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27 Feb 21. Death of the faithful Hercules: Entire fleet of transporter plane favoured by the SAS is to be grounded – and its Airbus replacement ‘could put our troops at risk’
- The ‘Super Hercules’ C-130J fleet has been used on Special Forces operations against IS in Iraq and Syria
- The aircraft is loved by soldiers for being easy to take off and land in rugged, hostile environments
- There are concerns that grounding the fleet will put operations at risk and pose a threat against British troops
The entire fleet of the transporter plane favoured by the SAS is to be grounded – despite fears the cost-cutting move will put soldiers’ lives at risk.
Retiring all 14 of the ‘Super Hercules’ C-130J – repeatedly used on Special Forces operations against IS in Iraq and Syria – would also jeopardise hundreds of UK defence jobs.
The aircraft is loved by soldiers for being easy to take off and land in rugged, hostile environments and for its anti-detection technology, protecting them from rocket attacks. Now a much larger, apparently less well-suited aircraft – the Airbus-manufactured A400M – will be trusted to fly troops behind enemy lines.
All 14 of the Super Hercules C-130J air crafts will be grounded despite the fears that soldiers lives will be put at risk
Official documents reveal concern that using the European plane will put operations at ‘greater risk’ and add to the threat against British troops.
The C-130J’s retirement is part of the Government’s Integrated Review of defence spending, which is also likely to include a cut of 10,000 soldiers, fewer tanks and armoured vehicles and the withdrawal of RAF fighter jets.
Scrapping the planes now will mean the MoD does not have to pay for expensive upgrades to keep them flying until 2035
The move is a huge U-turn by defence chiefs who in 2019 said the C-130J would remain in service until 2035 as no other aircraft could perform its high-risk role.
Scrapping the planes now will mean the MoD does not have to pay for expensive upgrades to keep them flying until 2035. The RAF will then use its 20 Airbus A400M transporters instead.
But last night, Tobias Ellwood MP, chairman of the Commons defence committee, said he had written to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to express his ‘grave concerns’ about the move. He had been asked by anxious military commanders to raise concerns on their behalf.
The Airbus-manufactured A400M will be trusted to fly troops behind enemy lines once the C-130J fleet is retired He said: ‘Grounding the C-130J will endanger our troops and threaten the success of operations they are undertaking overseas. Scrapping this aircraft, 14 years ahead of its retirement date, would be a serious strategic error and will land poorly with Nato allies who look to Britain for leadership in the domain of elite operations. The C-130J offers significant operational advantages – it is lighter, more agile, better defended and can land and take off in hostile environments far more effectively than the A400M.’
The MoD is also opting to axe the planes despite key allies such as the US, Australia, New Zealand and France still buying the American-manufactured aircraft.
The official documents suggest the C-130J should be retained because it meets the SAS’s specific operational requirements, stating: ‘The A400M and the C-17 [another alternative aircraft] are physically too large for certain Special Forces missions, which often take place in tight, austere spaces. The larger the aircraft the more prone they are to threats. [The A400M’s] extra 10ft of height presents a bigger target in ground ops [operations] and the larger surface area increases its vulnerability to missile threats.’
Highly skilled British engineers could also be put out of work by the decision because the C-130J is serviced in the UK. Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, based in Cambridge, maintains the C-130J fleet and employs 800 engineers
Highly skilled British engineers could also be put out of work by the decision because while the C-130J is serviced in the UK, the A400M goes to factories in continental Europe. Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, based in Cambridge, maintains the C-130J fleet and employs 800 engineers in its military aviation wing.
Thirteen other UK companies are also understood to be in the supply chain and could be severely affected by the move. The C-130J has been the RAF’s primary transport aircraft since 1999.
An Airbus spokesman said: ‘The A400M matches or exceeds C-130J capability. The A400M’s large cargo and the possibility to airdrop single loads of up to 16 tonnes enables the aircraft to perform missions with a larger variety of loads… Also the A400M has proven better range and speed that enables it to quickly react and operate worldwide.’
An MoD spokesman said: ‘As threats change our Armed Forces must change and they are being redesigned to confront future threats, not re-fight old wars.’
(Source: Daily Mail)
BATTLESPACE Comment: This is a brave move by the MoD as the A400M is a big and expensive asset to put in front line operations and less nimble than the revered C-130J. It will also mean job losses at Marshal’s of Cambridge who support the aircraft.
26 Feb 21. Royal Navy tracks surfaced Russian submarine in waters close to the UK. Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Mersey has tracked the movements of a surfaced Russian submarine as it sailed through waters close to the UK.
The River-class offshore patrol vessel was on watch as the Kilo-class diesel powered attack submarine RFS Rostov Na Donu sailed through wintry seas in the North Sea and English Channel on its journey from the Baltic to the Mediterranean.
Mersey reported on the movements of the Russian Black Sea Fleet submarine, so that NATO Allies could track her progress as she continued her onward journey.
Commanding Officer of HMS Mersey, Lieutenant Commander Will Edwards-Bannon, said: “All of us in Mersey are very proud of the part we play, here in our home waters, in fulfilling the Royal Navy’s role of protecting our nation’s interests.
“No patrol is ever the same as the last and we have conducted a particularly varied range of missions recently, culminating with the tracking of this Russian submarine as it passes the UK.”
Mersey was also on duty when the Kilo-class submarine made the reverse journey in October last year, as she returned from operations in the Mediterranean back to the Baltic.
This latest operation comes amid a busy time for the Royal Navy’s patrol ships, with Mersey and her sister ships HMS Tyne and HMS Severn all on maritime security patrols in the seas around the UK.
Royal Navy patrol ships are involved in a range of missions, including fishery protection, which has been their responsibility for many years, but also coordinating with the Joint Maritime Security Centre to share information relating to suspicious or dangerous activity at sea alongside the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and National Crime Agency.
“You never know what’s around the corner when serving in these ships, but you can always rely on Mersey and her fantastic ship’s company, made-up of both regulars and reservists, to get the job done,” added Lt Cdr Edwards-Bannon.
Sub Lieutenant Andrew Davidson, one of Mersey’s Officers of the Watch, said: “I only joined Mersey last month and she is my first ship as a qualified Bridge watch-keeper.
“I’ve been impressed by the range of missions that we have already been involved with over such a short period of time.
“It feels good to have the opportunity to be out here doing something worthwhile for the UK, especially when you know how much good is being done at home by our NHS, key-workers and all those involved with the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
25 Feb 21. GMB, the union for defence workers, welcomes the Labour Party reaffirming its commitment to Trident, the nuclear deterrent and commitment to protecting defence industry jobs. Commenting on Labour Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP’s speech today [Friday, 26th February] the union has said it welcomes the commitments and clarity. The Labour Party also reaffirmed its commitment to keeping defence manufacturing orders, such as the upcoming £1.5bn contract to build new Fleet Solid Support ships, in the UK where possible.
Ross Murdoch, GMB National Officer has said, “GMB supports our members who do the skilled and valuable work that maintains Trident, the communities that are sustained by Trident and support its renewal. We’ve long campaigned for Government defence spending to support manufacturing in the UK steel industry and the wider supply chain. We welcome the Labour Party spelling out clearly its long-standing support for building four new submarines at Barrow and all future upgrades. We also welcome calls to ensure the highly skilled manufacturing jobs in the defence industry and wider supply chain are kept and nurtured in the UK, including through the £1.5bn Fleet Solid Support contract. It’s common sense that we build on the skills, jobs, apprenticeships and prosperity at home.”
24 Feb 21. EU seeks defence, space, and civil synergies.
The European Commission has launched a plan to generate synergies among Europe’s defence, space, and civil sectors, with the European Union’s (EU’s) nascent European Defence Fund (EDF) expected to play a pivotal role in fostering disruptive and dual-use technologies for multi-sector applications.
“Ensuring strong synergies between defence, space, and civil technologies will generate disruptive innovations and allow Europe to remain a global standard setter,” Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for defence industrial policy, stated during a co-presentation of the plan on 22 February with Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner for digital policy.
The 15-page initiative, Action Plan on Synergies between Civil, Defence and Space Industries, identifies the dual use and disruptive technologies that areused across all three sectors and considered vital for Europe’s future economic and strategic autonomy. These include autonomous systems, sensors (electro-optical, radar, chemical, biological, radiation, and others), cyber defence, secure ground- and satellite-based communications and networking, low-power microprocessors, printed and flexible electronics, and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear technologies.
The plan sets out 11 actions for the European Commission to implement in the coming months to promote the synergies. For example, it said one priority for the EDF – which is setting aside 8% of its annual budget of EUR1bn (USD1.22bn) for disruptive technologies – should be cyber defence. Starting in June the Commission and member states will create the EU’s Cybersecurity Competence Centre to strengthen synergies between it, the EDF and the EU’s space programme on cybersecurity.
24 Feb 21. Tobias Ellwood: Reports Of Army Cuts Have ‘Taken Everybody By Surprise.’ It is understood officials are considering upgrading 150 Challenger 2 tanks while 77 could be scrapped.
Chair of the Commons Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood has warned now is not the time to cut the UK’s tank capabilities.
The comments follow reports that next month’s Integrated Defence Review will recommend major cuts to personnel and resources.
According to The Times, officials are considering upgrading 150 Challenger 2 tanks to prepare them for the next generation of warfare while 77 could be scrapped.
The Challenger 2 is the British Army’s main battle tank. Although state of the art, the Challenger 2 has now completed 23 years’ service.
Mr Ellwood voiced concerns when speaking to Forces News: “We actually don’t know that fundamental question about what our Armed Forces are expected to do on the international stage and meeting new and emerging threats.”
He added that reports of cuts have “taken everybody by surprise” because “we don’t know where we might be utilising our land forces”.
It is understood the Army’s 758 Warrior infantry fighting vehicles could also be retired and replaced by 500 new armoured personnel carriers ahead of schedule.
Mr Ellwood said: “If you have 150 challenger tanks, they need to be supported, and they need to be supported by armoured fighting vehicles, that means something with a cannon on top, at least a 30 or 40mm. We don’t have anything.
“If you take Warrior out of that – it’s a bit like sending the Lancaster Bombers out without Spitfires or Hurricanes.
“The Boxer does not qualify, neither does the newer vehicle coming online, the Ajax. They’re both very good vehicles and I’m pleased to see the Boxer, which will be part of our strike brigades and help with stabilisation but, ultimately, if you’re going to keep your main battle tank, it needs to be supported otherwise you may as well scrap it as well,” he added.
In response to the latest speculation about the Integrated Review, the Army’s Head of Strategy, Brigadier John Clark, said “how we compete and fight is changing all the time and the way of operating must change accordingly.”
Major General (Ret’d) Tim Cross, a former commander of British personnel in Iraq and Kosovo also told Forces News he is worried the Army could be set to lose thousands of troops as a result of the Integrated Review.
He said he fears as many as 10,000 troops could go. (Source: Pen & Sword/ https://www.forces.net)
23 Feb 21. Troop Cuts Could Mean ‘Limited Ability To Respond To Events’, Former Commander Says. Retired Major General Tim Cross said he fears as many as 10,000 troops could be cut from the Army as a result of the Integrated Review.
A former commander of British personnel in Iraq and Kosovo has told Forces News he is worried the Army could be set to lose thousands of troops as a result of the Integrated Review.
Major General (Ret’d) Tim Cross said he fears as many as 10,000 troops could go.
Drawing from his experience in 2006, he said: “We found ourselves in a position where we could not sustain proper operations in Iraq and proper operations in Afghanistan.”
He added the Army “did not have enough mass to be able to do both of these operations at the same time”.
“Clearly, if we cut the force [and] the size of the Army by another 10,000 or so, we will find ourselves with a limited ability to respond to events,” Maj Gen Cross said.
The Integrated Review, launched in February last year, was billed by the Prime Minister as the “biggest review of our foreign, defence, security and development policy since the end of the Cold War”.
It is set to be published next month after being delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
With just weeks until the findings of the review are announced, there are some fears that wrong decisions are already being made.
Some are also concerned about a limited influence or usefulness to organisations like NATO and allies like the United States.
Malcolm Chalmers, Deputy Director-General at the Royal United Services Institute, said the Integrated Review should say that “[a] Helmand-type occupation mission is no longer within the remit of our Army”.
“We can’t do something of that scale again,” he added.
Instead, Mr Chalmers said: “It’s a higher priority to have an agile force working globally, but mainly in Europe and its neighbourhood against capable opponents.”
Maj Gen Cross also spoke about the threat posed by some nations and the need for defence to keep up with new technology.
“People have described the Russian threat as being like bad weather, whereas the Chinese threat is the equivalent of climate change – in other words, it’s significantly different and I agree with that,” Maj Gen Cross told Forces News.
He added: “We are in a world now where the traditional domains of military operations – of land, sea and air – have been joined by cyber and space and a lot of new technologies that have emerged over the last few years.
“We need to operate in all of those five domains in an integrated way which is what this review is trying to look at.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “Last November the Prime Minister announced the biggest increase to Defence spending since the Cold War.
“This will underpin the modernisation of the Armed Forces following the conclusions of the Integrated Review.
“As threats change our Armed Forces must change & they are being redesigned to confront future threats, not re-fight old wars.
“The Armed Forces will be fully staffed and equipped to confront those threats, but the IR is not yet complete and any such reporting is merely speculation.” (Source: https://www.forces.net//Pen & Sword)
24 Feb 21. Allies, Partners Critical to U.S. European Command. U.S. European Command works closely with U.S. allies and partners to address evolving challenges posed by its adversaries to secure peace and to protect U.S. interests abroad, the commander of the U.S. European Command, Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, said today.
“Everything we do is about generating peace. We compete to win, … and if deterrence fails, we’re prepared to respond to aggression, primarily through NATO,” Wolters, also NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said. He spoke virtually at the Air Force Association’s Aerospace Warfare Symposium.
Securing America requires a global effort, the general emphasized. As threats to our respective nations have evolved over seven decades of NATO’s existence, the alliance has adapted to provide for the collective security of its members, he said.
“Our air forces in Europe play a critical role — as do all of our components in all domains — in demonstrating our collective resolve and readiness to deter our adversaries and sustain peace,” Wolters said. “Beyond exercises, we conduct operations and other activities to compete, deter and prepare to respond to aggression, including presence in the Black Sea region.”
Further to the north, Air Force bombers are strengthening the enduring partnership between the U.S. and Norway. The missions demonstrate U.S. commitment to its allies and partners and the credibility of the air forces to address a more uncertain global security environment, he said. Across Europe, the United States is in the 16th year of NATO air-policing missions; and 60 years of allies working collectively under NATO to safeguard and protect the integrity of the skies.
“We live in an increasingly complex and contested world,” Wolters said. “Political uncertainty, energy competition and diffusion of disruptive technology are stressing the established rules-based international order, [and] threats and challenges seek to take advantage of these conditions through aggressive action, using all instruments of national power [that] are backed by increasingly capable military forces.”
Adversaries amplify these malign activities and foment instability with disinformation and destructive cyber campaigns, testing national governments and multinational institutions, he said.
If left unchecked, such activities could escalate into more aggressive behavior, the Eucom commander said. Meeting these threats and challenges requires the United States to take meaningful steps away from a binary model of peace or war, and toward a gradient that includes competition with a military dimension below armed conflict.
“We’re in an era of global-power competition. Winning in this era is ensuring that global power competition does not become a global power war,” he emphasized. “Despite widespread international condemnation and continued economic sanctions, Russia engages in destabilizing and malign activities across the globe, with many of those activities happening close to home [in Europe].”
Russia, Wolters added, seeks to maintain a sphere of influence from the Soviet era by retaining or employing forces to coerce neighboring Soviet-sovereign nations. In this global power competition, Russia is employing unconventional tools such as private military companies to intimidate, weaken and divide U.S. allies and partners.
“Russia remains an enduring existential threat to the United States and our European allies,” he said.
And China’s growing European influence centers around an aggressive economic and diplomatic campaign, the general said. Seventeen Central and Eastern European nations participate in a cooperative framework program led by China, while some European countries have bilateral agreements to build infrastructures and give China an advantage in global trade and market access, he added.
Facilitating sustainable economic development, fostering cooperation and ensuring a stable, conflict-free Arctic region enhances interoperability and proficiency, while it also shows a collective resolve to uphold the rules-based order, Wolters said.
“However, Russia and the Arctic nation and China — having declared itself a near-Arctic power — continued to militarize the region and seek to establish economic footholds to gain influence over regional governance,” he pointed out. “The activities by Russia and China illustrate the importance for Eucom to come together with our allies and partners to maintain a credible Arctic deterrence and ensure vital sea lines of communication remain open by securing the Greenland, Iceland and United Kingdom gap.”
As competition extends beyond the confines of Earth, the United States must also focus on what is happening in space, the Eucom commander noted. “Our military advantage depends on space, and our adversaries have taken note. Space capabilities we develop have had an enormous benefit for every American and are vital to our nation’s security,” he said.
“Our security posture is strong,” Wolters said. “We possess combat-critical capability across all domains — land, sea, air, space and cyber. We will maintain and work to hone this capability to deter our adversaries and defensive partners and our interests,” he said. (Source: US DoD)
23 Feb 21. Thoughts on the UK’s Integrated Review from a BATTLESPACE subscriber. On the IR, I am cynical enough to think, like the HCDC, that we have ‘review fatigue’! How many have we had since George Robertson’s review in 1998? In my view, this indicates the fundamental problem with defence and security in the UK: we don’t have long term goals and we don’t know how to manage what we do have. I fear that much, such as the £16bn given to the MOD recently, will now go to mend the short-term ‘back holes’ and not to the pursuing long term objectives we need.
We have to break the cycle of short-termism, decide our goals and be prepared to fund them. Otherwise we will be repeating these words in 5 years time. We need to move away from single service solutions and work harder to genuinely combine our forces. Do we really need three service HQs where far too many bodies in uniform are doing jobs that could and should done by civil servants who would at least provide some much needed continuity?
Part of the problem is the lack of a comprehensive, thought-through, agreed and applied industrial strategy – it must be ‘real’ and not more words. Post BREXIT, we must embrace and encourage our local industrial base and stop thinking that foreign is better. Industry has to be a willing participant in this and it should be of concern that the way in which contracts are awarded, and especially single source contracts of which there are far to many, is not transparent. Hard work required!
At the same time, we need to be alive to commercial realities, that we cannot do everything ourselves. I see real power in the Rheinmetall BAeS tie-up so we should embrace it and make a corner piece of our industrial strategy. It may also help develop our technical links with Europe, particularly as I see Rheinmetall’s developing work on soldier systems.
Army needs to think seriously about future force structures. Do we really want to mix wheels and tracks? Is there a role for WR CSP? And CR2 LEP? I think so, like boots on the ground, these will always be needed not just in peer-to-peer conflict but more often in other situations. And MORPHEUS should be scrapped. Too much money invested for too little gain. And, of course, open architectures with standardised interfaces are the way ahead, and now!
22 Feb 21. First Sea Lord talks future operations: Surface Warships 2021. At DefenceIQ’s Surface Warships 2021, the head of the Royal Navy, First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin talked about how the Royal Navy can support the UK’s plans for a ‘Global Britain’. From shrinking headquarters staff to the UK’s carrier strike group declaring initial operating capability and continued investment in uncrewed and autonomous systems, First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin is overseeing plans to see the Royal Navy transition into a modern force that is more actively engaged and forward-deployed across the globe. At the Surface Warships conference in January, he commented on some of the aspects of this work.
Shipbuilding and the future fleet
Last November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined plans for an increase in UK defence spending to drive transformation and strengthen the role of the Royal Navy. Part of the government’s ambition is to expand the size of the UK’s escort fleet. At the time, Johnson said building more ships was “one policy that strengthens the UK in every possible sense”.
This announcement reconfirmed a number of programmes, and also laid the groundwork for a new ship, the Type 32 Frigate, which is expected to be used as a mothership for autonomous systems.
Speaking at the conference, Radakin said of the work ahead: “The prime minister heralded a shipbuilding era and a clear ambition for the Royal Navy to the foremost naval power in Europe.
“That translates into all eight ships of the Type 26 class, Fleet Solid Support Ships to allow our aircraft carriers to operate anywhere in the world, new multi-role surveillance ships to protect our critical undersea cables, a new class of Type 32 Frigates to add to our new Type 31 Frigates, shipping to support our Future Commando Force and affirmation of the UK’s commitment to the Dreadnought programme and the maintenance of the continuous at-sea deterrent.”
The Fleet Solid Support Ship programme is expected to proceed to the competition phase soon. The planned three ships will be critical to future carrier strike deployments, keeping ships stocked with supplies while at sea.
Elsewhere the First Sea Lord had talked about “shipping to support our Future Commando Force, which could be a reference to the Littoral Strike Ship project that has gone quiet and seen little public mention over the past year.
Speaking at the conference, Radakin added: “This shift towards maritime investment is not unique; it is representative of numerous other navies whether that is Australia, Japan, India, France or the United States.
“The threats that we face, the relentless growth of commercial shipping volumes, climate change opening up new trade routes, the need to influence, protect our values and where necessary compete, all of these once again are focused on the world’s oceans.”
The year ahead for the Royal Navy
Discussing the year ahead, Radakin said: “The Integrated Review and the Integrated Operating Concept give a clear route forward from both the prime minister and the secretary of state for defence. This is to meet the UK’s strategic direction; our role is for all of us as chiefs of the various services to deliver against those requirements.
“For the navy that is about realising our shipbuilding programme, working even more cohesively with the army, Royal Air Force and Strategic Command, driving technological innovation. And we must keep improving the availability of our existing ships and submarines, and keep closing the gaps in our personnel.”
One example of success the First Sea Lord was keen to highlight was the Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose, which is forward-deployed to the Gulf. Montrose uses double-crewing and has been able to achieve 99% availability. The ship also has the lowest rate of defects among the Type 23 frigates.
Radakin said this could be a model for more ships to follow as the UK looks to achieve its ambition for a more forward-deployed fleet.
“We need to maintain what we started with transformation, more forward presence,” he said. Our offshore patrol vessels are already deployed around the world. Soon we will be able to augment them with even more capable Type 31s.
“More double crewing building on the success of HMS Montrose. More support done at distance, again the success of the Montrose model gives me confidence that we can manage deploying ships, and even start to imagine their never returning to the UK.”
The carrier strike 2021 deployment
Later this year, the UK’s carrier strike group is set to embark on its maiden deployment to the Indo-Pacific, which will see HMS Queen Elizabeth operate near China, a point of increasing contention between it and the UK.
Speaking of the deployment at Surface Warships, Radakin said: “And of course, this year sees what the prime minister has called our most ambitious deployment for two decades. HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of the most modern and most capable aircraft carriers in the world, will deploy at the heart of a multi-national carrier strike group with Royal Navy and RAF jets and helicopters embarked.
“She will sail through the Mediterranean, through Suez, through the Indian Ocean and on into the Indo-Pacific. And on the way, she will exercise with our allies and partners from around the world, very much the floating embodiment of Global Britain.”
Another critical aspect of the exercise is the partnership with the US Navy and Marine Corps on the deployment. Like Exercise Joint Warrior last year, the deployment will see US Marine Corps jets deploy on operations from the British carrier.
HMS Queen Elizabeth will also be joined on the deployment by the US destroyer USS The Sullivans, which will form part of the carrier strike group.
The Type 26 as a model for the navy’s future
The Royal Navy’s next anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigate, Type 26, is key to the navy’s plans, and as Radakin explained a model for the fleet to follow when it comes to modularity and flexibility in its design.
Most importantly, he said, Type 26 represents the beginning of a mindset that drives automation and modularity and flexibility, he said at the conference, adding: “I revel in the fact that we have HMS Glasgow in build as the first Type 26 ASW frigate and she has an enormous mission deck that can take 14 containers. And we have had the confidence to wait and see how we best use that space.
“That space can be used with containers holding a raft of different technologies, that could be directed energy weapons, it might be railguns, it might be mobile mini-factories with laser printing capabilities. It might be MCM in a box, it could be a full office suite for an embassy or it could be medical facilities or a suite of surface, air or underwater drones to enhance a single ships reach.”
The idea of using a single platform for a range of purposes is echoed in the thinking behind the Type 31 which is slated to be a general-purpose ship. While having an ISO containerised rail gun may seem far-fetched at present, the idea of quickly changing a ship’s toolset is not, and would help the Royal Navy achieve more flexibility with fewer hulls.
Radakin added: “That, to me, is much more of what the Royal Navy of the future is starting to look like. Every ship, submarine and Royal Marine really will be a sensor, an intelligence station, an embassy, a launchpad for a range of new technologies and all of them playing their part in increasing maritime special operations.”
Commenting on how the recently announced defence funding would enable change, the First Sea Lord concluded: “So this really is an exciting time for the Royal Navy and for UK defence. It has to be, in order to respond to the threats that we face, to embrace the technological revolution that is all around us and that excitement has to be matched by our people and our partners in industry.
“Recruitment is up, retention is up, tonnage is up, but to be successful we need to keep our desire to change and adapt and transform also up. And alongside that, our bureaucracy has to go down, our costs have to come down, and our timelines have to come down.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
21 Feb 21. Save our army! Four top generals band together to demand Boris Johnson calls a halt to troop cuts… as they warn that ploughing ahead will damage Britain’s standing in the world
- Commanders say cuts mean UK will no longer taken seriously as a military power
- They say reduction would damage our relationship with US and position in Nato
- The Army is expected to be reduced to 72,000 regular troops over next decade
Four generals have issued an unprecedented plea to Boris Johnson to withdraw plans to axe 10,000 soldiers from the Army.
The commanders, with decades of frontline service behind them, say the UK will no longer be taken seriously as a military power if the numbers are cut.
The Army is widely expected to be reduced to 72,000 regular troops over the next decade as the Ministry of Defence looks to cut its manpower budget so it can afford the latest battlefield technology.
Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force commanders are under pressure to make budget savings, hence the concerns over troop reductions
But, speaking exclusively to the Mail, Lord Dannatt, Lord Richards, Lieutenant-General Jonathon Riley and Major-General Tim Cross say a reduction would damage Britain’s relationship with the United States and our position in Nato.
Their dramatic intervention came as this newspaper learned of further reductions to the size of the Armed Forces set to be announced next month.
They include the early retirement of four Type 23 frigates and the accelerated withdrawal from service of 53 Typhoon fighter jets. It is also understood that commanders have agreed cuts to the RAF Regiment, a 1,900-strong specialist unit founded in 1942 which protects aircraft and airbases from attacks by ground forces.
According to the MoD, next month’s Integrated Review will ‘define the Government’s vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade’.
It will cover all aspects of international and national security policy, such as defence, diplomacy, development and national resilience.
The commanders, with decades of frontline service behind them, say the UK will no longer be taken seriously as a military power if the numbers are cut.
It comes after the Prime Minister announced in November that he was increasing defence spending by £16.5bn over the next four years, a windfall which represents the largest boost to the MoD’s budget since Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.
In spite of this, Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force commanders are under pressure to make budget savings, hence the concerns over troop reductions.
Lord Dannatt, who led the Army from 2006 to 2009, said: ‘As post-Brexit ‘Global Britain’ chairs the G7, is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and aspires to remain as the leading European partner in Nato, our principal ally the US worries in public about our diminished war fighting capability and our principal foe Russia cannot believe its luck.
‘The threshold below which our Army must not fall is our ability to field a single division into a new major conventional conflict. We could do this in the Gulf wars of 1991 and 2003 but we cannot today. If this remains the case the US will ignore the UK as a land partner in future. Is that what Prime Minister Johnson wants?’
Lord Dannatt’s successor as Chief of the General Staff, Lord Richards, said the planned cuts to the Army would result in the UK losing influence within Nato and with the US at the very time when it was seeking to achieve the opposite.
He added: ‘This is not the time to cut the size of our ground forces yet again. To retain clout militarily and politically, numbers matter. Mass matters.’
Regular troop numbers have fallen from 100,000 in 2012 to almost 80,000 in 2020. Further cuts would mean the UK was ‘effectively out of the game’, according to Major-General Cross, who commanded forces in Iraq until 2007.
Lord Dannatt, who led the Army from 2006 to 2009, said: ‘As post-Brexit ‘Global Britain’ chairs the G7, is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and aspires to remain as the leading European partner in Nato, our principal ally the US worries in public about our diminished war fighting capability and our principal foe Russia cannot believe its luck
Lieutenant-General Riley, the former deputy commander of international forces in Afghanistan, added: ‘An army of 72,000 is barely an army at all. And it is very well saying technology will fill the gap but there comes a time when ground must be taken and held. The prospect of these cuts poses the question: Is the Government actually serious about defence at all?’
Professor Malcolm Chalmers, from the RUSI defence think-tank, said: ‘All three services have some very hard choices to make on running costs, and that includes numbers of personnel. It looks likely that the size of the regular Army will be reduced by around 10,000, most likely a phased reduction over several years as new technology comes on stream.’
Last night the MoD said: ‘Last November the Prime Minister announced the biggest increase to defence spending since the Cold War. This will underpin the modernisation of the Armed Forces following the conclusions of the Integrated Review.
‘As the threat changes, our Armed Forces must change. They are being redesigned to confront future threats, not re-fight old wars.’ (Source: Daily Mail/Pen & Sword)
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