Sponsored by Exensor
02 Apr 20. NATO Foreign Ministers agree measures to help Coronavirus response. NATO Foreign Ministers directed NATO’s top commander, General Wolters, to coordinate the necessary military support to combat the coronavirus crisis and to start using fast-track paths through Europe’s airspace for military flights carrying medical supplies, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday (2 April 2020).
“NATO was created to deal with crises. So we can help and our Alliance is playing its part”, the Secretary General said. Mr Stoltenberg’s remarks came after a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, held by secure videoconference for the first time in NATO’s history. Ministers also agreed to hold an extra-ordinary meeting of Defence Ministers in April to review the support provided to Allies and take decisions on any further steps.
The Alliance is already coordinating and supporting national efforts against the pandemic with logistical, transport and medical help. “I am grateful for the further offers of assistance, which NATO Allies made today and for the substantial support that Allies have already provided”, the Secretary General said, citing the airlift of medical supplies, provision of medical personnel and the use of innovative technologies. Mr Stoltenberg stressed that NATO’s main task remained the protection of NATO’s almost one billion people, and that NATO’s ability to conduct operations had not been undermined.
Today’s meeting also focused on NATO missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and support for Georgia and Ukraine. On Iraq, the Secretary General said that NATO would take on some additional activities including the training and the education of non-commissioned officers, engineers, and federal police. On Afghanistan, the Secretary General welcomed efforts to set up an inclusive team for the inter-Afghan negotiations, calling on the Taliban and all political actors to play their part.
North Macedonia, which on Friday (27 March 2020) became the alliance’s 30th member, attended a NATO Ministerial meeting for the first time as an Ally. (Source: NATO)
02 Apr 20. Declaration by NATO Foreign Ministers, issued following their meeting of 2nd April 2020.
- We, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of NATO, meet today in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic which is affecting all Allies and partners, imposing a huge cost in lives lost, as well as a sudden and severe shock to our economies. We express our deepest sympathies with all the victims of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and with all those affected by its consequences. We pay tribute to the health care workers, as well as all the others who are on the front line in our battle against this disease. These include the men and women in uniform who continue to work daily for our collective security. And we thank our citizens who understand that, working together, we will defeat this challenge more quickly and save lives.
- NATO is doing its part. Allies are supporting each other – including with medical professionals, hospital beds, vital medical equipment, and best practices and ideas on how to fight this deadly disease. We are airlifting critical medical supplies from across the globe, providing medical personnel, essential materials, and vital equipment from military and civilian sources, and harnessing our medical, scientific, and technological knowledge and resources to help deliver innovative responses. Allies are also working together to ensure public access to transparent, timely, and accurate information, which is critical to overcoming this pandemic and to combating disinformation. Because we need a coordinated and comprehensive approach, NATO is working closely with other international organizations, including the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the European Union.
- Even as we do the absolute maximum to contain and then overcome this challenge, NATO remains active, focused and ready to perform its core tasks: collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security. Our ability to conduct our operations and assure deterrence and defence against all the threats we face is unimpaired. And we have today taken further decisions to enhance NATO’s role in facing current and future security challenges.
- We welcome North Macedonia as NATO’s 30th Ally. As we face this unprecedented challenge, our 30 nations stand together in solidarity and transatlantic unity. (Source: NATO)
02 Apr 20. NATO warns Russia we are ready for an attack over military activity. Russia has been warned by NATO on Thursday that we are ready for an attack, and the military alliance remains strong despite the coronavirus crisis. NATO chiefs said they will stand up to any threat from Russia after Putin’s military have showed their strength by hunting down a theoretical “enemy submarine” in the Mediterranean Sea.
The UK has seen a spike in “unusually high levels” of activity in the English Channel by Russian warships, and last month Russian bombers flew along UK airspace in Scotland.
Europe is now exposed to Russia, and military experts fear Putin could use the coronavirus pandemic as a cover to start a military strike.
NATO exercises have been scaled back in Europe as the UK are using the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to fight against coronavirus.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg insisted that “operational readiness” has not been compromised over the global coronavirus pandemic, in protecting almost 1bn people.
He told a video news conference, “Our primary objective is to ensure that this health crisis does not become a security crisis.”
In yet another warning to Putin, the recent Russian war games near NATO ally borders is yet another reminder that the alliance must not lose focus in defending Europe.
Last month General Stoltenberg said, “It is very likely that Russia will try to take action while the US and NATO is distracted with Covid-19, arguably the first time we have a serious home threat that is impacting our readiness.
“In terms of overall readiness, the question is, how many soldiers can you cut from a brigade before it is in-operational?
“The other challenge is the logistics and supply of strategic medical reserves. The US’s number poised: Putin one priority is saving American lives. This means fewer personnel abroad and less resources.
“All this is ringing alarm bells in foreign capitals.”
The US have said the coronavirus pandemic is having an impact on troop movements across Europe.
A spokesman for US European Command said: “In response to the current outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and recent guidance by the Secretary of Defence, we have modified exercise DEFENDER-Europe 2020 in size and scope.
“All movement of personnel and equipment from the United States to Europe has ceased.
“The health, safety and readiness of our military, civilians, and family members is our primary concern.”
The former US diplomat Brett Bruen, the head of the Global Situation Room think tank, said the decision made by the US to send just 6,000 US troops to Europe’s exercise, Defender Europe 20, and move troops back to the US to help with coronavirus was “carefully watched by Putin.” (Source: London Loves Business)
02 Apr 20. UK MOD mobilises reservists for COVID Support Force. The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has mobilised 3,000 reservists to assist the UK Armed Forces Covid-19 support force. At the moment the MOD has only called up reservists with specialised skills that can assist civilian authorities in fighting the spread of the pandemic in the UK.
Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: “Our Reservists are a truly remarkable group of people; each with their own skills and experience from their civilian careers beyond the armed forces.
“At times like these, to be able to draw on that pool of talent and expertise is invaluable. I know that our Reservists will answer the nation’s call with real enthusiasm and will play a key part in our response to COVID-19.” (Source: army-technology.com)
01 Apr 20. Covid-19 Impact Scenarios on the United Kingdom Defence Budget Forecast. With the UK in the relatively early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, a substantial level of uncertainty surrounds the country’s defense budget in the coming years. Budget predictions are frequently based on GDP projections and government statistics on spending, the updates of which only precipitate further into a crisis such as Covid-19. Subsequently, it is challenging to provide one single forecast for the forthcoming fiscal years. The impact of Covid-19 is largely dependent on the duration of its spread, particularly whether its effects can be mitigated earlier or later. To address these difficulties GlobalData has produced three scenarios for the UK defense budget up until Fiscal Year (FY) 2024: Pre-Covid-19 scenario, GDP Percentage Status Quo scenario, and Austerity scenario.
The best outcome for the UK’s defense budget in the wake of the coronavirus crisis would see a continued budget increase following the growth in actual terms forecasted prior to the pandemic. This forecast would align with a scenario where the UK’s GDP is largely unaffected by Covid-19, but this is not a necessary requirement as the government may decide to maintain pre-Covid 19 levels of spend regardless. The UK is committed to devote close to 2% of its GDP to defense (1.87% in FY 2020 according to GlobalData), which would therefore ensure a steady defense budget growth over the forecast period. This scenario is unlikely as the Covid-19 pandemic is almost certain to negatively impact the UK economy for more than the short-term period this model would require.
GDP Percentage Status Quo Scenario
The status quo forecast is arguably the most likely in the case of the UK in the medium term. This scenario shows a GDP growth slowdown starting in FY2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but with the UK maintaining the percentage of GDP committed to defense prior to the crisis. There are many reasons why this may occur, but the main ones regard the current levels of committed spend in the equipment pipeline as well as the general importance of the UK defense industry in supporting the wider economy. The UK is heavily invested in numerous long-term procurement projects; many of which will not be cut due to contractual obligations and the need for the military capabilities that they will provide. The Dreadnought-class submarine, key to the UK deterrence strategy, exemplifies this: the UK will spend $1.3bn on the project in FY2020 alone, and this commitment is certain to be sheltered over the forecast period.
Involved in many operations abroad, the UK will need to continue to maintain a substantial level of defense funding even within an austerity scenario. The UK remains keen to meet Nato’s target of spending 2% of GDP on defense, and whilst this might not be fully achievable in an austerity scenario, the need to meet their international commitments will remain at the forefront of governmental plans. Having previously adjusted the margins of submission to Nato when reporting this 2% figure in recent years, limited leeway now exists for further creative accounting.
As such even in the austerity scenario the percentage of GDP that the UK is forecast to spend on defense only drops to 1.7% by FY2024. This equates to a defense budget of US$49bn in FY2024, instead of US$59.4bn forecasted in the Pre-Covid-19 scenario. The figure here assumes a drop in the growth rate of the UK’s GDP at the end of FY2020 due to the economic impact resulting from measures taken to address the Covid-19 crisis. (Source: army-technology.com)
31 Mar 20. EU launches new naval mission to police Libya arms embargo. The European Union announced Tuesday the launch of a new naval mission in the Mediterranean Sea aimed at enforcing the United Nations arms embargo on Libya, after Italy blocked a previous operation claiming that the warships attracted migrants to Europe’s shores.
The new operation, dubbed Irini, the Greek word for “peace,” will start work for a year from Wednesday. The European Council said it will have as “its core task the implementation of the U.N. arms embargo through the use of aerial, satellite and maritime assets.”
“In particular the mission will be able to carry out inspections of vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya suspected to be carrying arms or related material to and from Libya,” a statement said. It will also gather information about illegal fuel and oil smuggling from Libya and help build up the Libyan Coast Guard, including by training its personnel.
The EU’s previous naval mission, Operation Sophia, was set up after tens of thousands of migrants began attempting potentially perilous crossings of the Mediterranean in 2015 in search of better lives in Europe.
Italy’s previous populist government blocked Sophia from using ships because its vessels were occasionally used to rescue migrants. Planes and drones were still used. The current government was also wary about resuming any operation, and Austria also initially opposed it.
Aid groups were shocked by the seemingly absurd prospect of a naval operation without any boats, accusing the EU of abandoning people seeking refuge.
While it has no migrant-related mission, ships involved in Operation Irini will be obliged to save people they come across in danger at sea, under international law.
“Diplomacy cannot succeed unless it is backed by action. The U.N. arms embargo on Libya needs to be effectively enforced,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters as he unveiled the operation. He said the EU sees Irini has “an important part of the solution to contribute to a permanent cease-fire.”
Borrell said that while the operation will focus mostly on maritime surveillance, its planes, drones and satellites will be able to monitor airspace and some activities on land in, around and over the conflict-torn country.
Fighting in Libya has raged for almost a year between military commander Khalifa Hifter’s forces, which are allied with a rival government based in eastern Libya, and an array of militias in the west loosely linked to the authorities in Tripoli, the capital.
Egypt, Russia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are all involved, supplying troops, fighters and military equipment to the warring factions. France and Italy support opposing sides.
Clashes between rival Libyan forces have escalated in recent days despite appeals for a cease-fire, particularly given fears that the new coronavirus could devastate a country with ravaged infrastructure and dire medical shortages. Borrell expressed regret that those appeals appear to have fallen on deaf ears, saying that “nobody can afford two wars at the same time.” (Source: Defense News)
26 Mar 20. Covid-19: UK MoD monitoring effect of coronavirus on specific procurement programmes. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is monitoring the effect of coronavirus on specific procurement programmes, and is working with industry to mitigate any potential fallout from the global pandemic.
Speaking to Jane’s on 25 March, an MoD spokesperson noted that manufacturing shutdowns and other measures being adopted internationally to combat the coronavirus could affect any number of the UK’s ongoing procurement projects and supply chains.
“We are aware that the global outbreak of COVID-19 may have an impact on specific defence procurement supply chains. We will continue to work with industry to monitor how programmes might be affected,” the spokesperson said.
While the MoD did not refer to any specific programmes, one platform that could potentially be impacted by industry-led shutdowns is the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime multimission aircraft (MMA) for the Royal Air Force (RAF). The 737-derived aircraft is built at Boeing’s Renton facility in the Puget Sound area of Seattle. On 23 March the company announced that it was temporarily suspending all production operations at its sites in this area, with the 14-day shutdown commencing on 25 March.
The RAF has to date received two of its nine P-8As, with the remaining seven all due to be delivered to the UK by the end of 2021. Jane’s understands that the next two aircraft are currently in the production facility in Seattle, and that Boeing is revising its schedules as it factors in any potential knock-on effects of the shutdown. (Source: Jane’s)
30 Mar 20. UK politicians concerned foreign powers could exploit Covid-19. UK politicians have expressed concern to Naval Technology that foreign powers could seek to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic after ‘unusually high’ Russian activity off UK waters lead the Royal Navy and NATO to shadow seven Russian vessels.
MP and Chair of the Defence Committee Tobias Ellwood said: “These unusually high levels of activity in the English Channel and the North Sea demonstrate exactly why the UK must not neglect the real danger of foreign powers exploiting the coronavirus crisis for their own ends. The government must remain vigilant to all threats to our security, not just the imminent danger that this outbreak poses.
Taking our eye off the ball can have dire consequences. The Ministry of Defence must continue to horizon-scan and keep the nation safe so that we are not blindsided by future threats. Preparedness and expecting the unexpected are more important than ever.”
This concern was echoed by committee member MP Martin Docherty-Hughes who said that the uptick in activity showed that Russia could be looking to take advantage of the pandemic.
Docherty-Hughes said: “This is yet another reminder that there is no such thing as a bad crisis for the Putin regime which will seek any sort of leverage, whether it be maritime operations in the North Sea or influence operations in Northern Italy, to seek to undermine liberal democracies and distract from the increasing crisis his own country’s underfunded healthcare system is under because of the virus.
“At a time when states and peoples in Europe should be coming together, my thoughts go out to ordinary Russian people whose government deems this sort of activity to be worthy of wasting time and resources on — though I am glad that the Royal Navy has been able to respond to these provocations.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
30 Mar 20. French Armed Force launch Operation Resilience. French President Emmanuel Macron launched has launched Operation Resilience support the fight against the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Speaking in Mulhouse Macron said: “We are at war and faced with what is looming, this peak of the epidemic which is before us, I decided, on a proposal from the Minister of the Armies and the Chief of the Defense Staff, to launch the Operation Resilience.
“This operation is distinct from the Operation Sentinel which continues to focus on the fight against terrorism meanwhile, this Operation Resilience will be entirely devoted to aid and support to populations as well as support to public services to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic in mainland France and overseas, in particular in the health, logistics and protection fields.”
The move will see the French Army provide more logistics and medical support to civilian authorities, and the deployment of helicopter carriers to help overseas territories transport patients and supplies.
French Armed Forces have already set up field hospitals in France and have been completing medical evacuations to transport patients around the country. (Source: army-technology.com)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Home land Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company