a joint squadron of RAF and Qatar Typhoon jets would be based in Qatar for football’s 2022 World Cup. He announced a £23.8m investment in a UK logistics hub in the Port of Duqm to support more British army training in Oman, and which could be used to base the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers.
He also confirmed that RAF jets would continue to target the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, with 23 strikes against extremist targets since March 2020.
The RAF are continuing to take the fight to Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
- Thursday 20 August – an RAF Reaper struck a Daesh command post in a cave in northern Iraq.
- Wednesday 26 August – an RAF Reaper attacked a second Daesh position and provided surveillance support to a coalition air strike in northern Iraq.
As part of the UK’s contribution to the Global Coalition in the fight against Daesh, the Royal Air Force continues to fly daily missions against the terrorist movement in Syria and Iraq. Our aircraft conduct strikes on terrorist targets when required.
Intelligence analysis confirmed that a Daesh leadership group had established a cave network 85 miles west of Kirkuk in northern Iraq. An RAF Reaper kept a close watch on the location during the early hours of Thursday 20 August. When terrorists were identified at the cave entrance, the Reaper’s crew conducted an attack with a single Hellfire missile, having first swept the area for any signs of civilians who might be placed at risk. The missile struck the target accurately, and the blast was observed to emerge from another part of the cave network, indicating that weapon’s effect had reached deep inside the caves.
In addition to this, an RAF Reaper maintained surveillance on another set of caves in the area on Wednesday 26 August, which confirmed the presence of a number of Daesh extremists at the site. When terrorists were observed at the mouth of one of the caves, the Reaper’s crew engaged successfully with a Hellfire missile, then provided surveillance support to a follow-up attack by two coalition fast jets which struck the rest of the Daesh position.
As part of the UK Armed Forces’ contribution to the global coalition against Daesh, our aircraft have continued to fly armed reconnaissance patrols in support of the Iraqi security forces, striking terrorist targets as necessary.
A Royal Air Force remotely piloted Reaper investigated on Sunday 31 May a location in northern Iraq, some seventeen miles west of Tuz Khurmatu, where a Daesh group had been identified as having established themselves at a bunker situated in the mountains. The Reaper’s crew conducted a thorough check of the area, finding no signs of any civilians nearby, but confirming the presence of several terrorists close to the bunker itself, who were attempting to conceal themselves in heavy foliage. The Reaper therefore conducted two attacks in succession, destroying the bunker with a GBU-12 guided bomb, then hitting those terrorists who were outside the bunker with a Hellfire missile.
On Wednesday 3 June, a pair of Typhoon FGR4s, supported by a Voyager air refuelling tanker, joined other coalition aircraft in an operation against Daesh positions which had been identified on a mountainous ridge some thirty-five miles north-west of Kirkuk. Having confirmed that there were no signs of civilians in the area, the Typhoons provided surveillance support to a strike by coalition jets, and were then allocated a cave, occupied by Daesh, as their own target. This position was struck with a single Paveway IV guided bomb, and Iraqi ground forces subsequently confirmed the attack to have been a success.
A further group of caves, situated thirty miles north-west of Tikrit, were confirmed as being used by Daesh both as accommodation and storage for improvised explosive devices. Two Typhoons were accordingly tasked to attack the terrorist position on Monday 22 June. Having checked the area for any civilians who might be at risk, four Paveway IVs were successfully used to strike four carefully selected targets within the cave network.
Intensive coalition surveillance efforts were able to confirm that another group of Daesh terrorists had established themselves in a cave network in the Makhmur mountains of northern Iraq. RAF Typhoons were therefore tasked with the destruction of this terrorist base on Wednesday 24 June. After the usual precautionary check of the area for civilians, our aircraft attacked with four Paveway IVs, all of which struck their targets successfully.
‘Overmatched by adversaries’
Last month, the Times reported on plans to mothball the Army’s ageing 227 Challenger tanks as part of the government’s integrated defence and security review – described as the most important defence review since the end of the Cold War.
Mr Wallace confirmed the review would mean “letting go of some equipment that isn’t serving any purpose or overmatched by adversaries”.
He said that would mean investing in new equipment for the RAF, Royal Navy and the Army. But he signalled that any cuts would not be as dramatic as some have reported.
That still leaves open the possibility of a reduction in the number of tanks. But Mr Wallace said that getting rid of all of them was not going to happen.
“We’re going to make sure we have an armed forces fit for the 21st Century and meets our obligations to Nato and elsewhere…
“We are not scrapping all the British army’s tanks and we will make sure the ones we maintain are up to date, lethal and defendable.”
Mr Wallace said Britain also needed to meet the threat of long-range artillery and drones, which have recently been used by Russia against Ukraine to destroy its heavy armour.
Ben Wallace said his first duty was to make sure he delivered up-to-date equipment
The new port facilities at Duqm will triple the size of the existing UK base in Oman. They will also be used for British army training in Oman.
There’s been speculation that the Army could switch its training for tanks from Canada to the Gulf state.
While in Qatar, Mr Wallace also visited the US-led coalition headquarters co-ordinating the air campaign against the group calling itself the Islamic State.
Despite IS losing most of its territory in Iraq and Syria, Mr Wallace said the threat was “not going to go away”.
BATTLESPACE Comment: BATTLESPACE had reports on Friday of heated discussions between Dominic Cummings and senior Army and MoD officials about the upcoming Defence Review and future structure of the armed forces. Dominic Cummings is believed to have tabled the proposal to cut all armoured vehicles including Challenger 2 to concentrate on attack helicopters and cyber. This was seen a step too far by the MoD and the Army who saw the loss of its prestigious Challenger 2 fleet as a step too far. An agreement is believed to have been reached to allow the Challenger 2 Life Extension programme to proceed in with the numbers we suggested in July, 148, with a cancellation of Warrior CSP and some Ajax variants along with the ageing 430 Series. AS part of the compromise, Cummings is believed to have stated that certain individuals in the Army and MoD would be ‘named and blamed’ for delays in the implementation of the new armoured vehicle fleet. No mention of the CT40 fiasco and its huge costs to the taxpayer which has been one of the main contributors to the delay to WCSP and Ajax of which GDUK is yet to deliver a turreted variant given reports of ‘turret wobble’ due to the massive 20,000lbs recoil of the CT40 canon.
Given the threat to the defence supply chain and Union demands that WCSP progresses to contract if Warrior is canned completely, BATTLESPACE has long speculated that Warrior would then progress to the ABSV/Warrior SV variant to replace the FV 430 Series on the battlefield.
On Jul 13th BATTLESPACE gave a UK military vehicles update. The UK Government Infrastructure & Projects Authority published a figure of £1.3bn for Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme (LEP) on Thursday. This figure takes into account a new turret, VAT, MOD and support costs.
The numbers required range from 148 to less than 200, down from the original figure of 227, 3x type 55 Regiments. The bid from RBSL was believed to have been submitted in August.
The Life Extension Programme includes:
- A new turret and smooth bore gun.
- A new Kinetic Energy (KE) Round bought from the US or Germany.
- A new Day/Night Hunter Killer capability which will include greater range requirements for the new round and a new more powerful gunner’s/commander’s display to give better target definition at longer ranges to accommodate the 120mm smooth bore gun.
- A new upgrade card for the ballistic computer.
- New Frontal Modular Armour (NMA).
- An Active Protection System (APS)either Trophy or Ironfist. Sources suggest that Trophy Medium Vehicle (MV) has been selected. This variant has also believed to have been purchased by Singapore.
- Upgrade of the Base Platform
- War stocks and Rheinmetall ammunition qualification.
The armour and APS need to get through development integration critical design review and the NMA needs to complete development, all this before 2022 Quarter 3 review note proceeds.
CDS General Sir Nick Carter commented last week that the final structure of the UK’s Strike Brigades is predicated on the Internal MoD Review currently being carried out.
Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that to achieve the required upgrades for Challenger 2 LEP and to introduce Ajax and Boxer that severe cuts will be introduced to the legacy fleet including, as reported last week (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.22 ISSUE 27, 05 July 2020, MILITARY VEHICLE NEWS, Out go the MRAPS!) Mastiff, Wolfhound and Ridgback, although not Panther, but to include Husky, FV430 and CVR(T). FV 430, of which there are still 900 in service, is still in use for Brigade Ops for mortar, Command Post and ambulance variants whilst CVR(T) is still in service for a variety of Recce roles.
Should FV 430 and CVR(T) be mothballed or sold, this will impinge on the workload of RBSL and DSG who currently manage the fleets.
Other sources suggest that in addition to the severe cuts being worked up, that Warrior WCSP will not be affordable and an AJAX variant could also go. Warrior would be kept in its current form until 2025 and possibly some variants converted to ABSV. WCSP would be replaced by another variant of Boxer with a Rafael CT40 or 30mm customised turret as chosen by Lithuania.
In the longer-term sources suggest that there will be closer cooperation with Germany and the use of more German equipment by the British Army including Puma or the Rheinmetall K41 Lynx. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.22 ISSUE 29, 20 July 2020, UK military vehicles update)
10 Sep 20. Bundeswehr Is Investing Around 2.1bn Euros. The budget committee of the German Bundestag has given the green light for important investments in IT information technology, new precision-guided ammunition for the air force and other guided missiles for the navy. New contracts can now be concluded for a total of around 2.1bn euros.
This means that important investments can now be made in the Bundeswehr. The various projects financed strengthen the capabilities and readiness of the Bundeswehr in the long term.
Digitization is advancing
The service contract with the in-house IT information technology company BWI is to be changed again. For a total of around 1.6bn euros, BWI services are to be commissioned between 2021 and 2027. The contract promotes digitization in the armed forces and, above all, in the health system of the Bundeswehr.
New precision armament for Eurofighter
With the GBU-54 precision-guided bomb, the Eurofighter is to receive another highly accurate armament. This ammunition is guided, suitable for all weather conditions and intended for short-range engagements.
With a mass of around 230 kilograms, its explosive force is only half that of the GBU-48. The GBU-54 can also be guided to the target using a laser.
The Bundeswehr can now sign contracts for around 213m euros and buy 2,290 steering systems and detonators as well as 910 bombs. Test material and training materials are also included in the intended contract volume.
More guided missiles for corvettes
The Navy is to receive additional guided missiles for the K130 class corvettes, which can be used to fight both sea and land targets.
Up to 160 units of the RBS15 Mk3 missile can now be ordered as part of a framework contract. Of these, 75 of these long-range guided missiles and corresponding accessories are already the object of a firm order.
The financial volume for this is 285m euros. For a further 6m euros, the necessary IT information technology components and test material are to be procured.
The additional RBS15 Mk3 guided missiles will maintain and improve the capabilities and operational readiness of the German Navy’s corvettes.
25m euro threshold
The projects approved by the budget committee of the German Bundestag on September 9, with a total volume of around 2.1bn euros, were submitted as 25m euros. This term includes all procurement and development projects of the Bundeswehr with an investment volume of 25m euros or more. These require the separate approval of the budget committee of the German Bundestag before the contract is concluded. (Source: German Ministry of Defence) (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com)
10 Sep 20. UK leads multi-national task group of warships above the Arctic Circle in demonstration of freedom of navigation.
The Royal Navy has led a multi-national task group of warships and aircraft into the High North for the first time in more than twenty years on an operation to demonstrate freedom of navigation above the Arctic Circle.
HMS Sutherland, supported by RFA Tidespring, commanded a task group comprising the United States Navy’s destroyer USS Ross and the Norwegian Frigate Thor Heyerdahl on a deployment to the Barents Sea.
The ships undertook training with each other to further develop their Navies’ interoperability while asserting our nations’ commitment to upholding peace in the region.
The High North is witnessing a change in its security environment and represents a key area of interest for the UK. Recent Russian attempts to control freedom of access and navigation in the region are of concern to the UK and our partners.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
The UK is the closest neighbour to the Arctic states. In addition to preserving UK interests we have a responsibility to support our Arctic Allies such as Norway to preserve the security and stability of the region.
It is vital to preserve freedom of navigation when melting ice caps are creating new shipping lanes and increasing the risk of states looking to militarise and monopolise international borders.
Over 1,200 military personnel from four nations took part, supported by US P-8 Poseidon and Danish Challenger Maritime Patrol Aircraft along with RAF Typhoons and a RAF Voyager refuelling tanker.
This multi-domain operation is the first time that the UK has operated Typhoons in the High North. RAF aircraft conducted an air defence exercise to improve integration between air and maritime assets.
It is also the first time the UK has operated so far north alongside Denmark and Norway, both of whom are part of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF). Through groupings such as JEF and NATO, we demonstrate the UK’s commitment to peace, security, and freedom of access and navigation in the High North. These organisations are vital in setting the conditions for international security and it is crucial we all play our part in an increasingly unstable world of persistent challenge and competition.
Norwegian Minister of Defence, Frank Bakke-Jensen said: Flights, operations at sea, and exercises are important contributions to Norwegian and European security as part of a larger cooperation on the defence of the Alliance. In order for allied forces to reinforce the defence of NATO’s northern part, they need to have the knowledge to operate there. For this reason, Norwegian and Allied military personnel, groups, aircraft and ships need also to train and exercise in Norway and the High North in peacetime. Training together with US, British, and Danish forces strengthens the operational value for both our own and their forces, and enables us to operate seamlessly together.
HMS Sutherland led the ships through a demanding series of exercises, testing their abilities to conduct surface and anti-submarine warfare in one of the world’s most challenging of environments. Conducting routine tasks, such as replenishment at sea, in conditions close to freezing and in unfamiliar waters becomes a vital training exercise to ensure effective integration between allies.
Our activity was completed in a considered manner that demonstrated each nations’ continued determination to ensure stability and security in the High North.
Commander Tom Weaver RN, Task Group Commander and Commanding Officer HMS Sutherland:
It has been thoroughly rewarding to operate in the High North. This operation has been an amazing opportunity to hone the skills of my Ship’s Company not only in this challenging and demanding environment but also to work more closely with key allies in an incredibly important region. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
08 Sep 20. German defense leaders place a somber bet on the US election. No matter who wins the upcoming U.S. presidential election, German defense officials have telegraphed in recent months that they regard America’s retreat from Europe a challenge they can try to manage, but not avoid.
The assumption has major consequences, potentially throwing the European economic powerhouse into the kind of geopolitical driver’s seat that leaders here have long sought to avoid, and for which the country is ill prepared.
On the one hand, the message of America losing interest in the continent has given fresh impetus to the defense ministry’s plea of keeping defense spending up despite the economic hardship wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.
But Berlin’s judgment also has darker undertones, reflecting a mistrust towards Washington nursed from years of abrasive relations with U.S. President Donald Trump and his emissaries. While another Trump term would likely continue to shake the traditional liberal world order, the idea that Democratic challenger Joe Biden could clinch the presidency and remake U.S.-German bonds is met here mostly with shrugs.
That is because the bigger forces at play — particularly how U.S. attention is now consumed by China — are unlikely to change either way, said Carlo Masala, a professor for international relations at the Bundeswehr University in Munich. In addition, he predicted that the dynamic of Washington keeping the pressure on Germany for greater financial, political or even operational commitments would remain the same under Biden.
“There is a bipartisan consensus that Germany and Europe don’t invest enough in their own security, and that they are free riders unable to adequately support the United States in its role as a global superpower,” Masala said.
That image is partly of Germany’s own making, robbing Berlin of a substantive comeback to Trump’s tirades. With roughly 1.2 percent of its gross national product spent on defense, the country is far from meeting the NATO-wide spending target of 2 percent by 2024.
On other fronts, however, officials here should be more confident as a decades-long ally, said retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, a former commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe.
He said Berlin seemed “almost meek,” for example, when it came to countering the false charge by Trump that Germans were unduly making money off American installations that the Pentagon has long used to train, stage and command forces.
The U.S. president has used that narrative to justify the withdrawal of roughly 12,000 troops from Germany, undercutting the Pentagon’s claim that the move is the result of some kind of thorough analysis rather than a punishment aimed at Berlin.
“Germany is the United States’ most important ally in Europe when it comes to economic and security cooperation, especially now that the U.K. seems to have a weaker position in Europe, post-Brexit,” Hodges said.
But, he added, “A relationship takes two. Germany has always held the United States to a higher standard, and it’s unfortunate when the Americans can’t live up to that. But it’s equally unfortunate when Germany doesn’t live up to the expectation of leadership in Europe,” including defense spending.
Germans will have plenty of time to debate their trans-Atlantic vision in the 2021 election year, when the era of Chancellor Angela Merkel comes to an end. There is every expectation in Berlin that reltions will go from bad to worse if Trump remains president, and such a scenario could quickly sideline Germany’s scrappy cadre of trans-Atlantic optimists.
If Biden wins in November, however, he could face a Berlin government so set on the expectation of an American withdrawal that it crowds out any potential to imagine another trajectory.
There may be something of a self-fulfilling prophecy at play, said Sophia Becker, a research fellow at the Berlin-based German Council on Relations (DGAP). “When you say, ‘Nothing will change,’ then truly nothing will change.”
German attitudes towards the United States will be closely watched by future leaders in Washington, she added.
To be sure, touchpoints exist between the two countries’ defense objectives, even beyond the traditional focus on Europe and Russia. For example, government officials in Berlin recently rolled out a set of policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific region, which calls for strengthened ties with governments there, including in the field of security cooperation.
“If we miss the runway, then we’ll have nothing in hand other than a bouquet of flowers come Nov. 4,” said DGAP analyst Christian Mölling, referring to the chance of a Biden win. “We should start packaging the gifts now.”
Whatever happens, “I hope Germans will take the long-term view,” said Hodges. “Germany has been through decades of US election cycles. The idea that only the past three years have been bad is not entirely true.” (Source: Defense News)
08 Sep 20. USMC F-35s arrive in UK ahead of QE embarkation. US Marine Corps (USMC) Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II combat aircraft have arrived in the United Kingdom, ahead of their first embarkation aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. Ten F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, Arizona, arrived at Royal Air Force (RAF) Marham in England on 3 September, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced.
“VMFA-211 will conduct synthetic training in the purpose-built simulators at RAF Marham to familiarise themselves with the local airspace and procedures before they take to the Norfolk skies to fly training sorties alongside 617 Squadron in preparation for their embarkation with the [Queen Elizabeth] carrier later this month. They will also be participating in Exercise ‘Point Blank’ with their [US military] colleagues from local base RAF Lakenheath along with other NATO partners,” the MoD said.
As noted by the MoD, once onboard Queen Elizabeth both VMFA-211 and 617 Squadron will conduct carrier qualification training to ensure all pilots are proficient to operate from the ship during both day and night. With the training complete the aircraft will then conduct Exercise ‘Joint Warrior’ from Queen Elizabeth, after which both squadrons will return to RAF Marham where they will then prepare to take part in Exercise ‘Crimson Warrior’. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Sep 20. HMS Queen Elizabeth crew test positive for Covid-19. A small number of the UK Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth personnel have tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus, delaying the aircraft carrier sailing for operational training. A small number of the UK Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth personnel have tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus, delaying the aircraft carrier sailing for operational training.
HMS Queen Elizabeth was originally scheduled to leave Portsmouth yesterday, however, this has been delayed to ensure the ship’s crew is Covid-free before departing.
Naval Technology understands that fewer than ten personnel tested positive; these crew members were removed from the ship and taken to HMS Nelson to be monitored by military medics.
As a result of the confirmed cases, some personnel have been moved into isolation after they came into close contact with the affected crewmembers.
A Royal Navy spokesperson said: “A small number of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s personnel have tested positive for Covid during routine preparation for sailing. Those affected have been isolated and are working with the NHS Test and Trace system to ensure the virus does not spread further.
“The crew will continue to follow appropriate health guidelines and the HMS Queen Elizabeth will depart once their status has been confirmed.”
Ahead of the deployment, the Royal Navy had undertaken around 1,000 tests using a similar process to that which allowed HMS Queen Elizabeth to go to sea without a Covid outbreak earlier this year.
The ship was due to leave Portsmouth to conduct two weeks of internal training ahead of a workup exercise later this month which will see two squadrons of F-35s embark, including fast jets from the US Marine Corps.
The upcoming exercise is a key part of the work-up to declaring initial operating capability (IOC) for Carrier Strike.
Naval Technology understands that the navy believes this timeline can be maintained and that the outbreak should have little effect on the work-up to IOC. After conducting two weeks’ internal training, HMS Queen Elizabeth was slated to return to port to take on stores before embarking the jets.
Any delays due to the outbreak are expected to be absorbed by this period. The ship is scheduled to set sail once it is confirmed all crew are Covid free.
A key milestone towards IOC will be Exercise Joint Warrior in Scotland this month, followed by further exercises with the Marine Corps jets. After IOC is declared, the ship is slated to complete its first operational deployment next year. (Source: naval-technology.com)
07 Sep 20. Baltic armies continue to modernise with a wary eye on Russia. The Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania may accelerate their rearmament programmes by developing their own weapon systems as well as procuring them from abroad, according to recent statements from Latvian MoD officials and leading regional military experts.
This policy assumes greater importance in view of the ongoing political unrest in Belarus, which borders Latvia and Lithuania. Strong popular protests in Belarus aim to overturn a disputed election result and force President Alexander Lukashenko from office. However, Lukashenko has appealed to Russia for military support – causing alarm bells to ring in the Baltic republics.
Procurement plans for the three countries already reflect the Joint Action Plan for NATO Allied Armed Forces which was approved in 2014.
For example, Latvia is buying 123 CVR(T) lightweight combat vehicles, including Scimitars, Spartans, Sultans, Samsons and Samaritans, from the UK MoD for delivery by 2021.
Latvia is also procuring an undisclosed variant of the Spike ATGM for its CVR(T) fleet, with 70 launchers and 700 missiles on order to be delivered by 2023.
Estonia is buying Spike LR and other weapon systems under its wide-ranging National Defence Development Plan for 2017-2026.
According to the Estonian Ministry of Defence, most of the €5.5bn ($) investment centres on increasing the number of reservists, as well as training and combat equipment purchases.
Just as Latvia is paying close attention to modernising its army, so Estonia is considering additional purchases of armoured combat vehicles, primarily for the 1st Infantry Brigade (the main army unit in northern Estonia).
The Estonian MoD has already obtained 44 second-hand CV9035NL Мk III IFVs (pictured) from the Netherlands. It also plans to replace about 100 outdated XA Pasi APCs with a new 6×6 vehicle, designed by Patria with backing from the Estonian, Finnish and Latvian governments.
Some Russian analysts are sceptical about the capabilities for the new 6×6 APC. Victor Murakhovsky, editor-in-chief of Russian magazine Arsenal of the Fatherland, said the new carrier will be developed with an emphasis on cost effeciency rather than creating a brand-new platform from scratch.
The likeliest prospect is a low-cost 6×6 variant of the Patria AMV, Murakhovsky argued, bearing similarities with the Polish Rosomak APC.
The fast pace of armed forces modernisation in Estonia extends to artillery. South Korean manufacturer Hanwha Defense announced in late August that it sold six more K9 Thunder SPHs to Estonia in the first half of 2020, despite concerns of a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This KRW26.1bn ($21.96m) order followed a contract for 12 SPHs that was signed in 2018.
Lithuania appears to be on track to receive its first Joint Light Tactical Vehicles from Oshkosh in 2021 but another army programme has suffered a setback. In 2016, the Lithuanian MoD signed a €385.6m contract with NATO procurement agency OCCAR for 88 Boxer IFVs.
Designated Vilkas (Wolf) by the Lithuanian Army, the IFVs will replace M113 tracked APCs in service with some battalions in the Iron Wolf Mechanised Infantry Brigade.
The first pair of Boxers was delivered in June 2019 but subsequent shipments have been due to unspecified issues identified during the inspection process. Deliveries are now expected to be completed in 2021. (Source: Shephard)
07 Sep 20. Greece to bolster defence sector as eastern Mediterranean tensions rise. Greece plans to acquire arms, boost its armed forces and revamp its defence industry, the government’s spokesman said on Monday, as tensions with NATO ally Turkey over energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean grow.
FILE PHOTO: A woman looks through binoculars as Greek and French vessels sail in formation during a joint military exercise in Mediterranean sea, in this undated handout image obtained by Reuters on August 13, 2020. Greek Ministry of Defence/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
Greece, which emerged from its third international bailout in 2018 and has been struggling with the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, wants to spend part of its multi-billion euro cash reserves on its defence sector.
“We are in talks with allies to boost our armed forces,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters, adding that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will outline his plans during an annual economic policy speech on Saturday.
A Greek government official told Reuters last week that Greece is in talks with France and other countries over the acquisition of fighter jets. Greece has also been trying for more than a decade to consolidate and privatise its loss-making defence companies.
Mitsotakis will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Corsica on Thursday, before a Southern European leaders summit (MED7) on the French island of Corsica. The two leaders are expected to discuss the European Union’s strained relationship with Turkey, Macron’s office said.
Petas said that cooperation in the defence sector between the two countries will also be on the agenda.
Turkey and Greece have long disagreed over the extent of their continental shelves. Tensions rose last month after Ankara sent an exploration vessel into disputed waters, accompanied by warships, days after Greece signed a maritime deal with Egypt.
Ankara has since been extending the vessel’s work in the wider region, issuing advisories which Athens calls illegal. The Greek conservative leader discussed the latest twists in the row with European Council President Charles Michel, who chairs summits of EU leaders, during a phone call on Monday. Michel will visit Athens on Sept. 15, Petsas said. (Source: Jane’s)
07 Sep 20. UK and allies uphold freedom of navigation above Arctic Circle. Royal Navy ships are leading a multinational task group into the High North in an operation that demonstrates the commitment of the UK and its allies to freedom of access and navigation in the region.
Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland and RFA Tidespring will work alongside the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Ross and the Norwegian Fridtjof-Nansen-class frigate HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl, supported by Danish patrol aircraft. They will operate in sub-zero conditions to further enhance our understanding of the challenging environment while helping to maintain peace in the region.
The UK, US, Denmark and Norway are working together to boost our readiness to operate in the High North and increase resilience in an area which is vital to UK interests. This builds on a previous UK/US operation in which HMS Kent deployed into the Barents Sea in May this year.
By operating alongside each other in an open and transparent manner, the Royal Navy and its allies continue to show they are dedicated to maintaining peace and freedom of navigation for all in a vital area. (Source: Royal Navy)
04 Sep 20. RCAF to resume Romanian airspace policing mission. Fighter pilots in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) are set to begin another enhanced air policing mission on 5 September under Operation Reassurance in Romania. Canadian Armed Forces Air Task Force – Romania received its readiness certification from NATO during a ceremony at Romanian Air Force Base Mihail Kogalniceanu, the Canadian Department of National Defence announced on 3 September. An RCAF detachment of about 135 personnel and six CF-18 Hornet fighters (mostly from 433 Tactical Fighter Squadron) will patrol Romanian airspace until December 2020, working in a QRA posture with the Romanian Air Force under the auspices of NATO. Canada has supported NATO enhanced air policing in Central and Eastern Europe under Operation Reassurance since 2014, with four previous deployments to Romania. (Source: Shephard)
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 Homeland 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