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15 Jan 21. UK Defence scientists ramp up their support to the Covid-19 pandemic. Scientists from Dstl have been working tirelessly since the start of the pandemic to support a whole host of government agencies and civilian authorities. Recently, Dstl experts were called on by the MOD’s Standing Joint Command (SJC) to provide short notice analytical support to the Dover crisis between Christmas and New Year, by helping the military and the police clear the backlog of heavy goods vehicles and their drivers. Dstl – the science inside UK defence and security – provided information to aid effective queuing and Covid-19 testing strategies which enabled a rapid return to normality.
As the current vaccine is rolled out, a number of scientists and technicians have been building data science and computing models for the NHS England IT system to tackle a range of vaccine related challenges, from vaccine population estimation to vaccine phasing and regional planning tools.
Dstl’s Dr Kit Waterman, said, “It has been a privilege to contribute to one of the nation’s largest logistical feats at this critical time. Modelling the phasing and delivery of the vaccine has proved an intellectually challenging and rewarding experience, and the opportunity to work with colleagues from across Dstl has really brought home the versatility and quality of skills developed through the delivery of science and technology support to UK defence.”
Dstl’s work has been crucial in both the response and building up of national and international scientific understanding of Covid-19. 180 defence scientists are currently working on multiple assignments, with more than 300 scientists in total who have worked on hundreds of Covid support areas. These include supporting the safety guidance for military personnel, ensuring supply chains for military equipment can operate, through to providing scientific support to a number of agencies, including the NHS, Public Health England, the Department for Health and Social Care, as well as the Government Office for Science (GO-Science) and the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
Dstl’s Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead said, “Our people are carrying out some outstanding work, including helping to make sure that defence maintains its operational output during the pandemic. Dstl has helped to widen the Government’s scientific understanding on the spread of the pandemic, we’ve supported the national health response and are helping to increase the understanding of the virus. It is a truly national and global effort and Dstl is a critical part of that.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
15 Jan 21. Turkey wants F-35 and Patriot again, relying on Biden’s mind. The Turkish government has once again talked about fighter jets and anti-aircraft missile systems. Hulusi Akar, the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Turkey, answered several journalistic questions related to the country’s defense, BulgarianMilitary.com has learned.
According to the Minister of Defense, the United States’ sanctions for the purchase of Russian air defense systems are hasty and ill-considered. “Both sides are suffering from this,” Akar said. There is no direct evidence that the S-400 can cause problems on the fifth-generation F-35 fighters’ chairs. Akar also stressed that Turkey could resolve the United States’ problem through dialogue, review of settlement agreements, and a technical commission to resolve the issue. Akar believes that after Joe Biden takes office as president of the United States, Ankara and Washington will normalize relations.
“Turkey wants to return to the F-35 program. Americans have spent a lot of time and energy. The alliance between the two nations must not be destroyed or damaged because such a crisis can be devastating,” the Turkish minister told reporters. “Are we opponents now? We expect the United States to reconsider its decisions and move towards their normalization during the reign of the new US President Biden,” he said.
Akar expressed a similar opinion after stressing that Turkey is about to modernize its squadron of F-16 fighters. Lack of communication and deteriorating defense relations could hamper Ankara’s plans to rebuild its division.
The military minister again clarified Turkey’s reasons to turn to Russia to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems. “We met with the United States and Europeans. Unfortunately, we could not get appropriate answers on costs, technology transfer, payment terms, delivery, and production. We had to provide this for our country from Russia, which responded positively,” Akar said.
Turkey still wants to buy US Patriot air defense systems, but their Russian counterparts will remain active, the minister said. According to him, S-400 will not be fixed in a specific place permanently. “We will relocate S-400 in any Turkish field according to the type, manner, and degree of threat.”
However, there are opportunities
The two countries are setting up a technical working group. The Turkish Foreign Minister’s statement confirmed this decision’s report, and both parties had already signed an agreement, as we reported on January 5 this year.
BulgarianMilitary.com reminds you that the idea of creating such a working group is not alien to the Turks. On the contrary, even before the first deliveries of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey, Ankara made this offer, but Washington rejected it. In the mid-2020, the United States did not want to solve the problem but decided to strain relations by threatening Turkey with economic sanctions.
“A joint working group with the United States on the S-400 has been set up, and technical negotiations have begun,” the Turkish Foreign Minister said at the end of the year. We remind you that the first deliveries of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems began in mid-2019.
Russia fears unfair Turkish behavior
There are opportunities for Turkey to provide sensitive information on Russian S-400 systems to its US partners. At least such allegations were made in the Russian news agency Aviapro.
According to the article, Washington will return Turkey to the F-35 program. The reason for this is precisely the working group set up at the end of last year. The publication claims that the doors for the F-35 program will reopen to Ankara, as Turkey will provide information on the S-400 system through a working group.
Aviapro refers to the same statement by the Turkish Minister of Defense. However, according to Russian journalists, Akar deliberately hid the signed agreement to establish a working group to develop the impact of the S-400 on the F-35.
Turkey’s actions are contradictory
The Turkish Minister of Defense’s latest statement shows contradictory decisions by the Turkish government. In the middle of last year, we announced that Turkey was ready not to disclose sensitive information on the dispute’s two axes – NATO and Russia.
The head of the Turkish defense industry, Ismail Demir, said: “Turkey will launch the S-400 alone to protect the F-35 program and its weapons systems.”
He also said that Turkey promises Russia to protect data from S-400 systems, the newspaper said. “Russia has expressed concern about the S-400 data, and Turkey promises to protect these systems.” (Source: News Now/https://bulgarianmilitary.com/)
14 Jan 21. Greek parliament approves purchase of Rafale fighters from France. Greek lawmakers approved the purchase of 18 Dassault-made Rafale jets from France for 2.5bn euros ($3.04bn) on Thursday, in a deal due to be signed by the Greek and French defence ministers later this month.
Athens has agreed to acquire advanced fighter aircraft as it moves ahead with plans to beef up its military capacity during a dispute with neighbouring Turkey over energy resources in the Mediterranean.
The agreement for six new and 12 used Rafale jets is expected to be signed by France and Greece in Athens this month and the first deliveries are expected during the first half of the year, the government has said.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ conservative government has said it wants to invest in the armed forces, increasing personnel, acquiring new frigates, helicopters and drones, and upgrading its existing fleet of F-16 fighters.
Parliament is also expected to vote next week on a bill extending Greece’s western territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 nautical miles from six, Mitsotakis told local ANT1 TV.
While that vote does not directly affect the eastern and southern Aegean, where Greece and Turkey have competing claims, Athens has said it reserves the right under international law to a 12-mile maritime limit across its whole territory.
Turkey has said it would regard staking such a claim in the Aegean as a “casus belli” or reason for war.
In a possible sign of willingness to seek a more conciliatory approach, officials from both countries are due to meet on Jan. 25 for talks. ($1 = 0.8223 euros) (Source: Reuters)
12 Jan 21. NAO Report On The MoD Equipment Plan 2020-2030. This report reviews the robustness of assumptions underpinning the Ministry of Defence’s 2020–2030 Equipment Plan.
Background to the report
The Ministry of Defence (the Department) publishes its Equipment Plan report each year, setting out its intended investment in equipment and support projects over the next 10 years and whether this is affordable within its future budget. In July 2020, the Department wrote to the Committee of Public Accounts to explain that it would not publish a full Equipment Plan report this year. It is deferring a full Equipment Plan report until the Spending Review and Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy have concluded.
The Equipment Plan 2020–2030 includes the same depth of financial analysis as in previous years, however, it has cut back the contextual commentary in its report and included less project-level information. It shows that the Department has allocated a budget of £190bn to equipment and support projects, 41% of its entire forecast budget. It needs to manage this expenditure effectively to ensure the Armed Forces can secure and maintain the equipment they need to meet their military objectives.
The Department introduced its Equipment Plan in 2012 after a period of weak financial management. The Secretary of State for Defence invited the National Audit Office’s Comptroller and Auditor General to examine the robustness of the Equipment Plan’s underlying assumptions. Each year since then the NAO has, in parallel, published a report examining the Department’s assessment of the Equipment Plan’s affordability and its response to the financial challenges it faces.
Scope of the report
The Department needs effective long-term financial planning to maintain and develop future military capabilities. The aim of this report is to evaluate the Department’s assessment of the affordability of equipment and support projects, and to set out how it can strengthen its approach to preparing future Equipment Plans. It examines:
- the affordability of the 2020–2030 Plan, considering the Department’s approach to cost forecasting and reasonableness of its adjustments (Part One); and
- how the Department has been seeking to manage funding shortfalls (Part Two).
For the fourth successive year, the Equipment Plan remains unaffordable. However, the Department has still not established a reliable basis to assess the affordability of equipment projects, and its estimate of the funding shortfall in the 2020–2030 Plan is likely to understate the growing financial pressures that it faces. The Plan does not include the full costs of the capabilities that the Department is developing, it continues to make over-optimistic or inconsistent adjustments to reduce cost forecasts and is likely to have underestimated the risks across long-term equipment projects. In addition, the Department has not resolved weaknesses in its quality assurance of the Plan’s affordability assessment. While the Department has made some improvements to its approach and the presentation of the Plan over the years, it has not fully addressed the inconsistencies which undermine the reliability and comparability of its assessment.
The Department faces the fundamental problem that its ambition has far exceeded available resources. As a result, its short-term approach to financial management has led to increasing cost pressures, which have restricted Top-Level Budgets from developing military capabilities in a way that will deliver value for money. The growing financial pressures have also created perverse incentives to include unrealistic savings, and to not invest in new equipment to address capability risks. The recent government announcement of additional defence funding, together with the forthcoming Integrated Review, provide opportunities for the Department to set out its priorities and develop a more balanced investment programme. The Department now needs to break the cycle of short-termism that has characterised its management of equipment expenditure and apply sound financial management principles to its assessment and management of the Equipment Plan. (Source: NAO)
12 Jan 21. COVID Support Force: the MOD’s continued contribution to the coronavirus response. Military personnel are supporting public services across the UK to assist with the response to COVID-19. This page has the latest information on the MOD’s activities.
Examples of activities that the military are undertaking can be found below. This page will be updated with the latest activity on a regular basis.
COVID Support Force
Since 18 March 2020, the MOD has responded to over 275 COVID-19 Military Aid to Civilian Authority (MACA) requests. You can see the story so far, including what activities the military have undertaken on the previous COVID Support Force page.
As of 8 January 2021, there were around 5,000 military personnel committed to assist with 56 open COVID-19 MACA requests. This number is kept under constant review and military personnel will be available to support where needed. There are also around 12,000 personnel on standby as part of the Winter Preparedness Package who can be called upon for COVID-19 tasks.
Since 16 November, the Vaccine Task Force has been stood up to identify challenges and ensure the efficient delivery of a vaccine to the public. Currently, defence has placed five planners into the Vaccine Task Force planning team within the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). Two military planners are seconded to support the Vaccine Task Force Director. The NHS is well prepared to deliver the vaccine and keep pace with supplies as they increase over the coming weeks. As part of prudent planning, a small reserve force of medically qualified military personnel has been placed on standby to support this work if needed.
Additionally, 20 military personnel are assisting with regional vaccine planning, end-to-end logistics and delivery. These 20 personnel are split into groups of two, operating across the 10 NHS regions in England. There are also planners working with devolved nations.
Following a MACA request from the Wales Office, more than 90 service personnel are supporting Wales’ Health Boards in rapidly establishing and operating vaccination centres. As the vaccination programme is rolled out, military personnel will support the setting up of additional capacity as greater quantities of vaccine are made available. For the first time since the vaccine has been rolled out, trained defence medics will also support the administering of the vaccine.
The whole of government is working closely with the NHS to put plans in place to distribute the vaccine, including military planning teams to help coordinate regional and national deployment activity. Through the MACA process, Defence has provided 133 personnel into the Vaccine Quick Reaction Force (QRF) to support the NHS if requested. The QRF is made up of medically trained personnel that can vaccinate people when needed. This means personnel will be engaged only when required and requested by the NHS in a ‘surge’ capacity. The QRF has 21 teams, 3 for each of the 7 NHS regions. Each region has a Medical Support Officer (MSO) to interlink help manage the three teams. The NHS is well prepared to deliver the vaccine and keep pace with supplies as they increase over the coming weeks.
Planning Support for Local Authorities
The UK Armed Forces have deployed dozens of military planners across the UK. Working with Local Resilience Forums and Partnerships and alongside the Emergency Co-ordination Centres in Scotland and Wales, they are providing additional expert resource to support local communities and businesses and to roll out tracing systems. Military personnel deployed to civil authorities are also helping to free up council resource so Local Authorities can focus on critical areas including enforcing restrictions.
In Liverpool and Halton, 3 Environmental Health Officers (EHO) are supporting the Merseyside Local Resilience Forum and Halton Borough Council. The military EHO are trained extensively in outbreak management and they can interpret the information gathered by the NHS Track and Trace call handlers to identify and map trends, clusters and sources of infection. This information will then allow Local Authorities to follow up in specific areas and conduct any enforcement that may be required. Military EHOs are also supporting authorities in Greater Manchester and Cumbria.
In Lancashire, 6 planners are supporting the Local Resilience Forum, focusing on supporting communities and businesses who are under Tier 3 restrictions, and rolling out the tracing programme. The planners are working with local districts to support vulnerable groups, ensuring robust plans are in place to give people access to vital supplies and medicines. The planners are also working with districts on support to businesses and the rollout of the COVID-19 marshals.
In addition, our scientists, based at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) have been deployed directly into government departments, local resilience teams and military headquarters, to provide instant assistance, insights and advice to planners and decision makers.
Assisting with the National Testing Effort
The UK Armed Forces have been supporting the government’s efforts to increase national testing capacity and support local authorities to get tests to those who need them. In Birmingham, 110 military personnel worked with Birmingham City Council on a Drop and Collect testing initiative, delivering and picking up tests from homes across the city. In Nottingham, military personnel supported the coordination of a volunteer network who helped to deliver the Drop and Collect self-test initiative.
The military have also supported testing in schools, with over 4,400 tests carried out by 50 military personnel across three schools in October. This was carried out as part of a Public Health England trial to evaluate the effectiveness of rapid antigen tests in a school environment. Around 90 personnel supported testing in 6 schools across the country in December.
Armed Forces personnel are supporting the Department for Education and Department for Health and Social Care to roll out testing to schools and colleges in January with around 1,500 personnel committed to assist. The majority of personnel are in local response teams, providing virtual support and phone advice to institutions needing guidance on the testing process and set-up of the testing facilities. Teams are also on standby to deploy at short notice to provide in-person support.
Our scientists based at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) have been supporting and working with Public Health England to increase testing capacity nationwide. As part of wider testing capability at Porton Down, up to 7000 tests per day can be processed.
In support of Department for Health and Social Care and Liverpool City Council 2,000 specially trained Armed Forces personnel were deployed to Liverpool to operate around 50 asymptomatic testing sites. The military also supported the logistics and planning, and a small team of bio-medical scientists trained civilian personnel to conduct the tests. Around 900 personnel supported testing in the wider Liverpool City region.
The military were deployed to support mass testing in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. Around 170 RAF personnel supported Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, NHS Wales, Welsh Government and DHSC to deliver mass testing to the town. The personnel helped to run around 14 testing sites around the town and carried out around 11,000 lateral flow tests to help identify asymptomatic cases and break chains of transmission. Military personnel also supported testing in Medway, Kent where 150 personnel helped to operate 5 testing sites.
The military is currently supporting testing in Lancashire, where around 420 personnel are deployed; Derbyshire, with around 130 personnel, Kirklees in Yorkshire where approximately 75 personnel are deployed, Kent where 360 personnel are supporting and Manchester where around 1,000 personnel are deploying.
Hundreds of military personnel are supporting COVID-19 testing for hauliers in Kent travelling to France. Using Lateral Flow Devices, personnel from 36 Engineer Regiment, 1 Irish Guards, the Royal Welsh, the Welsh Guards and 3rd Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment supported the Department for Transport and Department for Health and Social Care to help alleviate the backlog of vehicles. Carrying out over 44,000 tests since 23 December, Armed Forces personnel have worked around the clock to keep freight moving. Around 500 personnel remain on task, assisting with testing and supporting traffic management.
77th Brigade previously support Cabinet Office’s Rapid Response Unit with monitoring and detecting disinformation and misinformation. Instances identified were passed to the Cabinet Office for action. The Brigade is no longer involved in these tasks which came to an end in the summer.
The 77th Brigade are not currently supporting in the Cabinet Office with any projects that would involve interactions with British Citizens who might be posting disinformation nor misinformation and any capabilities are not being directed at the UK population. 77th Brigade do not, and have never, conducted any kind of action against British citizens.
Ninety-four military personnel, including medics and drivers, are embedding with the Welsh Ambulance NHS Trust to support them by driving Ambulances as they care for the most vulnerable during the nation’s response to the pandemic. This is the second time the Armed Forces have supported the Trust this year having previously worked with them in April. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
11 Jan 21. UK defense secretary: Britain is paving a path for modernization and appropriate funding. The Estonian town of Tapa sits less than 100 miles from the Russian border, and in December I was there to visit some of the 900 British troops that have been stationed there since 2017 — our largest land deployment outside of the U.K.
This is not just a useful training exercise with our Danish and, in a few months’ time, French allies, but rather a strategic defensive presence in a region that is vital for global security. Our Estonian allies are bolstered and reassured by having us there.
A more active, more deployed armed forces, such as those in Tapa, is a sign of things to come for U.K. defense. Like Estonia, we meet the 2 percent commitment to NATO, and in the U.K.’s latest spending review, the Ministry of Defence secured a record settlement of £16.5bn (U.S. $22.4bn) of funding above our election manifesto commitment over a four-year period.
The prime minister and I share a vision for how that funding will transform U.K. defense.
It is crucial to putting our defense spending on a sustainable footing — living within our means, addressing the underfunding of previous years and paving the way for a modernization that is much overdue.
It means being an even greater and ever-reliable defense ally to our friends around the world. It means adopting a more proactive posture with our forces more forward, more present and more assertive. It means remaining a leader in NATO, spending above 2 percent of gross domestic product, making the largest single commitment to the Readiness Initiative and helping drive the modernization of an organization that has kept us safe for more than 70 years. And, of course, it means remaining the United States’ most reliable, capable and committed ally.
It is not just a coincidence that this is the biggest defense investment since the end of the Cold War. Estonians know this only too keenly — and with an increase in Russian presence in the U.K., we have felt this too. Our Quick Reaction Alert forces have seen their busiest period in a decade, with our Royal Air Force fighters scrambling 11 times to intercept Russian warplanes. Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s activity in U.K. waters has risen by 26 percent since last year, with Royal Navy vessels escorting each and every one of them. From our airspace to cyberspace, the North Sea to the High North, we know the threat they pose.
So in an age of 21st century challenges, it’s more important than ever that we work together. That’s why, following our departure from the European Union, we are opening up fresh opportunities to strengthen our global relationships and stay ahead of the curve. The integrated review that we will publish in 2021 will make the most of new technologies, improve integration across the domains and demonstrate that we remain the international partner of choice: a burden-sharing, self-confident and active nation, stepping up to our responsibilities in an ever more contested world. (Source: Defense News)
12 Jan 21. PM wants a new defence chief. Army and navy candidates square off after PM ‘tires’ of Carter. Boris Johnson is preparing to replace the head of the armed forces before the summer, earlier than planned, unleashing a battle royal between a fellow Old Etonian and two other commanders for the role.
General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff (CDS), had been expected to stay in post until the autumn. But according to senior Whitehall sources, Johnson signalled last week that he wanted him gone by June and that a letter was being prepared to inform him.
Last night No 10 said a final decision had not been made. But a well-placed source familiar with the discussions said Johnson had “tired” of Carter, 61, and was keen to move on. “He is set to deny his request for an extension,” the source said.
It is understood that Johnson wants new leadership to begin what he has called a “once-in-a-generation modernisation” of Britain’s military might.
The recent strategic defence and security review gave the armed forces a £16.5bn cash boost over four years to buy new kit, while shifting its focus to a new global maritime strategy and cyber and drone warfare rather than traditional arms and armour.
General Sir Patrick Sanders, 54, who is in charge of strategic command, is thought to be the choice of Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, to replace Carter. The outgoing CDS has also “been telling anyone who is prepared to listen” that the job should go to Sanders.
But he faces a rearguard action from the army and the navy, which are lobbying for their own commanders to take the top job.
General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, 56, an Old Etonian with a special forces background, is being pushed by those who think the largest of the three services should keep the job.
“He’s impressive, smooth and he’s their current boss,” a defence source said. “It looks like a fight between the two generals.”
The navy, which has not had a CDS since Admiral Lord Boyce in 2001-03, is also pressing for the promotion of Admiral Tony Radakin, 55, the first sea lord. His case is bolstered by Johnson’s backing for the navy’s two new aircraft carriers and the decision that the UK should be more proactive around the world, making the presence of the fleet felt in the Far East as well as the Gulf. (Source: The Times)
11 Jan 21. Italy’s defense minister: The future of European defense must involve the United States. The discussion about greater defense integration in Europe and more cooperation for the development of a common industrial base has sparked a lively debate about Europe’s defense and the trans-Atlantic relationship.
Italy is taking a leading role, as it always has, in the integration process because it sees Europe as a strategic choice and a multiplier of resources to tackle future challenges.
But Italy does not see European strategic autonomy as a go-it-alone policy. It views it as a confirmation of Europe’s role as a pillar in the collective security structure based on the trans-Atlantic pact.
The future of European defense cannot be separated from solid trans-Atlantic integration. Today, just as in the past, the United States must stay connected to Europe and to NATO — at the center of a reciprocal security and defense relationship.
Italy wants to build up its own defense capabilities in the context of this European project. But it nevertheless holds the deep conviction that the trans-Atlantic relationship is essential for guaranteeing the country a geopolitical position in keeping with its ambitions and technology base.
Our country has a privileged relationship with the United States, which is reflected in consolidated industrial cooperation through which high-quality Italian defense technology can compete in the U.S. market and be considered domestic technology.
The defense sector is an incubator of technological innovation that links international security and an industry that multiplies the value of investment — a huge factor in the relaunch and growth of economies, above all during crises like the one we face today.
It is crucial that we ensure the continuation of cooperation with the U.S., allowing Italian industry to carry on offering its products on the U.S. market and building its market share.
It is also crucial to continue investing in the value of the defense sector, and I believe it is essential, even given the serious social and economic consequences of the pandemic, that politicians impress on the public the importance of modernizing the armed forces to protect the sovereignty and economic prosperity of future generations.
Italy is firmly committed to burden-sharing, and future budgets will use multiyear funding to support investment in the defense industry to help its development, innovation and competitiveness in foreign markets.
That means cooperation — particularly trans-Atlantic cooperation — is essential to the success of new programs that will boost the growth of Italian industry and help the attainment of national ambitions.
One of these ambitions is to have advanced technology and a globally competitive national industry to allow Italy to continue to be a relevant participant in the most innovative programs, particularly those launched by its friend and ally, the U.S.
Today, important trans-Atlantic industrial team-ups give us satisfaction and greater ambition for future cooperation, from Fincantieri’s frigates for the U.S. Navy, to Beretta, to Iveco’s amphibious vehicles, to Leonardo — obviously — with helicopters and the F-35 program, which also involves numerous small firms who have been able to increase their presence in the U.S. market.
To better define the aims of Italy’s defense sector, I am prioritizing the development of a precise industrial and technological strategy, which can shape institutional support designed to protect Italy’s technological superiority and the competitiveness of its know-how in the world.
It’s know-how and a patrimony of technological excellence and innovation that allows our industry to be increasingly competitive abroad and part of major international programs, thanks to the continual reinforcement of our loyal and friendly relations with our traditional allies — with the United States a principal point of reference. That means a combining of efforts to tackle and overcome global and technological challenges.
When those efforts are trans-Atlantic, there is a natural multiplying factor of the human, political, technological and cultural resources involved.
In the uncertain world we live in, the defense industry is a solid guarantee of innovation and jobs, and a source of economic relaunch and investment for future generations. It is therefore necessary to ensure that this sector of our economy continues to maintain and increase its technological and commercial relevance.
Italy is aware of this and will continue to give all its institutional support, where necessary and possible, to an industrial sector that is always ready for the challenge of making technological breakthroughs. And I am certain that if the country sticks to this task, our friend and ally, the United States, will continue to support our ambition, overcoming any obstacles to the progress of our nations. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
11 Jan 21. Airbus executive: What will be most important this year? This year will show how much the commitments of European governments to a stronger and more autonomous defense capability are worth. The expected discussions on budgets in connection with the heavily burdening COVID-19 pandemic will also test the assertiveness of those who play a role in defense policy.
The year 2021 is one of decisive course-setting for the most important future programs of military aviation.
We expect Germany, France, Italy and Spain to sign the contract for the European drone in the first half of the year. By creating a European alternative, and even founding a new generation of drones, these four nations are establishing a first, stable cornerstone for the Future Combat Air System.
In FCAS, however, not only the medium-altitude, long-endurance segment will play a role, but also several variants of remote carriers, whose technology we intend to test in live demonstrations this year.
For this, as well as the other four pillars of the FCAS project, a commissioning of the demonstrator phase 1B by the middle of the year is of utmost importance. FCAS is the most ambitious European defense project in history, and we are all proud to be part of it. But FCAS also has a very ambitious timetable that must be met. If we want to achieve it by 2040, this requires disciplined work from European industry and a realistic assessment of everyone’s capabilities. At the same time, political leaders should push the project forward in a pragmatic way. Pragmatism also includes the acceptance of different speeds in joint armament projects.
Furthermore, it will be important to open up the concept of defense widely. In a project dedicated to the middle of the century, it must not happen that we leave out the elements of space, networking, data processing and cybersecurity. As comprehensive and multidimensional as the threats are, so must be the options for our countermeasures.
This year will also see a winner in two large European fighter aircraft tenders, namely Switzerland and Finland. It will reveal if the time has come for nations to choose industrial and political partnerships within their close neighborhood, or if they still strive for partnerships elsewhere like they did 30 years ago. The Eurofighter jet is the truly European solution and would fit perfectly into both air forces. In particular, its long-term evolution will make it the aircraft of choice for air defense beyond 2060, and also a fully integrated part of FCAS.
Another important decision will be made on how Germany and France want to proceed with the future maritime airborne warfare system. The MAWS program, initiated in 2018 by the two ministries of defense, is an important international cooperative project that will add new capabilities and preserve existing ones for Europe’s mission readiness.
The past year has shown how important defense assets can also be in disaster relief. Countless times, A400M and A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft have transported relief supplies and intensive care patients, helping to alleviate distress where it was worst. This has ensured a strong acceptance of our armed forces — perhaps also among sections of the population who otherwise do not want to see the need for such institutions. At the same time, it has also become clear that securing one’s own airspace or that of an ally does not simply stop because of a pandemic.
It will also be interesting to see how the relationship between the U.S. and European states will evolve. In my view, a genuine partnership must develop again. Europe’s sovereign ability to provide for its own security in the long term can and must be in the interest of all parties involved. This also presupposes that the need to maintain Europe’s own technological competence is promoted accordingly within Europe, even if procurement from outside Europe may seem easier at first. In the long run, an investment in one’s own sovereignty, and thus also in one’s own technological capabilities, will always pay off.
Last year taught us all what matters in the end. This year is when we’ll draw the right conclusions. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
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