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09 Apr 21. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace’s tribute to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Upon the sad news of the death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace pays tribute.
Upon the sad news of the death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
I join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh at the time of his death. A constant supporter and ambassador of the Armed Forces throughout his lifetime, he will be very much missed by members of the military community.
As a Royal Navy officer, The Duke of Edinburgh upheld all values that the Armed Forces represent. His leadership, dedication and passion for serving his country is something that all those in uniform can relate to. > It is only fitting that the Armed Forces will play such a high-profile role in the events to commemorate His Royal Highness’ life and lay him to rest. The Duke of Edinburgh had a long affiliation with the Royal Navy, having trained at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth before deploying onboard HMS Ramillies, HMS Kent and HMS Shropshire to serve his country during the Second World War.
Throughout his life The Duke of Edinburgh kept a close association with members of the Armed Forces of all ranks. Upon completing his Naval service in 1953, His Royal Highness continued to uphold the high standards and values of the Armed Forces through various military titles including Honorary Admiral of the Fleet, Captain General of the Royal Marines, Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Cadet Force and Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps.
As a former Officer in HM Armed Forces, I have seen for myself the impact of His Royal Highness’ role and work with our servicemen and women. His commitment and support to those on the frontline, and his interest in innovation for future generations of the Armed Forces was admirable.
All sailors, soldiers, marines and aircrew are inspired by the example set by their predecessors. The Duke of Edinburgh and his generation will forever be treasured by the Armed Forces for their leadership and sacrifice during the Second World War.
As we mourn The Duke of Edinburgh and offer our condolences to Her Majesty The Queen, we will remember all that His Royal Highness contributed towards the Armed Forces and be forever grateful for his service. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
09 Apr 21. Prime Minister’s statement on the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
It was with great sadness that a short time ago I received word from Buckingham Palace that His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has passed away at the age of 99.
Prince Philip earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth and around the world.
He was the longest serving consort in history,
one of the last surviving people in this country to have served in the second world war at Cape Matapan, where he was mentioned in despatches for bravery
and in the invasion of Sicily, where he saved his ship by his quick thinking and from that conflict he took an ethic of service that he applied throughout the unprecedented changes of the post war era.
Like the expert carriage driver that he was he helped to steer the royal family and the monarchy so that it remains an institution indisputably vital to the balance and happiness of our national life.
He was an environmentalist, and a champion of the natural world long before it was fashionable.
With his Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme he shaped and inspired the lives of countless young people
and at literally tens of thousands of events he fostered their hopes and encouraged their ambitions.
We remember the Duke for all of this and above all for his steadfast support for Her Majesty The Queen.
Not just as her consort, by her side every day of her reign, but as her husband, her “strength and stay”, of more than 70 years.
And it is to Her Majesty, and her family, that our nation’s thoughts must turn today.
Because they have lost not just a much-loved and highly respected public figure, but a devoted husband and a proud and loving father, grandfather and, in recent years, great-grandfather.
Speaking on their golden wedding anniversary, Her Majesty said that our country owed her husband “a greater debt than he would ever claim or we shall ever know” and I am sure that estimate is correct.
So we mourn today with Her Majesty The Queen
we offer our condolences to her and to all her family
and we give thanks, as a nation and a Kingdom, for the extraordinary life and work of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
09 Apr 21. Prince Philip was an ‘inspiration and role model’ to the Armed Forces. Highlighting the Duke’s 14 years of active service, including his courageous part in the Second World War, he added that the Duke remained “devoted” to the Royal Navy and wider military community throughout his life.
“His candour and his humour made many a serviceman and servicewoman chuckle on the countless visits that he made to the Armed Forces,” the Chief of the Defence Staff recalled.
“He cared deeply about the values, standards and sense of service embodied in the military ethos. He was an immensely popular figure, and he was hugely respected by us all.”
Sir Nicholas expressed gratitude on behalf of both current and former soldiers, sailors and airmen. He added: “Our thoughts and goodwill are very much with Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family at this sad time.”
The Duke’s participation in the battle of Cape Matapan during the war saw him mentioned in despatches for “bravery and enterprise”. He was also present at the surrender of Japan in 1945.
When he completed his naval service in 1953, having trained at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth and served aboard three warships, he went on to become Honorary Admiral of the Fleet, Captain General of the Royal Marines, Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Cadet Force and Air Commodore-in-chief of the Air Training Corps.
Military charities also offered tributes to the Duke for his commitment and patronage. The Royal Marines Charity marked how he gave “extraordinary service with dedication, energy, colour and sharp wit to his Queen, Commonwealth, country and Corps”.
The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity meanwhile said his death would touch every member of the naval service and their families.
Air Vice-Marshal Christina Elliot, Controller of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, said the Duke understood “only too well the call of duty, what it was to serve one’s country”.
She recalled his contribution as President of the Guinea Pig Club, a social club initially created during the Second World War by RAF aircrew who survived violent crashes and became friends during their long recoveries.
The members of the club were “stoic and resilient in the face of great danger and adversity – qualities The Duke admired and shared”, she said.
(Source: Daily Telegraph)
10 Apr 21. Sweden clings to its non-NATO status amid substantial defense budget boost. Sweden’s push for a sizable military boost is part of the government’s calculus to remain outside NATO and seek other avenues for defense cooperation instead, the country’s defense minister said this week.
“I don’t think it’s so easy to say that the solution to all the defense questions in our part of Europe is solved by only a NATO membership,” Peter Hultqvist told reporters in an online press conference April 7.
Sweden joining the alliance would “change the situation” for non-aligned neighbor Finland, a key partner for Stockholm on defense matters, he said. “And Finland has a very long border to Russia.”
Hultqvist added that Sweden’s security doctrine, derived from “history and experiences,” would not lend itself toward a formal membership in NATO, though the country, like Finland, is part of the alliance’s enhanced opportunity program that grants certain partners a closer affiliation.
“We think the best thing we can do is to upgrade military capability and work with others from a bilateral and multilateral perspective and build real interoperability, but not change anything in the platform for the security in our part of Europe,” he added.
NATO membership is a controversial subject in Sweden. Politico reported in December that a majority of parties in parliament are now backing an eventual alliance membership over the stated objective of the minority government in which Hultqvist serves.
An all-around boost to Sweden’s military, approved by parliament late last year, envisions a 40 percent spending increase between 2021 and 2025, ending up at $11bn.
The plan entails upping the size of the military from 60,000 to almost 100,000 personnel by 2030, reorganizing the army into three mechanized brigades, upgrading navy corvettes with air-defense missiles and building new ships, and developing a next-generation fighter aircraft while fielding the latest Saab Gripen E plane throughout the force.
Also in the works is an effort to come up with a “long-term equipment supply strategy,” Hultqvist told reporters.
Like the rest of Europe, Sweden was jolted into action on military spending by Russia’s annexation of Crimea 2014 and the ensuing destabilization of Ukraine, Hultqvist said.
“We act from what has really happened, and make conclusions from that perspective,” he added. (Source: Defense News)
07 Apr 21. ‘British by default’: Military ships that can be built in UK should not be outsourced abroad. Military ships and all defence equipment that can be built in the UK should not be outsourced abroad, Sir Keir Starmer has said.
The Labour leader has called on the Government to ensure that any defence projects that can be feasibly made in the UK “should be done in Britain”, amid concerns that many initiatives are being bought “off the shelf” from foreign countries.
On a visit to dockyards in Plymouth on Wednesday, Sir Keir said: “We say there should be a threshold, which means that, unless you can prove that equipment and projects can’t be done in Britain, they should be done in Britain.
He added: “That hasn’t been the position for the last 10 years, and 30,000 jobs in defence, in procurement and projects have been lost. We cannot afford to make that mistake again, particularly coming out of the pandemic, and it matters in places like Plymouth. It really matters.”
Sir Keir added that “prioritising British businesses through defence spending is not only investment in jobs, but in our communities, and a more secure economy”.
It comes after Labour ministers urged the Government to bring in a “British by default” policy, in order to give priority to British-based business.
Several deals highlighted by the party that have been outsourced abroad included a £3bn contract with US giant Boeing, for the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, as well as three Boeing E7 Wedgetail planes, plus orders for three RC-135 Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft, which benefit American firms.
It comes after Boris Johnson pledged £16.5bn for defence last year and declared that the commitment would “spur a renaissance of British shipbuilding across the UK”.
However, Labour cautioned that the contract to award a £1.5bn deal for three Fleet Solid Support ships, which resupply Royal Navy vessels at sea, is yet to be awarded “due to ministerial indecision about making the contract British-led”.
John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, said that while “there will be essential equipment or systems which it makes strategic sense for Britain to develop with allies or to buy direct from overseas”, the Labour party “wants to see ministers set a much higher bar for this”.
He added: “When done well, we believe defence spending has a multiplier effect, strengthening our UK economy. Covid has exposed the risks of relying on foreign supply chains, so a ‘British by default’ policy can also strengthen our UK sovereignty and security as well.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
07 Apr 21. UK is prepared to confront Putin’s ‘private army’, says Defence Secretary. Declassified satellite images of Al Khadim airbase in Libya, showing regular Russian military equipment being used by the Wagner Group
Britain should confront Russian “mercenary groups”, the Defence Secretary has said, as intelligence images show Vladimir Putin is supplying tanks and planes to his “private army”.
The Russian Wagner Group mercenary force, run by a man known as “Putin’s chef”, showed “how modern warfare is rapidly changing,” Ben Wallace told The Telegraph.
The Defence Secretary’s comments come as recently declassified intelligence photos, below, show the Wagner Group using regular Russian military equipment in Libya, suggesting it is, in effect, a deniable part of the Kremlin’s army.
Security experts believe the Wagner Group is used deniably to flex Moscow’s military power by supporting weak or illegitimate regimes, often with direct military support from the Russian army.
The group is particularly active in Syria, Libya and across sub-Saharan Africa, where armed assistance is rewarded with access to energy reserves and gold and other precious metals.
British security officials warn the use of such unregulated forces shows how state threats can manifest below the traditional threshold of armed conflict.
Ben Wallace said: “These shadowy outfits, now supported so brazenly by well-funded and highly trained militaries, pose a complex proposition for Western armed forces.
“The UK and other Allies will need to be prepared to challenge mercenary groups and improve resilience to their malign influences.
“The space in which they operate must be contested, otherwise private security forces, unshackled by international laws governing militaries, will be free to carry out deniable activity on behalf of a nation state with impunity.”
Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, serves food to Vladimir Putin, centre, at a restaurant near Moscow. Mr Prigozhin also runs a St Petersburg-based internet troll factory which has been linked to Libya CREDIT: Misha Japaridze/AP POOL
The Government’s recent Integrated Review of foreign, defence, security and development policy warned countries hostile to the UK “increasingly work with non-state actors to achieve their goals, including as proxies in conflict”.
“This affords them deniability and blurs the line between state threats and other types of security threats, such as such as terrorism and [serious organised crime],” the review stated.
Russia ‘operating in the grey zone’
The declassified images, thought to have come from US spy satellites, show Russian SA-22 air defence systems, IL-76 military cargo aircraft and mine resistant armoured vehicles being operated in the country.
Mixing military and non-military assets is typical of what Mr Wallace calls “operating within the grey zone”.
US intelligence agencies believe Russia has directly supplied the Wagner Group in Libya with fighter aircraft, armoured vehicles, air defence systems and other military supplies.
Images released by US Africa Command (AFRICOM) allegedly show high-tech Russian military kit in Libya either being operated by the Wagner Group, or by regular Russian forces in support of the supposedly private military company.
Such action would violate UN Security Council resolution 1970, unanimously signed in 2011, preventing the supply of arms or personnel to the conflict in Libya.
“Images like this should provoke us to change our thinking around the threat,” the Defence Secretary told the Telegraph.
“It is that threat which runs through our recently published Command Paper setting out the foundations for a new, modern Armed Forces,” he said. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
31 Mar 21. Future RAF will mix crewed fighters, UAVs and swarming drones: CDS. Speaking at an International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) virtual event, the head of the UK’s Armed Forces Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) General Sir Nick Carter said that by 2030 a Royal Air Force(RAF) tactical formation could be made of up two Typhoon Fighter Jets, ten Mosquito uncrewed fighter aircraft and 100 Alvino swarming uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Mosquito is the RAF’s name for a programme to build the UK’s first uncrewed fighter aircraft, able to target and shoot down adversaries aircraft. The project is currently being led by Spirit AeroSystems with an aim for full-scale flight tests in 2023.
Mosquito is designed to fill the role of a ‘Loyal Wingman’ flying alongside crewed fighter jets, increasing combat mass at a lower cost.
Commenting on the future mix of aircraft, Carter told the IISS thinktank: “I think by 2030, it’s entirely respectable for us to posit a view that a tactical formation in the Air Force will move from being eight Typhoon to being two Typhoon, 10 Mosquitoes and 100 Alvino, because that is another way of generating significant mass, and you can see that playing out both in the land and maritime domains as well.”
Alvina is to be a swarming drone platform and was mentioned by the Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston at the Royal United Services Institute Lord Trenchard Memorial Lecture earlier this year.
Speaking at the RUSI event earlier this year, Wigston described the future Royal Air Force as being made up of Tempest, F-35, Mosquito, Alvina, and Protector remotely piloted air system (RPAS) and 80% uncrewed or remotely piloted.
Carter added: “That implies that we’re talking in sunrise [upcoming capabilities] terms of being more dispensable, cheaper and less exquisite. And of course, this has got to be integrated into ever more sophisticated networks and systems to avoid that single point of failure, and to make the network spark up.”
Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) research fellow and editor of RUSI Defence Systems Justin Bronk told Air Force Technology the target of an 80% uncrewed force would rely on these systems being supplemental to crewed assets until 2035 at the earliest.
Bronk explained: “The military needs to be able to guarantee operational effectiveness despite a contested or denied electromagnetic spectrum, which means uncrewed systems will have to be able to automatically perform their missions during periods of denied remote human oversight.
“This either means high levels of autonomous capacity or restricting uncrewed systems to mission sets short of serious state-on-state conflict.”
Bronk said both of these approaches meant replacing 80% of the existing RAF force would be difficult in the foreseeable future but added that ‘both approaches could still generate very useful supplementary capabilities for specific scenarios alongside existing types.’
Commenting on the deployment of swarming munitions and UAVs, Bronk said that if they were to deploy on masse they would need to be ‘fairly cheap’, however, this also means the systems would need to be small. This small factor however means that the systems would also have shorter ranges.
Bronk added that delivering something like Alvina to a target area is a ‘non-trivial’ problem.
“If it is to be dropped from transport aircraft or launched from ships then it must have a range sufficient to allow those platforms to stay a safe distance from high threat adversary systems,” Bronk said.
In the US, under its Gremlins programme, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is testing deploying and catching UAVs with the C-130 Hercules aircraft. A similar feat could be achieved in principle with the Royal Air Forces A-400M transport aircraft.
Bronk said that in order for Alvina to be deployed from a transport aircraft or launched from a ship at a safe distance, the UAV would likely need to be the size of a cruise missile, making it more expensive and reducing ‘affordable numbers’.
“However, if they are smaller and cheaper, they will need to be delivered much closer to the enemy and thus will compete directly with other weapons, effectors for limited payload capacity on survivable assets like Typhoon or F-35” Bronk added. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
07 Apr 21. British Army’s Solar Farms Support Commitment to Sustainability. The British Army will launch defence’s first photovoltaic solar farm at the Defence School of Transport. To support the government’s commitment to meeting Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050, the British Army will launch defence’s first photovoltaic solar farm at the Defence School of Transport (DST), Leconfield.
The solar array is the first of four pilot sites delivered as part of Project PROMETHEUS to increase renewable energy across the defence estate.
Spanning approximately four hectares, Centrica Business Solutions started construction of the 2.3MW solar farm earlier this year. Thirty employees are working on the project, installing 4,248 Trina Vertex panels, which is predicted to supply the DST with one third of its electricity needs.
Together, the four pilot sites will result in £1m in efficiency savings and reduce emissions by 2,000 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) per year. These cost savings will be reinvested into Army infrastructure and help to reach the Army’s ambition of Net Zero by 2045.
Major General David Southall, Director Basing and Infrastructure and the Army’s Sustainability Champion said:
The Army remains wholly committed to play its part in meeting the UK’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. To deliver this, we are working hard to reduce energy demand as well as increase ‘green’ supply across our estate.
Project PROMETHEUS is an exciting pilot which will showcase renewable energy generation across the Army estate. When operational, we will learn from our four pilot sites and scale-up fast across the wider Army estate to help decarbonise the power we use.
Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said, “Project Prometheus is an example of how Defence is actioning its all-encompassing approach to reducing carbon emissions and increasing sustainability, announced last week. The Army, through Prometheus, is showing our commitment to positive green initiatives, driving impressive energy efficiency savings.”
The three further pilots at Duke of Gloucester Barracks, South Cerney, Gloucestershire; Rock Barracks, Suffolk; and Baker Barracks on Thorney Island, Sussex are scheduled for delivery by Summer 2021, with the aspiration to deliver a further circa 80 solar farms across the army estate in the next seven years.
Jorge Pikunic, Managing Director of Centrica Business Solutions, said:
We are proud to support the army launch what is an ambitious sustainability programme. It is incumbent on organisations big and small to show leadership in meeting net zero, and the army is doing just that.
Large scale solar projects like this can create significant cost and carbon savings, helping customers accelerate their transition to a sustainable future.
Project PROMETHEUS is one of several sustainable initiatives employed by the army to support the UK Net Zero legislation. Other ongoing projects include:
- Project TAURUS: A solar carport at British Army Headquarters with electric car charging ports and battery storage. A second phase is planned for six further solar carports across all regions
- Project KELPIE: A pilot for thermal battery storage
- buildings Efficiency Management Systems (BEMS): To improve sub-metering across the estate
- near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB): To enhance the energy efficiency of Single living accommodation (SLA)
- Project ROMULUS: The development of an information system to detail each building and facilities’ carbon footprint. This system, or “digital twin,” collects and collates data on how the infrastructure operates which is then used to drive real-world decisions
- Project MARKER: A habitat creation scheme and a natural capital research project with Exeter University. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
06 Apr 21. French Senate confirms new industry pact for FCAS fighter jet program. The two companies leading the trinational Future Combat Air System (FCAS) effort have completed a deal on the program’s centerpiece: the next-generation fighter aircraft.
Airbus and Dassault reached an agreement that removed “the main obstacle” to launching the demonstrator portion of the fighter program, said the French Senate’s foreign affairs and defense committee in a Tuesday press release. The agreement, called “a major turning point” by the panel, could be approved by the German Bundestag by summer.
The accord, first reported April 2 by La Tribune, comes after months of simmering doubt that the FCAS lead executives would be able to resolve important issues for the program’s progress — namely, intellectual property rights and workshare agreements between French, German, and Spanish industries. Dassault Aviation leads the French industry portion of FCAS — also called SCAF — while Airbus represents Germany’s industry and Indra leads Spain’s participation.
The timing is important: Stakeholders hoped to get the next-generation fighter’s contract finalized before the German parliament leaves for its summer recess in late June, in order to keep on schedule for the program’s next phase.
Company executives have previously said that they will begin investing “billions of euros” into the program in this next phase, dubbed 1B, after the results of the ongoing Joint Concept Study are released. Major design elements are expected to be revealed after these negotiations are complete, such as whether the fighter jet will have one seat or two, Airbus officials told reporters in late 2020.
Airbus declined to comment on the Senate’s announcement, citing ongoing negotiations. Dassault Aviation, the industry lead for the next-generation fighter element, did not respond to a request for comment at the time of this article’s publication.
Committee leader Christian Cambon highlighted the Senate’s recent hearings with Dassault Chairman and CEO Éric Trappier and Airbus leaders Dirk Hoke and Antoine Bouvier with playing the “role of catalyst” in the program’s negotiations.
“On these issues that touch directly on the sovereignty and security of future generations, there is a tendency in France to forget the importance of Parliament,” Cambon said in the statement. On such issues, democratic debate and transparency are “indispensable,” he added.
The demonstrator portion of the FCAS program is slated to run through 2026 or 2027, with the entire “system of systems” to be fielded around 2040. Along with the next-generation fighter, the program includes multiple new remote carrier drones, a next-generation weapon system, a brand new jet engine, advanced sensors and stealth technologies, and an air combat cloud network. (Source: Defense News)
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