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06 MAY 21. Outcome of EDA Ministerial Steering Board. Defence Ministers met today at EDA’s Ministerial Steering Board under the chairmanship of the Head of the Agency, High Representative Josep Borrell.
Ministers discussed the progress made so far as well as the way ahead in the implementation of the recommendations made in the first Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) report. Presented by EDA to Defence Ministers in November 2020, the report drew for the first time a comprehensive picture of the European defence landscape and identified more than 100 collaborative opportunities to be taken up by Member States in six main focus areas: Main Battle Tank, Soldier Systems, European Patrol Class Surface Ship, Counter-UAS – Anti-Access/Area-Denial, Defence in Space, Enhanced Military Mobility.
Ministers welcomed the first steps taken by Member States to implement the recommendations, including the interest expressed by them in taking forward concrete collaborative opportunities and cooperating in focus areas. They called on Member States to further declare their interest in participating and contributing to projects in the focus areas and, if possible, facilitate cooperation in those domains.
In this context, the Steering Board welcomed the willingness expressed by France to facilitate cooperation in the focus area ‘Defence in Space’. Many Member States confirmed their interest in discussing further and engaging in specific focus areas.
EDA was invited by Ministers to make the best possible use of its existing working bodies and, if need be, establish new ones to even better support the CARD implementation.
In 2019-2020, the first full CARD cycle took place with EDA acting as the CARD penholder. The final CARD report finds that the European defence landscape is characterised by high levels of fragmentation and low investment in cooperation, and recommends to overcome this fragmentation through coordinated and continuous efforts among Member States in three major areas which are interlinked: defence spending, defence planning and defence cooperation. To support this renewed cooperation effort, the CARD report also identifies a total of 55 collaborative opportunities throughout the whole capability spectrum, considered to be the most promising, most needed or most pressing ones, also in terms of operational value. Based on this catalogue of identified opportunities, Member States are recommended to concentrate their efforts on the above-mentioned six specific ‘focus areas’ which are also covered by the EU Capability Development Priorities agreed in 2018. In addition to that, 56 options to cooperate in R&T have been identified. They span from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cyber defence, to new sensor technologies, emerging materials and energy efficient propulsion systems as well as unmanned systems and robotics. (Source: EDA)
25 May 21. British ‘Team Tempest’ is itching to enter new fighter design phase this summer. Britain’s effort to develop a sixth-generation combat jet is on track, with the concept and assessment phase of the program expected to be signed off by industry and government imminently, according to officials involved in the discussions.
An announcement by the Ministry of Defence on a contract starting the next phase of work on the British-led Tempest future combat air program is expected in the next few weeks, said a BAE Systems spokesman.
“We are making good progress on the route to the concept and assessment phase, with the shared aim of launching the next phase of an international program to jointly develop and deliver world-leading future combat air capability. We expect to agree the concept and assessment phase contract in the summer,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman wouldn’t be drawn on an exact date but with Parliament due to go into summer recess in July that could potentially trigger a contract announcement ahead of that.
A deal for the concept and assessment phase marks the first proper step to the launch of a full-fledged 6th-generation combat jet program by the British and their international partners.
The British government has committed £2bn ($2.8bn) to the program over the next four years, with industry expected to contribute as well.
Initial work on Tempest was formally launched mid-2018 with the British government and industry partners BAE, Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls-Royce, beginning the early stages of exploring and developing technology options in a partnership known as Team Tempest.
More recently that work has included involvement by likely program partners Italy and Sweden.
The likelihood of the three nations partnering in the upcoming phase of work was heightened at the end of last year when the governments announced they had signed a trilateral memorandum of understanding aimed at launching an international program this summer.
The British government has also been in talks with Japan, looking at how the nations can collaborate on their combined combat air requirements.
The doors are not closed to further partners coming onboard either.
“At the moment the focus is on our program and making it as successful as we possibly can,” Michael Christie, BAE’s director of future combat air systems, said at a May 25 online event hosted by the lobbying group ADS. “We will continue to be open to further partnering discussions with others but right now the primary focus is on delivering what we have to deliver,” he added.
Christie declined to put a time line on development of a prototype Tempest but said the project remained on target to see the jet reach its initial operating capability in the mid 2030s.
Over time the jet will replace Typhoon jets that currently form the backbone of Royal Air Force combat air capabilities. The British have also ordered 48 F-35B with an unknown number of the jets still to be ordered.
“We are on schedule to start the concept and assessment phase as we planned back in 2018. We aimed at a 2021 contract award and we are still on track for that,” said the BAE executive.
In a statement, U.K. Defense Minister Jeremy Quin said the Tempest program would provide a major employment boost and increase security capabilities.
“By investing in the research and development to support this national endeavor to create the Future Combat Air System alongside our partners, we are turbocharging our combat air industry,” he said, referring to the formal name for the British development program, not to be confused with the rival mainland Europe effort by France, Germany and Spain.
“Situated at the heart of the country’s aerospace sector, investment in FCAS reaffirms the government’s commitment to spend more than £2bn over the next four years, with additional investment from industry, to create military capabilities that will keep us and our allies safe whilst creating thousands of skilled jobs right across the UK,” said Quin.
Just how important the future combat air system is to the British military aerospace industry and the government’s wider prosperity agenda was illustrated by an updated version of a report published by consultants PwC into the economic impact of Tempest in Britain.
The analysts first published the report last October but have since updated the document, commissioned by Team Tempest.
Among the main takeaways from the report are:
* The Tempest program will contribute £26.2bn to the UK economy between 2021-2050.
* Team Tempest partners and their supply chain is expected to contribute £100bn over the same period.
* The program will support an average of 21,000 employees a year.
(Source: Defense News)
25 May 21. New findings reveal future combat air programme Tempest is poised to drive productivity, innovation and skills development right across the UK. An independent report produced by professional services firm, PwC, has confirmed the economic impact of the Tempest programme will be felt in every region of the UK, supporting an average of 21,000 jobs a year, with 70% of the programme’s value generated in the North West, South West and East of England.
The Tempest programme is expected to generate long-term high value employment, with productivity per worker 78% higher than the national average, underlining how this exciting programme can make a significant contribution to the UK Government’s levelling up priorities and the wider economy.
The programme is being delivered by Team Tempest – combining the expertise of the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK and Rolls-Royce. Working with international partners, the team is leading progress towards a UK-led internationally collaborative Future Combat Air System which will ensure the Royal Air Force and its allies retain world-leading, independent military capability.
Key to the success of Tempest is delivering this highly-advanced capability more rapidly and more cost effectively than ever before.
Investment by industry and MOD in research and development for Tempest will generate positive spill-over benefits for the wider economy through applications of new technologies in other sectors and driving innovation in collaboration with hundreds of companies, SMEs and academic organisations.
The PwC report confirmed the expected impact of the Tempest programme will:
- Make an estimated £26.2bn contribution to the UK economy between 2021 and 2050*;
- Support on average 21,000 jobs per year, from development to operational service (2026-2050);
- Create high productivity employment with an average GVA per worker of £101,000, 78% higher than the UK national average and 42% higher than the country’s manufacturing average;
- Support significant benefits across regional economies.
- North West
o The programme is expected to generate at least £7.9bn GVA**;
o Will support on average 5,000 highly skilled jobs per year directly employed on the programme and in the first tier of the supply chain**;
o Productivity 31% higher than the North West manufacturing average.
- South West
o The programme is expected to generate at least £2.7bn GVA **;
o Will support on average 2,000 highly skilled jobs per year directly employed on the programme and in the first tier of the supply chain**
o Productivity 24% higher than the South West manufacturing average.
- East of England
o The programme is expected to generate at least £1bn GVA **;
o Will support on average 750 jobs highly skilled jobs per year directly employed on the programme and in the first tier of the supply chain**;
o Productivity 60% higher than the East of England manufacturing average.
Diane Shaw, EMEA Aerospace, Defence and Security Consulting Leader, PwC, commented: “As our research outlines, the scale of the Tempest programme is significant and expected to deliver wide-ranging benefits to the UK, stimulating investment in new technologies and promoting critical skills and capabilities that ensure the UK can continue to operate at the forefront of world-leading technology. The programme will stimulate R&D in regions most in need and generate wider economic benefits for these areas, supporting the UK Government’s levelling up priorities and contributing to the UK’s economic recovery and prosperity in the decades ahead.”
UK Defence Minister Jeremy Quin added, “By investing in the R&D to support this national endeavour to create the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) alongside our partners, we are turbocharging our combat air industry.
“Situated at the heart of the country’s aerospace sector, investment in FCAS reaffirms the Government’s commitment to spend more than £2bn over the next four years, with additional investment from industry, to create military capabilities that will keep us and our allies safe whilst creating thousands of skilled jobs right across the UK.”
The Team Tempest partners are working collaboratively with UK industry, embracing an agile approach, adopting new digital working practices to deliver technologically advanced capabilities and processes that drive efficiency and increase productivity. The partners are already engaged with more than 600 suppliers, SMEs and academic institutions across the UK, helping to deliver benefit beyond the defence sector.
ADS Chief Executive, Kevin Craven, said: “The Tempest programme will bring tens of thousands of skilled jobs that will provide rewarding careers, help to level up the UK economy, and build the advanced capabilities of our world-leading combat air industry. The contribution of SMEs will be vital to Tempest’s success and I hope our network of innovative supply chain companies will explore the opportunities to be involved in the programme and maximise the benefits to our sector and our national prosperity.”
The Tempest programme is already a magnet to attract engineers and technicians and a place for young people to build their long-term careers. There are currently more than 2,000 people employed across UK industry and the MOD on the programme.
Combat Air activities of the four Team Tempest partners are expected as a whole to contribute £100.1bn to the UK economy and support 62,000 jobs per year between 2021 and 2050. Tempest makes up an increasing share of the partners’ UK Combat Air activities and that of their supply chains, rising from around 12% today to nearly 50% of economic contribution by 2050 and is a crucial element of the aerospace and defence industry’s ongoing prosperity.
- The UK Combat Air Strategy, launched in 2018 set out a bold vision for the future combat air capability for the UK. This was embodied by an ambitious goal to create Tempest, a UK-led international Future Combat Air System that will pioneer cutting-edge technology and stay ahead of evolving threats.
- Tempest is focused on delivering a capable, flexible and affordable combat air system by the mid-2030s, providing military, economic and industrial benefit to the UK and our international partners.
- BAE Systems, on behalf of Team Tempest partners, commissioned PwC to carry out an independent analysis of the economic impact of the Tempest programme. Preliminary findings were released in October 2020. The full report is available here: https://baesys.resourcespace.com/?r=29557&k=c7f6341bca
- The report was prepared for BAE Systems (Operations) Limited and solely for the purpose and on the terms agreed with BAE Systems (Operations) Limited. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP accepts no liability (including for negligence) to anyone else in connection with the report.
- The research by PwC looks at the period of programme development, production, entry into service and early support up to 2050, but does not include the full potential of export opportunities, R&D investment or the value of the programme after this.
- * Figures in text presented in NPV (net present value) terms in 2019 price basis. Gross Value Added (GVA): A measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy. Net present value (NPV): Used to compare estimates of costs and benefits occurring at different points in time, taking into account society’s time preference for incurring costs and benefits. All figures exclude benefits beyond 2050, which means most of the value generated by exports is not captured within this 30-year period.
- **Example regional data shown is an average per annum of Direct and Tier 1 spending only (2021-2050). Employment and GVA generated in the supply chain beyond tier 1 is real and significant but has not been calculated regionally. The data shown does not include induced effects and potentially significant impact from R&D spill-over effects.
23 May 21. Artificial Intelligence isn’t about ‘killer robots’ and Britain would be ‘mad’ not to try and lead the technology, Britain’s military cyber chief says.
General Sir Patrick Sanders, head of Strategic Command, says of all the world’s new technologies, AI is ‘the one ring to rule them all’.
Artificial Intelligence isn’t about “killer robots” and Britain would be “mad” not to try and be a world leader in the technology, the UK’s military’s cyber chief has said.
General Sir Patrick Sanders, the head of Britain’s Strategic Command, said artificial intelligence (AI) will be central to emerging technologies such as quantum computing, biotechnology and the military’s use of cyberspace.
Speaking exclusively to the Telegraph in Estonia as he visited Nato forces, Gen Sanders said: “if you crack AI…you can master the mechanism to exploit and enhance technology at the pace you need”.
Noting that Britain is the third ranked cyber power in the world and a global leader in AI, he said “it would be madness if the UK didn’t try to exploit these”.
“Of all the new technologies, the one ring to rule them all is AI.”
Machine learning, whereby computers learn through exposure to data to spot patterns and make decisions with minimal human intervention, is of particular interest to the armed forces.
“It gives you the opportunity for better decision making, it gives you the opportunity to begin to develop autonomy,” Gen Sanders said.
“There’s a lot of concern out there about killer robots and ethics. Actually the real use of AI is to support humans, to be under command of humans.
“The idea of human-machine teaming implies you can team with a computer. There isn’t a team, the humans are in charge, but AI can relieve the human of the burden of pouring through gigabytes of data to spot a disturbance on the road where there wasn’t one before [if a roadside bomb had been planted, for example].
“That ability to spot patterns and present that data to humans moves humans up the value chain.”
So-called ‘narrow AI’ is used every day in search engines or vehicle management systems that warn if a car is straying out of lane, for example. Unlike narrow AI that only really presents humans different courses of action, ‘general AI’ will decide its own objectives.
Gen Sanders says routine life does not yet use ‘general AI’ and to consider doing so raises many questions.
“The ethics debate is important,” he said, adding it is important to guard against in-built human bias to such systems from the programmers that create them.
“It is there to support humans and, ultimately, humans [must] have the whip hand.”
Colonel Jaak Tarien, Director of the Nato Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, a Nato-accredited think tank, agrees, but warns: “cyber defence is still full of human decisions”.
In developing AI systems to conduct cyber attacks, he says Russia and China “are not bothered by ethics, they want efficiency and power”.
“Ten percent of collateral damage is acceptable [to them]. For us zero percent is the desire. That makes it very expensive and complex for us,” he told the Telegraph.
“We will be struggling with our self-imposed rules but we have to do it. For the free world there is no other way.
“Every single human being’s rights and privacy are important to us.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
24 May 21. The resurgent fears behind the UK’s nuclear policy pivot. Analysts weigh in on the British government’s recent decision to amend its nuclear proliferation policy.
Earlier this year, the British government announced it would increase the cap on its nuclear stockpile from 225 to 260 warheads following an extended period of incremental reductions.
The policy reversal was outlined in the government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy — published in March.
Wyn Rees, professor of international security in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham, and Azriel Bermant, senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague, weigh in on the potential motivations behind the revision.
The analysts note the UK’s historic attitudes towards nuclear proliferation, with Britain previously gauging the size of its stockpile “in concert with the much larger US capability”.
“When Britain obtained the Trident D5 missile from the United States in the early 1980s, the capability exceeded UK military needs and the decision was taken not to deploy the maximum number of warheads on the missile,” they write in a piece published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
“The Trident submarines could carry more warheads and strike more accurately than the UK believed was necessary.
“The size of the UK nuclear force has been guided over the years by considerations of what constitutes a ‘minimum deterrent’. The UK has sought to put a certain number of enemy targets at risk.”
But Rees and Bermant observe that the UK’s latest policy pivot reflects changes in the geopolitical environment, with the government itself pointing to a “deterioration” in the strategic landscape and emerging technological threats.
“Russia has been overhauling its nuclear forces since 2007 and investing in new technologies such as underwater nuclear drones and hypersonic missiles. China has been increasing its nuclear capabilities and its current hostility towards Taiwan increases the risk of a China–US confrontation,” they continue.
However, according to Rees and Bermant, improvements in Russia’s missile defences have played a particularly important role in the UK’s decision.
“Western intelligence has been monitoring Russia’s comprehensive upgrade of its missile defences around Moscow and neighbouring areas, and it’s not the first time that anti-ballistic missile improvements around the Russian capital have influenced UK strategic thinking,” they write.
“Recently declassified papers in Britain and the US demonstrate that such concerns were being expressed as far back as the early 1980s and even resulted in a spat between Margaret Thatcher’s government and Ronald Reagan’s [administration].”
This “spat”, the analysts note, was triggered by Reagan’s decision to push ahead with the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which regarded the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty as a “constraint” on the deployment of US and Soviet missile defences.
“However, the British government regarded the ABM Treaty limiting the deployment of missile defences as essential to preserving strategic stability and enshrining a concept of deterrence based upon the threat of nuclear retaliation,” they write.
“It viewed this as the key to stability and to safeguarding the UK’s nuclear deterrent.”
Rees and Bermant add: “Britain was concerned that the possible demise of the ABM Treaty and the US deployment of space-based missile defences would lead to the Russians improving their own defensive systems with damaging consequences for Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent.”
The analysts claim the treaty’s eventual collapse has created “unease” in Britain, with Russian President Vladimir Putin pointing to the US withdrawal from the treaty in 2002 as a justification for the development of new nuclear capability.
Putin has been quoted as saying: “After the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, we’ve been working hard to develop new promising weaponry systems and this enabled us to make a big step forward creating new strategic [arms].
“US global missile systems are mainly against ballistic missiles and these are the core of our nuclear deterrent.
“This is why Russia has been developing extremely effective systems to defeat missile defence and all our ICBMs are equipped with such systems now.”
As such, Rees and Bermant conclude that the UK’s fears, first expressed during the Cold War, have now resurfaced.
“The UK has decided that increasing its offensive nuclear capabilities provides the most cost-effective way to offset the risks it faces and it’s prepared to tolerate the opprobrium of enlarging its stockpile of the most destructive weapons known to humankind.” (Source: Defence Connect)
22 May 21. Russia is ‘our number one threat’ as its submarines circle Britain. Enemy warships snooping in UK waters, says Ben Wallace, as he tells Telegraph how Britain will use naval power to re-engage with old allies. Russia’s submarines are circling Britain’s entire coastline, the Defence Secretary has told The Telegraph as he named Moscow as the UK’s “number one adversary threat”.
Ben Wallace revealed a submarine was spotted in the Irish Sea late last year as he attacked Russia for “regularly” sending vessels to Britain. He said the UK’s waters were “regularly visited” by Russian ships and said Moscow had been carrying out “a number of operations, deliberately at Britain”.
Confirmed sightings are rare but at least seven Russian naval ships and a submarine were spotted off the UK last year, and a further 26 ships and one submarine in 2020.
Since 2013, there have been at least 150 instances of Russian naval assets detected by the UK, with Royal Navy fleets often sending a frigate or destroyer to intercept or monitor their movements.
Normally Russian vessels are spotted in the North Sea or English Channel. However, Mr Wallace said a Russian kilo class submarine was spotted in the Irish Sea at the end of last year, adding that the UK had not seen one there “for a very, very long time. It might have been for the first.”
It is the first time the Government has confirmed their presence in the Irish Sea.
He said: “We’re regularly visited by nosy Russian ships, and we are regularly visited now by a number of Russian warships.”
He added: “We have tried de-escalation, we have tried methods but at the moment until Russia changes its attitude, it’s quite hard to see where we’re going to go. This is a country that killed someone in Salisbury.”
Mr Wallace was speaking as the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth on her 26,000 mile maiden voyage to the Far East.
In an interview with The Telegraph, he said this showed that Britain was “back” as a global military force able to project that power thousands of miles from home.
Free of the EU, we can firm up our old alliances, says Ben Wallace
“As a Remainer I am of course gutted by the result,” Ben Wallace said on the morning after the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum. “But it is now my duty to make sure the UK thrives in the world and stays together.”
Fast forward nearly five years and as Defence Secretary Mr Wallace is doing just that, as he starts to dust down old international alliances that had been somewhat overlooked when the UK was a member of the European Union.
At the centre of the UK’s re-engagement with old allies after Brexit are the Navy’s two new aircraft carriers, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth.
When we met in his Ministry of Defence office last Friday, Mr Wallace had just bade adieu to the Queen Elizabeth, which departed on Saturday on its maiden 26,000-mile global tour.
Mr Wallace sees the carrier as a “convener” that will provide a focal point for the world’s powers to gather around and forge alliances. A visit by the Nato secretary general is planned during a voyage that will take in 40 countries on the way to Japan.
The carrier “is already showing that it’s not just an airfield. It is a convener, it is a projection”, he says.
“It is where hard and soft power meet, where the rubber hits the road. So, going to the Pacific shows that we can operate 8,000 miles away.
“It shows that our friends like Japan – with common values, democracy, open economies – that we have that common link and that we can operate together, because the biggest strength is people who share our values. We have alliances and we have friends.”
This year, for example, the UK will mark the 50th anniversary of the Five Power Defence Arrangements – the oldest military alliance in the Pacific between Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
“The future foreign policy in the world is, apart from Nato and the G7, more and more quadrilaterals, trilaterals and bilaterals between countries on issues that they have common cause,” he says.
“Long before there was an emerging China and long before ‘we are where we are’, Britain had an alliance with countries that are strategically important. The thing about that alliance is its age, which gives us credibility. That’s not suddenly coming into fashion. It is an alliance that has just bubbled under the surface, done lots of things together. It gives us legitimacy.”
He adds: “Britain will always have a love and a link with the Middle East, it was always going to. And we will have strong links with Pakistan and India – sometimes just at a trade level, sometimes just at a cultural level. We’re not going to leave any of that behind.”
For Mr Wallace, the carriers demonstrate that Britain is “back” as a global military force able to project that power thousands of miles from home.
“This carrier represents hard power [as well as] British manufacturing, British skills. It represents Britain’s coalitions, with the United States and it represents Britain’s reach.
“This ship has not gone to Jersey, this ship has gone to Japan. That is what’s back. A sense that our future lies a bit further than just the Channel. We are going there in a confident manner, but not a confrontational manner.”
Mr Wallace pushes back at claims that the carrier’s voyage to the Far East will avoid travelling between China and Taiwan to avoid antagonising Beijing.
“We are going to the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea,” he says. “The route there, and the route back is always subject to potential change. So, nothing is signed and sealed.”
This kind of military projection would not have been possible if the UK had remained in the EU, he says, adding: “Any country that wants to play to its strengths, historical strengths or common economical strengths, gets held back.”
Mr Wallace is wary about engaging in a game of “Top Trumps” about which country has the best piece of military kit. “Top Trumps got us these very expensive Type 45s [destroyers], that don’t work or didn’t work, and are tied up in Portsmouth,” he says candidly.
I ask if a new HMY Britannia forms part of his plans. The Telegraph disclosed this month that a new flagship named HMS Prince Philip is planned as a successor to the royal yacht, which was axed in 1997.
Mr Wallace says: “There’s definitely a need for a ship or a platform of any type, that bridges the gap between hard power and soft power.
“There is definitely a role in this world for soft power whether that is diplomatic power, economic power, scientific power, cultural power, there is absolutely a need for a showcase of that, of British values.”
The real audience for this hardware is of course the UK’s enemies. And for Mr Wallace, Russia is the UK’s “number one adversary threat”.
He says: “We have tried de-escalation, we have tried methods, but at the moment until Russia changes its attitude, it’s quite hard to see where we’re going to go. This is a country that killed someone in Salisbury.”
Russia has recently been carrying out “a number of operations, deliberately at Britain” notably late last year when nine vessels were spotted around the UK.
“We saw a Russian submarine in the Irish Sea, which I don’t think we have seen for a very, very long time,” he says.
Mr Wallace has a warning too for Scottish nationalists trying to break up the UK.
“The Union has been the canvas that has let Scots reach their full potential, both domestically and as part of the military and foreign service,” he says. “The United Kingdom’s security would be weaker by separation.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
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