US – UK DEFENCE CO-OPERATION – THE WAY FORWARD FOR JOINT OPERATIONS
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor BATTLESPACE
BATTLESPACE has discussed growing US-UK defence co-operation and the importance of this new co-operation in the success of joint out of area operations such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
We have covered complaints by a number of companies, particularly BAE SYSTEMS in the application of sensitive ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations)transfer for the JSF project in particular. But these concerns, supported by intervention by UK Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, in the now notorious Hoon letter, are nothing new to old hands such as Jeff Limbert, one –time Counsellor Defence Supply at the US Embassy in Washington, where he served under Defence Supremo Roger Harding CMG, who sadly died last year. Roger and his team built up a formidable reputation in winning contracts for UK Ltd in the US such as Hawk, Light Gun and 81mm mortar. The early days of the Labour Government saw trade between UK and US decline with the trade being more US-UK with the BOWMAN procurement.
Limbert said, “UK industry has been dealing with ITAR problems for the last twenty years and nothing has really changed if one looks at the historic opportunities provided by both countries for defence exports. The balance of UK/US trade is still around 2 to 1 in the USA’s favour. But, in an election year you are not going to get a US Congressman or Senator heralding the lowering of defence export regulations which could jeopardize US jobs.” Thus, sensitive procurements such as the Presidential helicopter replacement, are put back until after the election, a decision which may indicate a preference for Team 101.
“We have been dealing with ITAR problems for the last twenty years and nothing has really changed if one looks at the historic opportunities provided by both countries for defence exports. But, in an election year, you are not going to get a U.S. Congressman or Senator heralding any lowering of defence export regulations which would jeopardize U.S. jobs. Thus, sensitive procurements, such as the Presidential helicopter replacement, are put back until after the election, a decision which may indicate a preference for Team 101.”
No country can possibly claim an expertise across the board in defence equipment, therefore a percentage will always come from overseas in some form or other. But the U.S. has the largest defence budget in the world and in 2006 will be larger than the combined budgets of the rest of the world combined! Couple this to a huge R&D budget and you have a country rich in technology, particularly C4ISR which is vital for Joint Operations and the war against terror. Thus the U.S. is looking at European helicopter technology, where it has invested huge sums in the struggling V-22 project and the UK, in particular, purchased the BOWMAN radio system from North America, to fill a yawning gap in radio and tactical internet technology. If handled right, as we discuss with BOWMAM, a purchase of foreign equipment can give the recipient country its won base to market and sell equipment overseas and bring in much needed export revenue.
A number of think tanks including the brief by the Policy Exchange on September 22nd have attempted to downplay the importance of the arms trade to UK industry and general security of the nation. Antonia Feuchtwanger, an Evening Standard journalist launched her book, ‘THE BEST KIT’ at the Policy Exchange Think Tank in London. When the Editor rang the Think Tank’s offices he was told that the basis of the funding for the Group lay with a Conservative bias, as many members worked for Central Office.
Another Book ‘ESCAPING THE SUBSIDY TRAP’ was written by two academics, Paul Ingram and Roy Isbister. Whilst not denying their academic prowess, they appear to understand little about how long it takes to establish new industries once the old ones die.
More worryingly for those covetin