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06 Feb 20. Germany, France plot new steps for trinational fighter jet — but what about Spain? The German Defence Ministry on Wednesday sent lawmakers new study plans for the Future Combat Air System, revealing that partner nation Spain has yet to be fully brought along to the next stage.
The government wants to begin five studies at a cost of $85m, with the same amount coming from France. Officials late last year said Madrid was expected to contribute an equal share. The confidential report to Bundestag appropriators, first reported by the Handelsblatt newspaper, estimates that Spain will only join the next study stage in the third quarter of this year.
The delay is due to renegotiations on the implementing agreement for the project, sources familiar with the document told Defense News.
Airbus and Dassault are the lead contractors for Germany and France, respectively. The Spanish government designated Indra as their national prime contractor last summer, but a work-share agreement between the three companies and their subcontractor clusters has proven elusive.
Spain has lobbied to be treated as an equal partner in the project, both on a government and industry level. Agreements to that effect were signed between the three countries last year.
German officials previously planned to have the Bundestag’s approval for spending additional study funds late last year, with contracts to be signed in January.
Germany’s defense industry is involved in FCAS plans to set up what the document describes as a “system house” configuration, meant to create a single point of contact for the government. One such formation, focused on mission-system elements for the program, already includes Hensoldt, Diehl Defence, ESG and Rohde und Schwarz.
The FCAS program is envisioned as a futuristic air power weapon that will replace the Rafale and Eurofighter fleets in France and Germany beginning in 2040. It consists of a manned aircraft, the Next-Generation Fighter, accompanied by drones of specialized capabilities, like reconnaissance and strike. A so-called combat cloud will pump command-and-control data between all program platforms, essentially creating a flying network of sensors and weapons with the manned Next-Generation Fighter as its hub.
The five studies are to cover fundamental design questions about the overall FCAS system, the main plane’s features, propulsion and sensor systems, a simulation environment, and initial considerations toward maturing system components for eventual production.
Lawmakers are expected to debate the Defence Ministry’s program plan next week during a meeting of the appropriations committee. The document, required for all investments exceeding €25m (U.S. $28m), makes the case to quickly proceed with the trilateral project. (Source: Defense News)
06 Feb 20. UK-India Sign MoU to Strengthen Defence Collaboration. The UK India Business Council (UKIBC) and the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to forge closer defence ties between the two countries. The MoU was signed on sidelines of the ongoing DefExpo 2020 in the presence of UK Minister for Defence Procurement James Heappey MP, Director of the UK Department for International Trade’s Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) Mark Goldsack, and Defence Advisor at the British High Commission in India Brigadier Gavin Thompson. The collaboration reaffirms the UK-India partnership’s intent for even more trade, made possible through strong economic and industrial cooperation between the two nation’s defence industries. It also seeks to promote a sustainable framework for the present as well as future partnerships. The MoU was signed by the Vice-Chair of UKIBC Richard McCallum and Rear Admiral A K Verma IN (Retd.), Principal Advisor, SIDM at the UK-India Defence Industry Forum. The UKIBC also announced that Commodore Bunty Sethi (Retd.), will work with UKIBC’s Aerospace and Defence Industry Group in a strategic advisory role. Speaking at the signing, Vice-Chair UKIBC Richard McCallum said, “This MoU will help in building partnerships and capabilities in the Aerospace and Defence sector and will support and build on the huge opportunities for collaboration that exist between the defence industries of the UK and India. Collaboration will not only advance India’s defence acquisition process but also foster long-term technology and hardware transfers. Our aim to boost India’s defence sector, which possess immense potential.” The Aerospace and Defence Industry Group chaired by the UKIBC was formed with the support of the Defence and Security Organisation (DSO), UK Defence Solutions Centre (UK DSC), ADS Group Ltd. & the Department for International Trade (DIT). (Source: Google/https://www.outlookindia.com/)
06 Feb 20. The MOD has released figures from 2018/19 showing how defence spending contributed to public expenditure in the UK. The defence spending figures put overall 2018/2019 expenditure at £19.2bn. In Scotland, MOD expenditure rose by 4.6 per cent, making Scotland the only region to see a year-on-year increase in total expenditure since 2013/14, with an average yearly increase of 4 per cent.
The South West continues to lead in employment, followed closely by the South East. The South West is a notable defence hub with helicopter manufacturing in Yeovil and Rolls Royce engine manufacturing in Bristol.
Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary, said: “Defence continues to provide security and prosperity for the UK as we see billions invested in every corner of the country and the subsequent hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
“As we continue to innovate and improve the defence enterprise, it is essential that we recruit and retain the best of British skills and talent to ensure we meet our goals.”
An average of £290 is being spent on defence for each person living in the UK. This figure has stayed consistent over the past three years after adjusting for inflation.
Wales saw an 11 per cent rise in overall expenditure, the highest of all areas. In Scotland, MOD expenditure rose by 4.6 per cent, making Scotland the only region to see a year-on-year increase in total expenditure since 2013/14, with an average yearly increase of 4 per cent.
MOD expenditure on shipbuilding continued to increase, rising by a further 2 per cent since 2017/18. Shipbuilding in the North West now accounts for 60 per cent of the region’s MOD investment, up from 53 per cent in 2017/18. (Source: Defence Online)
05 Feb 20. Brexit isn’t done: what next for the UK’s aerospace and defence industries?
“The Beluga is one of the great sights of the skies in Chester,” says Chris Matheson MP, whose constituency sits just across the border from Airbus’s Broughton plant in Wales. “It marks the success of the supply chain flying between Hamburg, Toulouse and Chester.”
The swollen belly of the Beluga carries a tale of European manufacturing success. Airbus makes wings in the UK, fuselages in Germany, tails in Spain, and noses in France. All the parts are then flown to Hamburg or Toulouse to be assembled. And what with the current travails of their main American competitor Boeing, business is booming.
“You cannot get an Airbus A320 for the next five years because all the slots are booked,” says Paul Everitt, CEO of the trade body for the Aerospace, Defence, Space and Security sectors (ADS).
But Airbus has flown into some turbulence. Last year its German CEO Tom Enders branded the uncertainty over Brexit a “disgrace”. He has since been replaced by Frenchman Guillaume Faury, who has taken a more emollient tone, most recently saying that there is “great potential to expand” its British operations. But, for a European manufacturing company that employs 13,500 people in the UK, there can be no two ways about it: leaving the single market and the customs union is bad, bad news.
To take one example, the Airbus 380 contains around four million components. With the aerospace industry running just-in-time supply chains, a hold up at the border can have disastrous implications. If just one of those four million components is missing because a driver has left customs paperwork on the dashboard at Calais, then the plane won’t get built.
“From Spitfire to Concorde to the A380, generations of Bristol families have been involved in the advanced engineering and manufacturing of components for the aerospace industry,” says Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West. “Any delays or increased cost though will have an impact.”
And it is not just components that can be held up at the border. There is also the small matter of people.
“A lot of the Airbus workforce are pan-European,” says Jones. “A lot of my constituents will spend time in Toulouse on training.”
At the moment, industry officials are predicting that aerospace employees will still be able to cross borders quite freely. But they are concerned about losing out on R&D funding for new green technologies. And they are very concerned about the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
EASA come, EASA go
Realistically, wherever you are, if you want to build a plane to be sold around the world you have to comply with either European law (EASA) or American law (the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA). Currently manufacturers with bases in the UK – Rolls-Royce, BAE, Bombardier, Leonardo, GKN to name but a few – benefit from EASA.
“In aerospace we are moving towards a harmonisation of international standards,” says Paul Everitt. “EASA and the FAA are the two dominant agencies. They are the people who determine what is internationally acceptable.”
It is estimated that the UK contributes 40 per cent of technical expertise to EASA. Then through EASA, the UK has reciprocal agreements with not only the American FAA but also Brazil, Canada and in the near future China and Japan. “We move from a place where we have significant input to one where we wouldn’t,” says Paul Everitt. Furthermore, there is no safety case to change according to Everitt. “Any government that chooses to shift away needs to demonstrate very clearly that there will be no ill effects.”
The problem for the government is that — even if it has only made one ruling in 38 years — the ultimate arbiter of EASA is the European Court of Justice. Clearly, this does not sit well with a Brexiteer understanding of sovereignty (a number of Conservative MPs with interests in the aviation industry declined to be interviewed).
In order to stay competitive, aerospace will inevitably end up complying with EASA. But for political reasons, compliance needs to look like an autonomous decision. One convenient option doing the rounds is for the UK’s own safety agency — the Civil Aviation Authority — to pay EASA to do oversight on its behalf.
“That has certainly been a scenario we have discussed,” says Paul Everitt. “If the UK government decided not to be a part of EASA, I can’t believe that they would see it as a great idea to outsource oversight to EASA, albeit that it would be a neat and reasonably effective solution.”
In effect, the UK would pay to lose its say. By all accounts, industry figures think it is an illogical position, but it might just prove politically expedient.
Going down like lead Typhoon
Because the civil and defence aerospace industries work cheek by jowl, there are many national security implications in moving away from a close relationship with Europe. When it comes to aerospace, safety truly is in numbers.
A good way of explaining Brexit to a toddler would be through the medium of fighter jets. For 40 years, the UK has cooperated with European partners in building the Eurofighter Typhoon. However, increasingly the UK buys F-35s from the Americans.
“The next-generation warplane should, if possible, be developed by a consortium including the UK,” says Jamie Stone, defence spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats. “When you buy the F-35, you’re never going to have all the intellectual knowledge about that aircraft, because there’s no way Lockheed Martin are going to tell us absolutely everything.”
Governments tend to be cagey about sharing defence technologies — even close allies like the UK and the US. So ideally, you build it yourself. But manufacturing a complex fighter plane is too big a job for a small country. Hence the need for collaboration.
“I am a very passionate advocate for having sovereign capability,” says Mark Menzies, Conservative MP for Fylde – a constituency where 6,000 people work for BAE Systems. He suggests future cooperation with new partners outside of the EU like Japan. “Germany has become an increasingly unreliable defence partner,” says Menzies. “The German parliament voted to suspend defence equipment sales to Saudi Arabia.”
Collaborating with the EU can raise some annoying but – for the people of Yemen at least – valuable debates. And yes there is NATO to keep the UK under the umbrella of Western defence cooperation. But defence is intertwined with manufacturing, which means the UK’s departure from the EU has implications. To take an example, the Galileo satellite system is a European cousin of American GPS. The armed forces of EU member states can use Galileo as a back-up if GPS fails.
“The Europeans have been very clear with us that non-EU member states don’t have access to EU defence technologies – they haven’t even given the US full access,” says Darren Jones MP. “Following the Brexit decision, the EU moved Galileo base stations off of British Overseas Territories in the Falklands. They moved contracts away from UK suppliers.”
“We had the expertise. We had the heritage. We had the people to build this. But Europe was quite clear with us. The rules are the rules.” (Source: Google/New Statesman)
05 Feb 20. U.S. halts secretive drone programme with Turkey over Syria incursion. The United States has halted a secretive military intelligence cooperation programme with Turkey that for years helped Ankara target Kurdish PKK militants, four U.S. officials told Reuters.
The U.S. decision to indefinitely suspend the programme, which has not been previously reported, was made in response to Turkey’s cross-border military incursion into Syria in October, the U.S. officials said, revealing the extent of the damage to ties between the NATO allies from the incident.
The U.S. officials, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said the United States late last year stopped flying the intelligence collection missions that targeted the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which both the United States and Turkey classify as terrorists.
The U.S. military had carried out the missions using unarmed drone aircraft, which one official said were flown out of Turkey’s Incirlik air base, where the U.S. military has a significant presence. The base is also a key hub for U.S. spy agencies operating in the region.
The U.S. drone flights that took place within the programme, in place since 2007, often zeroed in on mountainous territory in northern Iraq near the Turkish border, another official said.
A Pentagon spokeswoman did not directly comment on any specific programs but noted that the United States has designated the PKK a terrorist organisation since 1997.
“We have supported Turkey in their fight against the PKK in many ways for decades. As a matter of policy, we do not provide details on operational matters,” the spokeswoman said, when asked about a halt in assistance.
A State Department spokesperson said the United States does not comment on intelligence matters.
Officials from the Turkish defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment, but a Turkish official confirmed the programme was stopped.
The halt to U.S. assistance will test the limits of Turkey’s military and intelligence capabilities at a time when its forces are already deployed on multiple fronts in northern Syria and as Ankara mulls deeper engagement in Libya.
“This makes the anti-PKK campaign more difficult and more costly for Turkey,” one of the four U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said.
It also adds to a laundry list of grievances between the United States and Turkey, including Ankara’s purchase of Russian air defences and broader splits over the war in Syria, despite what appears to be a strong relationship between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan.
“In recent years, Turkey has not been struggling to obtain the information it needs through drones it produces itself,” the Turkish official said. “However, as an ally the steps taken on this issue do not contribute to ties between the two countries.”
SPLITS OVER SYRIA
Trump, long a sceptic of U.S. military involvement in Syria, has been blamed by Democrats and even some Republicans for abandoning the U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters to the Turkish onslaught, and in so doing, unravelling U.S. policy.
The Turkish offensive took aim at Kurdish YPG militia in Syria, who had been America’s top allies in the battle against Islamic State.
Turkey views the YPG as a terrorist organisation, indistinguishable from the PKK. But U.S. policy has long drawn a bright line between the two groups, helping Turkey combat the PKK even as U.S. military forces simultaneously partnered with the YPG militia to combat Islamic State.
The PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984, waging an insurgency for autonomy in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast. Since then, more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict. Kurds, as an ethnic group, form about 20 percent of Turkey’s population.
Turkey’s military has often struck targets in Iraq’s Kurdish region near the PKK’s stronghold in the Qandil mountains and has also carried out cross-border operations into northern Iraq targeting the militant group.
Since the inception of the secretive U.S. intelligence cooperation programme, Ankara has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to advance its own defence capabilities and reduced its dependence on U.S. and Israeli drones which it frequently used since the late 1990s.
Turkey’s privately-owned Baykar Defence, whose management involves Selcuk Bayraktar, a son-in-law of Erdogan, began working on developing Turkey’s first drone fleet since the 2000s.
Within a decade and a half, it has developed armed and unarmed drones and begun selling them to the Turkish army as well as to Ukraine and Qatar. As of July 2019, a total of 86 Bayraktar drones are in service with Turkey’s security forces and some of those have been regularly used during Ankara’s three Syria operations in 2016, in 2018 and again last October.
Arda Mevlutoglu, a Turkey-based defence analyst said the recent advance has equipped Ankara with greater flexibility and freedom in its operational capabilities.
“Turkey’s dependence on her allies, mainly to the U.S., significantly decreased, if not completely ended in real-time high-quality intelligence gathering and surgical strike type operations,” Mevlutoglu said. (Source: Reuters)
04 Feb 20. More than three years after a public vote, Britain finally exited the European Union on Jan. 31, leaving behind a 47-year membership in the organization. Political ties have been cut, but the departure has for the moment left open questions about Brexit’s impact on the British defense industry.
The prospects for joint defense equipment development, market access and security cooperation between London and Brussels are among the issues up for grabs on the sidelines of trade negotiations due to get underway between the two sides in the next few weeks.
Britain wants a new trade deal signed by the end of the year, but the Conservative government said it’s willing to walk away without an agreement if need be.
Paul Everitt, the chief executive of ADS, the leading U.K. trade lobby group for the defense and aerospace industries, said critical issues must be resolved if Britain is to continue to thrive in the sector he represents. One of the big issues for him is whether industry here can gain access to EU defense development funding initiatives like the European Defence Fund or the Permanent Structured Cooperation .
“Listening to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech and various comments we have seen over the last couple of weeks suggests the U.K. is not that bothered from an industrial point of view. It leaves us drawing the conclusion we are not going to access any funding mechanisms like the Defence Fund,” Everitt said in a Feb. 3 phone interview.
Analysts agree Britain is unlikely to be able to negotiate a place at the table when EU funding is being handed out. Centre for European Reform analyst Luigi Scazzieri said in a recent opinion piece for Aspenia Online that while a close defense partnership may emerge at some point, it is unlikely to in the near term.
“Boris Johnson’s government appears cautious of seeking a close relationship with the EU, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arguing that it had other options,” Scazzieri said.
“The withdrawal negotiations showed that [EU] member states have little appetite to grant the U.K. the status of privileged EU partner, in large part because they fear other partners such as the U.S. could then ask for the same close relationship and level of access to European defense initiatives,” he continued. “Moreover, many member states remember the U.K. as highly skeptical of European defense, blocking European defense initiatives for years, and therefore see no reason to risk recent progress by giving London a privileged role.”
Whether Britain is entirely locked out of cooperating with the EU on funding and development is unclear.
In Brussels on Feb. 3, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Britain could participate but only when it was in the EU’s industrial and technological interest to do so. Barnier also said Britain would be able to participate in EU missions on a “case by case basis.”
Signs of future challenges already emerged, with the EU blocking British access to military-grade data from the Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System, in which London has been a supplier and investor. Britain is now looking at building its own satellite network, possibly in partnership with allies like the U.S. and others.
Everitt confirmed that if Britain can’t get its foot in the door of EU funding, then it will have to look elsewhere. And the challenge is compounded by more limited access to U.S. programs.
“We need scale in order to be affordable, and if we are not going to be part of a European program, it means we are going to have to do quite a lot of heavy lifting on our own,” the ADS boss said. “If we aren’t able to access two key markets of the EU and the U.S. on what we would see as reasonable terms, then we need to invest much more in sustaining our own defense- and security-industrial base.
“Unless there is some fundamental shift in either the U.S. or EU relationship, we struggle to see where the volumes for our defense developments are going to come from.”
One possible answer is to spread the net wider in the search for partners. The U.K. could, for example, offer Japan, India and South Korea a more appealing option than the traditional foreign sales and engagement models offered by the U.S. or France.
Having already signed up EU nations Italy and Sweden as potential partners in the British Tempest future fighter project, the government has started trying to attract Japan and others to join the study. (Source: Google/Defense News)
BATTLESPACE Comment: This feature and the ongoing obstructive stance by Boris Johnson and others confirms the ‘death by a thousand cuts,’ scenario for the UK’s defence industry as discussed with many sources. Defence is periphery to the desires of many MPs and seen as negative PR by many Labour MPs. Outside shipbuilding which is only kept afloat to appease the Scottish shipbuilders, what happens when Scotland gains independence? The Tempest Programme is keeping aerospace alive but in armoured vehicles, the future is bleak post the 2009 speech by Lord Drayson which in effect ended armoured hull production in the UK as it was non-core. This was followed by the end of barrel making at Barrow-In-Furness by BAE and other capabilities. Turret manufacturer may be next? The UK market is too small for the UK to go it alone, particularly given the huge R&D required to develop new products for a limited return on the number of platforms required. That is why we forecast that the UK Tempest Programme may well be just and R&D programme which will eventually be subsumed into son of F-35 and the UK, Italy and Sweden will join as junior partners. The Franco-German equivalent looks as shaky as ever and France may well be left to go it alone like it did with Rafael. The follow on is that the UK is unable to conduct out of area ops without a strong defence industrial base to carry out the required UORs. The contagion in defence may well spread to Europe if the EU cannot get its defence act together by investing in more R&D. The US and Israel are making huge inroads into the European and UK markets and many others such as South Korea will follow if budgetary problems persist. The warning echoed in the FT last week about Germany losing its technology industrial technology base with the top 20 DAX companies being worth the equivalent of Apple, may spread to defence? If I were Boris and his pals, I’d take a large think before ending defence co-operation with Europe if we are to remain safe in our beds at night!
05 Feb 20. The UK is about to shoot itself in both feet.
“There is in brief much disagreement over the nature of the prospective relationship and very little time in which to agree. A likely result is no deal. If so, the greater the ensuing disruption, the more the Johnson government is likely to try to blame it on the EU. It might even seek revenge, possibly by trying to ally itself with the US against the EU. Above all, remember this: a limited free trade agreement would be better than no deal; but it will still hurt.” (Source: FT.com)
04 Feb 20. Brexit turns up the heat on access rules to EU defense coffers. European leaders should modify rules to include Britain and the United States in their defense-cooperation efforts, ending a simmering dispute that could turn toxic over time, according to the director general of the European Union Military Staff.
“We will find a way [on] how to engage the United States and other third-party states,” Lt. Gen. Esa Pulkkinen told Defense News in an interview in Washington last week. But he cautioned that the unresolved issue could become a “permanent” thorn in the side of relations with the United States, in particular.
At issue are the conditions for access to the multibillion-dollar European Defence Fund and its associated collaboration scheme, the Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO. The funds are meant to nurse the nascent defense capabilities of the continent’s member states, with the idea that NATO would be strengthened in the process.
Officials have left the door open for the U.K., which recently left the EU, as well as its defense companies to partake in individual projects, given the country’s importance as a key European provider of military capabilities. But the exact terms have yet to be spelled out, requiring a balancing act between framing member states as primary PESCO beneficiaries while providing a way in for key allies.
Defense officials in Washington previously criticized the EU initiative, complaining that it would needlessly shut out American contractors. European leaders countered that the program is first and foremost meant to streamline the bloc’s disparate military capabilities, stressing that avenues for trans-Atlantic cooperation exist elsewhere.
“EDF and PESCO isn’t everything in the world,” Pulkkinen said in Washington. “We are not going to violate any U.S. defense industrial interests.
“The defense industry is already so globalized, they will find a way [on] how to work together.”
While European governments have circulated draft rules for third-party access to the EU’s defense-cooperation mechanism, a final ruling is not expected until discussions about the bloc’s budget for 2021-2027 are further along, according to issue experts.
Officials at the European Defence Agency, which manages PESCO, are taking something of a strategic pause to determine whether the dozens of projects begun over the past few years are delivering results.
Sophia Besch, a senior research fellow with the Centre for European Reform, said the jury is still out over that assessment. “The big question is whether the European Union can prove that the initiatives improve the operational capabilities,” she said.
Aside from the bureaucratic workings of the PESCO scheme, the German-French alliance — seen as an engine of European defense cooperation — has begun to sputter, according to Besch.
In particular, Berlin and Paris cannot seem to come together on operational terms — whether in the Sahel or the Strait of Hormuz — at a time when Europe’s newfound defense prowess runs the risk of becoming a mostly theoretical exercise, Besch said.
The EU members’ ambitions remain uneven when it comes to defense, a situation that is unlikely to change anytime soon, according to a recent report by the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
“The dispute around the concept of strategic autonomy has not led to any constructive consensus, and it will likely affect debates in the future,” the document stated. “Member states and the EU institutions will continue to promote different concepts that encapsulate their own vision of defense cooperation.” (Source: Defense News)
04 Feb 20. RAF chief warns of Russian ‘adventurism’ as sub-hunting jets arrive. Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will protect the UK’s submarine nuclear deterrent. The head of Britain’s air force has warned that the threat of Russian “adventurism” in the North Atlantic is increasing, as the first of a new fleet of submarine-hunting aircraft touched down at a military base in Scotland. The first P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft is part of a £3bn programme to plug a critical gap in the UK’s defences. Its main role is to locate and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships. The Royal Air Force will take delivery of nine of the aircraft, built by Boeing, over the next four years. When fully operational, the P-8As will play a key role in protecting the UK’s submarine-based nuclear deterrent, filling a decade-long capability gap left by the controversial decision to axe the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft in the 2010 defence review — just as a resurgent Russian navy increased submarine patrols. Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, head of the RAF, said the deployment of the new surveillance planes was a “response to increasing Russian adventurism across mainland Europe and the North Atlantic and stretching up into the high Arctic”. “We are in this constant almost confrontational operating environment with the Russians. And we have seen over the last 10 years a year-on-year increase in that sort of behaviour,” the RAF chief said.
We have no control over how this is designed and operated. And we face a series of bills over the next decade which we have not budgeted for Francis Tusa, editor of Defence Analysis Since the scrapping of the Nimrod fleet, the UK has had to rely on marine surveillance aircraft loaned by Nato allies including the US, Canada, France and Norway, at a time of growing Russian submarine activity. Francis Tusa, editor of Defence Analysis, said Britain had been “totally dependent” on its Nato allies to counter the threat posed by Russian submarines, which have stepped up their efforts over the past decade to track the Royal Navy submarines that carry the UK’s nuclear deterrent. “The UK has been for 10 years without any maritime patrol capability. It’s something that the UK previously excelled in — during the Cold War and even before that. So this is a start,” he said. Last October, Norwegian military intelligence reported that they had detected 10 submarines from Russia’s northern fleet heading towards the Atlantic — the biggest combined deployment of this type since the end of the Cold War. The twin-engined aircraft is designed to carry out long-range maritime surveillance missions at high and low altitudes © Julian Simmonds/Daily Telegraph Senior British military figures have previously warned that the increasingly sophisticated Russian submarine fleet could also pose a threat to critical infrastructure by cutting or disrupting undersea communication and internet cables. Keir Giles, an expert on Russia and information security at Chatham House, said this capability was within the remit of Moscow’s secretive deepwater surveillance directorate, known as “GUGI”. “Russia’s intense interest in mapping and probing civilian telecommunications infrastructure comes from their realisation that information, and access to information, is a key part of conflict today,” Mr Giles said. The Poseidon is based on Boeing’s 737 airframe. The twin-engined aircraft is designed to carry out long-range maritime surveillance missions at high and low altitudes.
Recommended UK defence spending Funding crisis raises concerns on armed forces readiness It is equipped with advanced sensors to detect surface ships and submarines, including “sonobuoys” that are dropped from the aircraft to eavesdrop underwater. The aircraft, already in operation with the Australian, Indian and US militaries, is armed with torpedoes to hunt submarines as well as missiles to take on surface ships. Air Vice-Marshall Harvey Smyth, who oversees combat and surveillance aircraft for the RAF, said the P-8A represented a leap in technical capability. “This is not like one of the old Nimrods where if you want to improve it, it goes in the hangar and you get the spanners out and do a ton of work. This is a 737 great flying iPhone so you just update to the next [operating system]. Mission data is where it’s at.” But Mr Tusa challenged the idea that the UK had purchased a “tried, tested and polished product”, explaining: “We have no control over how this is designed and operated. And we face a series of bills over the next decade which we have not budgeted for.” He also warned that the British would face problems making the aircraft interoperable with other military equipment. (Source: FT.com)
04 Feb 20. UK SDSR must be “based in financial reality”: Defence Secretary. The Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace has said that the UK’s upcoming integrated Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) must be rooted in financial reality while answering defence questions in Parliament.
Wallace said that the UK Government’s upcoming SDSR must be properly funded and that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) must be honest with what it can afford and what kit can be supplied to personnel, as he answered questions on defence from members of parliament on Monday.
The upcoming quinquennial review is set to analyse the UK’s military place in the world as it leaves the European Union, and looks at how defence and foreign policy can be better carried out.
Responding to a question from the newly-elected chair of the Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood, Wallace said: “If these reviews are to be worth anything they have to be properly funded. That means it requires honesty both from the department [MOD], from wider government, from the Treasury and indeed for the ambitions of what we want our country to do and be around the world.
“If we match our appetite to our stomachs, then I think it will have a long-lasting legacy”
Planning for the defence review is underway, with publication details to be clarified as it progresses; however, Army Technology understands the government plans to have the review concluded by the end of the year, most likely in the autumn.
Labour MP Meg Hillier challenged Wallace saying that the UK has had several defence reviews with defence ministers promising their review ‘would be different’, adding that there is often a mismatch between the funds made available and the plans outlined in the review.
Responding, Wallace said: “The first thing we can do is to be honest to our men and women in our armed forces about what we can afford and what we are going to give them, and at the same time to be honest to the public about what are ambitions are globally.
“And make that honesty not hankered in sentimentality, but make it based in financial reality. And make sure that the whole of government buys into that.” (Source: army-technology.com)
03 Feb 20. European Air Force Chiefs Prod Governments to Award FCAS Demonstrator Contracts. For the second time in six months, France and Germany and Spain have missed their own deadline to award technology demonstrator contracts for the Next-Generation Fighter (NGF) and its engine, suggesting unspecified obstacles are preventing the effective launch of their joint Future Combat Air System (known in France as SCAF and FCAS elsewhere) program.
Originally due to be signed at the Paris Air Show in June, the demonstrator programs were postponed first to late 2019 and then to January 2020, which ended on Friday without any announcement.
There has been no official explanation for these repeated delays, and France’s armed forces ministry, the DGA defense procurement agency, and Dassault Aviation declined to comment.
A source at Airbus Defence and Space however said Feb. 03 that the delay was due to the German Parliament’s budget committee, which failed to approve the contracts on time. He suggested approval could now be reasonably expected by mid-February, with contract award to follow shortly thereafter.
“The authorization of German funds as part of the common German-French funding for the first R&D-phase towards a technology demonstrator is subject to approval of the [appropriate] committee within the German Bundestag,” a German defense ministry spokeswoman said Feb. 04, indirectly confirming the Airbus official’s explanation.
Whatever the reason, these delays are fraying nerves in both air force staffs and industry in the three FCAS member countries. New Contract slippage worries air staffs, industry
On Jan. 31, the chiefs of staff of the French, Germany and Spanish Air Forces took the unprecedented step of writing an open letter explaining the critical need for FCAS, and calling on their governments to award the demonstrator contracts “in the coming days.” The letter was published in Le Figaro (France, ABC (Spain) and in an unspecified German newspaper.
The three chiefs of staff — General Philippe Lavigne (France), General Ingo Gerhartz (Germany) and General Javier Salto (Spain) said they “welcome the cooperation between their three countries to develop the air defense instruments of tomorrow,” adding that they “are firmly committed to the success of this project within twenty years.”
Going public with their commitment to FCAS, the chiefs of staff wrote they have agreed to converge their operational visions as much as possible, and that they “plan to sign a document specifying this common vision at the next ILA show in Berlin in May 2020.”
Meanwhile, industry and air force leaders in the three countries worry that, as time passes without contract award, the already tight schedule for NGF may slip further, in turn threatening the entire FCAS schedule. It is currently planned that the demonstrator of the next generation combat aircraft should fly in 2026 with its new-generation engines, so as to reach an initial operational capability for the system of systems in 2040.
Program structures progressing
The companies involved in the demonstrator studies, led by Dassault Aviation and Safran Military Engines, have set up and are paying design and development teams without any substantial financing from the three governments, which impacts their cost structure.
The three countries have already signed a High Level Common Operational Requirement Document (HL CORD) for NGWS / SCAF, and in October 2019, an integrated project team, made up of operational experts from the three countries, was set up near Paris to supervise the concept, research and development work, with a view to precisely defining the outline of the NGWS and its demonstrators to come. (Source: Defense-Aerospace.com)
01 Feb 20. Germany Needs a Bigger, Stronger Army. German tank crews have of late been practicing with Volkswagen minibuses because as many as three in four of their Puma tanks are in the repair shop — or rather, they’re waiting endlessly to be repaired, owing to Kafkaesque bureaucracy. Ordering backpacks, bullet-proof vests, helmets, visors and all sorts of other gear can take years in the German army. About 20,000 job openings can’t be filled because so few young people want to enlist. Officers complain that standards are being lowered, and that new recruits are “fatter, weaker and dumber.”
This is all according to Hans-Peter Bartels, an ombudsman appointed by parliament to audit the country’s armed forces. Among his devastating conclusions this week was this simple observation: Germany’s army would currently be unable to contribute adequately to the collective defense of NATO, the Western alliance, if any member were attacked.
Germany’s allies, from Poland in the east to the U.S. in the west, have long known and criticized this reality. President Donald Trump may be uniquely undiplomatic about it, but his predecessors going back at least to George W. Bush also harangued Berlin for the same reason. Germany, they’ve been saying, must stop free-riding, scrimping on its army and shirking its responsibilities in joint missions.
The government of Chancellor Angela Merkel always politely listened and nodded. In 2014, as Russia was invading Crimea, several senior German officials gave speeches calling for their country to take more international responsibility. Later that year, at a NATO summit in Wales, Merkel joined her fellow leaders in pledging to raise military spending to at least 2% of GDP within a decade. Germany appears to have no intention of honoring that promise. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Bloomberg Opinion)
03 Feb 20. Airbus bribery scandal triggers new probes worldwide. Fallout from the Airbus (AIR.PA) bribery scandal reverberated around the world on Monday as the head of one of its top buyers temporarily stood down and investigations were launched in countries aggrieved at being dragged into the increasingly political row.
Airbus agreed on Friday to pay a record $4bn (3.1bn pounds) in fines after reaching a plea bargain with prosecutors in Britain, France and United States over alleged bribery and corruption stretching back at least 15 years.
Now, it is bracing for a rocky period with airlines and foreign governments, some of which have complained they were not forewarned about the charges and claimed little knowledge of the sums of money swirling around their fleet purchases.
“Friday was the end of Act I, now we are seeing the beginning of Act II with possible repercussions on airline relationships,” said a person close to the company.
Airbus declined to comment further after welcoming the agreement on Friday as an opportunity to “turn the page”.
Prosecution documents agreed by Airbus detailed a global network of agents or middlemen in transactions across the group’s business and run from a cell in Paris where the group had part of its headquarters, split between France and Germany.
Outlines of the operation and its annual budget of 250m to 300m euros had been reported by Reuters.
Prosecutors also cited parallel projects or investments alongside some negotiations, including the sponsorship by Airbus’ then-parent EADS of a Formula 1 team owned by top officials at AirAsia, a major customer.
Shares in AirAsia (AIRA.KL) fell up to 11%.
AirAsia Group said Chief Executive Tony Fernandes and Chairman Kamarudin Meranun would step aside for at least two months while both the airline and government probed allegations.
In a joint statement, the two co-founders of Asia’s largest budget airline denied any wrongdoing or misconduct.
“We would not harm the very companies that we spent our entire lives building up to their present global status.”
Fernandes, one of aviation’s best known executives, already faces domestic pressure after backing former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2018 elections. Najib was ousted by Mahathir Mohamad, prompting Fernandes to apologise for backing the loser.
In Ghana, a political storm erupted over accusations of Airbus payments to a relative of a government official in connection with the purchase of military transport planes.
Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said the agent had no aerospace experience, having previously worked in football merchandising and as a facilities manager. It did not say what the agent, who had been helped by two unnamed British television actors, did with the money.
President Nana Akufo-Addo’s office said Ghana would “conduct a prompt inquiry to determine the complicity or otherwise of any Ghanaian government official, past or present”.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC), which was in power at the time, said claims that Airbus paid bribes were false.
In Colombia, airline Avianca said it had hired a law firm to investigate its relationship with Airbus and determine if it had been a victim of wrongdoing. French prosecutors said in settlement documents that Airbus had agreed to pay multi-million dollar commissions to an agent over jet sales to Avianca, some of which were earmarked for a senior executive at the airline’s parent Avianca Holdings AVT_p.CN.
The payments were thwarted by a freeze on agent commissions as Airbus tightened processes in 2014, they said.
Avianca is ultimately owned by Synergy Group, formerly the vehicle of Bolivian-born entrepreneur German Efromovich who bought the airline out of bankruptcy in 2004 and grew it to become Latin America’s No. 2. He lost control of Synergy in 2019. Contacted by Reuters, Efromovich declined to comment.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa ordered a full investigation after Britain’s SFO reported that Airbus had hired the wife of a SriLankan Airlines executive as its intermediary in connection with aircraft negotiations.
Airbus misled UK export credit agency UKEF over her name and gender, while paying her company $2m, the SFO said.
Korean Air (003490.KS) and Taiwan’s China Airlines (2610.TW) declined to comment on allegations of payments to intermediaries over jet purchases.
Settlements in France and the United States also trained a spotlight on dealings in China, which tends to be supplied through large plane orders coinciding with state visits.
Prosecutor findings issued with the settlement detailed alleged bribery and hospitality paid for using money diverted from a pilot training fund, into which Airbus made payments.
Analysts had said Airbus is poised to win more business in China as a result of recent U.S.-Chinese trade tensions, though the prospect of a trade deal has also boosted Boeing Co (BA.N).
Chinese aviation officials, many affected by an order to government officials to work at home due to the coronavirus outbreak, could not be reached for comment. But the foreign ministry said, “China has always attached great importance to its cooperation with France in the aviation industry”.
31 Jan 20. USAFE welcomes Poland to European F-35 User’s Group. Poland is the ninth member of the European F-35 User’s Group, and the first country in Eastern Europe to transition to the F-35 Lightning II. Other participating nations include the U.S., Belgium, Denmark, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom. The European F-35 User’s Group is a formal and persistent venue where members share information, lessons learned and best practices as aircraft are acquired and fielded.
“Poland’s decision to acquire the F-35 demonstrates confidence in the aircraft, but more importantly, the strength of our relationship,” Harrigian said. “I look forward to the day the first F-35 arrives in Poland, and we pledge our support to help integrate this fifth-generation fighter capability into the Polish Air Force.”
In the years since the release of the U.S. military’s newest fighter aircraft, the F-35 has provided pilots unprecedented levels of lethality, survivability and situational awareness, allowing warfighters to engage and win in hostile environments. With the formal signing of the Letter of Offer & Acceptance in Deblin, Poland commits to the purchase of 32 F-35 aircraft.
Col. John Echols, USAFE-AFAFRICA chief of 5th Generation Integration, echoed Harrigian’s appreciation for Poland’s commitment to the F-35 program and detailed how the addition of the aircraft in Eastern Europe will bolster NATO’s deterrence posture.
“Fifth generation fighters represent a revolutionary leap in technology and capability for the U.S. and our allies in the European theater,” Echols said. “The F-35’s ability to integrate and connect with forces across all domains is a force multiplier. Information is a critical commodity and the F-35’s ability to collect data, then connect and rapidly share that information with allied surface, maritime, space and cyber forces is a game-changer for 21st century coalition warfare.”
The delivery of future F-35s will strengthen the Polish Air Force, which currently operates a fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and legacy Mig-29s and Su-22s. The legacy aircraft are set to be replaced by the F-35, giving the Polish Air Force greater interoperability with NATO allies.
The F-35 is a fifth generation, multi-role fighter, with superior combat capability that is designed to integrate with fourth generation aircraft and complement the technology already in place.
The next meeting of the European F-35 Air Chiefs is scheduled for spring 2020 at Ramstein Air Base. (Source: ASD Network)
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