05 Jan 10. Falkland Islands: Land Mine Clearance. A Junior FCO Minister said (5 Jan 10) that the FCO is currently funding a four-site clearance programme in the Falkland Islands. The programme started on 4 Dec 09 and is expected to be completed by mid-2010. The sites contain “a significant quantity” of mines and their clearance will inform future work.
Comment: Bactec International is the primary de-mining contractor and is responsible for submitting an environmental restoration plan for each of the four sites. ‘Penguin News’ (8 Jan 10) reports that the Zimbabweans working with Bactec formed a choir for the Tabernacle Christmas broadcast service. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 10/02, 10 Jan 10)
07 Jan 10. Grob Tutor TI Training Aircraft: Service Inquiry. The Armed Forces’ Minister announced (7 Jan 10) the findings of an RAF Service Inquiry into the accident involving two Grob Tutor aircraft on 11 Feb 09. The crash resulted in the deaths of two RAF pilots and two Air Cadets. The Inquiry concluded “that the cause of the accident was the controlled flight of both aircraft into the same airspace at the same time as a result of both aircraft Captains being unaware of the position and proximity of the other aircraft”. A Coroner’s Inquest is to be held in due course.
Comment: Contrary to some media reports, the Inquiry did not blame ‘pilot error’ for the crash. The purpose of a Service Inquiry is to establish the circumstances of an incident; it does not seek to apportion blame.
Sadly, there was another accident on 14 Jan 09 when an RAF Grob and a civilian glider collided. A Flight Lieutenant and an Air Cadet were killed but the pilot of the glider parachuted to safety. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 10/02, 10 Jan 10)
Jan 10. Defence Committee: Evidence on Equipment. The Defence Committee is to take evidence for its Defence Equipment Inquiry at 10.30hrs on Tue 12 Jan 10 in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House. Witnesses include: Mr B (Bernard) Gray, Lord Drayson, Minister for Strategic Defence Acquisition Reform, and Sir Bill Jeffrey, MoD Permanent Secretary.
Comment: The venue for the meeting (the Wilson Room) is subject to change and should be confirmed on 11/12 Jan 10 (Committee Information telephone: 020-7219 5745). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 10/02, 10 Jan 10)
07 Jan 10. The Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill, which seeks to prohibit the use, production and stockpiling of cluster bombs, has reached the committee stage in the House of Lords. The Bill describes the UK’s continued leadership on arms control, from landmines to the Arms Trade Treaty and also paves the way for UK ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. UK Foreign Office Minister Baroness Kinnock said cluster munitions caused immense suffering to civilians caught in conflict zones, and when they fail to explode they also leave a deadly post-conflict legacy for future generations. “There has been excellent debate and wide support for the bill so far. This reflects the strength of the legislation proposed and the cooperation between the government and the Cluster Munition Coalition,” she said. “The UK Government is therefore at the forefront of efforts to prevent the proliferation and clearance of cluster munitions and will continue to encourage those countries that have not signed the convention to do so.” Article 1 of the Cluster Munition Convention prohibits State Parties from using, developing, producing and stockpiling cluster munitions and direct financing on their production. The bill will create defences for certain permitted purposes set out in the convention, which include the retention or acquisition of cluster munitions for training in disposal techniques, transfer for the purposes of destruction and usage during the military operations with non-States Parties. In addition, the bill would assign necessary ancillary provisions to enforce the offences including conferring power to enter premises, an