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11 June 21. UK extends Merlin operations until 2040. UK defence officials have quietly extended the out-of-service date for the Royal Navy’s (RN’s) Leonardo Helicopters AW101 Merlin rotorcraft under plans that will now see the heavy, three-engined type operating until 2040. Until recently, the RN’s 30 Merlin HM2 anti-submarine warfare helicopters were due to retire in 2029, while 25 Merlin HC4/4As, flown by the service’s Commando Helicopter Force, would follow a year later. Merlin HM2 performs anti-submarine warfare and AEW roles But in response to a question from FlightGlobal, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) says that the retirement dates have been pushed back.
“The Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper identified Merlin Mk2 and Mk4 as forming part of the Royal Navy’s contribution to Integrated Force 2030, with an extended [out-of-service date] of 2040. As such there is no follow-on programme required at this time,” the MoD states.
Although the Merlins were listed in the Command Paper, issued in March, as being part of the RN’s force in 2030, there was no indication that the out-of-service date had been extended. Indeed, Leonardo Helicopters at the end of May indicated to journalists that although it anticipated the Merlin’s service-life would be extended, there had been no confirmation from the MoD. However, it says that “obsolescence issues” would need to be addressed to allow the AW101s to fly until 2040. Leonardo Helicopters is currently finishing at its Yeovil, UK site the conversion of former Royal Air Force Merlin HC3/3As to the HC4/4A standard for the RN. This sees the transports gain new avionics and folding main rotors and tails. Separately, the airframer is upgrading 10 Merlin HM2s to perform the airborne early warning (AEW) role under the Lockheed Martin-led Crowsnest programme. The Crowsnest system, with radars and mission systems supplied by Thales, is still set to retire in 2029, however, just six years after full operational capability is scheduled. MoD plans currently call for the Crowsnest AEW capability to in future be provided by unmanned aircraft. However, the ministry is also researching potential alternatives though a contest led by the Defence and Security Accelerator. (Source: News Now/Flight Global)
11 June 21. UK risks failure with push into space flight, says industry. Sector claims government has proposed flawed regulation that lacks a liability cap. Executives said the UK regulations issued by the government failed to set a clear and binding cap on sector liabilities for rocket launches from British soil — potentially affecting Virgin Orbit which is planning to launch from Spaceport Cornwall in 2022. Flawed regulation and high costs threaten to cripple the UK’s ambition to become a force in commercial space flight, according to industry executives, who warned they will license their missions abroad if proposed rules are implemented. Executives said the UK regulations issued by the government failed to set a clear and binding cap on sector liabilities for rocket launches from British soil, or any potential damage on earth from satellites falling out of orbit. The regulations due to take effect this summer are meant to mark the final stage of preparations to fulfil Britain’s ambition to be the first country to launch satellites into orbit from Europe. But the proposed rules are a major setback to years of campaigning by space industry executives and insurers. The wording of the regulations, which must be approved by parliament, leaves open the possibility that space companies could be exposed to unlimited risk. This would make it impossible to secure insurance or to set competitive pricing for launch services in the UK, said industry executives. The regulations put before parliament last month by the government stated that a liability limit “may” be set, but did not specify a cap, as is the norm in most space faring nations. When people are making the decision to come to the UK they won’t look at Hansard to see what a minister has said in parliament. They will go to the legislation and say there isn’t a cap [on sector liabilities for rocket launches from British soil].” Neil Stevens, space liability expert at insurance broker Marsh Many of these nations have set a liability cap, some as low as $20m per licence, with governments then committed to take on any further risk. Two British companies which asked not to be named told the Financial Times they had decided to seek launch licences in other countries because of the lack of UK regulatory clarity. The proposed rules are “just a non starter”, said one leading space company. “We won’t even talk about the issue of licensing in the UK until that is fixed,” it added. The government has insisted space companies will not face unlimited liability, and indicated it will make a statement in parliament. It has said the Civil Aviation Authority will determine companies’ liabilities on a case-by-case basis under the UK regulations. Grant Shapps, transport secretary, said it was clear that liability caps were necessary, but he could not say when, how, or at what level they would be set. The priority was for the regulations to be approved by parliament to enable launches from UK soil next year, he added. Neil Stevens, space liability expert at insurance broker Marsh, said a parliamentary statement by the government was not sufficient. “When people are making the decision to come to the UK they won’t look at Hansard to see what a minister has said in parliament,” he added. “They will go to the legislation and say there isn’t a cap.” Alan Thompson, head of government affairs at UK rocket company Skyrora, said the promise of a statement in parliament showed the government was beginning to get the message. “But without these issues being resolved successfully there is a serious risk to commercial launch from the UK,” he added. Spaceports are being developed in England, Wales and Scotland, with the first launch due in 2022 — two years later than initially planned. Recommended FT Magazine The quest to make Cornwall a global spaceport The UK has targeted a 10 per cent share of the global space industry by 2030, up from 5.1 per cent — or £16.4bn in revenues — in 2019. Last year Britain became part owner of satellite broadband company OneWeb. Meanwhile, a confidential document prepared by UKspace, the industry trade body, and dated two weeks before the regulations were put before parliament in May, sets out the concerns raised by space companies over the proposed licensing framework. The document cites 11 companies including Airbus, Intelsat, Spire Global, Orbex and OneWeb calling for an official, legally binding statement from the government that a liability cap would be applied to all launch licences. Companies also said the actual level of liability should be clarified. Rocket companies are also frustrated with the proposed timescale for UK licensing, which is set to be more protracted and so more costly than other countries. The indications were that the process could take nine to 18 months, said one executive. “That is not really competitive,” he said. “The US . . . is committing to a 180 day turnround.”
11 June 21. Defence Expenditure of NATO Countries (2014-2021). NATO collects defence expenditure data from Allies and publishes it on a regular basis. Each Ally’s Ministry of Defence reports current and estimated future defence expenditure according to an agreed definition of defence expenditure. The amounts represent payments by a national government actually made, or to be made, during the course of the fiscal year to meet the needs of its armed forces, those of Allies or of the Alliance. In the figures and tables that follow, NATO also uses economic and demographic information available from the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs of the European Commission (DG ECFIN), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
In view of differences between these sources and national GDP forecasts, and also the definition of NATO defence expenditure and national definitions, the figures shown in this report may diverge considerably from those which are quoted by media, published by national authorities or given in national budgets.
Equipment expenditure includes expenditure on major equipment as well as on research and development devoted to major equipment. Personnel expenditure includes pensions paid to retirees. The cut-off date for information used in this report was 2 June 2021. Figures for 2020 and 2021 are estimates.
Download the full document in PDF; https://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/2021/6/pdf/210611-pr-2021-094-en.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Press%20Release%202021094&utm_content=Press%20Release%202021094+CID_7772706c38446d5d4d3f23f059f285d7&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=Download%20the%20full%20document%20in%20PDF(Source: NATO)
11 Jun 21. UK and Montenegro underline shared commitment to NATO on Carrier Strike Group visit. Coinciding with the visit of HMS Richmond, sailing from the UK Carrier Strike Group, Lady Goldie held high-level meetings to discuss NATO and regional security.
Minister of State for Defence Baroness Annabel Goldie has reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to Western Balkans security on a visit to Montenegro.
Coinciding with the visit of HMS Richmond, sailing from the UK Carrier Strike Group, Lady Goldie held high-level meetings to discuss regional security, the role of NATO in upholding that security and maintaining stability, as well as the UK-Montenegro defence relationship.
Minister of State for Defence, Baroness Goldie said, “The Carrier Strike Group’s visit to the Port of Bar marks the fourth anniversary of Montenegro’s accession to NATO and symbolises our close relationship as members of the most successful military alliance in history.
The UK was the first nation to endorse Montenegro’s NATO membership in 2017 and we remain committed to supporting Montenegro and the Western Balkans region on its Euro Atlantic journey.”
On a two-day visit, the Baroness met with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic and Defence Minister Olivera Injac. She discussed regional security issues, the UK’s commitment to supporting its partners and the positive role NATO plays in underpinning the region’s stability. Montenegro is an important partner to the UK and a fellow NATO Ally. Our Armed Forces both contribute to the NATO KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, which has helped to protect peace for over 20 years.
On her visit to the Port of Bar, HMS Richmond hosted a number of diplomatic engagements including the donation of Search and rescue equipment to the Montenegrin Armed Forces and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two Governments to collaborate on tacking organised crime on her flight deck. The ship also hosted Baroness Goldie’s meeting with Prime Minister Krivokapic, a STEM education event with local school children, and a Women in Peace and Security Network event before providing a reception and capability demonstration in honour of Her Majesty The Queen’s birthday.
Commanding Officer HMS Richmond, Commander Hugh Botterill RN MBE, said, “Montenegro is a welcoming and beautiful country. HMS Richmond has been proud to play its part in supporting this key strategic alliance. I thank all involved in making our visit to Bar a success.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
10 June 21. UK and US Strengthen Security Cooperation over Emerging Threats. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Joe Biden agreed a number of steps to enhance the world’s strongest bilateral defence and security partnership.
The steps agreed today between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden will help both countries respond to, and get ahead of, the evolving threats of the 21st century.
The UK and US will enhance their work to shape and secure the international order of the future, with NATO as the bedrock of our collective defence.
Our two nations will work together to further strengthen and modernise NATO, and increase its common funding, so the Alliance can harness the full range of military and non-military capabilities to tackle existing and emerging threats, including malicious cyber activity and attacks that test the resilience of our societies.
The US and UK will continue to modernise and integrate our armed forces, and strengthen bilateral cooperation on next generation capabilities.
The unique interoperability of the UK and US Armed Forces is demonstrated by the key role US forces are playing in the UK’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG21). Nine ships, 32 aircraft and 3,700 personnel set sail in May on the Strike Group’s seven-month maiden operational deployment around the world.
The integration of a US destroyer and Marine Corps jets into CSG21 shows our intent to further improve interoperability between NATO Allies as we jointly develop 5th generation carrier strike capability.
The deployment is emblematic of how the US and UK work together to defend our shared values, uphold the rules-based international order and tackle the threats of the future.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “It’s no secret that the US is our closest friend and most important defence partner. Combining the largest defence budget in the world and the largest defence budget in Europe, the US-UK alliance is a bulwark against those that aim to undermine the rules-based international order. The extra £24bn of UK Defence spending over the next four years means we have the resources going forward to modernise our Armed Forces and further integrate with allies so we can tackle the threats of the future together. As longstanding partners, the UK and US will continue to draw on our extensive diplomatic, defence, security, civil and scientific cooperation to ensure Space is a safe and secure environment for all. The Joint Statement solidifies that commitment.”
The UK and US will bolster security cooperation in areas where together we can have greater impact, such as in tackling illicit finance and corruption. Combatting illicit finance and corruption are transnational challenges that threaten our shared security and prosperity, requiring collective action and multilateral cooperation.
The UK and US as the two largest global financial centres will build on longstanding transatlantic efforts to lead the world in tackling illicit finance by reinforcing transparency and financial integrity, protecting open societies, and giving corrupt and malign actors no place to hide.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said, “The UK’s close security partnership with the US is our most important relationship. It keeps our citizens safe on both sides of the Atlantic. Through bolstering our security cooperation, together we will be able to better combat terrorism, tackle illicit finance, dismantle the serious and organised crime groups who operate across our borders, and go after the individuals who prey on the most vulnerable in society, including our children.”
The UK and US are also committed to continuing our longstanding cooperation on counter-terrorism and other forms of serious crime, including child abuse, by strengthening our partnership to tackle the shared threats that our nations face.
The PM and President agreed to tackle all forms of terrorism by working together to address terrorism online and enhance international collaboration on thwarting violent extremism and terrorism that is racially, ethnically or ideologically motivated, including a range of hateful white supremacist ideologies.
Both leaders also agreed to ensure law enforcement can lawfully access communications content vital to investigating and prosecuting serious crime including through bringing into force the world leading Bilateral Data Access Agreement. As crime so often crosses international borders, the agreement with the US – the world’s first – is a major step forward in keeping the citizens of both nations safe and the result of many years’ joint effort between the UK and US governments. It will be a significant tool in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of serious crime.
Maintaining tightly controlled, lawful access to communications content is vital to the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes such as terrorism and the abuse of children; a top priority for both governments.
Both nations have agreed to work in partnership with technology companies to protect the safety of our citizens whilst maintaining rigorous privacy standards. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
10 June 21. Ottoman Aerospace Emerges. Turkey’s aerospace industry is turning away from traditional US ITAR restricted platforms to indigenously shape the future of the Turkish Air Force. Turkish Air Force (TuAFA) modernisation is being fuelled by the indigenisation of Turkey’s relatively new aerospace industry. Major home growth defence contractors such as Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), Aselsan, Havelsan and Roketsan all now play a massive part in solving the needs of the local military, and are keen to export their products to fund the domestic market.
Increasingly though, they are finding it difficult to sell to alied countries because of International Treaty on Arms (ITAR) restrictions. For example, Pakistan signed up for 30 TAI T129 attack and reconnaissance helicopters (ATAK) in a $1.5bn deal in May 2018, but the Honeywell/Rolls Royce LHTEC 800 engine that powers the helicopter has been sanctioned under ITAR legislation. A Tusas Engine Industries (TEI) TS1400 powerplant is being heralded as the replacement solution, but this will take time due to its ongoing development.
Banned from F-35
One major setback for the TuAFA came when the United States (US) government banned Turkey from the Lockheed Martin’s F-35 programme. The TuAF had a requirement for 100 F-35As to replace its ageing F-4E Phantoms and F-16C/Ds. Six had been contracted, while another 24 were set to be acquired by fiscal year 2020. It led to the first TuAF F-35A flight on 10 May, 2018 with the aircraft subsequently handed over to the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Arizona, for pilot and maintenance training. By April 2019 three more had arrived. Then in March 2019, Turkey ordered the Russian S-400 long range air defence system. That put relations with the United States in a spin. The transfer of F-35A support equipment was put on hold and Turkish personnel were eventually expelled from F-35 training and other activities.
The chief Pentagon spokesman, Charles Summers said in a statement released on Monday 1 April, 2019, “the United States has suspended deliveries and activities associated with the stand-up of Turkey’s F-35 operational capability. Should Turkey procure the S-400, their continued participation in the F-35 program is at risk.”
On July 17, 2019 the White House issued a statement, stated: “Unfortunately, Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defence systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible. The F-35 cannot co-exist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities. The United States still greatly values its strategic relationship with Turkey and we will continue to cooperate with Turkey extensively, mindful of constraints due to the presence of the S-400 system in Turkey.”
Since then all the workshare that had been awarded to Turkish companies has stopped, with the majority of it being transferred back to the US under ex-President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policy.
The F-35 cancellation meant that the TuAFA had to extend the lifetime in service of the older F-16C/Ds and F-4E Phantoms until around 2030. At that time Turkey’s indigenous new generation fighter, known as Turkish Fighter-X (TF-X), or MMU as as it is known locally, should start being delivered to the TuAF. A full scale mock-up of the TF-X was unveiled in June 2019 at the Paris Airshow, but a month earlier at Turkey’s own defence exhibition, IDEF 2019 in Istanbul, the author spoke to Fahrettin Öztürk, Turkish Aerospace’s vice president, Research and Development who stated that he had been “tasked to handle the research and development processes and get everything to serial production quicker.”
Undoubtedly TF-X will be take up much of his time. “We are in a design partnership with BAE Systems on the project…This involves around 100 BAE staff on secondment to TAI in Ankara,“ stated Öztürk at the time. “We are in Phase 1 – the conceptual design and selection of major systems, then we will put [a model] through wind tunnel tests. In Phase 2 we will start the detailed design, manufacturing and integrating of all the systems. We are expecting TF-X will have its first flight in 2026,” he predicted.
In August 2020 TAI’s CEO, Temel Kotil said that the TF-X would now be rolled out on 18 March, 2023 (to coincide with Turkey celebrating 100 years of its existence). This would be followed by two years of ground tests. He added that there will be seven prototypes.
The biggest issue is the engine. Designing and developing an indigenous powerplant for a fighter isn’t easy as both Russia and China can vouch. There were aspirations to co-develop such a requirement with an international partner, but so far nothing has materialised. Originally three foreign companies bid for the work in partnership with Eskisehir-based Turkish Engine Industries (TEI), which will be responsible for producing the engine.
Rolls Royce and Kale Group of Turkey announced the creation of a joint venture company on 8 May, 2017 for a new engine, which never materialised into development due to transfer of technology concerns. General Electric offered technology transfer (ToT) for the F414-GE-400 which powers the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, while Eurojet offered an improved version of its EJ-200 engine, the Typhoon’s powerplant as well as ToT. However, on 14 February this year, Turkish state-run engine maker TRMotor signed a deal with TAI to develop two critical components of the engine – the auxiliary power unit and an air turbine start system, that will power the jet. As Osman Dur, general manager of TRMotor said, “The TF-X powerplant is still at its concept design phase.” Until an engine is selected, the design of the fighter cannot progress.
During IDEF 2019, Turkey’s President Erdogan spoke of his defence industry stepping up its game, allowing the country’s military to go 100 percent indigenous, because of the threats of sanctions on ITAR products. TAI led by CEO Temel Kotil is playing a big part in his dream, with the development of several new platforms. Many are helicopter projects, including the T129 Tactical Reconnaissance and Attack (ATAK), the T625 Gokbey, a six ton unmanned electric powered T629 and the Multi Role Heavy Combat Helicopter (MHCH) currently referred to as ATAK-2. There is also the Hurjet jet trainer, Hurkus-B turboprop trainer, Hurkus-C close air support aircraft, new generation TF fighter, a stand-off jammer (SOJ) and several UAVs such as the Anka-Aksungur and Anka-S that draw strength from all aspects of the defence industry. You name it and Turkey’s SSB (Undersecretariat for Defence Industries) is looking to have a Turkish solution within the foreseeable future.
On 25 February, TAI delivered the first T129 ATAK to the Polis, in the Phase-2 configuration, with enhanced Aselsan electronic warfare and countermeasures capabilities. Two more of six ordered in March 2017 were set to be delivered in March. Ismail Demir, the SSB chairperson said: “We are proud to see the delivery of this helicopter which will further strengthen the police forces.”
By June last year, 57 of the 59 T129s on order by the Turkish Land Forces had been delivered, while the Gendarmerie has received at least six of 18 on order. To date 83 T129s have been ordered, with another three are on option, possibly for the Gendarmerie.
Mr Demir also pointed out the plan was not to just build platforms, but also domestically develop subsystems and critical components. The TEI TS1400 powerplant currently being developed to power helicopters, is one of the most important steps in this process.
The first six-ton T625 Gökbey, TC-HLP flew on 6 September, 2018 but this was essentially an ‘iron bird’ – a ground test vehicle modified with new avionics and engine. Its flight marked the fifth anniversary of the contract being signed to develop the aircraft. Civilian certification should be completed this year when serial production is also expected to commence.
With a requirement of up to 600 military T625 Gökbeys to replace the ageing Bell UH-1H Hueys, AB212ASWs and Sikorsky S-70B Seahawks, there is an important need to develop the indigenous engine that will power it. An important milestone came on 5 December, 2020 when TAI took delivery of the first TEI TS1400 to integrate into a T625. The civilian prototype relies on a LHTEC-800, the same powerplant the ATAK uses, and could easily be sanctioned by the US.
According to a TAI source, there will be two military T625 prototypes, one in an attack configuration and another in a Search and Rescue (SAR) role fitted with a hoist. The naval T625 version will have a new radar and folding rotors allowing it to operate from ships. While the Army is looking for a requirement of up to 160 Gökbeys to fulfil both the SAR, utility (with 16 seats) and attack versions, other services including the TuAFA, Jandarma and Gendarmerie will have their own requirements. Many of TAI’s senior management see the Gökbey as a departure from working exclusively with the military, because the six-ton helicopter will be available to the civilian market too.
At Farnborough 2018, TAI launched the Hurjet jet trainer in mock-up form, which was presented again at IDEF 2019. That’s where Mr Öztürk told the author, “We have started manufacturing the parts and the first flight will be in late-2022.” When it comes to the prototypes, Mr Öztürk said, “There could be four or five in different configurations, but not all will fly. There will be static rig tests, dynamic ground tests and one could be used for wind tunnels, checking systems and performance before flight. This is the minimum, there could be more!”
The Hurjet is expected to make its first public appearance on 18 March, 2023 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Ataturk’s secular Islamic state being founded. No decision has been made on the Hurjet’s powerplant although both the Eurojet EJ200 and General Electric F404 are candidates. The jet trainer will eventually replace the 40 TuAF T-38 Talons that TAI upgraded between 2011-16, and there are big aspirations to export the aircraft and even develop a light attack version.
The 10 ton Multirole Heavy Combat Helicopter (MHCH), also unofficially known as ATAK-2, was seen in mock-up form at IDEF 19. TAI sees the MHCH as the ideal alternative to the Boeing AH-64 Apache. Öztürk commented: “We want the MHCH to be more manoeuvrable than the Apache, more functional and armed with more Turkish-designed weapons.”
TEI has now started work on a more powerful TS3000 for heavy class helicopters, and are also working on jet engines. TEI faces the biggest task among the local aerospace companies, by developing engines for most of the new platforms.
This year should see the Academy at Cigli receive the first of 52 MFI-17 Super Mushshaks being built by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra. In a deal signed on 10 May, 2017, the trainers are being fitted with new Garmin 950 avionics. They will replace the air force’s fleet of SF260s and Cessna T-41s based at Izmir-Kaklic and Istanbul-Yesilkoy respectively for student pilot/undergraduate training. The first two prototypes left the PAC paint shop in December 2020.
Also making its debut at IDEF 19 was the Aksungur Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), with a staggering 24 metre wingspan and a maximum take-off weight of 7,300lbs. The twin boomed UAS is powered by two locally developed TEI PD1700 turbo diesel engines, which flew for the first time on the smaller Anka on 27 December, 2018.
The Aksungur’s first flight on 20 March, 2019 lasted four hours and 20 minutes, and in September 2020 flew for the first time with a payload of 12 MAM-Ls (smart micro munition – laser) for 28 hours. There are six hard points under its massive wings to accommodate a diverse range of weapons, among them the Aselsan Small Diameter Bomb, Roketsan Teber 81 (Mk 81 bomb fitted with a Tubitak SAGE [Defence Industry Research and Development Institute] HGK-3 laser guidance kit), Teber 82 (Mk 82 bomb fitted with HGK-5 laser guidance kit), and MAM-L (smart micro munition – laser) plus Tübitak SAGE HGK 82. A sonobuoy pod was also seen fitted under the wing to optimise maritime surveillance operations.
Another popular UAV is the Bayraktar TB2 armed drone, which has been supporting Turkey’s efforts in Libya and Syria so well and helped Azerbaijan claim victory in the Nagorno Karabkh conflict against Armenia in October/November 2020. It’s unclear how many have been delivered to both the Army and Navy, but armed with MAM-Ls and MAM-Cs they have done a formidable job.
Bayraktar also launched the heavyweight Akinci combat UAV in May 2017, leading to the first flight on 6 December, 2019 followed by a second prototype on 13 August, 2020. The 12.5m drone currently powered by two Ivchenko-Progress Motor Sich AI-450T turboprop engines can fly up to 40,000 feet (12,100m), has an impressive 195 knot (361km/h) cruising speed, an endurance of 24 hours and a range of 3,100 miles (5,000kms). With a 20m wing span, there is a provision for eight hard points that can accommodate a multitude of Turkish-developed weapons. The first serial production example for the TuAFA was being built in early 2021. It’s unclear how many the TuAF has ordered.
It is evident that the Turkish military is looking to replace most of its mainly US aircraft with ‘Made In Turkey’ products. Undoubtedly there are many challenges but the Turkish aerospace industry, since being launched as part of the US F-16 purchase off-set deal in the mid-80s, is a shining example of what can be done with a huge amount of government investment. Undoubtedly the likes of UAE and Saudi Arabia, which also have similar aspirations will be looking on. (Source: Armada)
09 June 21. First F-35B Lightning landing on HMS Prince of Wales. An F-35B Lightning aircraft has landed onboard the Royal Navy’s latest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, for the first time.
Taking place off the south coast of England, the milestone marks a significant step towards the 65,000-tonne vessel reaching full operational capability.
Operating together as part of Sea Acceptance Trials, it is the first time a fixed wing aircraft has landed onboard HMS Prince of Wales. The trials test the ship’s capability to receive and launch aircraft whilst maintaining continuous air operations.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
The vital partnership between HMS Prince of Wales and our F-35B aircraft signifies a momentous milestone in the capability of the fifth-generation carrier, marking another step towards it becoming fully operational.
The first jet landing is a huge achievement for all involved and showcases the collaboration across the UK Armed Forces and our impressive Carrier Strike capabilities.
As announced by the Prime Minister last November, Defence has received an increase in funding of over £24bn across the next four years, enabling our Armed Forces to adapt to meet future threats. Further enhanced by the commitments outlined in the Defence Command Paper, the F-35B is an integral air capability and HMS Prince of Wales marks a step change in the Royal Navy fleet as the second of the UK’s fifth-generation aircraft carriers.
The F-35B Lightning is designed to operate alongside RAF Typhoon aircraft and is jointly operated by the Royal Navy and RAF. It forms a central role within the UK’s Carrier Strike capability, already operating from HMS Queen Elizabeth and will be operating for the first time overseas as part of the Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment.
Commanding Officer of HMS Prince of Wales, Captain Darren Houston said, “This prodigious achievement on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales is a significant milestone in the Royal Navy’s re-birth of Carrier Strike Group operations. It is a tangible reflection of the enormous collective effort from the aircraft carrier enterprise to deliver the Royal Navy’s second aircraft carrier. I am particularly proud of the contribution made by my Ship’s Company in developing this world leading, sovereign capability and we look forward in earnest to rapidly growing our experience operating the F-35B through further trials and training later this year.”
With a flight deck large enough to accommodate three football pitches, HMS Prince of Wales can receive up to 36 F-35B aircraft and carries a crew of around 1,600 personnel when aircraft are onboard.
207 Squadron F-35B pilot and the first to land onboard HMS Prince of Wales, Squadron Leader Will said, “It was a real honour to be the first pilot to land the F-35B onboard HMS Prince of Wales.
With all the training that we have previously undertaken with HMS Queen Elizabeth, we are now looking forward to using that experience and knowledge working with HMS Prince of Wales as she moves towards her full operational capability.”
HMS Prince of Wales left her home port of Portsmouth at the end of April to conduct operational training which has seen the ship operating alongside the F-35B aircraft, as well as helicopters from the Royal Navy, British Army and RAF.
The F-35B aircraft are primarily based at RAF Marham and are the newest addition to the RAF’s fleet, able to travel up to 1,200mph. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
08 June 21. Lord Grimstone co-chairs second Steel Procurement Taskforce meeting. The Steel Procurement Taskforce aims to address challenges the sector has reported facing in competing for and securing public contracts.
Minister for Investment, Lord Grimstone today (8 June 2021) co-chaired the second meeting of the Steel Procurement Taskforce alongside Gareth Stace of UK Steel.
The Steel Procurement Taskforce brings together representatives from across the UK government and the five major steel companies in the UK, as well as UK Steel, the sector’s trade association, trade unions and the Scottish and Welsh governments. It forms part of the UK government’s ongoing commitment to support the sustainability of the steel sector by exploring what government and industry can do to address challenges the sector has reported facing in competing for and securing public contracts.
The Minister opened by discussing the progress made since the previous meeting. Sector representatives and officials have explored the barriers that may prevent the sector from competing for and securing public contracts, including whether steel producers are always aware of public contract opportunities and access to data.
It was agreed that there may be opportunities for both the sector and government to take further action to support the sector in fairly competing for and securing public contracts.
Over the coming months, the taskforce will focus on identifying specific options for further action. The taskforce will aim to report its findings later this year.
Closing the meeting, Lord Grimstone emphasised the strategic importance of the UK’s steel sector for producing the high quality steel required to deliver on the government’s commitment to build back better from the pandemic and supporting high skilled, well paid jobs across the UK.
The government has already taken wide-ranging action to support the industry including more than £500m relief for electricity costs since 2013, the publication of public procurement guidelines, annual reports on the proportion of public sector steel sourced from British producers, and details of a steel pipeline on national infrastructure projects which will require nearly 7.6 million tonnes of steel over the next decade.
Today’s attendees included:
- Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
- Cabinet Office
- Department for Transport
- Department of Education
- NHS England & NHS Improvement
- UK Steel
- British Steel
- Liberty Steel
- Sheffield Forgemasters
- Scottish Government
- Welsh Government (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
08 June 21. NATO’S Nine-Line Objectives Set For Allied Leaders Summit On 14 June. “Russia and China are leading an authoritarian push back against the rules-based international order,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking on 4 June during an online event co-hosted by NATO, the German Council on Foreign Relations, and the Brookings Institution.
“Russia continues its pattern of dangerous behaviour,” he added. In addition to Russia’s military build up “from the Arctic to Africa” there was also the continuing intimidation of its neighbours, the suppression of peaceful political opposition internally and the prosecution of cyber/hybrid attacks on NATO countries.
China was “asserting itself” globally although Stoltenberg stated that NATO did not see it as an adversary. However he noted that China now had the second largest defence budget in the world as well as the largest navy, and the impact of threats to China as well as the attempts to control international maritime areas such as the South China Sea (SCS). He listed China’s surveillance of their own people and subjugation of peaceful dissent and religious minorities [Uyghurs].
“Our security environment is more complex and contested than every before,” he warned, adding that an “ambitious NATO 2030 agenda even more relevant.
The key areas would be:
- The further strengthening of transatlantic consultations on issues such as Syria, Iran and the South China Sea and coordinate responses militarily, diplomatically and economically.
- Boost commitment to collective defence, including cyberspace and space.
- To develop alliance wide resilience objectives, the protect critical infrastructure and protect societies.
- Boost transatlantic innovation to sharpen the technological edge and prevent innovation gaps between allies. A transatlantic defence accelerator will be created to achieve this.
- Uphold the rules-based international order, and “encourage others to play be the rules.”
- Increase training and capacity building for NATO partners outside of the alliance.
- Climate change: global warming is seen as a crisis multiplier.
- Develop NATO’s next strategic concept and recommit to enduring values and purpose.
Invest more, even after seven years of increased defence spending. Increase NATO’s common funding budget, which is itself a force multiplier.
- Stoltenberg was outlining NATO’s objectives going into the Summit of Allied Leaders on 14 June at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
07 June 21. U.S. Leaders See NATO Summit as Means to Strengthen Trans-Atlantic Ties. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg today at the Pentagon in advance of the NATO Summit next week in Brussels.
President Joe Biden and Austin will attend the meeting of the North Atlantic Alliance stressing America’s commitment to collective defense and the need to shape the most successful alliance in history for the needs of the future.
This goes to the core of the Biden administration’s push to repair America’s greatest asymmetric advantage — its unparalleled network of allies and partners around the world. “We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s,” Biden said at the State Department soon after taking office in January. “American leadership must meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy.”
In announcing the president’s European trip, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “will affirm the United States’ commitment to NATO, Transatlantic security and collective defense. The leaders from the 30 NATO nations will discuss how to reorient the alliance and ensure effective burden-sharing,” she said.
At the Pentagon meeting, Austin stressed his support for the NATO 2030 initiative, and “its goal of keeping the alliance strong militarily, and making it … stronger politically and giving it a more global view,” he said. “Obviously, we’re focused on NATO’s top job … maintaining credible deterrence, and being ready to fight and win if deterrence should fail. But so, too, are we focused on ensuring the entire alliance has a comprehensive view of the challenges the trans-Atlantic community faces, and for leading NATO’s adaptation to meet those threats.”
Austin praised Stoltenberg for his efforts to ensure allies share equitably in the defense burden. “As a result of your leadership, Mr. Secretary General, this is a seventh consecutive year of increased defense spending,” Austin said. “I think that’s extraordinary. And I appreciate the emphasis that you placed on this issue.”
During a discussion last week, Stoltenberg called this a “pivotal moment” in the alliance.
NATO is drawing down in Afghanistan ending the alliance’s largest military operation. “At the same time, we are stepping up our response to growing global competition,” he said. “Russia and China are leading an authoritarian pushback against the rules-based international order.”
Russia continues its international adventurism. The nation continues its massive spending on the military and is challenging nations from the Arctic to Africa. Russia is seeking to intimidate its neighbors and suppressing any vestige of opposition at home. And it is a sponsor of “cyber and hybrid attacks across NATO countries,” Stoltenberg said.
China’s growing global position is also a concern to the alliance. “NATO does not see China as an adversary,” Stoltenberg said. “There are opportunities to engage with Beijing on issues like trade, climate change and arms control, but we must be clear-eyed about the challenges China poses.”
China will soon have the largest economy in the world, with the world’s second-largest defense budget and the largest Navy. “It is seeking to control critical infrastructure in our countries and around the world,” the secretary general said. “But Beijing does not share our values. The Chinese authorities have created an unprecedented system of surveillance and control over their own people. They crack down on peaceful dissent and religious minorities, threaten Taiwan, coerce their neighbors and hamper freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.”
Add to these nations the threats of global competition, cyber-attacks, disruptive technologies, terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the security environment becomes more complex and more contested, he said.
Stoltenberg is presenting the alliance leaders with NATO 2030 — an ambitious plan to chart the alliance’s way forward through the decade.
At its heart NATO 2030 calls for the alliance to be “the unique and indispensable forum for transatlantic consultations on all issues that affect transatlantic security: Including, for instance, on Syria, Iran, or the South China Sea,” the secretary general said.
This emphasizes that NATO is not just a military alliance, but a political-military alliance, “and even when we may not take military action, our political unity matters,” he said.
The plan calls for a boost in funding for collective defense against all threats on land, sea, air, cyberspace or space. The alliance is well on its way to this goal, he said. “We will rapidly and fully implement our plans to strengthen our military posture, continuing to increase the readiness of our forces, modernize our capabilities and invest more in our collective defense,” Stoltenberg said. “Strong militaries are important. But strong societies are our first line of defense. So we must raise the level of ambition when it comes to resilience.”
NATO 2030 looks to boost transatlantic innovation to maintain the technological edge and fill innovation gaps among the allies.
NATO also must play a role in upholding the rules-based international order, Stoltenberg said. This includes speaking with one voice to defend values and interests and ensuring freedom of navigation.
“Conflict and instability in NATO’s neighborhood directly undermine our security,” he said. The alliance looks to step up training and capacity-building support for partners from Iraq to Jordan, and Georgia to Ukraine.
Overarching everything is the threat of climate change. “Global warming is a crisis multiplier, so NATO must address the security consequences of climate change,” the secretary general said. “My ambition is to have a clear political commitment at the summit to significantly reduce military emissions, contributing to net-zero.”
The summit will also look at NATO’s next strategic concept.
“Through NATO 2030, we are adapting to a more competitive world,” Stoltenberg said. “Our ambitions must be high, as the challenges to our security are great.” (Source: US DoD)
04 June 21. Royal Navy ‘should double in size’ to help shipyards. Prominent Tory wants to see shipbuilding industry receive a boost with regular flow of MoD orders.
Britain should double the size of the Royal Navy to boost its shipbuilding industry, a prominent Conservative MP has said.
Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the defence select committee, said the UK did not require many complex and expensive warships, but should build a greater number of low-end ships – both for its own Navy and for exporting.
He said: “The big question is: what is the threat we are facing and how do we design our defence posture accordingly? The threat we prepare for – high-risk maritime events that require top-notch vessels – is a low probability. We need a force presence to fly the flag and the ability to call in back-up.”
Mr Ellwood was speaking ahead of the committee’s first evidence session for its inquiry into the role of the Navy and its necessary capabilities.
Tomorrow, it will hear from Admiral Sir Philip Jones, former first sea lord, and Jonathan Caverley, professor of strategy at the US Naval War College.
Mr Ellwood praised the type of ships that were recently used by the Navy when French fishing vessels blockaded the Channel Islands during a dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights.
He said ships such as HMS Tamar were “enormously capable”, and argued that Britain’s industry should build more low-end designs, with buyers given the option of upgrading the ships if necessary.
He added: “We need a ‘skeleton’ ship which can be upgraded to export customers’ needs, like adding apps to an iPhone.” Shipyards would “have the confidence to invest in themselves” if they were certain of regular naval orders, he said. Prices would be driven down if more ships were being built, making them attractive to foreign militaries, Mr Ellwood said.
Mr Ellwood has written to the Ministry of Defence questioning delays in the £1.5bn competition to build three Fleet Solid Support vessels, which would provide carriers with ammunition and stores at sea.
The tender was launched last month but the MoD said it could take two years to be awarded and gave no certainty about the level of construction that would be in the UK.
He added: “If we are going to have these big ticket things [like aircraft carriers], it has to be the full package, it can’t be done on the cheap.”
In the autumn, Boris Johnson announced an ambition for the UK to become a “shipbuilding superpower” and an extra £16.5bn for defence that would make the Royal Navy the “foremost naval power in Europe”. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
04 June 21. RAF’s new drone ‘could search Channel for people smugglers.’ The new battlefield drone, due in service from 2024, will be able to fly in regulated airspace alongside civilian aircraft.
The RAF’s new battlefield drone could be used to search for migrants crossing the Channel under plans being considered by ministers.
Due to enter service in 2024, the new Protector drone will be able to stay airborne for 40 hours, providing surveillance day and night in nearly all weather conditions.
Unlike earlier versions of the aircraft, Protector will be able to fly in airspace regulated by an air traffic authority, meaning military operations in support of the Home Office in the UK are possible, using advanced battlefield surveillance drones for the first time.
Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, said: “We use a number of ISR platforms (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance). The Home Office has access to some of its own and we have ours and we’re always, through a backup process, helping each other.
“Protector is a piece of equipment that can cover maritime, land, ISR or strike. We won’t, obviously, be using strike over the Channel.
“One of the attractions of Protectors is that it’s more mobile; it’s much more plug and play. These things have the range to go wherever you want to go.”
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said sharing assets with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) made sense where appropriate, adding that Protector’s ability to stay aloft for almost two-days straight was “more than helpful”.
In particular, she said the ability to use Protector’s imagery in court proceedings was “vital” in securing convictions for people smugglers.
“We use aerial surveillance already,” she said. “It helps us in terms of not just getting footage but actually identifying people smugglers, the very people that are facilitating these crossings.
“We provide that evidence to court, which is why we get the levels of sanctions and penalties that we’ve achieved so far.
“With the legislation changes that I’m bringing in, we want to get proper tariffs. We are going to change the sentencing regime around people smugglers and all of this will be evidential in court, so it’s really vital.”
The Protector Medium-Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drone is over 11m long with a wingspan of 24m. Armed with 500lb Paveway IV laser-guided bombs and Brimstone missiles it is controlled via satellite link to a ground station at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.
Pilots will be able to operate the aircraft anywhere around the world in busy, unsegregated airspace once ground-breaking detect and avoid technology, which allows it to fly in close proximity to civilian air traffic, is accepted as safe by the Civil Aviation Authority.
The drone will also be able to take off and land automatically unlike Reaper, the RAF’s current remotely piloted aircraft, which requires personnel to be deployed in a ground control station to ensure safe launch and recovery.
Built by US company General Atomics, Protector will be operated by a crew of three, comprising a Pilot, a Sensor Operator and a Mission Intelligence Coordinator.
The ability to fly in regulated airspace means Protector can be used in the UK and other countries with air traffic control procedures. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
04 June 21. Falklands at Argentina’s mercy as UK fails to install its own ‘Iron Dome’, defence sources warn. Troops are still training on the old Rapier air defence system, which has been described as ‘bordering on unserviceable’
The Falklands will be left at the mercy of Argentina because of a delay in deploying a shield similar to Israel’s Iron Dome system, Defence sources have warned.
The Telegraph understands that Sky Sabre, a medium- and short-range surface-to-air missile, which uses the technology behind Israel’s Iron Dome shield, has still not become fully operational, despite a deadline of 2020.
Now deploying troops are having to train on the old Rapier, a short-range air defence system introduced in the late 1990s, which sources have described as being “bordering on unserviceable”.
It is not clear what has caused the delay to Rapier’s successor. However, troops are said to be concerned that the old system will leave the overseas British territory vulnerable to attack from Argentinian forces.
Last year, The Telegraph revealed that Spain had embarked on a secret lobbying drive to push US congressmen into supporting a plan to strip Britain of sole sovereignty over Gibraltar months after the Brexit vote.
Meanwhile, Argentina renewed its campaign to lay claim to the islands over the past year, appointing a minister for them and lobbying at the United Nations.
Justin Bronk, a research fellow of airpower and technology at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) warned Rapier was “obsolete” and the “threat landscape within which Rapier was designed for bears little resemblance to the threat landscape today”.
Mr Bronk cautioned that due to the fact that each of Rapier’s launcher can only guide one missile at a time, it would not be able to defend itself against “multiple incoming threats”, unlike Sky Sabre, which can “guide large numbers of missiles in the air simultaneously against lots of incoming threats, so it’s much harder to swamp”.
He added that Sky Sabre’s ability to have 360 degree coverage against multiple incoming threats at once meant it could face off today’s threats, such as modern loitering munitions, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.
He said in such a situation Rapier, which is broadly an anti-aircraft and anti-helicopter missile, “would become very quickly overwhelmed, whereas, at least in theory, Sky Sabre is designed to handle saturation type attacks”.
Mr Bronk added: “Rapier is totally obsolete in the modern battlefield”.
While he cautioned that he did not believe there was a serious threat of the Argentinians taking over the Falklands, the delay to Sky Sabre he criticised another “missed deadline” by the Ministry of Defence.
Earlier this week, The Telegraph revealed that the new fleet of Ajax tanks bought by the Army for £3.5bn cannot be driven safely over 20mph and is four years behind schedule to be deployed. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
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