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NEWS IN BRIEF – UNITED KINGDOM AND EUROPE

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18 Sep 20. NATO stands up Joint Force Command Norfolk to boost readiness in the Atlantic. After reaching initial operational capability, Joint Force Command Norfolk was stood up on Thursday — becoming the only operational NATO command on the North American continent.

The joint multi-national operational command, based out of Norfolk, Virginia, is designed to reinforce NATO readiness in the Atlantic with its “extensive maritime expertise,” and bolster communications between Europe and North America. The command maintains air, surface, and subsurface capabilities and will be involved in planning and conducting air, land and sea operations.

“The establishment of this command confirms enduring cohesion with NATO and its ability to face all challenges,” commander of JFC Norfolk Navy Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis said Thursday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads.

“We have recognized the increasingly complex operating environment, particularly in this geographic area,” he said. “NATO has adapted to this challenge by strengthening its defensive posture.”

Lewis, who was tapped to serve as the commander of JFC Norfolk in October 2018, said that the work had just begun though, and that the next milestone for the command is to reach full operational capability by the end of 2021.

He also stressed that threats jeopardizing the safety of the trans-Atlantic link require interoperability between multiple nations — not just one. The command is also designed to aid relationships across the Atlantic with allies and partners, and deter adversaries.

“This ceremony marks a significant milestone in providing a new, crucial location and link to the Alliance, ultimately ensuring a 360-degree approach for our collective NATO defense and security,” Lewis said.

Lewis, a Naval aviator who has flown in more than 100 combat missions during the course of his career, has also served as the commander of the U.S. 2nd Fleet since August 2018. The 2nd Fleet was resurrected that year after it was merged with Fleet Forces Command in 2011.

Lewis has routinely cautioned about the dangers Russia poses to U.S. and allied troops, particularly under the sea.

“Let’s be frank, the Russian undersea threat is real,” Lewis said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in 2018. “They are very competent.”

Lewis has also warned that sailors departing Norfolk should be prepared to operate in contested space. That’s because of an “ever-increasing number” of Russian submarines in the Atlantic, he said.

“Our ships can no longer expect to operate in a safe haven on the East Coast or merely cross the Atlantic unhindered to operate in another location,” Lewis said during an U.S. Naval Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies even in February, according to USNI News.

Establishing the JFC Command has been in the works for several years, and NATO defense ministers signed off on Norfolk as the headquarter’s location back in June 2018.

NATO defense ministers also announced in 2018 the establishment of a new command The Joint Support and Enabling Command, based in Ulm, Germany. That command’s primary purpose is to guarantee NATO can quickly move allied infantry and armor across European borders, and reached initial operating capacity in 2019.

The Ulm-based command is expected to reach its full staffing capacity of 160 personnel by 2021, and can draw on up to 600 personnel during a crisis, according to NATO.

U.S. European Command leader and Supreme Allied Commander Europe Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters oversees both JFC Norfolk and The Joint Support and Enabling Command.

“The shared history and beliefs of NATO allies and our commitment to one another cement the Euro-Atlantic as the cornerstone of global security,” Wolters said Thursday during the JFC Norfolk ribbon cutting ceremony in a virtual appearance.

“Allied Command operations with JFC Norfolk increases our ability to secure and sustain the transatlantic link, a vital mechanism decisive in winning two world wars and critical to 21st century comprehensive deterrence and defense,” Wolters said.

Wolters has served in the dual-hatted role of EUCOM commander and Supreme Allied Commander Europe since May 2019, replacing U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti. (Source: Defense News)

18 Sep 20. German, French defense ministers push for Eurodrone progress. The defense ministers of Germany and France have pushed for speedy progress in the Eurodrone program, urging member nations to initiate the aircraft’s development phase before the end of the year.

The high-level endorsement means a shot in the arm for a weapons program that has slipped under the radar since Airbus, Dassault and Leonardo unveiled a mock-up drone at the April 2018 Berlin Air Show.

While French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said she hopes to see the next phase begin by year’s end, her German counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, expressed hope any outstanding issues, which mostly involve cost, could be resolved “in the next few weeks.”

The two leaders spoke at Manching, Germany, Airbus’ hub for the Eurodrone project and a company site for another key European program, the Future Combat Air System.

The unmanned aircraft’s official name is “European MALE RPAS,” using acronyms for medium-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft system. The pan-European Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation manages it on behalf of Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

The drone program sets out to field the first new unmanned aircraft certified to fully integrate into civilian airspace, though European authorities have not yet finalized the requisite regulatory framework. Company officials hope that key design features of the drone, such as a propulsion system of two engines — one as a fallback, if necessary — will be conducive to passing future safety checks.

That means the technology could cut into the business strategy of American competitor General Atomics. The company aims to be the first to sell its drones, complete with automatic collision-avoidance kit, to Europeans.

Officials at the German Defence Ministry did not immediately return a request for comment on how soon the government plans to present a financing and contract strategy to lawmakers — a prerequisite for letting the effort proceed.

It remains to be seen if the weapons-capable Eurodrone, whose primary mission is intelligence gathering, will get wrapped up in Germany’s debate on the ethical aspects of arming aerial and ground robots.

Another program, the Israeli-made Heron TP drone, is still awaiting decision by Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, on whether the government can proceed with installing weapons on the aircraft. The German military is using the drones to watch over deployed forces under a leasing agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries. They are operationally managed by Airbus.

It’s possible that the Heron TP armament decision will be presented to the Bundestag first, thus capping what a Defence Ministry official told Defense News will likely be a lengthy public meditation on drones and war.

But that sequence of approvals is not automatic, Airbus hopes.

Either way, time is of the essence for the Defence Ministry, with election years looming in Germany and France starting in 2021.

“It would be surprising if we had the Eurodrone first,” said Ulrike Franke, a London-based analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations. “Because it would amount to a signal that the Heron TP decision had been needlessly stalled.”

Questions surrounding the program include whether it can provide enough utility beyond offerings already on the market, including American-made hardware, Franke said. Its success also depends on countries purchasing the future drone in sufficient quantities to get the envisioned benefits of greater European interoperability, she added. (Source: Defense News)

19 Sep 20. More Afghan interpreters who risked their lives supporting British troops to begin new lives in the UK. Dozens more Afghan interpreters who supported British Armed Forces on the frontline in Helmand Province will be able to move to the UK as part of an expanded relocation scheme announced by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel. Afghan civilians worked as interpreters for British forces on the frontline in Helmand from May 2006 – December 2014, serving alongside them in extremely dangerous situations.

They were often the eyes and ears of British forces, and their linguistic and cultural expertise enabled the UK to work hand-in-hand with our Afghan partners and local communities while protecting British troops.

The Ex-Gratia Scheme was initially set up in June 2013 to recognise the Government’s huge debt of gratitude for their service. Under the scheme, interpreters could choose to either relocate to the UK, receive 5 years of training and a monthly stipend, or receive the equivalent of 18 months’ salary.

Through the scheme, 445 former staff and their families have chosen to relocate to the UK, meaning a total of 1,319 Afghan interpreters and their families have already been supported as they create new lives in the UK.

The new changes will significantly expand the eligibility criteria for former interpreters to apply for the relocation offer. Until now, former employees must have been made redundant on or after 01 May 2006 with 12 months or more service outside the wire on the frontline.

Today’s announcement will allow an additional cohort of interpreters – those who resigned on or after 01 May 2006 after serving a minimum of 18 months on the frontline – to apply for relocation.

Their spouses and children will also benefit from the expanded scheme.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Courageous Afghans worked side by side with our Armed Forces to defeat terrorism, risking their own lives in the pursuit of peace. In recognition of their dedication, today we are fulfilling our promise and have expanded the relocation scheme so that more brave Afghans and their families can come and build a new life in the UK.”

The Defence Secretary and Home Secretary visited Stanford Training Area in Norfolk this week to observe Afghan nationals training British troops prior to their Op TORAL deployment, which sees British troops train and mentor Afghan forces and provide force protection for NATO advisors with the Kabul Security Force.

Afghan nationals routinely support the training that troops undertake to provide an element of realism – performing the roles of interpreters, leading politicians and members of the public.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Our efforts in Afghanistan simply could not have been possible without the help of brave interpreters who risked their lives to work alongside our personnel throughout the conflict. They did not leave us behind then, and we will not leave them behind now. It is crucial there is a fair system in place to support those who want to relocate to the UK, and that is why we are going even further to make sure more individuals have the opportunity to apply for relocation.”

The Home Office and Defence will always work together to address policy issues and promote British values.

The changes to the scheme will be made through secondary legislation in October and be implemented shortly afterwards.(Source: https://www.gov.uk/)

18 Sep 20. COVID-19: A New Wave of European Arms Industry Consolidation? As documented in the SIPRI Yearbook, the arms industry has been through multiple periods of swelling, constraining and restructuring. In part, these shifts are driven by increases and decreases in global military spending. Now, as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused the most severe economic crisis since the 1930s, could we witness a new phase of consolidation within the Western and Central European arms industry?

The experience from the late 1990s and early 2000s indicates that several factors need to be present for consolidation to occur: (a) a shrinking demand; (b) a lack of competitiveness; and (c) the political will of European governments.

This SIPRI Essay gives an early glimpse at where these three factors stand after the ‘great lockdown’. It proposes that the European arms industry may be at the outset of a larger consolidation movement. Although consolidation would be the most cost-effective way to restructure during an economic crisis, arms companies are still assessing the current climate. Overall, political will remains the key driver of any change in this sector.

The impact of the lockdown on the European arms industry

In response to the lockdown during the first half of 2020, arms companies across Europe implemented a wide range of measures. Companies halted or reduced production, and in cases where production has restarted, it is yet to resume at pre-crisis levels. Nonetheless, the European arms industry has not been as affected as other economic sectors. This is in part due to the arms industries’ reliance on long-term government contracts that are not (yet) in jeopardy. In the short-term, governments in France, Germany, Norway and Spain are preparing to implement sector-specific economic recovery plans.

However, delays and potential cancellations in domestic and export orders could have a more long-term impact on the sector. In particular, potential cuts to military spending throughout Europe over the coming years may cause uncertainty. This was the case after the 2008 economic crisis which—according to SIPRI’s Military Expenditure Database—was followed by five years of military spending cuts across Western and Central Europe. Moreover, the current pandemic could shift government’s priorities away from defence and towards healthcare and crisis contingency. At the same time, threat perceptions are higher today than they were in 2008–2009 which may act as a justification for governments to maintain high levels of military spending.

The first factor for industry consolidation—a shrinking demand—may not be present in European countries in the short-term, but it cannot be ruled out for the mid- to long-term given the magnitude of the current economic crisis.

Adapting to competition: Movements of consolidation in US and Europe

In a highly competitive environment, companies undertake mergers and acquisitions to gain an advantage over their competitors. Through consolidation they expect to generate economies of scale and expand their customer base and product lines.

Prior to COVID-19, a new mega-merger trend had started in the arms industry of the United States. In 2015, Lockheed Martin acquired Sikorsky from United Technologies Corp. (UTC). This was accelerated under President Donald J. Trump’s Administration and companies tried to move ahead of their competitors to gain shares in the large-scale US modernization program.

During 2018, UTC acquired Rockwell Collins, Northrop Grumman acquired Orbital ATK and General Dynamics acquired CSRA. In 2019, Harris Corp. and L3 Technologies merged, while Raytheon and UTC formed Raytheon Technologies in 2020.

The scale of some of these mergers and acquisitions was significant. For example, the merger between L3 Technologies (the 12th largest arms sales company in 2018) and Harris Corp. (the 17th largest) involved more than 48 000 personnel. As for Raytheon (the 4th largest) and UTC (the 11th largest), they combined a total revenue of $94bn in 2018 (€80bn in current prices) and employed more than 300 000 people. Three decades after the US arms industry’s ‘last supper’, new giants were born.

European companies actually had begun to form new partnerships before their transatlantic counterparts, reacting to both increased competition on the global market due to the rise of new arms suppliers such as South Korea or Turkey and contracting domestic demand following the 2008 economic crisis. However, contrary to their US rivals, European firms did not undertake mega-mergers and instead launched joint ventures or joint holdings. These are a more limited form of transnational consolidation, as in such instances national companies’ activities remain separate and not fully integrated.

This was the case in the land domain. There were indeed some acquisitions—for example in 2014, French state-owned Nexter bought Mecar and Simmel Difesa—but these companies represent only around €210m of revenue and 470 employees; and €36m of revenue and 170 staff, respectively. More importantly in 2015, the German company Krauss Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Nexter created KNDS, a joint holding company—a key driver behind this change was global competition, as noted by Nexter’s CEO. Integration between the two groups remains minimal, however, maintaining a ‘separate but together’ structure.

In the United Kingdom, however, the land sector is almost entirely transnational: after Rheinmetall’s purchase of 55 per cent of BAE System’s combat vehicle units, all vehicle manufacturers are now partly foreign-owned, except for the firm Supacat. In the naval sector, Naval Group and Fincantieri created a joint company called Naviris in January 2020. Although one of the reasons for its creation was precisely competition in the global arms trade, the two firms were still rivals in some markets, such as Egypt for example.

There have been no new attempts to largescale restructuring in the aerospace sector after the failed merger in 2012 between EADS (Airbus) and BAE Systems, €49.1bn of revenue and 133 000 employees and €23.8bin of revenue and 93 500 employees, respectively.

Airbus has since consolidated its defence activities, notably through divesting from its defence electronics branch, which became Hensoldt in 2017. BAE Systems, in the meantime, reinforced its US presence and recently announced its aim to purchase businesses made available from the UTC–Raytheon merger for more than $2bn (€1.8bn in current prices). The failed merger demonstrates that governments remain in the driving seat of the most strategic arms industrial dynamics, even though both companies advocated for the deal at the time.

Besides BAE System’s growing US footprint, European arms companies have not yet reacted to the creation of new giants in the US military market. Given the novel characteristics of the pandemic, these companies will likely need more time to adjust to the repercussions of the crisis before making new structural decisions.

COVID-19: Political will shapes the arms industry’s future

No matter how difficult the current economic downturn is, or how prominent the competitiveness issue becomes, preserving national arms-industrial capabilities will likely remain at the top of European decisionmakers’ agendas. In this respect, the pandemic caused by COVID-19 could either prompt European governments to push for increased consolidation of the European arms industry or, on the contrary, to protect their domestic industries at any cost.

The crisis caused by COVID-19 could have two contradictory effects. On the one hand, calls for increased solidarity and efficiency may prevail. This would push European companies towards greater cooperation and integration in the armament sector—thereby increasing interdependence. One indication of a step in this direction is the July 2020 agreement for €7bn for the European Defence Fund (EDF) in the European Council’s 2021–27 budget.

Although the figure was lower than the originally proposed €13bn, it was still higher than the compromise of €6bn that was on the table prior to the pandemic. However, although the Commission seemed to have industrial restructuring in mind as a long-term goal for the EDF and its precursor instruments and stated that they should foster competitiveness ‘including by consolidation where appropriate’, this is not necessarily the opinion of individual governments. In a joint letter, the defence ministers of Germany, France, Italy and Spain did not directly call for industrial consolidation and rather saw the EDF as a way to ‘incentivize cooperation’ and that it could offer a ‘more efficient allocation of resources’.

But the supply chain concerns caused by the current pandemic could have the opposite effect. Indeed, it may act to reinforce trends of autonomy or even the renationalization of industries. Despite steps taken for joint procurement programmes, such as the two rival future combat air system projects; Tempest (Italy, Sweden and the UK); and the Future Combat Air System (Germany, France and Spain) or the Main Ground Combat System (France and Germany), governments could still decide to prioritize their domestic manufacturers, to support national industries instead of promoting cross-border cooperation.

Arms procurement processes usually span years and any outcomes are unlikely to be known in the short-term. The looming prospects of shrinking demand and the intensification of competition could prompt European arms firms to consolidate further in the coming years. But what will determine the restructuring of the sector in Europe remains political will. If consolidation is seen to be the only way for governments to sustain their arms industry in a constrained economic environment, they are likely to pursue that option.

About the author: Dr Lucie Béraud-Sudreau (France) is Director of the Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Stockholm International Peace Research Institute; issued By Dr Lucie Béraud-Sudreau)

17 Sep 20. Visit of Florence Parly and Her German Counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, to Évreux and Manching. Today, Thursday September 17, Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Minister of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany, made a joint trip on the theme of cooperation in the field of defense, in Évreux (Eure), then in Manching (Bavaria).

In Évreux, at the 105 “Commandant Viot” air base, the two ministers attended the laying of the first stone of the future Franco-German C-130J tactical transport squadron. For the first time, aircraft, flight crews and ground engineers will function as a true Franco-German entity, within the same unit, in order to carry out operational missions.

This new unit will complement the airlift capabilities offered by the A400M in achieving the full scope of operational tactical transport missions for both Air Forces.

Following on from the 2016 declaration of intent between the two countries, this project is part of an ambitious schedule aimed at operational capacity from 2021. From 2023, a common training center will complete the system, thus ensuring that the squadron will be fully autonomous. By 2024, the squadron will operate ten C-130Js, four French and six German, and will have a staff of 260. This emblematic project demonstrates an exceptional level of ambition in terms of operational cooperation; it consolidates the Franco-German partnership and contributes to the concretization of the European defense dynamic. Ultimately, this pooling of devices and personnel aims to optimize resources, better share know-how and develop our interoperability, while sharing operating costs. This military cooperation program, which involves a new level of integration, could serve as a model for other multinational projects.

In Manching, Florence Parly and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer visited the industrial facilities at the Airbus Defense and Space site and had the opportunity to interact with the staff. They were given presentations related to the Future Combat Air System (SCAF) project and the Eurodrone.

Initiated in 2017 to replace the current Rafale and Eurofighter fleets, the SCAF program is currently in the research and technology phase. The design of a demonstrator is expected in 2026.

Divided between Normandy and Bavaria, this day illustrates the excellence of Franco-German cooperation in the aerospace field, both operational and industrial.

(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)(Source: defense-aerospace.com/French Armed Forces Ministry)

18 Sep 20.  Law to protect soldiers ‘would harm reputation of UK forces.’ The bill will introduce a presumption against prosecution of UK personnel after five years. A bill aimed at curbing vexatious claims against troops is “dangerous and harmful” to the reputation of Britain’s armed forces and the safety of UK personnel, the prime minister has been warned.

Military and political figures have urged Boris Johnson to reconsider the “ill-conceived” legislation, which will return to the Commons next week at committee stage.

The former head of the armed forces Field Marshal Charles Guthrie, the ex-defence secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, and Dominic Grieve, a former attorney-general, last night sent a letter to Downing Street raising concerns about the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill.

The legislation seeks to limit false and historical allegations against personnel via a “triple lock” of measures, including a statutory presumption against criminal prosecution five years after an alleged crime. To override the presumption, compelling new evidence must be adduced and the attorney-general’s consent secured. The legislation is applicable only to overseas operations, meaning incidents in Northern Ireland would not be covered.

Field Marshal Guthrie and other signatories wrote: “We find it disturbing that the government’s approach . . . creates a presumption against prosecution of torture and other grave crimes (with only rape and sexual violence excepted) after five years. We believe that the effective application of existing protocols removes the risk of vexatious prosecution. To create de facto impunity for such crimes would be a damaging signal for Britain to send to the world.

“This bill would be a stain on the country’s reputation. It would increase the danger to British soldiers if Britain is perceived as reluctant to act in accordance with long-established international law.”

General Sir Nicholas Parker, former Commander Land Forces in the army, and Bruce Houlder, ex-director of service prosecutions, also signed the letter, which was co-ordinated by the British charity Freedom from Torture.

The Times revealed in June that Britain’s most senior military judge had warned Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, that the legislation could leave British troops more likely to face prosecution for war crimes at the International Criminal Court at the Hague.

As the legislation sets out protections relating only to domestic crimes, it could encourage police and prosecutors to focus on pursuing war-crime charges, said Judge Jeffrey Blackett in leaked correspondence.

Ministers were called upon to take drastic action to shield troops from distressing cycles of investigations after thousands of war-crime claims were levied at personnel over Iraq operations, without any resulting in successful prosecution.

The Ministry of Defence has said that the legislation “strikes the right balance between victims’ rights and access to justice, as well as fairness to those who defend this country”. (Source: The Times)

18 Sep 20.  Squadron 2020 and HX Fighter programs to drive Finland’s defense expenditure, says GlobalData. In response to increased military tensions in the Baltic Sea with Russia, Finland plans to raise its defense spending to EUR3.16bn (US$3.74bn) to modernize the capabilities of its naval and air forces through the Squadron 2020 and HX Fighter programs, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest report, ‘The Finnish Defense Market – Attractiveness, Competitive Landscape and Forecasts to 2025’, reveals that the Finnish capital defense budget accounted for 24.9% of country’s total defense budget in 2020, an increase of 0.2% from 2019.

Military tensions in the Baltic have been on the rise and heightened with Russia’s Ocean Shield 2020 naval exercises. This has helped Finland to push for the modernization of its naval and air fleets through the Squadron 2020 and HX Fighter programs.

The Squadron 2020 program aims to replace seven vessels of the Finnish navy with four multi-role corvettes, which are projected to cost around EUR1.3bn (US$1.53bn); the construction of new vessels is expected to begin in 2022. The new multi-role corvettes will have surface warfare, maritime mine-laying and anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

Finland has an aging fleet of 62 F/A-18C and F/A-18D, which will be replaced by new multi-role fighters under the HX Fighter Program to secure and monitor the territorial integrity of the country.  This program is estimated to cost EUR7-10bn (US$8-12bn) and the final decision on the procurement of fighters is expected to be made in 2021.

Hemant Bhandari, Aerospace, Defense, and Security Analyst at GlobalData, says: “Though the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Finland’s economy and is expected to contract its GDP by 6.27%, the Squadron 2020 and HX Fighter program will act as key drivers of defense expenditure.” (Source: GlobalData)

16 Sep 20.  A media outlet has engaged a legal firm after it was effectively blacklisted by the Ministry of Defence – a move that prompted a ‘media freedom alert’ from the CoE. In its alert, the CoE said the UK Government’s actions regarding Declassified UK were having a “chilling effect on media freedom”.

The Government has not used its right of reply regarding the CoE’s alert.

The alert detailed how a journalist from the website contacted the MoD in August to request comment on the arrest of a serving soldier, who was protesting near Downing Street about “the UK’s involvement in Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen”.

The reporter was initially told by the MoD press office that a comment would be provided, and was asked: “What sort of angle have [the title] previously taken on the war in Yemen?”

Later that day, the reporter received an email telling him the MoD would not provide a comment and directing him to make a Freedom of Information request if he required further information.

However, the Telegraph newspaper ran the same story and was provided with a comment from the MoD, prompting Declassified UK to contact the press office again and seek an explanation.

The reporter was told: “We no longer deal with your publication,” but the press office declined to say why.

The editor of Declassified UK contacted the MoD to seek confirmation that it was now the department’s policy to blacklist the publication, but did not receive a response.

Legal action

Declassified UK has since engaged solicitors Leigh Day to represent it.

The firm wrote to the MoD asking it to explain its policy with regards to Declassified UK and warning that blacklisting a legitimate media outlet would be a “serious breach” of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which deals with freedom of expression.

Leigh Day’s letter to the department also warned that the actions of the MoD’s press team may be counter to its duties of impartiality and neutrality, set out in the Government Communication Service Propriety Guidance and the Civil Service Code.

The guidance states: “To work effectively, media officers must establish their impartiality and neutrality with the news media, and ensure that they deal with all news media even-handedly.”

Leigh Day said it had pressed the MoD for a response and was told the department was “looking into it”.

Questions in Parliament

In questions to ministers last week, Johnny Mercer, minister for defence, people and veterans, was asked whether he had “assessed the compatibility” of the MoD’s stance toward selected media outlets with its obligations under the Civil Service Code.

The minister replied: “The MoD engages with media outlets who report responsibly. We take care to consider the reputation and track record of all domestic and international publications as part of that commitment to openness and accuracy.”

Media relations

Political journalists have complained of selective briefing by the Government since the December general election.

In February a group of journalists arrived at Downing Street to attend a Government briefing by Boris Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator, former diplomat David Frost, only to be divided into two groups in the foyer of Number 10.

Some, including correspondents for The Sun and The Daily Telegraph, were told they could stay, while Downing Street director of comms Lee Cain reportedly told others, such as journalists from The Mirror and the Independent, to leave the premises – prompting both groups, including broadcast journalists, to walk out collectively.

A month later, when COVID-19 arrived in the UK, the Government was criticised for selectively briefing media outlets about its response to the crisis, prompting it to begin daily briefings fronted by ministers and scientists.

Meanwhile, the Government has refused to field a minister on the BBC’s Newsnight since last year, or on Good Morning Britain for 134 consecutive days – according to the latter programme’s co-host, Piers Morgan.

The MoD, the Cabinet Office – which has responsibility for the Government Communication Service – and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which has responsibility for media policy, were contacted by PRWeek, but either did not provide comment at the time of publication, or declined to comment. (Source: PR Week)

BATTLESPACE Comment: This is certainly not an isolated incident and it is a brave move by Declassified UK to bring this action. The MoD is micro-managing media distribution to the detriment of free speech and the ability of the defence media to cover key issues and exercises. Many international press attend oversaes NATO exercises but the MoD routinely disbars UK press.

15 Sep 20. French Air Force changes name as it looks to the stars. The French Air Force is no more. On Sept. 11, it became the French Air and Space Force, completing a process initiated by President Emmanuel Macron in July 2019 when he announced the creation of a space command.

A new logo, revealed Friday, accompanies the new name. The logo features a thin, curved line that runs above the word “armée” and then behind the word “air.” It represents the surface of the world, above which soars the stylized sparrow-hawk, which has been the logo for the Air Force for a decade. The bird’s position has been very slightly modified to make it look more like a hunter. And the phrase “& espace” has been added.

The Air and Space Force says the reason for the discreet changes in the logo is to underline the continuity of the mission rather than a revolution in the mission.

“Today aviators must look higher, further, towards space, this new field of confrontation that is highly strategic and increasingly connected,” Air and Space Force Chief of Staff Gen. Philippe Lavigne said to service members. “Your qualities enable you to master the skies. They will now lead you to conquering space.”

In a statement, the Air and Space Force said given “the vital implications for military operations,” France had defined space as being “a major stake” for its strategic independence, and so the Space Command — locally known as CDE, or Commandement de l’espace — was created on Sept. 3, 2019.

The command is led by Brig. Gen. Michel Friedling, who reports to Joint Chief of Staff Gen. François Lecointre where cooperation, capabilities and military operations are concerned, and to Lavigne when training and force preparation are involved.

Based in Toulouse, the Space Command should reach full operational capacity in 2025 with a staff of almost 500. There are currently 220 men and women working on developing capabilities to protect military satellites from being approached by satellites operated by foreign powers.

The command has already set up LISA, a laboratory dedicated to military innovation in space, and it is also preparing for AstérX, the first European military space exercise planned for November 2020. (Source: Defense News)

15 Sep 20. RAF looks to the future on Battle of Britain Day. On the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain a special day of events was hosted at RAF Waddington, the home of the RAF’s intelligence gathering assets, showcasing how the RAF are ready to meet the challenges of today, and the emerging threats of tomorrow.

To mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and in a tribute to the ‘Few’ who were supported by the ‘Many’, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight conducted a flypast over RAF Waddington.

To secure Battle of Britain victory, the RAF, working with industry and global allies, drove a battle-winning technological advance at an extraordinary pace. This innovation-drive continues with each generation, as the RAF seeks to maintain the ability to operate in the ever more complex, competed and contested multi-domain operating environment of the future.

Together with the UK’s world-leading aerospace sector, the campaign to build the Next Generation Royal Air Force codenamed ‘ASTRA’ is already underway, which will make a leading-edge contribution to the UK’s place in the world.

Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston said:

As we look to the future, the RAF will continue to be at the forefront of innovation – our enemies and their threats may have changed, but the need to stay ahead of the technological curve remains.

In his speech at RAF Waddington, the home of the RAF’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) fleets, ACM Wigston touched on a variety of innovative projects including:

Protector

Following a £65m investment, the first three of Reaper’s replacement, Protector, are in production to enter service by mid-2024, delivering a step-change in capability for the RAF.

Team Tempest

Together with the pioneering industry alliance, Team Tempest, the RAF is developing the next-generation combat aircraft, Tempest, which will deploy new, game-changing technology. Seven new companies have recently collaborated with Team Tempest, and together they will develop ground-breaking concepts and secure the UK’s position as a global leader in combat air.

Orcus

In response to the changing threats, the RAF has invested in new counter-drone technology, ORCUS, which will be able to detect, track, and defeat hostile drones, which will be vital to protect UK air bases.

Concurrently delivering decisively on operations, whilst preparing for the next, the ACM confirmed that the RAF is always there to deliver air and space power to protect the nation, giving the UK Government choices and options to act on the world stage. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)

14 Sep 20. Defence secretary admits UK is behind adversaries. Ben Wallace says upcoming defence review will mark a switch from traditional to technological warfighting. Ben Wallace: ‘Instead of mass and mobilisation, this future force will be about speed, readiness and resilience, operating much more in the newest domains of space, cyber and sub-sea.’ The UK’s defence secretary has admitted Britain’s military is racing to catch up with its adversaries’ successes in technological warfare, as he warned: “our enemies have studied our vulnerabilities and adapted far more quickly than us”. Setting out his vision ahead of this autumn’s integrated defence and security review, Ben Wallace hinted that the armed forces would use drones and other forms of autonomous weaponry rather than large troop deployments to fight future wars.  “Instead of mass and mobilisation, this future force will be about speed, readiness and resilience, operating much more in the newest domains of space, cyber and sub-sea,” he told reporters on board HMS Tamar, the Navy’s newest warship, on Monday. As he spoke, the defence secretary was flanked by one drone fitted with a torpedo and another kitted out with surveillance capabilities, which can be flown for miles from the deck of any naval vessel.

Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s most senior adviser, has been a vocal critic of spending on hardware such as the UK’s aircraft carriers in favour of investment in drone technology. The government’s enthusiasm for spending on military tech also reflects the changing nature of warfare as practised by countries such as China and Russia, which avoid direct conflict by using cyber attacks and the proliferation of disinformation to unsettle adversaries. The nature of war never changes. It will always be visceral, violent and about politics Gen Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff Over the weekend Lt Gen Jim Hockenhull, the UK’s chief of defence intelligence, used a briefing from RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire, to urge the UK to keep pace with adversaries such as Beijing and Moscow who exploit new technologies and refuse to play by the rules.

“Whilst conventional threats remain, we have seen our adversaries invest in artificial intelligence, machine learning and other groundbreaking technologies, whilst also supercharging more traditional techniques of influence and leverage,” Lt Gen Hockenhull said, speaking from the intelligence base that co-ordinates secret missions with partners in the Five Eyes alliance. “Hostile states are willing to take incredible risks,” he said, pointing to Russia’s attempted poisoning of former Soviet spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury two years ago. “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.” However, traditionalists fear a focus on cyber operations and drone technology in the upcoming defence review — due to report in November — will come at the expense of military personnel and hardware. Some estimates suggest the Army could be cut from its current target strength of 82,000 to around 60,000. Mr Wallace has also previously acknowledged the review would mean “letting go” of some military equipment to invest in cyber and space capabilities.  Speaking alongside the defence secretary on Monday, Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, said the new armed forces would move from an “industrial age represented by platforms, to an information age as represented by systems” and have a “digital backbone” at their core. But he was also clear that warfighting would always involve people, rather than just autonomous machines. “The nature of war never changes. It will always be visceral, violent and about politics,” Sir Nick said. “Ultimately it will always require people to go head-to-head on the ground to seek a result and a decision.” (Source: FT.com)

14 Sep 20. HMS Albion leads UK task group for three-month Med deployment. More than 1,000 sailors and Royal Marines have sailed on a three-month mission to the Mediterranean to forge the commando forces of tomorrow.

UK flagship HMS Albion has left the UK, heading a force which will visit numerous partner nations across the Mediterranean and Black Sea as the UK’s Armed Forces nurtures new friendships and cements traditional alliances.

As underlined by the Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace, speaking aboard the UK’s newest ship HMS Tamar today, the Royal Navy will be innovative, versatile and ready for persistent global campaigning as it enters the 2020s.

This deployment will see those attributes sharpened as commandos test and develop tactics using innovative new kit and build experience working alongside NATO Allies and regional partners.

While deployed the ships will test the new concepts of the Littoral Strike Group (which replaces the UK’s long-standing Amphibious Task Group) and shape the Future Commando Force (FCF) – the evolution of the Royal Marines into a hi-tech raiding and strike force – both of which are at the heart of the transformation of the Royal Navy.

Named the Littoral Response Group (Experimentation) deployment, the force includes the headquarters and staff of Commodore Rob Pedre, the Commander Littoral Strike Group, flagship HMS Albion, destroyer HMS Dragon and amphibious support ship RFA Lyme Bay.

“This deployment will provide high-readiness, forward-deployed options, provide strategic reassurance to our allies and partners, deter malevolent actors, strengthen NATO, and conduct wide-ranging defence experimentation,” he said.

“We will test cutting-edge technology and innovative concepts such as the Future Commando Force and the Littoral Strike Force concept to ensure our war-fighting edge in an era of constant competition.”

In addition to the ships, the Future Commando Force will be represented by elements from the specialist raiding units of 47 Commando, Marines of 42 and 40 Commando based in Plymouth and Taunton, and the intelligence experts of 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group (Plymouth), and Wildcat helicopters from the Commando Helicopter Force at RNAS Yeovilton.

A series of workouts through the autumn will build on cold weather trials and training conducted by the Royal Marines in Norway earlier this year.

The task group will also support NATO’s Mediterranean security operation Sea Guardian and conduct exercises in Cyprus – Olympus Warrior and Autonomous Advance Force 3, a test of cutting-edge kit and how it can be exploited by commandos to deal with the very latest of threats.

And activity in the Black Sea will include a series of training exercises and port visits to demonstrate the UK’s support for regional security and freedom of movement in Black Sea waters.

14 Sep 20. Turkey vows to continue gas hunt as Greece expands military. Turkey insisted last night that it would continue to look for gas in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean, despite pulling back an exploration ship hours after Greece announced its biggest military expansion in two decades.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek prime minister, said that Athens would buy new hardware from France, including 18 Rafale fighter jets, four multipurpose frigates and four navy helicopters. It will also recruit 15,000 troops and boost its spending on heavy weaponry and cyberdefences.

Turkey and Greece have come close to military conflict in recent weeks over sovereignty and exploration rights in the area, in a dispute that has drawn in Cypus France, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.

The value of the deal for the French equipment was not disclosed but in previous sales to foreign buyers Rafales have been sold for about €125m (£96m) each and the frigates at least €200m per vessel, which would mean Athens is spending at least €3bn.

Mr Mitsotakis said he was also considering lowering to 18 the obligatory age for men to carry out military service. All Greek men must serve 12 months in the military between the ages of 19 and 25. Turkey also has mandatory military service.

Last night the Oruc Reis, a Turkish seismic survey vessel that has been operating since early last month in waters claimed by both Turkey and Greece, was heading back to port in Antalya, two weeks early. Mr Mitsotakis said the move was a positive first step. “I hope there will be continuity. We want to talk with Turkey but in a climate without provocations,” he said.

Hulusi Akar, the Turkish defence minister, said yesterday that the vessel would continue “moving back and forth” in the area, and that it was “not possible” that Turkey would give up its rights in the region. He also accused Greece of heightening tensions, and took a swipe at President Macron of France, the staunchest backer of Athens in the row. “The Greek people should not be caught up in the initiatives led by Macron and should not be an appetiser for Macron’s self-rescue operations,” he said.

Mr Mitsotakis chose Thessaloniki, the birthplace of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish republic, as the venue for his announcement. The city was under Ottoman rule when Ataturk was born there in 1881.

President Erdogan of Turkey has also been quick to play on old grievances with his neighbour. He has recently stoked up Turkey’s century-old claims to the Greek Aegean islands that lie close to the Turkish coast and berated Greece for boosting its troop numbers on islands that are meant to be demilitarised under a treaty signed in

Mr Erdogan has also called Mr Macron “an unassigned Napoleon on a Mediterranean mission”. Attempts by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary-general, to mediate have so far been fruitless. Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, offered to mediate between Turkey and Cyprus during a visit to the latter last week. The United States remains “deeply concerned” about Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean. (Source: The Times)

29 Aug 20.  Poland to Spend Hundreds of Millions on the Armed Forces Modernization. The Polish Ministry of Finances has prepared an amendment bill for the 2020 budget that, after being transferred to the parliament, has been adopted by the Council of Ministers on 20th August 2020. The national defence expenditure section envisages that an expenditure increase of PLN3bn (approx. 0.8 USDbn) shall be expected. The money is to be allocated to modernization efforts, within the framework of a special purpose fund.

The changes mean that the defence spending planned so far, for the year 2020, would be increased from 49.8 PLNbn (approx. 13.5 USDbn) to 52.8bn zlotys (approx. 14.3 USDbn). Of that amount, 17.8bn zlotys (4.8 USDbn) would be allocated to capital expenditure, which means that 1/3 of the budget value would be assigned to that section – this is a record-breaking amount. The extra amount would be used to finalize extra equipment purchases, within the framework of the current Technical Modernization Plan.

The MoD has confirmed to Defence24.pl that those additional funds will be allocated to the Technical Modernization Fund, rather than to ordinary budget. This means that if the MoD does not manage to spend those 3bn in the current year, they will remain for the following year rather than being returned to the budget.

As the 2020 GDP is also expected to go down, the defence expenditure share in the GDP is going to be significantly higher than 2.1% initially assumed by the Act. Compared to the year 2019, the national defence budget is now 8bn zlotys higher. What is more, the extra funds guaranteed by the amendment are to be used for modernization purposes, covering the cost of procurement of new equipment and upgrades of the existing armament and inventory operated by the Polish military.

Before the official announcement and adoption of the bill, it had been speculated as to the purpose for which the extra funds would be used. These could include the current needs, that the MoD needed to address facing the COVID-19 pandemic. The unexpected costs included the unplanned PPE procurement, as well as the money that was used to involve the soldiers in the operations locally, from March until June this year. Eventually though, the additional funds will be allocated to the technical modernization, which may also speed up the Polish economy recovery if they are spent in the domestic industry.

The budget amendments in question have been taken by the Polish Government as a response to the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, which caused massive public spending increases in various areas. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Defence24.com)

14 Sep 20. Greece Confirms Rafale Buy, But Frigate Order May Go to Germany. Announcing a major military modernization package on Sept. 12 in Salonika, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis confirmed the expected order for 18 Rafale combat aircraft but did not name the supplier of four – not two, as previously reported – frigates that were also expected to be supplied by France.

Instead of Naval Group’s Belharra-class frigates, it was reported by local media over the week-end that Greece will instead buy four Meko 200 frigates, made by Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, which also supplied four older frigates that Greece now plans to upgrade to a similar equipment standard.

There has been no official confirmation that the order will go to Germany, but a spokesman for France’s Naval Group told Defense-Aerospace.com on Sunday that “Regarding Greece, we have no information on the four frigates.”

If confirmed, this would be a major setback for France, as Greece in October 2019 had signed a Letter of Intent for the acquisition of two Belharra frigates, also known as Frégates de Défense et d’Intervention (FDI). French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly announced signature of the LoI in an October 10 post on her Twitter account.

Germany will also reportedly supply four Type 214 diesel-electric submarines armed with heavyweight torpedoes, whose procurement was authorized by the Greek Parliament during the spring.

“Specifically, Greece will acquire (…/…) 4 new frigates, while refurbishing 4 existing ones; 4 Romeo naval helicopters; antitank weapons for the Army; torpedoes for the Navy and guided missile for its Air Force. It will also add 15,000 professional soldiers to its armed forces over the next five years,” the Greek daily Ekathimerini reported Saturday citing Mitsotakis.

The four “Romeo” helicopters are Sikorsky UH-60R Seahawks, according to Greek news reports.

Mix of new and used Rafales

While the total number of Rafales to be initially bought by Greece has been agreed at 18, the exact split between new and second-hand aircraft remains to be determined. France offered eight new and 10 used, while Greece prefers six new and 12 used so as to reduce costs; details will be finalized during contract negotiations that will continue during the autumn.

The precise split between new and used aircraft will make little difference to France, and new-build replacements for the used aircraft will be tacked on to the remaining orders, providing the French Air Force with additional new-production aircraft while boosting Dassault’s order backlog. The company and its subcontractors are awaiting a French government decision to advance the order of the final Rafale production batch as part of its Covid-19 support package for industry.

The second-hand Rafales will be French Air Force F3-O4T variants, which was delivered to the French forces between late 2012 and 2018, according to the Paris website “Air & Cosmos.” They are fitted with the RBE-2 AESA radar and will be armed with Scalp-EG cruise missiles but not yet with the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile.

Meteor, however, will equip Greece’s new Rafales, which will be delivered to the current F3-R production standard, and will subsequently no doubt be retrofitted to the second-hand aircraft.

The 18 Rafales will replace the older Greek Air Force Mirage 2000 that have not been modernized, while a second order will probably follow to replace the upgraded and new-build Mirage 2000-5 aircraft that Greece ordered in September 2004.

As we reported in December, Greece modernized its Mirage 2000 fleet for a first time in 2004, upgrading ten of them to the new 2000-5 Mk2 standard, and also ordered 15 additional new-build aircraft to the same Mk 2 standard – the final Mirage 2000s produced.

The Mirage 2000-5 Mk.2s have a more powerful RDY-2 multifunction radar, MICA air-to-air missiles, additional air-to-ground capabilities with the SCALP-EG cruise missiles, a new self-protection system, new inertial navigation (INS) and an in-flight refueling capability using a pod. (Source: defense-aerospace.com)

14 Sep 20. UK MoD Integrated Review Launched. The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy will define the government’s vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade.

The UK’s departure from the European Union is an opportunity to define and strengthen our place in the world at a time when the global landscape is changing dramatically, including as a result of COVID-19.

To achieve this, the Government has launched the Integrated Review, an ambitious initiative which will:

  • define the Government’s ambition for the UK’s role in the world and the long-term strategic aims for our national security and foreign policy
  • set out the way in which the UK will be a problem-solving and burden-sharing nation
  • set a strong direction for recovery from COVID-19, at home and overseas, so that together we can “build back better”.

The Review will cover all aspects of international and national security policy, such as defence, diplomacy, development and national resilience.

The Integrated Review is being led by the Prime Minister with the National Security Council, and is a whole-of-government effort with colleagues from across Departments, including Defence, contributing. The guiding principle of the Integrated Review is to ask ourselves what the threat is and whether we have the capability to meet it.

Threats the UK will face

On September 11th the UK’s 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/)

BATTLESPACE Comment: It will be interesting to see which pending contracts such as Challenger 2 LEP, Ajax, Warrior CSP, MRV(P), Boxer, Land Ceptor, Type 26, Type 31, SkyNet 6, Morpheus, Wedgetail and other contracts progress through Main Gate and IAB during the Review. Previous Reviews have seen a stop in many projects causing delays of years in some cases.

14 Sep 20. The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy will define the government’s vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade.

The UK’s departure from the European Union is an opportunity to define and strengthen our place in the world at a time when the global landscape is changing dramatically, including as a result of COVID-19.

To achieve this, the Government has launched the Integrated Review, an ambitious initiative which will:

  • define the Government’s ambition for the UK’s role in the world and the long-term strategic aims for our national security and foreign policy
  • set out the way in which the UK will be a problem-solving and burden-sharing nation
  • set a strong direction for recovery from COVID-19, at home and overseas, so that together we can “build back better”.

The Review will cover all aspects of international and national security policy, such as defence, diplomacy, development and national resilience.

The Integrated Review is being led by the Prime Minister with the National Security Council, and is a whole-of-government effort with colleagues from across Departments, including Defence, contributing. The guiding principle of the Integrated Review is to ask ourselves what the threat is and whether we have the capability to meet it.

On September 14th the UK’s 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. ‘Industrially illiterate’ to not build Fleet Solid Support ships in the UK, says union leader.

Prospect Union Deputy General Secretary Garry Graham warned that it would be ‘economically and industrially illiterate’ to build the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s (RFA) new Fleet Solid Support ships abroad.

The union leader made the comments during a Defence Select committee hearing on the UK’s defence industrial policy, which focused on the much-debated procurement of new Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships worth an expected £1.5bn.

During the hearing, Graham said: “The issue of FSS has become – quite rightly – totemic in people’s eyes. Certainly, I cannot imagine other European nations and other major defence nations around the world making a similar decision.

“The potential decision to send FSS construction abroad is economically and industrially illiterate.”

The ships were not classified as warships as they will be operated by the RFA and only carry defensive weapons. The vessels are seen as vital to the UK’s plans for Carrier Strike groups and will keep the UK’s two Queen-Elizabeth aircraft carriers stocked with stores while at sea.

Graham added that ‘European competitors’ as a result of Covid-19 have been bringing forward defence contracts to be ‘fulfilled in their domestic markets’ in a bid to boost their economies.

During the same session, Plymouth City Council Leader Councillor Tudor Evans OBE said the local council were ‘surprised’ at the decision not to classify the vessels as warships. Evans added: “Had they been, they could already have been finding their way to UK yards. We find that puzzling. We would be happy to see those FSS ships done here.”

Plymouth is home to HMNB Devonport, the largest naval base in Western Europe, the base of the UK’s Amphibious Assault Ship fleet, and half of the Royal Navy’s Type 23 Frigates. Evans added that FSS work would provide the local area with ‘well-paid’ design jobs.

GMB Shipbuilding national officer Ross Murdoch told the committee that work on the three FSS ships was ‘the only game in town at the moment’ for UK shipbuilding outside of work on Type 26 and Type 31 Frigates.

Murdoch added: “We have heard talk about hospital ships, fishery protection vessels and littoral strike support ships, but they are all at some point in the future.

“The orders themselves are uncertain, and it appears that no one is planning on the assumption that they will definitely be required, so FSS really is the big-ticket item for the members we represent.”

Murdoch said that the FSS vessels had the potential to be built in a modular style similar to the Queen-Elizabeth class aircraft carriers which would allow work to be split across a number of shipyards in the UK. Murdoch said that taking this approach would ‘spread the prosperity impact across a number of yards and secure their medium-term future.’

MPs were also warned that international bidders had an advantage over UK shipbuilders on cost due to subsidies from their governments. Unite Aerospace and Shipbuilding national officer Rhys McCarthy said: “One of the favoured international bidders is a Spanish state-owned company receiving Spanish state aid, and it has an unfair advantage.

“We have seen this previously with other shipbuilding that has gone on, with South Korea for example. I think it is not a fair playing field. It is something that must change, and we have really got to have a situation where the prosperity dividend is in contracts.”

South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo manufactured the RFA’s Tide-class tankers following an order in 2012. A number of British companies participated in the competition for the ships, but ultimately none submitted a final bid for vessel’s tender.

In August the UK Labour Party renewed a plea for the ships to built in the UK by a British shipbuilding consortium, the party called for a “Built in Britain” test for defence and security spending in a bid to ensure work on the vessels stays in the UK.

At the time, Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey told Naval Technology in a statement: “For five years, Defence ministers have dithered over this decision when it’s a no-brainer to build these vital new ships in Britain. (Source: naval-technology.com)

10 Sep 20. UK armed forces equipment and formations 2020. Published 10 September 2020. This is an annual publication which provides information on the numbers and types of equipment and formations of the UK armed forces. Equipment and formations statistics have been presented based on the UK armed forces areas: land, maritime and air. Also provided are data sourced from the Department for Transport (DfT) on militarily-useful British-registered vessels.

Data is provided as at 1 April each year (except DfT data which is as at 31 December each year).

Main Points and Trends

Maritime

At 1 April 2020, there were 10 submarines and 79 vessels in the UK armed forces (66 vessels in the Royal Navy Surface Fleet; 13 vessels in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary).

Land

In the UK armed forces, there were 4,071 pieces of Combat Equipment at 1 April 2020, consisting of:

  • 990 Armoured Personnel Carriers
  • 1,906 Protected Mobility Vehicles
  • 1,175 Armoured Fighting Vehicles.

At 1 April 2020, there were 32 Regular Army Battalions in the Infantry and 16 Army Reserves Battalions.

Air

At 1 April 2020, there were 529 Fixed-wing aircraft and 311 Rotary-wing aircraft in the UK armed forces.

In addition, there were 287 Unmanned Aircraft Systems as at 1 April.

Responsible Statistician: Analysis Publications Head of Branch

Telephone: 030 679 84458

Further information or mailing list: Analysis-Publications@mod.gov.uk

More details on the methodology used in this report are included in the Background Quality Report

Would you like to be added to our contact list, so that we can inform you about updates to these statistics and consult you if we are thinking of making changes? You can subscribe by emailing Analysis-Publications@mod.gov.uk

Introduction

This is an annual publication which provides information on the numbers and types of equipment and formations of the UK armed forces. Equipment and formations statistics have been presented based on the UK armed forces areas: maritime, land and air. Statistics are also provided on militarily-useful British-registered vessels (including passenger, tanker and fishing vessels).

Prior to 2016, equipment and formations statistics were published in the National Statistics publication Formations, Vessels and Aircraft. An internal review was held during March 2016, followed by a six-week public consultation. Based on consultation feedback, a number of changes were made to the publication, including a name change to better reflect the publication’s content.

The term ‘equipment’ for the purposes of this publication refers collectively to vessels, submarines, vehicles, aircraft, artillery and engineering equipment pieces.

Data have been obtained from various Ministry of Defence sources: Navy Command, Army Equipment Department, Army Organisation Branch, Air Command and Joint Helicopter Command (JHC). Data on militarily-useful British-registered vessels has been provided by the Department for Transport.  (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)

14 Sep 20. US Air Force exit from Germany ‘going to take some time,’ top general says. As the U.S. Air Force considers how to follow orders to move assets away from Germany, the head of U.S. Air Forces Europe is pledging a “deliberate” plan that includes transparency for both European allies and the military members involved.

Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian told reporters Monday that his team is still in the “planning stages” of the expected move, saying “we’re going to be deliberate about this. We want to make sure we get it right, such that there’s no impact to our ability to deliver the mission while we would be in transition.

“As we work through this, we want to make sure that we’ve got the appropriate facts understood and want to make sure that we remain closely aligned with our host-nation partners. keep them informed, remain transparent about all this, and acknowledge the fact that this is going to take some time,” he added.

In a July 29 announcement, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced the drawdown of almost 12,000 troops from Germany, along with the shifting of significant infrastructure. Under the plan, it is expected that one F-16 squadron, the 480th Fighter Squadron, would transfer from Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany to Aviano Air Base in Italy, which already hosts two F-16 squadrons. Meanwhile, KC-135 tankers from the 100th Air Refueling Wing and CV-22 Ospreys operated by the 352nd Special Operations Wing would remain at RAF Mildenhall, England, instead of transferring to Spangdahlem, as had previously been planned.

While Pentagon leaders such as Esper have cast the force movement as something designed to create a more flexible posture in Europe, critics have pointed to comments from President Donald Trump stating that the move is happening as political punishment for Berlin.

In his comments, Harrigian indicated that the planning for any potential shift is in the early days, with planners working out the details — with a focus on making sure there is no impact on operational capacity.

“The timeline’s still in work,” he said “We’ve got a fair amount of work in front of us to understand the necessary details required, as you can imagine, to move everything — from the jets but also all the other equipment associated with that — and then ensuring that, from an infrastructure perspective, we’ve got the requisite facilities located out at Aviano to be able to handle that.”

Harrigian noted, however, that on paper there could be benefits to shifting the F-16s to Aviano, saying there are some “synergies” to be had by adding the jets to a base already equipped with “some helicopters and the rescue squadron down there.”

“I think we have to balance that with location and how we would operate, but that’s all part of the analysis that we’re working through right now,” he said.

As to shifting assets to Mildenhall, Harrigian said that while he likes the idea of “flexibility with diversity of bases across Europe, relative to moving any airplanes around over there, we’re still thinking through that. I would tell you that there’s some more analysis we’ve got to do before making a final decision.”

Harrigian stressed that any move would be done in such a way that the military members and their families who are currently based in Germany would have plenty of advance notice of where they may be shifted.

“Most importantly to us, as we work through all this, is to make sure that as we refine and develop a plan, that we take our airman, their families into consideration and lay this out in a manner that we are very transparent about it, [so] they know what their future looks like,” he said. “We manage impacts to families, their kids, such that while we continue to deliver the mission, we also do this in a way that takes care of our most important equity, and that would be our airmen and their families.” (Source: Defense News)

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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

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