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12 Feb 21. British Army to shrink by nearly 10,000 troops over the next decade. It’s thought the MoD is not looking at redundancies, but instead some personnel will not be replaced when they retire or leave the army.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is considering reducing the number of full-time trained strength posts from 82,000 to 72,500 as part of the review, which is due to be published next month CREDIT: Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The British Army is set to be shrunk by nearly 10,000 troops over the next decade, under plans being considered as part of the defence integrated review which will lead to more funding for equipment and other military supplies.
Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, is considering reducing the number of full-time trained strength posts from 82,000 to 72,500 as part of the review, which is due to be published next month.
The Telegraph understands that the move would be to reflect how the face of warfare is “changing”.
A defence source said: “We are looking at the threat. We are not preparing an Armed Forces to re-fight Helmand, we are looking at where we might fight tomorrow in the wars we haven’t encountered.”
The source added that there was “no point in having 82,000 people” and not having “the right drones, the right artillery, the right air cover and armoured personnel vehicles.
“If people expect the Armed Forces to look the same at the end of this they will be mistaken.”
As of October 1, 2020 the Army had 80,760 personnel in full-time trained strength, which includes all members from new cadets to the long-serving personnel.
The defence source cautioned that the Army has not “been at 82,000 for a decade and we’ve been fine”.
It is understood that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is not looking at job losses or redundancies as part of the reduction and that currently no battalions have been identified to be cut.
It is likely instead that some personnel will not be replaced when they retire or leave the army.
Defence sources confirmed that the Army budget will increase in the review, after the biggest uplift in defence spending since the Cold War was announced last November.
When announcing the MoD’s extra £16 billion in real terms over the next four years Boris Johnson hinted at a future cut in Armed Forces manpower, saying: “The latest advances will multiply the fighting power of every warship, aircraft and infantry unit many times over, and the prizes will go to the swiftest and most agile nations, not necessarily the biggest.”
After the announcement, Mr Wallace also confirmed in an interview with The Telegraph that personnel numbers were likely to decline as priorities partly shifted to new theatres of war, including space and cyberspace.
It comes after The Telegraph revealed that the military is making £1 billion in cuts over the next year, which included the suspension of Navy reservists for the first time as Mr Wallace looked to make in-year savings on the £13 billion black hole he inherited when he took over the brief in July 2019.
However, General Lord Richard Dannatt, the former head of the Army, said reducing the number of posts in the army was “ridiculous”.
He said: “Getting there will involve cutting manpower in the infantry which is already smaller than many people think it should be.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s never been as small as it has now”.
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Defence Select Committee, said the reduction in posts “would be devastating to our Armed Forces”.
“If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s the necessity to have backup and resilience in our capabilities,” he said.
“The Armed Forces are already stretched as it is to meet their current obligations, which are only likely to get more complex and more demanding given the rising threats that loom ahead.”
An MoD spokesman said: “The Army will continue to have the numbers and capability required to protect the UK. As the threat changes our Armed Forces must change. Following the record financial settlement, they are being redesigned to confront future threats, not re-fight old wars.
“The challenge of the next decade will be upstream engagement of showing a broad defence posture and we can’t do that with niche capabilities or everything done by drones and AI.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
11 Feb 21. Covid pandemic risks repeat of 1930s chaos, says forces chief. Britain’s military chief has warned that coronavirus has led to “nationalist barriers” and economic crises reminiscent of the lead-up to the Second World War.
General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said the “security challenges” presented by the pandemic are similar to those faced in the 1930s.
In an interview with The Telegraph, the UK’s most senior military commander argued that better global co-operation is needed to tackle the virus crisis and its economic impact.
“What you generally find with a crisis like this, which becomes an economic crisis, is that it then undermines the stability and security situation as well,” he said. “What often follows a very significant economic event is a security challenge.
“If you look at the 1930s, that started with a significant economic crash – and that acted as a very destabilising feature. There are moments in history when significant economic challenges have led to security challenges because they act as a destabiliser.”
The economic crisis caused by the Great Depression was linked to the rise of fascism in Europe and ultimately to the outbreak of the Second World War. Deepening global tensions are developing over Covid, with mounting concerns over supplies of vaccines and the closure of borders.
Sir Nick said: “There has been some unity with the vaccine, but generally speaking people have put up nationalist barriers – and that does not exactly help you with security and stability. What the virus has revealed is some fault lines internationally, but also within society.”
It is his starkest hint yet that the world could face another large-scale conflict. Previously, he has warned that escalating competition between states might lead to “miscalculation” that resulted in a war.
The uneven effects of the virus crisis and rollout of vaccines across the globe have led to tensions. China has faced allegations of covering up the origins of the pandemic after the initial outbreak was said to have originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan.
A Russian disinformation campaign has been accused of undermining public health and spreading fear by making false claims about the Oxford vaccine and its links to monkeys. Commercial motives may have been at play as it was directed at nations where Moscow wants to sell its Sputnik V jab.
Meanwhile, arguments have broken out over vaccine supplies in Europe, with the EU widely rebuked for temporarily triggering Article 16 of the Brexit protocol to block doses travelling from the bloc to the UK.
Sir Nick warned that the different approaches taken by rival states to tackling the pandemic could lead to increased tensions around the world, saying: “Covid has asked some very big questions about your supply chains and how you protect your people.”
He said the steepest challenge will come when the worst effects of the pandemic start to recede, explaining: “We will be confronted with a couple of big choices. There will be a big choice between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment, and there will be a big choice between global solidarity and nationalist isolation.”
His intervention comes ahead of the publication of the Government’s Integrated Review next month, which Boris Johnson has vowed will be the biggest overhaul of foreign, defence and security policy since the Cold War. The Prime Minister has already awarded the Ministry of Defence a significant funding boost, worth an extra £16bn in real terms over the next four years.
The differences between the way in which Western democracies and authoritarian states such as China have responded to the pandemic will result in people questioning which form of government they prefer, Sir Nick said, adding: “How have nations done that are democratic as opposed to those that are less democratic? It has brought things into better perspective.”
He believes the only way to avoid a rerun of the 1930s is for improved global co-operation on key issues.
“My view is that global solidarity is what you need to deal with so many of the challenges and threats we face today, whether it is violent extremism, climate change or problems like Covid,” he said. “These are problems that have to be solved globally.”
Sir Nick also warned that the pandemic was taking place against a deteriorating global situation, which had seen a marked increase in state-based threats emerging during the past three or four years.
He said the support provided by the estimated 6,000 military personnel who have been supporting the NHS and other agencies involved in tackling the pandemic had helped the public to acquire a better understanding of the military.
“In the past we have been popular with the British public, but we were not well understood,” he said. “As a result of the pandemic, people have learnt a lot about our adaptability and innovation and planning ability.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
11 Feb 21. German MoD pledges to sort out air defense portfolio within weeks. Top German defense officials plan to finish an analysis of the country’s air defense requirements in March, according to a new strategy paper co-written by the defense minister and the chief of staff of the armed forces.
The announcement amounts to a promise of conceptual clarity about where future investments are headed, even though funding decisions will have to wait until a new government takes up the matter sometime after the September national elections.
German officials have been brooding over what to do with the TLVS program, an envisioned next-generation missile defense weapon originally designed to replace the country’s Patriot fleet. The upcoming analysis is expected to show to what degree — if at all — the program still fits into plans to protect deployed formations from missiles and drones.
Also up for a decision between the spring and the summer is the path forward for a new heavy transport helicopter, dubbed STH in German, wrote Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Gen. Eberhard Zorn. By that time, officials hope to have sufficient information from the Pentagon about potential purchases of either the Boeing-made Chinook, or the King Stallion made by Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky.
As in the case of TLVS, the next government will have to try to get the helicopter program across the finish line of parliamentary funding approval.
Plans about the future of two key acquisition programs are embedded in a raft of proposals by the two defense leaders aimed at positioning the Bundeswehr as a powerful policy tool for German leaders as they confront challenges emanating from Russia and China.
On Russia, Kramp-Karrenbauer and Zorn wrote that Moscow is “defining itself as a counter-power to the West,” with massive military modernization of its conventional and nuclear forces.
Germany must follow suit and sharpen its own military prowess by weeding out needless programs and upping overall defense spending, the pair argued, lest Berlin exposes itself to blackmail on the geopolitical stage.
Christian Mölling, a senior defense analyst with the Berlin-based German Council on Foreign Relations, said the new strategy document reflects Kramp-Karrenbauer’s goal of remaining defense minister in the next government.
The publication of a defense-themed manifesto out of Kramp-Karrenbauer’s own agency, presumably without cross-government coordination, presents perhaps the greatest chance of success in advancing reforms across the Bundeswehr, Mölling said.
At the same time, Kramp-Karrenbauer will have to contend with anemic financial trend lines that may make her vision of a more ready and deployable force difficult to realize. As a result, recent government spending decisions bear the imprint of a pure “budgetary logic” rather than a strategic, military calculus, Mölling said. (Source: Defense News)
10 Feb 21. France and Germany spend more on military than the UK, new report reveals. Report says Britain, which is ‘traditionally in the lead’ when it comes to military expenditure, is instead ‘stabilising spending.’ France and Germany now spend more on the military than the UK, a new report has revealed.
The paper, Rethinking our Defense in the face of 21st century crises, by the French think tank Institut Montaigne, found that in 2019 the UK’s $48.7 bn military expenditure was below both France and Germany.
Based on the Stockholm for International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) figures the report found that for the same year France spent $50.1bn and Germany $49.3 bn on military expenditure.
The United States was the biggest spender in the region at $732bn, followed by China, which spent $261bn and India, which spent $71.1bn. Russia was the fourth largest spender at $65.1bn.
The report noted that the UK, which is “traditionally in the lead” when it comes to military expenditure, is instead “stabilising spending”. In comparison, it adds that France “has continued its efforts at a steady pace since 2015”.
However the report acknowledges that due to the “significant differences” in definitions regarding defence expenditure used by Sipri and Nato, the internationally recognised figures for defence spending, it “complicates international comparisons”.
The figures also do not take into account the multi-year settlement worth an extra £24 bn that was awarded to the Ministry of Defence by Boris Johnson last November. In comparison Nato figures for 2019 show UK spending was $59bn, Germany was $52bn and France $50bn.
Nicolas Baverez, economist and lawyer who contributes to the Institut Montaigne, said the £16bn investment was “a strong announcement by British government”, but said they needed “to clearly understand where these spendings will be made”.
Mr Baverez also acknowledged that the Sipri data used in the report for France integrated pensions schemes and Gendamari. However, he cautioned that under French law the Gendarmerie has a military regime and is not governed by the same laws as the police.
Mr Baverez added that the decision to use Sipri instead of Nato data had been in order to show “a world vision”, and not one that is exclusive to Nato members.
“Fundamentally, I believe it’s not a competition, it’s just to know if one country or the other is spending more on defence,” Mr Baverez told The Daily Telegraph.
“We don’t have to fight on figures of GDP, we don’t have to fight to know if it’s France, Germany or the UK who is spending more, the important thing is what do we have to do to secure security for European citizens and French citizens and for British citizens.”
Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director general of the Royal United Services Institute, said based on NATO figures, Germany was increasing its military expenditure “from a point where it’s behind”.
“If current trends continue Germany may overtake the UK sometime in the next three or four years,” he said.
Francis Tusa, editor of Defence Analysis, said the UK “needs to make sure we are not resting on our laurels”. He added: “The French are coming up on the inside very quickly.”
An MOD Spokesperson said:“We do not recognise the figures in this report. Based on official NATO rankings, the UK is the biggest European defence spender in the alliance with a budget of over £48bn this year.
“The Ministry of Defence’s budget has also been strengthened with a substantial investment uplift of more than £24bn over the next four years agreed last November.” (Source: Pen & SwordDaily Telegraph)
10 Feb 21. Serbian president plans to invest more in armed forces. Serbia will invest more money in the Vojska Srbije (Serbian Armed Forces, SAF), President Aleksandar Vučić said on 7 February after attending exercise ‘Vrh Koplja (Spearhead) 2021’ at Rastko Nemanjić barracks in Pančevo, involving the SAF’s 72nd Special Operations Brigade.
Vučić said the brigade has 10 BOV M16 Miloš 4×4 multipurpose armoured vehicles (MPAVs) and five Mali (Little) Miloš armed unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) and will receive 20 more M16 MPAVs by the end of the year.
On 6 February, Serbian Defence Minister Nebojša Stefanović told Serbia’s Politika newspaper that Serbia would receive four more upgraded MiG-29 fighters donated by Belarus during the second quarter of this year, bringing the total to 14. He expected the local upgrade of the other 10 MiG-29s to be completed by June and the delivery of 19 more T-72B1MS main battle tanks and 20 modernised BRDM-2M armoured reconnaissance vehicles this year, bringing the number to 30 each.
Serbia will also receive Mistral 3 manportable air-defence systems this year and by the end of 2021 the number of domestically produced NORA-B52 M15 155 mm self-propelled howitzers in service with the SAF will be increased from six to 18, bringing the artillery unit they equip to full strength, Stefanović said. (Source: Jane’s)
11 Feb 21. Over 350 additional military personnel deployed in Scottish Covid response. A further 353 Armed Forces personnel will deploy to locations across Scotland as part of the continuing military support to the testing and vaccine delivery programmes. Armed Forces personnel are working to help administer the vaccine across Scotland © Crown Copyright
In the largest single deployment of military personnel in Scotland since the start of the pandemic, the uplift will take the total number of Armed Forces personnel supporting the Covid response in Scotland to 466.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “The UK Armed Forces have demonstrated their professionalism and resilience throughout this pandemic. They are dedicated to delivering support to the fingertips of these islands and the increase of personnel in Scotland shows our commitment to assist the civil authorities wherever and whenever needed in the fight against Covid-19.”
An additional 33 defence medical staff, from across all three services, will join their 57 colleagues already working as part of the Vaccine Quick Reaction Force. Split across three vaccination teams, military personnel will assist NHS staff at vaccination centres in Dumfries and Galloway and Fife.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “The vaccine roll out is the largest medical deployment this country has ever seen. I’m grateful for the efforts of our armed forces as we work together as one United Kingdom to make sure everyone eligible can get their jab as quickly as possible.
The strength of our Union is never clearer than in the power of our united response, and with over 13 million people vaccinated across the whole of the UK, we are on track to meet our target of offering a first dose to the top four priority groups by 15 February.
As part of the Scottish Government’s programme of Asymptomatic Testing a total 320 personnel, from Regiments based across Scotland, will support the roll out from 15 February.
170 personnel from the 39 Engineer Regiment, based at Kinloss Barracks, and 75 personnel from both the 2nd Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, based at Leuchars Station, will now spend an initial week planning and preparing, before helping administer the tests the following week.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said, “Our fantastic British Armed Forces have played a key role in the fight against Covid-19 in Scotland – from coordinating the emergency response in the early days of the pandemic, to setting up testing sites in the summer, and assisting with the first vaccination centres. We are grateful for all their efforts to keep us safe and help defeat the virus. Getting jabs into arms is essential, and I am grateful that military personnel will continue to help with Scotland’s vital vaccination programme. Alongside the rollout of vaccines, testing remains extremely important. I am pleased that the expertise of our armed forces will help set up Scotland’s new asymptomatic testing programme. As we continue to see during the pandemic, the strength of the Union and support offered by the UK Government has never been more important.”
The Armed Forces have supported Scotland in a range of ways throughout the pandemic; currently 32 planning and liaison staff are working with NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government. 24 logistic support staff, mostly from Edinburgh-based 3rd Battalion The Rifles, are also assisting health boards run vaccination centres in Grampian, Dumfries and Galloway, Borders and Lothian.
The 98 members of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards already deployed to help set up 80 Vaccine Centres across Scotland will successfully complete their task on Monday, when they handover the sites to NHS Scotland.
Since March 2020, the UK Armed Forces have provided Scotland with planners, logistics specialists and aircraft medical evacuation capability, as well as the delivery of a Mobile Testing Unit service throughout last summer.
Across the UK there are over 5,200 personnel committed to winter and COVID-19 operations are supporting 80 different tasks in the UK and abroad – this includes the vaccine rollout, NHS support and community testing across the UK. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
10 Feb 21. U.S. State Dept expects Blinken, Turkish foreign minister to chat, but says policy on S-400 unchanged. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to speak with his Turkish counterpart, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, in the coming days, a State Department spokesman said on Wednesday while reiterating that American policy opposing Turkey’s Russian S-400 missiles remains unchanged.
“I would expect the secretary and his Turkish counterpart will have an opportunity to chat, to connect in the coming days, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
Asked whether the United States is considering Turkey’s recent suggestion that it may not need to make the Russian S-400 missile defense systems operational all the time, Price said Washington’s policy remained unchanged.
“Russian S-400s are incompatible with NATO equipment, they threaten the security of NATO technology, and they’re inconsistent with Turkey’s commitments as a NATO ally,” Price said.
Turkey’s defense minister, Hulusi Akar, was cited on Tuesday as saying that Turkey would propose only partially activating its S-400s in negotiations with the United States, which sanctioned Ankara over the air defense systems in December.
Price did not say whether Washington would consider the proposal, reiterating that the U.S. policy remains the same and that Washington continues to urge Turkey not to retain the S-400 system.
“Turkey is a long-standing and valued NATO ally. … We seek cooperation on common priorities, and as with any ally, we engage in dialogue to address disagreements,” Price said.
Washington sanctioned Ankara for acquiring the S-400s on grounds they threaten its advanced F-35 fighter jets and are incompatible with shared NATO defenses, something that Turkey rejects. Turkey says the systems will stand independently from NATO defenses.
Since Democrat Joe Biden was elected U.S. president, Ankara has said it wants better ties and again proposed an S-400 joint working group. Washington has repeatedly rejected that and says sanctions will remain until Turkey no longer possesses the missiles. (Source: Reuters)
09 Feb 21. HMS Queen Elizabeth undergoes Virtual Warrior assessment. The British Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is undergoing one of its two final assessments in preparation of its maiden mission. The British Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is undergoing one of its two final assessments in preparation of its maiden mission.
The assessments are Virtual Warrior and Strike Warrior. HMS Queen Elizabeth recently assumed the role of the ‘Fleet Flagship’.
During the Virtual Warrior, the crew and battle staff’s abilities of the 65,000t Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier will be tested in a simulated crisis.
The two-week-long Virtual Warrior will involve various scenarios that will be created using a combined computer training suite at HMS Collingwood in Fareham.
Carrier Strike Group staff lieutenant commander Jeremy Olver said: “Virtual Warrior is about command and control. It may not be as exciting as being at sea, but it’s just as important.
“The carrier group will consist of numerous ships and squadrons, some operating at considerable range. It’s crucial that they are all thinking and operating in the same way and information is shared around them.
“Each one of the ‘warrior’ exercises is more sophisticated and demanding with Strike Warrior the final ‘tick in the box’ before we sail.”
The UK Navy noted that the Virtual Warrior exercise runs until 12 February.
The Carrier Strike Group will finally be tested in a live-action assessment during this spring’s Joint Warrior war game ‘Strike Warrior’.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently undergoing maintenance in Portsmouth Naval Base to get prepared for its mission.
In October last year, the Royal Navy’s new Carrier Strike Group led by HMS Queen Elizabeth assembled for the first time, marking the service’s return to carrier operations.
The Carrier Strike Group also includes the HMS Defender, HMS Diamond, and USS The Sullivans, along with HMS Kent, HMS Northumberland, HNLMS Evertsen, RFA Tideforce, and RFA Fort Victoria. (Source: naval-technology.com)
09 Feb 21. Germany welcomes freeze on US troop reduction. The German government has welcomed Washington’s announcement of a freeze on the reduction in US troops in Germany pending a Global Force Posture Review announced by President Joe Biden on 4 February. German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a press conference on 5 February, The federal government welcomes this announcement. We will of course continue to closely monitor further developments on this issue of the American troop presence in Europe and Germany. We will keep in touch with the new American administration regarding their further planning. We have always been convinced that the stationing of American troops here in Germany serves European and transatlantic security and is therefore in our mutual interest. We very much appreciate this close, decades-long co-operation with the American armed forces stationed in Germany. Incidently, we are also pleased that the communities in which these armed forces are stationed see it that way. That is part of the living transatlantic friendship. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Feb 21. UK MOD civilian head casts doubt on 138 F-35 fleet numbers. Delivering evidence to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week, Ministry of Defence (MOD) Permanent Secretary Sir Stephen Lovegrove suggested that the UK’s eventual fleet of F-35s would be lower than the 138 called for in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).
Speaking to MPs, Lovegrove said: “We will be buying the F-35s for another 20 years or so, and they have been in the pipes for 15. In the course of projects such as that, things change. In 2015, the SDSR said that we were to buy 138 F-35Bs; there was no mention of the future combat air system—Tempest, as it is more snappily known.
“Things change in the course of these very long-term programmes. Different capabilities come along that render things that you have yet to buy possibly obsolete, or perhaps you need fewer of them, or the threats change.”
So far, the UK has ordered 48 F-35Bs, all of which are set to be delivered by 2025. The final number of F-35s has been cast into doubt by the need to fund the development of the Tempest future combat air system (FCAS).
By 2025, the current fleet would allow for 24 jets to be deployed between each of the UK’s new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft – however, the UK at current only plans to deploy one aircraft carrier at a time. The UK’s F-35 fleet will be split between two operational squadrons and one training squadron.
Tempest is the joint UK, Italian and Swedish programme to develop a family of aerial systems, including a crewed fighter jet that will replace the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoons from 2035 onwards.
Commenting on the balance between investment in Tempest and the acquisition of F-35s Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) research fellow and editor of RUSI Defence Systems Justin Bronk told Air Force Technology: “The Tempest vs F-35 order numbers trade-off is politically complex but in terms of outputs it is straightforward.
“Since Tempest will not produce a viable combat air fleet until the end of the 2030s at the earliest, funding put towards Tempest instead of F-35 orders represents a direct reduction in UK combat air capabilities over the next 20 years in exchange for industrial and economic benefits in the UK military aerospace sector.”
In the same hearing, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Richard Knighton suggested that after the current 48 jets were ordered, the UK would not be ordering more F-35s until after 2025. Knighton also acknowledged that there was a need to acquire more than 48 jets.
Knighton said: “But as we have said before to the committee, and as I mentioned earlier, we acknowledge that we need to increase that number.
“That is the part of the work we are doing at the moment with Ministers as we establish the plans on the basis of the settlement that we have achieved, but I would not want to get out in front of Ministers and pre-empt ministerial decisions.
“As we have said before, our expectation is that we will buy more F-35s in the second half of the next decade, to improve the capacity.”
For HMS Queen Elizabeth’s maiden operational deployment later this year, the ship will embark F-35Bs from the UK and US Marine Corps. At the current rate, the UK will be able to deploy a carrier with a full complement of British jets in 2023.
Bronk told Air Force Technology that the minimum viable fleet of F-35s for the UK would depend on ‘what the capability ambition is’. Adding that if the UK wanted to have a force ‘simply capable’ of generating 12 to 24 fighters for carrier operations and in extreme conditions the ability to surge to 36 aircraft – a fleet of around 60 F-35s would be enough.
However, Bronk added that when attrition and the need to replace early-lot aircraft was factored in, the UK would need to buy around 70 F-35s to maintain a 60-jet fleet over its lifetime.
Bronk added: “If the ambition is to provide penetrating ISTAR, strike and SEAD capabilities in support of the joint force in a NATO context in addition to regular carrier deployments with a global reach, then a number much closer to 100 is the realistic minimum purchase.
“Budget constraints coupled with industrial and political ambitions for Tempest mean that the former is the more likely eventuality, whilst the latter ambition will remain, which will leave the F-35 force permanently over-tasked and unable to deliver the full range of capabilities assumed by planners across the different services.”
Defence analysts have long held the view by that the UK would end up buying a smaller fleet of aircraft. Senior figures within the department have hinted in the past the final fleet would be smaller than originally called for. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
05 Feb 21. Biden Extends Ban on Turkey Buying F-35 Stealth Fighter. Pentagon spokesman urges Ankara “not to retain” an advanced Russian air-defense system. The Biden administration will not lift the Trump administration’s ban on Turkey buying F-35 stealth fighters, a punishment for Ankara’s 2019 purchase of a Russian air-defense system, a senior Pentagon official said Friday.
“Turkey is a longstanding and valued NATO ally, but their decision to purchase the S-400 is inconsistent with Turkey’s commitments as a U.S. and NATO ally,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said during a Friday afternoon press briefing. “Our position has not changed. The S-400 is incompatible with the F-35 and Turkey has been suspended from that program. We urge Turkey not to retain the S-400 system.”
Much of the language used by Kirby was identical to how Pentagon officials characterized the decision to ban Turkey from the multibillion-dollar project in July 2019.
“Turkey had multiple opportunities over the last decade to purchase the Patriot defense system from the United States and instead chose to purchase the S-400, which provides Russia revenue, access and influence,” Kirby said.
In December, the Trump administration sanctioned Turkey for buying the missile system.
Turkey had long planned to buy upward of 100 jets, but had only ordered 30 when Washington booted Ankara from the project. The U.S. Air Force last year said it would buy the Turkish jets already built, but not delivered, by defense contractor Lockheed Martin. Turkish companies are expected to continue manufacturing and supplying F-35 parts to Lockheed through 2022. (Source: Defense One)
08 Feb 21. Britain’s enemies are using social media to ‘tear apart the fabric of society.’ General in charge of cyber attacks warns the real threat will be in how a society could be influenced by ‘sowing discord’
Britain’s enemies are using social media to try to “tear the fabric of society apart”, the general in charge of cyber attacks has warned.
General Sir Patrick Sanders said the real threat from cyber attacks would not be in the form of sabotage but in how a society could be influenced by “sowing discord”.
“What you’re seeing are our adversaries, our rivals, exploiting the tools that are meant to make for a more utopian society, [using] social media against us, fueling conspiracy theories and really sowing division and tearing the fabric of society apart.
“You could go so far and describe it as almost fueling a civil war inside some of these societies.”
The head of the UK’s Strategic Command said Britain’s use of ‘offensive cyber’ was “not magic”.
“It’s a combination of really clever technology and people,” he told Sky News’ Into The Grey Zone podcast.
He said countries like Russia and China were switching to “non-military means of activities” to secure their aims, adding: “The most important weapons don’t necessarily fire bullets”.
Striking enemies before they inflict damage on Britain was unquestionably one of the ways in which the military was protecting our democratic processes, he said.
Gen Sanders was speaking alongside Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ, about the role of Britain’s new National Cyber Force, the organisation made up of spies and soldiers to conduct cyber attacks.
Mr Fleming said the UK was ready to strike and had the tools to hack into the phones of adversaries engaging in cyber warfare.
“We might deploy capabilities to counter individual criminals or serious and organised crime gangs and that could include … getting onto their phones or the technology they are using,” he said.
He suggested the UK had not yet utilised an “offensive cyber” on another state.
“We’re able to say that it’s available to governments to use in that context,” he said.
Unlike the US where cyber skills are used separately by the military or intelligence agencies, the NCF is led jointly by GCHQ and MoD, with representation also from MI6. It will seek to disrupt terrorists, hostile state activities and criminals targeting the UK.
Around 3,000 cyber experts will be recruited over the next decade with staff being drawn from existing Defence or GCHQ employees. (Source: Pen & Sword/Daily Telegraph)
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