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07 Mar 21. £9m Boris bunker at the heart of an army fit for the future. As the flatscreens are installed below Whitehall, the PM’s defence upgrade may prove the most significant shake-up since the end of conscription.
Boris Johnson is building a White House-style situation room, costing more than £9 m, to be the government’s command bunker for emergencies such as terrorist strikes and pandemics.
The Situation Centre — or SitCen — is next door to the Cobra meeting rooms in the basement of the Cabinet Office, where ministers currently meet in emergencies. A two-minute walk from Downing Street, it will open this summer.
Johnson will be able to watch drone strikes and military engagements as they happen on wall-to-wall flatscreens, just as Barack Obama did when US special forces killed Osama bin Laden.
SitCen is a centrepiece of a review of defence, security and foreign policy, which will outline plans to modernise the British armed forces, intelligence and diplomacy on March 16.
According to No 10 sources, the coronavirus crisis has shown that ministers need more real-time information and data. “Cobra is just a room with three clocks on the wall and a table,” one said.
The centre will be staffed round the clock by “watchkeeper” staff from the National Security Secretariat, who will use data analysis for “horizon scanning” to identify threats to national security. Information will be supplied by the Joint Intelligence Committee, the Joint Terrorism Assessment Centre and other Whitehall experts. They will use the room to brief ministers by combining secret intelligence and “open source” information to monitor risks up to six months ahead.
An official said: “It will have hi-tech stuff — heatmaps, geostationary visualisations, interactive dashboards. At key moments we still get analogue government with no maps and PowerPoint presentations. Coronavirus has shown that we need this. It will support a greater speed of decision-making.”
Another source added: “The time taken to collate data, brief ministers, understand situations and act on them will be reduced from weeks to minutes.”
According to Whitehall officials, SitCen “captures the essence” of the integrated review, “which is science, technology, better use of data and faster, swifter decision-making”.
The 100-page document, Global Britain in a Competitive Age, proposes to transform the military. A new RAF Space Command (to launch a rocket from Scotland in 2022), a National Cyber Force and research facilities for artificial intelligence (AI) will make Britain what Johnson has called a “science superpower”.
But the plans will lead to cuts in traditional capabilities, including the loss of up to 12,500 troops from the British Army, the details of which will be mapped out in a Ministry of Defence command paper released on March 22.
A document on defence industrial strategy will be published the same week. “A lot of the focus in defence will be on R&D [research and development],” an official said. “That’s the theme running through like a stick of rock.” Sub-strategies on cyberwarfare and AI will follow.
The defence review is unusual because for the first time in 30 years the government has decided to increase spending significantly. Last year Johnson ordered a £16.5 bn increase in the budget over four years to fund new kit — but the armed forces have to make cuts to existing programmes. Their day-to-day spending is £12 bn over budget.
“You could not leave defence to bleed for another year,” said a senior aide. “That was the key political decision. That’s one of the most important things the prime minister has done. That has played very well internationally. It’s a big thing in Nato and with the US.”
The new money includes £1.5 bn for military research and development. It will also allow the go-ahead for the next phase of the Tempest fighter plane, Future Solid Support ships for the Navy and a new Type 32 frigate.
In a recent speech at the Munich security conference, Johnson said: “We will focus our investment on the new technologies that will revolutionise warfare — artificial intelligence, unmanned aircraft, directed-energy weapons and many others.” He is also committed to a maritime strategy. An aircraft carrier strike group will be dispatched to the Far East in May. At the same time a second global taskforce will be sent over the north polar cap, westwards around the world, to show the reach of global Britain.
“It’s not about turning up east of Suez,” one insider said. “It’s about working with our partners. Is this a desire to flex muscles, escalate and show off? No, it isn’t.”
The extra spending comes with cuts to overseas aid. According to a leaked document obtained by the open Democracy website, civil servants have discussed reducing aid to Syria from the £137m promised last year to just over £45m. In South Sudan, spending could drop from £110m to £45m, while aid to Libya could be cut by 63 per cent and to Somalia by 60 per cent.
The ghost of Dom
The hi-tech transformation owes something to Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former aide, who persuaded him that the military had to modernise and that the UK should invest in space and AI. “The ghost of Dom is not completely dead,” said one Whitehall source. “He really pushed the modernisation programme. But that’s where the PM is at as well.”
Behind the scenes Cummings struck a deal with service chiefs last summer. If they went along with his hi-tech agenda in front of Johnson, he would help protect some pet projects. Last September and October the top brass held media briefings to bang the drum for hi-tech weapons. “This was aimed at getting positive articles in Boris’s favourite newspapers to convince him of the case for hi-tech warfare,” a source said.
This focus on tech is shared by young security analysts who are advising Joe Biden. Last week the new US president released a national security “placeholder” strategy with a “big focus on science and technology”, a UK official said.
Army pays the price
The size of the army will be drastically reduced, with personnel to be cut by 10,000 by 2024 and a further 2,500 by 2030, to a target size of 70,000. Ministers aim to do this by cuts in recruitment rather than making soldiers redundant.
Army chiefs envisage a smaller, better-trained army, with better kit, operating as a high-skill, high-readiness unit similar to the US Marines. But that will involve the loss of legacy capabilities and reduce the war-fighting division from four to two armoured brigades and the shrinking or disbanding of 23 battalion-sized units. Cancelling an upgrade to 600 Warrior troop carriers will save £1.5bn.
General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, the chief of the general staff, has twice had to resubmit plans for the redesign because they did not feature enough robots, attack drones and AI. AS-90 155mm self-propelled howitzers and multi-launch rocket systems will be replaced late in the decade with attack drones and precision-guided rockets, while 89 howitzers dating from the 1970s will be withdrawn.
Drones for jets
An order for 90 more F-35 Lightning combat jets is to be cancelled in favour of the Tempest fighter, built in Lancashire, while 24 older Typhoon fighters will be retired early. Whole fleets of aircraft will be taken out of service as drones become ever more common.
The RAF will lose 11 manned spy planes, a 45 per cent cut, with the Sentinel and Islander aircraft not being replaced after their retirement this year. There will also be a gap in coverage from E-3D Sentry airborne early-warning radar planes for two to three years, while replacement Wedgetails will be cut from five to three. Also to be scrapped are 14 C-130J Hercules transport planes used by the SAS.
BAE-146 passenger jets from 32 (Royal) Squadron, used by the Queen, Prince Charles and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, will be replaced by leased aircraft. The transport helicopter fleet will be cut by 45 helicopters or 41%.
Scuttling of the subs
The Royal Navy gets new frigates, supply ships and underwater surveillance vessels. However, in the middle of this decade a third of the frigate fleet and half the nuclear attack submarines will have to be retired on safety grounds before replacements are ready, because of delays.
Admiral Tony Radakin, the First Sea Lord, ought to be in pole position to succeed General Sir Nick Carter as chief of the defence staff in November, but he is not popular with Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, or Sir Stephen Lovegrove, Johnson’s new national security adviser. “There is a view that if you are going to stiff the army, you put the army man in at the top to provide the cover,” one defence source said. That points to General Sir Patrick Sanders, head of strategic command, which runs military intelligence, satellites and computers.
Nimble, not imperial
Aides say the strategy combines Johnson’s belief that building new warships and fighter jets in the north of England will help with his “levelling up” agenda, and his love of new technology rather existing modern hardware. On a visit to RAF Lossiemouth in July 2020, he looked “very unimpressed” by a display of Typhoon fighters — although his eyes did light up when he saw a Second World War Spitfire. “He climbed into the cockpit like a boy in a toy shop,” said a witness.
The first paper, on March 16, will focus on the post-Brexit approach to diplomacy, crafted by No 10 foreign policy adviser John Bew. It will paint a picture of a “dynamic power with some natural strengths” rather than a “wannabe superpower”. The review envisages Britain moving quickly to build alliances and on “co-creation” of technologies, to avoid a repeat of the Huawei situation.
“On Iran we worked with the Germans and the French. On Hong Kong or Xinjiang we’ve moved quickly with the Canadians,” said a No 10 source.
It will also make the point that no longer being tied to the EU has given Britain freedom to move fast. The UK was first to create a Magnitsky regime to punish human rights offenders and the first European country to sanction Belarus after the stolen election. A senior official said: “It’s a rebuttal of the idea that post-Brexit foreign policy would be narrow mercantilism.”
In his Munich speech, Johnson said: “We do not wish to live in a world of unchecked rivalry or decoupling. Nor are we concerned solely with trade. The UK has shown that we will defend our values as well as our interests.” (Source: The Sunday Times)
05 Mar 21. Bulgaria to cancel $1.74bn armoured vehicle tender, defence minister says. Bulgaria’s defence minister said on Friday he has asked the government to cancel a 1.46bn euro ($1.74bn) tender to buy 150 armoured vehicles as offers by the two short-listed bidders far exceeded the estimated budget for the order.
Krasimir Karakachanov said he has asked state arms company Terem to deliver a report on whether the Bulgarian arms companies could carry out the project, including assembling the machines and importing some of the equipment from foreign arms producers.
Bulgaria had short-listed U.S. General Dynamics and Finland’s Patria and started assessing their offers in October.
Last month, Karakachanov said both bids exceeded the estimated budget by between 30% and 50%.
“I have proposed to the government to cancel the procedure, because the two companies that reached the final stage have offered prices higher than the budget that the parliament had approved,” Karakachanov said.
He said the next government, which will take office after the April 4 parliamentary election, would be able to decide how to proceed with the large military procurement deal aimed at improving the Balkan country’s operational capabilities within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. (Source: Reuters)
05 Mar 21. Britain unveils date to release transformative military review.
The British government said it will take the wraps off a review March 16 that is expected to fundamentally transform its defense capabilities.
The government also announced the chief of the Defence Staff‚ Gen. Nick Carter, will remain in his post until the end of November, rather than depart in June as previously planned. A government statement said Carter’s extension is meant to provide the military with continuity as the integrated review of defense, security, foreign policy and development aid is implemented.
Carter has been one of the key architects behind the review, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said will trigger a fundamental transformation of the military. The prime minister announced the government’s intention to hold the review immediately following his win in the 2019 general election.
The review, which is already delayed, is expected to dictate the size and shape of the British military for years to come. Following its March 16 release, the Ministry of Defence on March 22 will publish the details of a defense modernization effort in which the Army is expected to take the brunt of capability cuts, notably in end strength and armored vehicles. The cuts are meant to help fund the purchase of cutting-edge weapons in the areas of space, cyber, underwater and unmanned warfare.
“Gen. Sir Nick Carter will remain as chief of Defence Staff during this critical time for defense. His experience and expertise are central to the modernization of how defense operates, and his leadership implementing the integrated review will ensure the men and women of our armed forces are best prepared to counter the threats of tomorrow,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.
The government announced late last year that it is increasing the defense budget by £24.1bn (U.S. $33.6bn) over the next four years. Most of that is going toward equipment. But with defense spending already heavily overcommitted, capability cuts are expected in order to balance the books while creating room for investing in advanced sunrise technologies.
Carter became chief of the Defence staff in June 2018. Normally the tenure in office is three years, but on several occasions that has been extended — in recent times most notably by Air Marshall Jock Stirrup, who was in the post from 2006 to 2010.
The government plans to name Carter’s successor in the autumn. Defense analysts say there is no clear front-runner for the post among the current service chiefs.
The postponement of Carter’s departure comes as the MoD is about to lose its top-ranking civil servant, Stephen Lovegrove. As the MoD’s permanent secretary, Lovegrove effectively holds the departmental purse strings. He is soon moving to the Cabinet Office as the new national security adviser. His replacement is yet to be named. (Source: Defense News)
05 Mar 21. France’s Dassault eyes Plan B if European fighter talks fail. The chief executive of French planemaker Dassault Aviation raised the prospect of an alternative plan on Friday if talks between France, Germany and Spain on a joint fighter plane break down, but said he still believes in the project.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron first floated the venture in 2017 but it has become mired in mistrust and differing visions between Berlin and Paris as well as corporate infighting over workshare, people close to the talks have said. Spain’s decision to join the project last year further slowed discussions.
“I don’t believe it’s in mortal danger but I’m not going to tell you that the patient is not in difficulty,” Dassault’s CEO Eric Trappier said of the project formally launched in 2019.
“The head of a company must always have a Plan B in mind. He does everything to ensure Plan A succeeds, everything. But the day Plan A doesn’t work you need a Plan B,” he told a news conference when asked what would happen if the talks failed.
Trappier said Dassault had accepted that European planemaker Airbus would have a larger overall share under an equal three-way split agreed by the partners, since it represents the military aircraft industries of both Germany and Spain.
But that did not mean all parts of the work could be split equally with no clear leadership, he added.
A key stumbling block concerns the control of technologies like flight controls, for which France claims the upper hand since Dassault builds fighter planes and business jets on its own and Airbus has its civil engineering offices in Toulouse.
“If nobody is running flight controls it’s not possible, it won’t work: you have to have someone in charge,” Trappier said.
He played down a separate dispute over access to know-how, saying Dassault and Airbus had a shared industrial understanding of the way intellectual property is protected. That discussion is mainly being conducted at a political level, he added.
Trappier said a merger between FCAS and the BAE Systems-led Tempest project involving Britain, Sweden and Italy was “not on the agenda”.
05 Mar 21. Tempest: The Revolutionary Stealth Fighter That Might Be Too Expensive. In December, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) revealed a new artist’s rendering of the future sixth-generation “Tempest” multirole fighter jet, which promises to leapfrog the capabilities of the world’s most advanced combat aircraft including the F-35, F-22, J-20, and Su-57.
In December, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) revealed a new artist’s rendering of the future sixth-generation “Tempest” multirole fighter jet, which promises to leapfrog the capabilities of the world’s most advanced combat aircraft including the F-35, F-22, J-20, and Su-57.
A MoD report noted that “Team Tempest” – the BAE Systems program that is working on the development of the proposed fighter aircraft for eventual use with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Italian Air Force (AMI) – would strengthen industry relationships across the UK. There are more than 600 organizations involved in the development of the advanced aircraft including small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and even academia. The MoD has also suggested that Team Tempest is “transforming traditional relationships with partners and widening the endeavor to bring in the very best of the UK capability and expertise from both inside and outside of defence.”
As Business Insider reported, the companies involved in the program include a “laundry list” of defense contractors and that includes not only the aircraft program lead BAE Systems, but also Rolls-Royce, Leonardo and MBDA among literally dozens upon dozens of others.
However, the Tempest stealth fighter program isn’t just huge in scale, but also in cost to the British taxpayer.
Tempest Stealth Fighter: Just Too Expensive?
It has been announced that £2bn would be spent by the British government on the project by 2025, and critics contend that it could become a proverbial black hole.
A National Audit Office (NAO) report published last month “chastised” the MoD for presenting an unaffordable equipment plan for the fourth year in a row, Financial Times reported. The equipment budget has been estimated to be as high as £17.4bn – and according to the NAO report did not include the full cost of flagship projects such as the Tempest program.
The MoD has also described the Tempest as one of the UK’s most ambitious technological endeavors, and it is expected to form part of a wider combat air system when it comes into service in the mid-2030s. It is expected that the aircraft would be able to gather and process “the equivalent to the Internet traffic of a large city every second.”
Additionally, the aircraft could operate with its own fleet of mini-autonomous drone aircraft that could extend the Tempest’s sensor range, help engage targets and even act as decoys that could help protect the crewed aircraft.
Other sixth-generation technologies on the Tempest could include it being optionally-manned as well as having the ability to mount hypersonic or directed energy weapons. The goal has been for the program to finalize its designs by the early 2020s, meaning sometime soon, while a flyable prototype is planned for 2025.
Yet, costs have been an issue – and to come up with the money, the UK has considered reducing its F-35 order so as to funnel the money toward the Tempest. The question is whether this ambitious aircraft could truly leapfrog the fifth-generation or whether it will be simply too complicated and expensive to ever take off.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.
(Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org)
04 Mar 21. Front line soldiers will be able to access blood transfusions using freeze-dried plasma. Results have shown that bleeding casualties who received a blood transfusion before reaching hospital achieved better outcomes CREDIT: News Scans
Soldiers will be able to receive blood transfusions on the front line by Army paramedics for the first time, as a result of freeze-dried plasma.
As part of the new Blood Far Forward initiative, being used on Operation MINUSMA, the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Mali, troops are leaving bases armed with bottles of dried plasma that they can mix with water and administer to a soldier in the event of an emergency.
For the first time on conventional operations British Army paramedics will be authorised to administer the blood without a doctor present, which the Ministry of Defence (MoD) believes will ultimately lead to more lives saved.
Lessons learnt in Iraq and Afghanistan on the treatment of casualties in need of blood transfusions have since been heeded.
Previously, if soldiers were injured while away from base they would have to be transported to surgical facilities that were often an hour and a half away. Once at the field hospital they would be given blood transfusions.
However, in Afghanistan surgical teams began administering blood transfusions to casualties on medical evacuation en-route to hospitals.
The frozen fresh plasma, which had been defrosted at Camp Bastion, would be administered on the air ambulance.
The results showed that bleeding casualties who received a blood transfusion before reaching hospital achieved better outcomes.
However, this remained logistically challenging as the plasma required freezer storage and at least 20 mins to thaw before administration. Once defrosted, it had to be used within five days or risk being spoiled.
Now, the Ground Manoeuvre Surgical Group deployed in support of the Long Range Reconnaissance Group in Mali, is for the first time carrying the dried plasma blood which is stored in ambient temperatures and can be prepared for administration in around five minutes.
The dried plasma, which comes from 11 donors of mixed blood groups is pooled, creating a universal product that will not react with the recipient, irrespective of their group.
When reconstituted with water, the plasma, which was developed by the French military, has exactly the same properties and effect as defrosted frozen fresh plasma.
A defence source said: “Having access to dried plasma and the personnel to authorise its use further forward than ever before will allow lives to be saved.”
Lieutenant Colonel Gary Fitchett, Blood Far Forward lead, said: “Since our time in Iraq and Afghanistan we have made considerable progress in the way that we administer critical care for our service personnel deployed on operations.
“The Blood Far Forward initiative adopted by the UK’s Armed Forces is reflective of this and will enable us to provide efficient treatment to bleeding casualties.”
It comes as the MoD’s Defence and Science Technology Laboratory has partnered with Bristol University to fund research into creating a universal man-made blood.
Scientists are working to develop a unique universal red blood cell that can be given to people regardless of blood type, alongside early stage research that would enable it to be stored and shipped at room temperature.
Classed as a form of regenerative medicine it aims to replace tissue lost as a result of disease and injury, especially service personnel injured in combat by blast or ballistics as they are injuries which often involve significant blood loss and tissue damage.
The aim is to create medicine that is suitable for use at the front line early after injury in order to improve the recovery of those injured in conflict.
Dr Abi Spear, a DSTL principal scientist, said: “Working with world class researchers and military specialists is enabling us to pioneer new scientific advances. We have many stages to go but this work will save lives and speed recovery from injury.”
(Source: Daily Telegraph)
05 Mar 21. Following a bill entering Parliament this week to establish the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA), which received backing of £800m in the Budget, please find below a statement from Dr Arnab Basu, CEO of Kromek Group, a Country Durham-based business that produces radiation detectors used for counterterrorism. ARIA has been modelled on the US government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is a long-standing customer of Kromek – partnering on solutions to prevent ‘dirty bombs’ and bioterrorism.
ARIA will have the powers to have an innovative and flexible approach to funding and will be able to pursue ground-breaking discoveries at unprecedented speeds. Dr Arnab Basu, CEO of Kromek Group plc, commented:, “I welcome the introduction of the ARIA bill into Parliament. By freeing the agency from the administrative constraints of FOI requests and Public Contract Regulations, ARIA will be even better positioned to bolster Britain’s competitive advantage by enabling resources to be concentrated on streamlining transformational projects. Kromek has been working with the US government’s DARPA, which ARIA has been modelled on, for many years now and we understand first-hand the importance of an agency that is able to produce vital technologies and ground-breaking research quickly. I’m thrilled that ARIA will be granted the same flexibility to deliver crucial equipment and services here in the UK.”
05 Mar 21. Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter extended in post. The Prime Minister has asked Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, to continue in his role until the end of November. The Prime Minister and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace are pleased to confirm that Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nicolas Patrick Carter GCB CBE DSO ADC Gen will be extended in his post until the end of November 2021.
Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter said:
It is a great honour to be asked to stay on as Chief of the Defence Staff. There is much to do. Last year’s substantial settlement of £24.1-billion for defence, announced by the Prime Minister in November, gives us the stability and confidence to modernise the armed forces to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities that will be laid out in the Integrated Review.
It is a great privilege to be at the heart of this and to play my part in ensuring that our soldiers, sailors, aviators, space and cyber warriors have the skills and equipment they need to win.
General Sir Nick Carter has been central to setting the vision for our future armed forces. The Prime Minister has asked General Carter to remain in post to ensure continuity and stability while the conclusions of the Integrated Review are implemented following the £24.1bn settlement for defence announced last year. The Integrated Review will be published on 16 of March and the Defence Command Paper will be published on 22 of March. The selection of General Carter’s successor as Chief of the Defence Staff will begin in the autumn.
The Chief of the Defence Staff is the professional head of the armed forces and the principal military adviser to the Defence Secretary and the Prime Minister. The average tenure of a Chief of the Defence Staff has been 3 years, although several have served less, and a small number have served for 4 years. The longest any Chief of the Defence Staff has served is 6 years, when Admiral of the Fleet Earl Mountbatten held the role from 1959 to 1965.
General Sir Nick Carter has been in post since June 2018, when he took over from Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach GBE KCB ADC DL. Prior to his appointment as Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter was Chief of the General staff, Head of the British Army, for four years. Joining the Army in 1977, he commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst into The Royal Green Jackets and has served in Germany, Cyprus, Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
BATTLESPACE Comment: Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the IR will be, according to Defense News, on March 16th, as purdah cuts in due to the Scottish elections, this also impacts major contract placements. The Government will probably announce a Cross-Government Review (CGR) to see how departments should work more closely on integrating Foreign Policy, Defence and Security issues (immigration, fisheries, offshore assets, global warning, pandemics, et al), to be led by the National Security Advisor and think about how it should be funded.
In other news, BATTLESPACE understands that CR2 LEP approval authorities have asked for an accelerated programme to get CR2 LEP in to service circa 2025 with risk associated with that quantified.
03 Mar 21. Turkey not necessarily seeking return to F-35 project: defence industry chief. Turkey is not necessarily aiming to return to the U.S. F-35 fighter jet programme from which it was removed over its purchase of Russian defence systems, the Turkish defence industry chief said on Wednesday. He said the primary goal was for Turkey to get compensated for its losses.
Ankara had ordered more than 100 F-35s and has been making parts for it but was removed from the programme in 2019 after it acquired Russian S-400 missile defence systems, which Washington says threaten the jets.
Ankara rejects the U.S. concerns and says its removal from the programme was unjust.
In December, the United States imposed sanctions on its NATO ally Turkey over the S-400s, targeting its defence industry and top sector officials. Ankara hired U.S law firm Arnold & Porter to lobby for readmission into the programme.
Turkey’s Defence Industry Directorate chairman Ismail Demir told broadcaster NTV that there was a “clear loss of rights” and that Ankara’s 6-month contract with Arnold & Porter was aimed at identifying future steps to reverse these losses.
“We are not in a mood like ‘let’s get back (on the project), we must get back’. We say there is an injustice and that this injustice needs to be fixed,” Demir, who was sanctioned by the United States, said.
“The goal of all our efforts is not necessarily to get back on the programme, but rather for the injustices to be seen and for our loss of rights to be compensated,” he added.
Despite Turkey’s removal from the programme and sanctions imposed on its defence industry, the Pentagon has said it will continue to depend on Turkish contractors for key F-35 parts.
Turkey and the United States have been at odds over a host of issues in recent years, from the S-400s and its implications to differences in Syria policy. Ankara says it hopes for better ties under U.S. President Joe Biden. (Source: Reuters)
02 Mar 21. ‘Significant falling out’ between Navy head and Marines chief. Defence Secretary rejected attempts to expand role of Marines commandant. There has been a “significant falling out” between the head of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines chief after the latter resisted attempts to expand his role. The Defence Secretary has rejected plans to double-hat the role of Commandant General Royal Marines (CGRM) with another job. Admiral Tony Radakin, the head of the Royal Navy, was thought to be in favour of moving the role of CGRM to a more senior officer.
However, the incumbent, Major General Matt Holmes, and senior defence experts warned that the attention given to the Royal Marines would be diluted, just as it was needed to see through the Future Commando Force programme.
The Telegraph understands Gen Holmes “resisted vigorously” and had a “really significant falling out” with the First Sea Lord.
In a statement released on Tuesday a Defence spokesman said the proposal by the Royal Navy to make the role of Commandant General Royal Marines a three-star post had been rejected by the Defence Secretary.
A Navy source said Gen Holmes’s scheduled move in April was part of the transformation of the service. Gen Holmes would be moving on 20 months into what was normally a three-year tenure.
Under part of the Royal Navy Transformation programme, the role of CGRM was to be given to Lieutenant General Rob Magowan, a three-star officer one rank more senior than Gen Holmes.
However, he is soon to take up the post in charge of managing the MoD’s equipment portfolio, a role that would take him away from the day to day management of the Royal Marines.
Critics say his ability to keep up to date with emerging concepts around amphibious warfare, as well as maintaining critical ties to the US Marine Corps would have been limited.
Three-star officers holding jobs in MoD headquarters with Defence-wide responsibilities are expected to be ‘service agnostic’. As such, critics claimed, it could have placed Gen Magowan in an awkward position and limited his ability to champion issues specific to the Royal Marines.
The senior Defence source said: “This was a thoroughly bad idea being done for entirely the wrong reasons…at the cost of completely compromising the identity – and losing the warfare focus – of the Royal Marines. The job of CGRM would have disappeared in virtually all but name”.
“Of course, the Armed Forces should be as managerially efficient as they possibly can, but not at the cost of warfare efficiency. This was a managerial solution to a warfare problem.
“Under these plans would the Royal Marines be the organisation that today produces 50 per cent of the nation’s Special Forces?”
Many areas of policy regarding the Royal Marines have already been folded into other directorates within the Royal Navy as part of a transformation programme, including personnel, equipment acquisition and technology.
Navy sources defended the reorganisation, saying the First Sea Lord wants Royal Marines officers to compete against naval colleagues for senior two-star jobs previously out of their scope due to their focus on serving in 3 Commando Brigade.
It was hoped that in due course Royal Marine officers could be considered for more senior roles such as Fleet Commander, Second Sea Lord or even the head of the Royal Navy.
By making some of the responsibilities of CGRM less “stove piped and siloed, and moving them into wider areas” the post would become more competitive for senior command of the military, a Navy source said.
“This will ensure the Marines remain a distinct but integral part of the Royal Navy. They will keep their core values and ethos.
“First Sea Lord is very much of the opinion that you need the right person in the right place at the right time to do the right job.”
The other heads of fighting arms (Surface Ships, Submarines, Fleet Air Arm, Maritime Reserves, and Royal Fleet Auxiliary) have already gone from two-star to one-star.
“Having a three-star as head of the Royal Marines really enhances their position within the Navy,” the Navy source said.
A Royal Navy spokesman said: “The Royal Navy is transforming into a more capable, streamlined and integrated force better able to deal with tomorrow’s threats and the Future Commando Force is central to this.
“Huge value is placed on the distinct and world-renowned regimental ethos of the Royal Marines within the Royal Navy and wider UK Defence.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
27 Feb 21. Arctic trading route must ‘remain free’, First Sea Lord says. At the North Pole HMS Dreadnought tried to contact the Admiralty. Radio interference meant they got a cab rank in Canada instead. Admiral Tony Radakin said the emerging northern sea route will halve the time from Asia to Europe by sea, offering “incredible economic opportunity” for the UK.
Melting ice sheets in the High North have opened up previously inaccessible Arctic shipping routes.
With the potential to slash transit times from Europe to Asia, the northern route has been likened to the Suez Canal, although unpredictable ice conditions and high insurance fees persist.
Tension with Russia means the area could be held hostage to political events, a concern acknowledged by Admiral Radakin.
“It is incumbent on us as the Royal Navy to ensure these waters remain free for global trade,” he told the Telegraph.
“In the last year we led a multinational task group into the Barents Sea for the first time in 20 years, demonstrating the will and capability to protect our interests in the region.”
“The submariners who undertook that mission were true pioneers, and the hard lessons they learned continue to inform our operations in the High North,” he said.
“It’s absolutely right we celebrate their courage and determination, particularly at a time when the region they explored is becoming a focus once again.”
Robin, 84, from Dyrley, Hants, said the crew took positional fixes from the land at Spitzbergen then dived and headed north west for the 700 mile journey to the pole, sailing at 12 knots at a depth of 280-300 feet.
Under the ice they had three upward-looking echo sounders, one on the bow, one on the top of the fin and one on the upper rudder. The echo sounders told them where the bottom of the ice was – but not its thickness.
They searched for ‘skylights’; areas of uniformly flat, relatively thin ice, to break through.
“We found a skylight we thought we could get through and started hovering up gently. We got to the top of the fin resting on the underside of the ice then put a puff of air into the main ballast tanks to see if we could break through,” Robin said.
“There was a lot of cracking, groaning and grinding, but the ice didn’t give so we had to give up.
“While the fin was up against the ice, we stayed there and got on with our usual routines, showing it’s perfectly possible to dock a boat under the ice.”
“Went round in a big rectangle until we found another skylight,” Robin said. “Eventually a short blow into the main ballast tanks got us up through a foot of ice.
“The only part of the boat that broke through the ice was the fin, the rest stayed below. We were there for eight hours.
“One of the problems was that we couldn’t make radio contact while we were at the pole. We did try to make contact with the Flag Officer Submarines but all we got was a cab rank in Canada.
“The Admiral was eventually told two days later by one of his staff while he was watching the Army and Navy [rugby] game at Twickenham.”
The Commanding Officer, Commander Al Kennedy, brought back a large block of ice from the pole in the submarine’s freezer. He chucked it into the water to check that it would float. It bobbed around next to the jetty.
The patrol report was so detailed it ran to 160 sides of paper. It was only declassified in 2002.
During the 19 days, HMS Dreadnought steamed 5,200 miles, 1,300 of which were under the Arctic pack ice.
The First Sea Lord said HMS Dreadnought’s mission “continues to inspire” the Royal Navy.
“Our new class of nuclear deterrent submarines will take their name from her, drawing on the spirit of innovation and engineering brilliance that propelled their predecessor to the pole 50 years ago.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
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