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09 Dec 21. Britain warns Putin: don’t invade Ukraine. Britain’s defence minister called on President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to pull back from the brink over Ukraine and warned that Russia would face long-term severe consequences if its forces invaded its neighbour.
“Any action by Russia to threaten the sovereignty of Ukraine would not only have severe consequences – they’d have long lasting consequences for Russia,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.
Wallace called on Kremlin chief Putin to step back from any such moves which he said could trigger a deadly civil war on the edge of Europe.
“I would just urge him to think again: I don’t think Russia wants those consequences,” Wallace said. “I don’t want to see a civil war or a war at the edge of Europe.”
U.S. intelligence assesses that Russia could be planning a multi-front offensive on Ukraine as early as next year, involving up to 175,000 troops.
The Kremlin denies it plans to invade and says the West is gripped by Russophobia. Moscow says the expansion of NATO threatens Russia and has contravened assurances given to it as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Wallace said that Russian talk of NATO encirclement was nonsense.
“Only 6% of the Russian land border is bordered by NATO countries – that’s hardly being surrounded by NATO,” Wallace said.
“NATO is a defensive alliance – it is in our articles of establishment. It is only there to defend itself and its members if it were to be attacked.”
Wallace said it was up to sovereign states and NATO members if they joined NATO – not Russia. (Source: Reuters)
09 Dec 21. Wales to benefit from Army’s radical transformation. The Ministry of Defence has announced a reconfiguration of the Army in order to ensure it is fit for the future, with Wales benefiting from the new plans. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced that The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, famously nicknamed, The Welsh Cavalry, who predominantly recruit from Wales will be moving to a revamped Caerwent Barracks from 2028.
This boost for Wales is part of ‘Future Soldier’, the Army’s most radical transformation in over 20 years. This reconfiguration will see an overall increase in the number of soldiers based in Wales.
The Reserve Soldier footprint in Wales will continue to grow with a new location opened in Wrexham for elements of the 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh as they assume principal responsibility for homeland protection operations as well as maintaining a warfighting role alongside Regular colleagues.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Future Soldier is reinforced by the ambition outlined in the Defence Command Paper to transform the Army into a more agile, integrated, lethal, expeditionary force. We have underpinned this generational work with an extra £8.6bn for Army equipment, bringing the total investment to £41.3on. Our army will operate across the globe, equipped with the capabilities to face down a myriad of threats from cyber warfare through to battlefield conflict.”
Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “The Armed Forces have long had a hugely significant presence in Wales and the announcement that this presence will be enhanced and increased is fantastic news. The Welsh Cavalry’s move to Monmouthshire, the basing of a new Reserve unit in Wrexham and an overall increase in the Army footprint underlines the vital role that Wales continues to play in the UK’s defence and the importance of the Armed Forces to the Welsh economy.”
Brigadier Andrew Dawes CBE, Head of the Army in Wales said: “We will welcome the Welsh Cavalry (Queen’s Dragoon Guards) and an additional infantry unit to a new, purpose-built barracks in South Wales as well as a new sub-unit of 3 Royal Welsh in Wrexham. These adjustments strengthen our presence across Wales and underlines the importance of Wales to the Army and to the wider UK.”
The Barracks in Brecon will not be sold and will continue to house the military headquarters for the majority of troops based in Wales.
The increased Army footprint in Wales will be supported by £320m investment.
Welsh infantry soldiers will remain at the heart of the Army’s warfighting capability with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh receiving the Army’s new Armoured Personnel Carrier, Boxer. They will continue to be based on Salisbury Plain, forming a crucial part of the Army’s high-end warfighting division.
The Welsh Guards, based out of Windsor, will continue to balance prestigious ceremonial and protection duties of the Royal Household alongside their light Infantry role.
- The closure of Cawdor Barracks in Pembrokeshire has been delayed until 2028.
- Launched as part of the Government’s Integrated Review in March 2021, Future Soldier outlines how the Army will be organised and structured in the future, and how it will deal with emerging threats across the world. The latest announcement follows ongoing work by the Army to implement the changes across the Army. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
09 Dec 21. HMS Queen Elizabeth returns home as historic global deployment comes to an end. Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth returns to Portsmouth today after her global seven month maiden operational deployment leading Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21). Sailors, aviators, ships and aircraft have returned to their home bases in the Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States of America.
HMS Queen Elizabeth’s crew are being welcomed back to their home base of Portsmouth after sailing 49,000 nautical miles to the Indo-Pacific and back. HMS Kent will join her tomorrow.
3,700 personnel from nine ships, a submarine, five air squadrons and a company of Royal Marines will arrive home in time for Christmas having departed the UK in early May.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Today we pay tribute to the 3,700 personnel in the Carrier Strike Group that have been our global ambassadors on this historic and ground-breaking deployment. The personnel and their families have made considerable sacrifices to make this deployment the success it has been. We thank them for all their efforts in strengthening our relationships with our allies and partners around the world.”
Families and friends gathered in Portsmouth to meet their loved ones. Those deployed will transit straight home where they will take a PCR test and quarantine until they receive the result. 25 of those deployed on CSG21 met their babies who were born in the last seven months for the first time today.
Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said: “Throughout the past seven months HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Strike Group have been furthering the UK’s interests and strengthening our partnerships around the globe. With involvement from across the Armed Forces, and our allies integrated throughout, this deployment has been a truly joint, truly international endeavour, which represents the very best of Global Britain.”
I thank everyone involved for their efforts to make this deployment such a resounding success, and I wish our returning sailors, aviators, soldiers and marines a very happy reunion with their families this Christmas.
Earlier this week, the Carrier Air Wing departed the group after clocking up 4,723 flying hours. The Air Wing consisted of UK F-35 jets from 617 (The Dambusters) Sqn based at RAF Marham, Wildcat helicopters from RNAS Yeovilton and Merlin helicopters from RNAS Culdrose.
US Marine Corps F-35 jets from VMFA-211 departed CSG21 in late November. United States’ Destroyer USS The Sullivans returned to her base port of Jacksonville, Florida in time for Thanksgiving last month and Dutch Frigate Evertsen recently returned to her home base of Den Helder.
Many families and friends greeted frigate HMS Richmond who arrived in Plymouth today, meanwhile HMS Defender and HMS Diamond returned to Portsmouth.
The Carrier Strike Group sailed across three oceans and five seas, cumulatively covering around 500,000 nautical miles. The group has engaged with 44 countries, strengthening partnerships with allies including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, Greece, Israel, India, Italy, Japan, Oman and the Republic of Korea.
The most significant peacetime deployment in a quarter of a century, Carrier Strike Group 21 has been more than just a military endeavour, bringing together elements of defence, diplomacy and prosperity and flying the flag for Global Britain. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
09 Dec 21. UK to provide engineering support to Poland amid border pressures. 140 military engineers are deploying to Poland to provide specialist support in response to the pressures from irregular migration at the Belarus border. Specialists from the 32 Engineer Regiment, the Royal Engineers, will provide bilateral support to Poland, a NATO ally and key European partner. Personnel will support Polish troops with specific engineering tasks along the border including infrastructure support and repairing access roads, as well as planning support.
They will be on task from the end of December and the deployment is expected to last until April.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Our commitment to European security is unwavering and we will always offer support to our allies. This non-combat support will assist Polish efforts to protect their border and pass on vital engineering expertise This support follows the deployment of a reconnaissance unit on 11 November who worked with their Polish counterparts on ways the UK might be able to help.”
Additionally, a reconnaissance team have deployed to Lithuania to explore whether the UK can provide support to the nation who are facing similar pressures on their border. The small team will work alongside the Lithuanian military to establish if the UK can offer any expertise or capabilities to help counter current pressures.
Poland and Lithuania, along with their Baltic neighbour Latvia, have been under significant pressure from migration originating from Belarus and facilitated by the Lukashenko regime for a number of months.
The UK already has 150 personnel based in Poland under NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence as part of the US led battle-group in the country. Here, UK personnel train with NATO forces on a regular basis, from small training drills to full-scale battlegroup exercises. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
08 Dec 21. British and Danish defence ministers issue joint declaration. The Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, and his Danish counterpart signed a joint declaration today in Copenhagen. The United Kingdom and Denmark are close allies and friends. We share democratic values of freedom, rule of law, and tolerance. We have a long history of working closely together in tackling security problems, both in the framework of NATO, in coalitions and bilaterally. We are both proud seafaring nations with common interests in global safe and free navigation upon the seas. The recent weaponisation of migration against our Polish and Lithuanian allies, along with an aggressive pattern of Russian military build-ups near Ukraine’s border and in illegally-annexed Crimea, cyber-attacks, the use of disinformation, and the deployment of novel weapons systems, add to heightened tensions in Europe. These concerning developments call for close cooperation among allies. They show us that threats are real and that we need to be alert. In an era of systemic competition, states are becoming increasingly assertive in how they advance their own objectives and while their actions may fall short of open conflict, they can nonetheless threaten our security and risk escalation into conflict. We must work together to act in response to aggression across the range of state and non-state threats: our collective response is greater than the sum of its parts. Malign and destabilising Russian and Belarussian behaviour is unacceptable and any Russian military incursion onto Ukrainian territory will have dire consequences for Russia’s relationship with the West. We are proud to offer our continued support to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Our common efforts in our enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia, our integrated response forces in NATO’s Readiness Initiative and Response Force, and our cooperation on stabilization efforts in Ukraine are important measures to deter and defend against the threats to the Euro-Atlantic region. Our unique relationship and cooperation are built on almost 20 years of active military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places.
Today we have discussed areas for a broadened and deepened cooperation. We have agreed upon strengthened cooperation in a number of areas:
- The UK and Denmark will enhance cooperation on response forces – both within NATO and with rapid deployable forces for crisis response.
- The UK and Denmark will continue cooperation in the Baltic region, including within the framework of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia and Multinational Division (North) in Latvia and in Denmark.
- The UK and Denmark will work together to develop the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) to stand with allies and close partners and defend common values.
- The UK and Denmark will cooperate on and train Host Nation Support to ensure fast deployment of UK forces through Danish territory in case of crises. To deter Russia from aggressive behaviour and other threats, NATO must be able to deploy forces across all its regions at the speed of relevance in order to provide timely reinforcement of allies in a crisis or a military conflict. We will enhance cooperation on military mobility through NATO, the Northern Group and bilaterally.
- The UK and Denmark remain jointly committed to NATO-EU cooperation, with a view to building a mutually reinforcing partnership.
- The UK and Denmark will enhance our operational cooperation, including in the North Atlantic, in such areas as air and maritime surveillance, joint training, disaster relief, intelligence-sharing and anti-submarine operations.
- The UK and Denmark will explore opportunities for enhanced cooperation in tackling terror threats and supporting stability in Africa.
- The UK and Denmark will cooperate on training, the operational use and maintenance of frigates based on the similar designs of the UK Type 31 frigates and the Danish Ivar Huitfeldt-class frigates.
All this serves to strengthen our common stance against threats to our common security. We are adamant in our support for, and defence of, our common values and our freedom. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
07 Dec 21. The Wreck Of A Crashed British F-35 Has Been Pulled Out Of The Mediterranean. The U.K. Ministry of Defense says the remains of the jet have been successfully recovered, ending concerns that they could become security risks. The U.K. Ministry of Defense says that the wreckage of a Royal Air Force F-35B Joint Strike Fighter that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after taking off from the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth last month has been recovered. Successfully locating the remains of the aircraft and retrieving them had been a top priority given the operational security risks that would have been posed if any part of the plane had fallen into the hands of a less than friendly country, such as Russia.
“Operations to recover the UK F-35 in the Mediterranean Sea have successfully concluded” and “there is no danger or compromise to sensitive equipment on the aircraft,” a statement from the Ministry of Defense said, which was posted by The Sun newspaper in the United Kingdom. That outlet said that it had taken two weeks to locate the wreck on the seafloor and then another week to successfully bring it up to the surface.
The U.S. and Italian Navies had also been involved in the search and recovery effort, “which was hampered by rough seas,” The Sun reported, adding that “the wreckage was recovered to a chartered salvage ship.”
The Royal Air Force (RAF) F-35B from No. 617 Squadron, the “Dambusters,” had plunged into the Mediterranean on Nov. 17, 2021, for still unknown reasons. The pilot ejected and was recovered safely.
An earlier report suggested that the aircraft had ingested an air intake blocker and that the pilot had unsuccessfully attempted to abort the takeoff after it became clear that the aircraft would not reach sufficient speed to get airborne, but this remains unconfirmed. A video, seen in the Tweet below, had emerged on social media last week that appeared to show the crash as recorded by a video camera system on HMS Queen Elizabeth and was in line with that report. U.K. Defence Journal published a story earlier today, citing anonymous sources, saying that the individual who had leaked that video after recording it on their cell phone has now been arrested.
The lack of any grounding order following the incident does strongly indicate that British officials already believe that some kind of human error, rather than a technical issue with the aircraft, was the cause of the mishap.
Regardless of the cause of the accident, the aircraft, or at least the bulk of what is left of it, are now safely back in the hands of the U.K. government. As The War Zone previously reported, the remains of an F-35 of any type could have been an intelligence windfall for a potential adversary, especially if the aircraft could be recovered largely intact. Similar concerns had been raised after a Japanese F-35A crashed in the Pacific Ocean in 2019. At least some of the wreckage of that jet was left at the bottom of the sea.
Russia, with its fleet of deep-diving special-mission submarines, as well as the deep-sea salvage ship Yantar, and with its very active presence in the Mediterranean, was the country most likely to have both the means and opportunity to try to get to the aircraft first. Those concerns were shared by British officials.
“We are aware of Russian undersea capabilities, and you are quite right to identify them as being state of the art,” National Security Adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove had said before the U.K. House of Commons’ Defense Committee yesterday. “The kinds of precautions and operations that we are undertaking at the moment are designed at least in part to ensure that the technology of the F-35B remains as confidential as you would like it to be. Those security aspects are very much at the top of our mind. My understanding is that the experts know where the aircraft is.”
“The recovery of the flight data recorder and the wreckage are really vital for an accurate investigation to determine the causes of the crash,” Lovegrove had also said.
Now that the wreckage of the aircraft has been recovered, U.K. investigators may be able to fully determine the circumstances of the crash, though it remains to be seen when that information might become public. The remains of the aircraft are now at least secure and do not now pose any security risk. (Source: News Now/The Drive)
07 Dec 21. Revealed: How often the UK expects to lose an F-35B. The Government has confirmed the future attrition rates of the Lightning jet – Britain’s most advanced aircraft ever. The RAF fleet size assumes a risk of “on average one (F-35) aircraft loss every 30,000 hours”, according to Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin. That length of time equates to just under three and a half years. Mr Quin was answering a parliamentary question from Conservative MP Mark Francois about the estimate he has made in relation to the future loss rates of the F-35 aircraft. This line of questioning comes after a British F-35B, worth roughly £88.8m, embarked on Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, crashed during flying operations over the Mediterranean last month. A joint UK-US operation was launched to retrieve the jet after the incident. The wreckage of the Lighting aircraft has been located by experts, but not yet recovered from the ocean, MPs were told last week. (Source: forces.net)
06 Dec 21. Latvia: Joint Declaration of Cooperation between the UK and Latvia. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs have signed a joint declaration forging stronger UK-Latvian trade and technology ties; and enhancing cooperation in tackling cyber-security issues, protecting democratic values and freedoms and tackling malign state threats.
1) The United Kingdom (UK) and Latvia are close allies, bound by shared history and a common vision of the fundamental values of democracy and human rights. This underpins our close cooperation bilaterally, regionally, and in multilateral fora including the UN, NATO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OECD and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
2) 2021 marks the centenary of diplomatic relations between the UK and Latvia and we take this opportunity to reflect upon the history of UK-Latvian relations. Through this Joint Declaration, we are committed to working together as part of a wider global network of liberty to deepen cooperation in the pursuit of spreading prosperity, sustainability and security in the UK, Latvia and beyond. We reaffirm our commitment to the strategic unity of Europe and to Euro-Atlantic security, and to fostering cultural and people-to-people links between our two countries.
Political dialogue and regional cooperation
3) We commit to engage in regular bilateral dialogue at all levels. Both parties will aim to meet annually at ministerial level, underpinned by consultations at expert level across the areas identified in this Declaration, and overseen at official level by Political Directors.
4) We welcome regular meetings and increased collaboration between the UK and Nordic-Baltic partners. The UK and Latvia reaffirm our commitment to deeper regional cooperation on foreign policy and international affairs, at political and working level. As a Member State of the European Union, Latvia supports further cooperation between the EU and the UK.
5) People-to-people links are an important and positive driver for building trust, understanding, and prosperity between our countries. The Latvian diaspora in the UK, as well as UK nationals residing and working in Latvia, provide a valuable contribution to both countries.
Economic cooperation and technology
6) Recognising the central contribution of free trade to global growth and the alleviation of global poverty, the UK and Latvia reaffirm our commitment to promote welfare and prosperity through economic openness, and our rejection of protectionism. We are stalwart in our support for the rules-based multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its heart.
7) We will co-ordinate engagement and the exchange of information between our respective government institutions, regulators, companies, and civil society as needed in order to strengthen and foster bilateral economic cooperation, increase the volume of our bilateral trade and investment, and to discuss any obstacles which may hinder the development of economic and trade cooperation between the UK and Latvia.
8) In particular, we will identify opportunities to build closer economic links between the UK and Latvia in key sectors including cyber and the digital economy, life sciences, research and development, technology, defence, energy and infrastructure. We will explore the possibilities for collaboration on Green tech, carbon capture, smart cities and green hydrogen. We will foster cooperation to promote the sustainable and safe application of emerging technologies such as AI, 5G/6G, blockchain and quantum computing. We will also identify opportunities for collaboration aimed at strengthening the resilience of critical supply chains.
9) We will look to facilitate investment opportunities for UK and Latvian companies, in particular increasing our scientific and technological cooperation. In this context, the UK is open to exploring engagement with the 3SI, including through the 2022 Three Seas Summit hosted by Latvia.
Foreign and Security policy
10) The UK and Latvia reaffirm their unwavering commitment to Euro-Atlantic security and stability, with NATO as the bedrock of our collective defence. We recognise the importance of a stronger and more capable European contribution to this, and remain committed to NATO-EU cooperation, with a view to building a mutually reinforcing partnership. We will strive to strengthen our cooperation in areas such as resilience, including cyber security and countering hybrid threats, security in space, military mobility in Europe, and climate security. We will work together to take forward the NATO 2030 agenda and develop NATO’s next Strategic Concept as a means of strengthening NATO cohesion and the Alliance as a whole.
11) We will continue to coordinate and exercise our joint capabilities through small groups – like the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) – as well as through NATO initiatives like the enhanced Forward Presence, to foster collective defence efforts and address current and future challenges. We will work together to increase the effectiveness of our Armed Forces – bilaterally, through NATO and through the JEF – including opportunities for capability development such as Latvia’s acquisition of CVR(T)s.
12) The UK and Latvia, along with our allies, are increasingly the target of hybrid threats that aim to weaken our economies, democracies and social cohesion. In defence of our values, we must increase our deterrence and resilience capabilities to counter interference in our democratic processes, and protect against espionage, disinformation, and malicious cyber activity. We agree to strengthen our collaboration by sharing information and best practice bilaterally, and with regional partners via multilateral cooperation through existing security groupings such as the JEF, and the Northern Group.
13) We will continue to build collective resilience against aggressive behaviour by Russia, working with NATO Allies and partners to protect our shared national security interests. We will uphold international law and the rules-based system, and will continue to call on Russia to uphold its human rights obligations. At the same time, we are committed to constructive engagement with Russia on issues of common interest, such as climate change.
14) We will also cooperate on the systemic challenges posed by China, while working with China to tackle transnational challenges. In doing so, we will hold China to its international commitments, including on human rights.
15) The UK and Latvia support the democratic rights of the people of Belarus and urge the Belarusian regime to release political prisoners and engage in meaningful dialogue with the opposition, leading to free and fair elections. We will continue working to counter the harmful and aggressive behaviour of the Lukashenko regime, including the hybrid operation of irregular migrant flows across the EU border orchestrated by Lukashenko.
16) We remain fully committed to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, and remain concerned by Russia’s threatening and destabilising behaviour towards Ukraine. Russia must fulfil the commitments it made at the Paris Summit in December 2019 and under the Minsk agreements. We will keep working with international partners to hold Russia to account for its actions in Crimea. We support Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration and the implementation of the judicial and governance reforms required to build its resilience and attract foreign investment. We will also continue our joint contribution to stabilising the security situation in Eastern Partnership countries through international civilian missions, and reaffirm our continued support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each of the countries in the region.
Regional and Global Challenges
17) Climate change is one of the most urgent global challenges we face. The UK and Latvia will harness the outcomes from COP26 to address this challenge, including through joint diplomatic initiatives. We will seek to raise ambition on climate through regional lobbying as we aim to build back for a better future. Our vision will be characterised by high standards, transparency, and reliability. We will deepen bilateral economic cooperation as we accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, while ensuring legitimate climate objectives do not become a cover for protectionism. We will increase collaboration on the investment, technology, and innovation necessary to deliver sustainable infrastructure growth, and we understand the pressing need to embed climate change and biodiversity loss considerations into economic and financial decision-making.
18) Disinformation has become a tool for malign actors to promote their goals. Democratic societies must build resilience to disinformation, especially regarding challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to strengthen Latvia’s societal resilience to disinformation and misinformation. This could include enhancing social cohesion within and between communities and regions, and support to balanced and pluralistic media for Latvian audiences, including Russian-speaking and other minority language audiences. We commit to strengthening international partnerships on countering state-sponsored disinformation.
19) We are committed to safeguarding media freedom through our membership of the Media Freedom Coalition and in Eastern Partnership countries by supporting journalists and civil society. We will continue cooperation with non-governmental actors and academia to share research, analysis and experience in Eastern Partnership countries.
20) We agree to examine opportunities for collaboration on Girls’ Education, Gender Equality and other related fields to improve education opportunities for girls, empower women and girls, and end violence against women and girls. We welcome the creation of the Ambassadorial Friends of Gender Equality group in London to provide a forum to discuss our common views and explore areas of possible cooperation on gender equality.
21) We will continue to develop our already strong bilateral cooperation in other fields, in line with existing international obligations, projects and programmes. This includes law enforcement and criminal justice policy, where we are already working closely in support of the security of our two countries. We will collaborate on threats related to Serious Organised Crime to strengthen our collective resilience, including Illicit Finance, Modern Slavery and organised immigration crime. On education, science and culture, we will continue to foster close cooperation, including in higher education, research and innovation and student exchange. This Joint Declaration was signed in the English and Latvian languages, both texts having equal validity. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
05 Dec 21. Typhoon jets to deploy to Arctic for secret escort mission. The UK Defence Journal understands that Typhoon jets will be deploying to the Arctic later this month for what is intended to be a secret escort mission involving a cargo aircraft.
We can also confirm that the RAF also plan to deploy Voyager tankers in order to refuel the inbound cargo aircraft. Voyager, the RAF designation for the Airbus A330 MRTT, began air-to-air refuelling flights and made its first operational tanker flight in May 2013. The UK operates a total of 14 Voyager aircraft, 5 of which are leased for commercial purposes when not required.
In addition to fuel, the Voyager aircraft is also expected to transfer over some biscuits and a large quantity of Brandy on behalf of the British people.
Typhoon jets will be available to escort the unknown aircraft as part of Operation ‘Jolly Red’, the flight plan is likely to involve low-level flights over the homes of good girls and boys in every British village, town and city. This comes after news that the Royal Air Force was on high alert in order to intercept and track flights from the Arctic region. (Source: News Now/UKDJ)
06 Dec 21. Record EU defence spending masks failure to collaborate, report says. European Union states spent nearly 200bn euros ($225bn) on defence in 2020, the most since records began in 2006, but joint investment by governments fell, the European Defence Agency (EDA) said in a report on Monday. The EDA, an EU agency that helps the bloc’s governments to develop their military capabilities, said the total spending of EU countries except for Denmark – which opts out of EU military projects – reached $198bn, a 5% increase on 2019.
The defence expenditure amounted to 1.5% of the 26 EU states’ economic output, a welcome figure for the U.S.-led NATO alliance, which has sought a 2% spending goal for its allies. Most EU members are also part of NATO but want to able to act independently of the United States when necessary.
Proponents of stronger EU defence say the warnings have been many, from Britain’s departure from the bloc to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” priorities and failing states on Europe’s frontiers.
However, the EDA report noted a slump in collaborative spending despite an EU defence pact signed in late 2017 to try to pool resources and end the competition between national industries that has weakened past defence efforts.
“The downward trend on European collaborative spending is particularly concerning,” EDA Chief Executive Jiri Sedivy said in the report, which found a 13% decrease in joint equipment procurement compared to 2019, to 4.1bn euros, the third-lowest value recorded by the agency.
When buying equipment last year, EU governments mainly did deals on their own, falling well short of a commitment made in their 2017 pact to ensure that slightly more than a third of such procurement is done jointly with other Union members.
While the EU has also launched a joint weapons fund, is working on 60 joint military projects and aims to agree a new rapid-reaction force, investment in defence research and technology also remains disjointed and lacking collaboration, the EDA said. ($1 = 0.8871 euros) (Source: Reuters)
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