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25 janvier 2016 1 25 /01 /janvier /2016 17:50
Defence Secretary welcomes deeper security relationship with Germany


25 January 2016 Ministry of Defence and The Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP


Defence Secretary Michael Fallon discussed the strengthening of Britain’s security ties with Germany when he met counterpart Ursula Von der Leyen in Berlin today, where the Ministers confirmed their shared vision for a closer and stronger partnership.


Germany is a key ally for the UK – a fact that was formally recognised in November’s Strategic Defence and Security Review when Germany was elevated to a ‘tier one’ defence relationship, alongside the US and France.

Mr Fallon and Dr Von der Leyen discussed how the countries’ Armed Forces can develop their collaboration on operations, missions and training. This will be in evidence as Britain becomes a lead nation for the Transatlantic Capability Enhancement and Training (TACET) initiative, working alongside Germany and the US to deliver a robust military presence in Eastern Europe. Both countries will also work together to ensure NATO remains strong and united; tackle terrorist threats; build capacity outside of Europe; and enhance the interoperability between their Armed Forces.

The Ministers also announced a new UK-Germany ‘Ministerial Dialogue on Equipment and Capability Cooperation’. At the first meeting, in March, Ministers will discuss reducing support costs on common aircraft, notably A400M and Typhoon, and exploring future innovation.

The Defence Secretary also took the opportunity to welcome Germany’s expanded role in the counter-Daesh coalition, following last week’s meeting in Paris where it was agreed to intensify strikes against the militants’ infrastructure in Iraq and Syria.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

Our defence review elevated Germany to a top tier ally, alongside France and the United States. We are already working closely together within NATO and in the fight against Daesh. Now I want to see more collaboration on operations, missions and training and deeper industrial cooperation.

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10 octobre 2015 6 10 /10 /octobre /2015 11:50
Britain to increase UAV fleet, modernize Special Forces gear

Oct 5, 2015 (UPI)


Britain is to replace and double its fleet of remotely piloted aircraft and modernize equipment of its Special Forces.

The investment, announced by Prime Minister David Cameron, is part of the 2015 Strategic Defense and Security Review.

"In order to equip UK intelligence agencies and British Armed forces with the capabilities they need to keep the streets of Britain safe, the prime minister has announced that the RAF will replace the existing fleet of 10 Reaper aircraft with more than 20 of the latest generation of RPAS, which will be called Protector and will carry the very latest technology," the Ministry of Defensee said.

"With a greater range and endurance, the new Protector aircraft will dramatically increase the UK's ability to identify, track, deter and ultimately counter potential threats. Combined with the increase in the size of the fleet, this will substantially enhance the UK's global intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capability.

For its Special Force, the Ministry of Defense said, new specialist weapons and clothing will be procured to ensure that the force "remains at the cutting edge of technology, giving them a clear advantage over enemies."

Additional details of the procurement of RPAs and Special Forces equipment was not elaborated upon.

The Reaper currently used by Britain is made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. Cameron, who made the announcement in a newspaper interview, gave no information on the Protector RPA, including its manufacturer.

"The duty of the UK Government is to keep our country safe and we must do more as the threats we face evolve," said Defense Secretary Michael Fallon. "We must adapt and stay ahead of our enemies.

"This investment package will enhance our ability to address these sophisticated dangers both at home and abroad, allowing us to intervene with speed and precision to protect the people of the UK and our international partners."

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4 juin 2015 4 04 /06 /juin /2015 18:50
Why do we spend so much? The British defence industry is to blame (photo Think Defence)

Why do we spend so much? The British defence industry is to blame (photo Think Defence)


01 Jun 2015 By Lewis Page * - The Telegraph


The defence review is a chance to stop wasting money on tanks, frigates and pilots - and break the dominance of BAE Systems


It’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) time again, in which we follow the new custom of making all defence policy shortly after an election without debate – thereby humanely relieving ministers of any need to justify their actions.

Things are dire in the Armed Forces. The RAF is down to embarrassingly few operational bombers and has no submarine-hunting planes at all. The Army is yet again stripping itself of soldiers. The Navy is shortly to receive aircraft carriers, but they can carry only vertical-lift jets. We used to have some of those, but we got rid of them in the last SDSR. We will have to buy the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter instead, which is new, complicated and cripplingly expensive.

So our defences are rickety: yet there’s no prospect of any big spending increases. Indeed, George Osborne has asked for further cuts to be made. Nor is there any prospect now of the MoD managing to avoid replacing Trident – much as it would corporately like to.

So that’s it then: Britain’s just a third-class power. And yet our defence budget is the fifth biggest in the world. It’s around the same as that of France, and France has a proper aircraft carrier – complete with planes. France also has hundreds of operational strike jets, not scores; it has maritime-patrol planes; its army may soon have twice as many soldiers as ours.



Read more



* Lewis Page is a former Royal Navy officer and author of 'Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs: Waste and Blundering in the Military’

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3 juin 2015 3 03 /06 /juin /2015 16:50
UK Defence Spending


2 June 2015 — MOD News Team

Yesterday, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon appeared on BBC Radio 4’s World at One Programme to discuss defence spending.


As the Secretary of State pointed out, Britain has always punched above its weight and the US has long seen us as an indispensable partner in operations right around the world. With nearly 4,000 personnel engaged in global operations, ranging from tackling Ebola in Sierra Leone, helping to deter Russian aggression in Ukraine, to fighting ISIL in the Middle East.

We have made it very clear that when the target was published last year that we met it then, and we have made it very clear that we’re going to go on meeting it in this financial year.


The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review will be driven by a hard-headed appraisal of our foreign policy and security objectives and the role we wish our country to play, as well as the risks we face in a rapidly changing world. By undertaking such a full and comprehensive look at future threats, alongside the Comprehensive Spending Review, we are able to look at the future and be sure that Armed Forces have what they need.

It is now a balanced Defence budget… It tells you that we can run a defence budget properly, and so well that you can invest for the future. We’re building two aircraft carriers, seven Hunter-Killer submarines, there are new armoured vehicles on order for the army, we’re buying the Joint Strike Fighter to go on the carriers. It is because we have sorted out the defence budget that we’re able to invest in equipment.


The US have always wanted European members of NATO to take a greater share of the burden, the UK is one of only four countries that does spend 2%.

 When the Defence Secretary was asked whether we should scrap Trident to make savings, he committed to renewing our continuous at sea nuclear deterrent with four submarines.

Every successive government has renewed the nuclear deterrent and that decision faces this Parliament next year when we have to replace the boats. We have to be sure that we can keep this country safe for the period right up to 2060.


You can listen to the full interview here (13:15).

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25 mars 2015 3 25 /03 /mars /2015 08:50
Des députés britanniques appellent leur gouvernement au réarmement face à la Russie


Londres, 24 mars 2015 Marine & Océans (AFP)


La Grande-Bretagne doit d'urgence reconstruire ses capacités de défense abandonnées après la fin de la guerre froide, face à des menaces mondiales croissantes notamment de la part de la Russie, a estimé mardi une commission parlementaire.


La Commission de Défense, chargée d'examiner les dépenses et la politique du ministère de la Défense, a estimé dans un communiqué qu'une capacité nucléaire, des chars, des navires de guerre et des avions étaient nécessaires comme armes de dissuasion face au président russe Vladimir Poutine.


"Le monde est plus dangereux et instable que jamais depuis la fin de la guerre froide", ont-ils indiqué dans un communiqué en référence au rattachement de la Crimée par la Russie et à l'avancée des jihadistes de l'organisation Etat islamique et du groupe islamiste Boko Haram.


"Mais les moyens actuels de défense dont dispose la Grande-Bretagne ne sont pas suffisants face à cet environnement transformé. La Grande-Bretagne doit reconstruire ses capacités conventionnelles rognées depuis la guerre froide", a-t-elle poursuivi.


Le communiqué intervient alors qu'un cessez-le-feu entre rebelles prorusses et forces ukrainiennes est globalement respecté depuis la mi-février dans l'Est rebelle. Le conflit, qui a fait quelque 6.000 morts depuis avril, a sérieusement mis à mal les relations entre la Russie et les pays occidentaux.


La commission a ajouté qu'il sera nécessaire pour la Grande-Bretagne de respecter ses engagements dans le cadre de l'Otan prévoyant des investissements de défense à hauteur de 2% de son PIB, tout en précisant que ce ne sera "pas suffisant".


"Il est vital de repenser les fondamentaux de nos plans de défense, si nous devons aider à stopper la spirale du chaos, qui menace de s'étendre de l'ouest de la Méditerranée à la Mer noire", selon la même source.


La commission a souligné par ailleurs les faiblesses de la défense de l'Otan, indiquant que la Russie pourrait déployer 150.000 hommes en 72 heures, alors que cela prendrait 6 mois pour l'Otan.


L'Otan a récemment annoncé que sa nouvelle force de réaction très rapide en Europe, annoncée en septembre pour faire face entre autres à la menace russe, pourrait déployer 5.000 hommes en l'espace de 48 heures, mais ne serait pas prête avant 2016, selon la commission.

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25 février 2015 3 25 /02 /février /2015 13:50
Mr Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology

Mr Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology


23 February 2015 Ministry of Defence and Philip Dunne MP

(Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered at Chatham House)


Speech by Mr Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology.



Good Afternoon.

It’s a pleasure to be here today to take part in a timely discussion…

…as we prepare to run the triple gauntlet of a comprehensive spending review followed by a Strategic Defence and Security Review, and as you may have a noticed, both preceded by a General Election 75 days from today, or as I prefer to think of it polling stations open 1,736 hours from now.


Challenging times…require change

But looking beyond the horizon of domestic UK politics for a moment, to say these are challenging times is something of a British understatement.

The world is dangerous…and getting more so.

As a nation our appetite for taking risks with our security remains low.

While our national ambition for global influence remains resolute.

At the same time, budgets are being squeezed and traditional military advantage is being undermined by disruptive technology and hybrid warfare.

So if we’re to survive and thrive in this new international dynamic we need to think differently.

I’ll explain what I mean, shortly.

But before I do, I must emphasise that while creating and sustaining armed forces fit for the 21st century will not be plain sailing…for any nation…

In the UK, the prevailing wind is behind us.


Defence Transformation

Thanks to 5 years of defence reform, we’re on the right trajectory.

We’ve filled the black hole in the defence budget and balanced the books.

For the third consecutive year, we’ve published an affordable equipment plan, worth £163 billion over 10 years, with substantial headroom and flexibility built in…

We’ve rethought our approach to defence acquisition, redefining it along the principles of value for money and open procurement.

…and spelling it out in black and white in our 2012 white paper: ‘National security through technology’.

We’ve also got a grip on our big ticket procurement projects.

And you don’t just have to take my word for it.

We have in this country a National Audit Office admired around the world for its fearsome independence from the government of the day. Consequently its pronouncements on departmental performance, especially its report on major procurement projects, are eagerly anticipated by the Ministry of Defence each year.

So to illustrate how far we have transformed defence acquisition, you can do no better than look at the position we inherited from the NAO’s report on 2009, where the top 15 defence projects were a staggering £4.5 billion over budget in year and 336 months overdue.

Contrast this with last month’s NAO ‘Major projects report’ which confirmed the top 11 defence projects are £397 million under budget and in aggregate only 14 months over time.


A much leaner machine

And we have also got to grips with the formidable administrative machinery of the Ministry of Defence, where I see our transformation as an exemplar of this government’s approach to public service reform.

Head Office is smaller, more focused and more strategic. By the end of next month there will be 25,000 fewer civil servants supporting our armed forces, 2 times the proportionate head count reduction of the frontline.

Budgets have been devolved to the front line commands…with the men and women at the coalface taking responsibility for spending decisions.

And, when it comes to our corporate services, we’ve injected some re-invigorating private sector expertise…only last Thursday I announced the preferred bidder for outsourcing the logistics, services and commodities activity to bring defence’s antiquated inventory management and logistics into the 21st century.

Our Head Office now adopts a more commercial approach…ensuring we are a more intelligent customer; better able to get high-quality equipment and services at best value for the taxpayer.


Equipment coming on stream

Over the past year alone we’ve made a steady stream of investments in next generation kit and delivered new capability into service.

This includes:

On land, the biggest armoured fighting vehicle order for the British Army in a generation, a £3.5 billion contract for 589 fully digitalised Scout specialist vehicles…

At sea, the floating up of the Royal Navy’s flagship Queen Elizabeth Carrier, followed by confirmation it will be joined in service by our second operational aircraft carrier.

And only last Friday, the Prime Minister announced an £859 million contract for long lead items for the first 3 of our next generation Type 26 frigates.

Beneath the oceans, the launch of HMS Artful, the third of seven Astute class hunter-killer submarines.

In the air, the arrival of the Royal Air Force’s first A400M Atlas transport aircraft, which this month I helped christen the City of Bristol to reflect the contribution that city is making and will make to this programme for years to come.

And last July the Prime Minister announced an extra £800 million of investment in intelligence and surveillance assets for our emerging cyber domain.

The contrast with the previous administration’s legacy couldn’t be starker:

where there was a £38 billion budget black hole, now there is a balanced budget; where there were cost overruns, now there are cost savings; where equipment deliveries were years late, now they are either on time or a few months behind,

in short, where there was chaos, now there is competence.

But we’re not complacent.

Which is why we’re continually working to perpetuate the transformative and progressive culture that has carried us this far.

More specifically…as I said earlier…we’re ensuring that from first to last… everyone in UK defence thinks differently.

More innovatively.

More imaginatively

And more internationally.

And I’d like to touch on how we’re doing that when it comes to defence procurement.


First: thinking more innovatively

Firstly, thinking more innovatively…an imperative if we’re to prepare for the world as it will be…not as we hope it will be.

Because it’s innovation that delivers the military productivity so key to realising successful military outcomes in a climate of continuing budget pressure.

What’s more, it’s innovation that underpins national prosperity…driving productivity and helping us move towards an export led recovery.

And the wheel turns, neatly, full circle when you consider that a strong economy is the wellspring of strategic strength.

With such high stakes, and a return to a more contingent posture following drawdown from Afghanistan, the MOD is focusing our efforts to unlock innovation wherever we can.

So we’re protecting our S&T spend…ensuring it remains at least 1.2% of the defence budget…

…And we’re investing an increasing amount of that on research into game-changing “disruptive” capability…

This year it was around £40 million.

Next year, we hope to increase that to £60 million.

Meanwhile, our Centre for Defence Enterprise develops novel high risk, high potential benefit innovations on everything from complex weapons to sensor navigation and guidance.

At a showcase earlier this month I saw for myself some of this new research effort into analysing social media trends to identify potential threats of tomorrow.

But investing in innovation is only the start…

We must weave it into the very DNA of defence procurement.

Which is why we’re increasing opportunities for SMEs …where entrepreneurs and scientists provide the niche capability and groundbreaking ideas that give us the edge.

And we’re doing that by making our procurement procedures more transparent, simpler and faster…

…engaging SMEs through a dedicated forum, which I chair…

…and setting ourselves challenging targets through an SME action plan.

And beyond the confines of MOD, we’re working with defence primes…encouraging them to open up their supply chains…

…not just to those in the defence business but to SMEs from across the spectrum…from computer gaming to motorsports.

Because military technology is no longer the main driver of civilian sector advances…it’s increasingly the other way around.

And we’re doing this…amongst other ways…via the Defence Growth Partnership…

…bringing together the best brains in industry, government and academia…

…fostering a collaborative environment to ensure the UK defence industry becomes more innovative, sustainable and competitive.

Things are moving fast.

The DGP’s Centre for Maritime Intelligence Systems in Portsmouth is up and running…a UK Centre of Excellence, to become a test bed for new systems and technology that can be sold around the world.

And it’s soon to be followed by the Defence Solutions Centre in Farnborough, which I have high hopes will also become an international centre of excellence for defence innovation.

So we’re doing our best…but we are also asking industry to step up to the mark.

Which is why we are looking to recalibrate our relationship.

Whereas, in the past, defence contractors looked upon the MOD as a benevolent cash cow that would fund its R&D, and then also pay for any development cost overruns…

Under our stewardship…working with industry…we’ve established a new mechanism to share pain and gain equally above a realistic threshold by aligning our interests more closely.

I want to see industry adopt this partnership approach more widely.

Not just identifying and managing risk and opportunity but also bearing and sharing it, in a spirit of partnership as we develop capabilities for a broader defence (and sometimes adjacent civilian) customer base.

But our ask goes beyond risk.

We’re now demanding that ‘exportability’ is actively considered from the very beginning of the acquisition cycle…

…because developing bespoke capability just for the UK attracts a cost premium that is not always justifiable, or affordable.

This will require industry and government to work together to assess our own requirements in the full context of the global export market…

…sharing both the opportunities and risks that come from developing ‘export ready’ capability.

But done properly the potential benefits are tangible:

First, the MOD gets the best kit for the best price.

Second, industry will reap the rewards of a virtuous circle of innovation, exportability and productivity.

And third, UK PLC will benefit from greater security and prosperity.

Which brings me on to my second point.


Second: thinking more imaginatively

Because…just as we cannot defend our security interests from Fortress Britain, neither can we advance our prosperity solely from within our shores.

Which is why, when it comes to building a strong UK defence industrial base capable of exploiting innovation to its greatest effect…we must be increasingly imaginative in the way we champion foreign investment on the one hand and exports on the other.

So, through our Defence and Security Industrial Engagement Policy…we’re encouraging overseas primes to extend opportunities for UK innovators to become part of their supply chains.

The UK defence industry is rightly proud of its place as the broadest and deepest supply chain outside the US. We have more companies engaged in defence and security than France, Germany and Italy combined.

But we are also using wider government initiatives…

…Like reducing corporation tax to one of the lowest rates in the EU’s big 5 economies…

…tax reliefs for R&D and exploiting patents.

…and deregulation

…to ensure the UK remains the number one choice in Europe for foreign direct investment.

Our success is manifest.

As just one example, more than 30% of Saab’s Gripen multi-role fighter aircraft is supplied by British industry.

And when it comes to banging the drum for UK defence exports, we’ve worked hard too.

Through the DGP we’ve been strengthening the roles and capabilities of UKTI’s Defence and Security Organisation.

While, from the Prime Minister down, ministers have taken every opportunity to promote UK defence products across the world.

Far from being embarrassed, as frankly many in the previous administration were, supporting the British defence industry is something we’re proud to do… as I was leading the UK delegation of 80 British companies at IDEX in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

This is not least because we know we have the most robust and comprehensive export licensing process anywhere.

And when it comes to success, the figures speak for themselves:

Year on year growth in defence exports…

And a 22% share of the global defence market…making us the second largest exporter of new defence products and services, behind the US.

No less crucial are the diplomatic returns we get from engaging with other countries…

…returns that make exports a pillar of our international defence engagement strategy…and, ultimately, our national security.


Thirdly: Thinking more internationally.

Which brings me to my third point: thinking more internationally.

Because in this increasingly interconnected world, if we’re to stay ahead of the game…

From first to last, we must pool our resources more widely, a key tenet of our white paper.

It means collaborating on science and technology, as we do with 18 nations, including, of course, the US…

…with whom we have around 100 joint research and development arrangements currently underway.

And with whom I hope we can explore the potential for more joint working under their third offset strategy.

It means developing and procuring capability together…

…multilaterally as with the A400M…

Or bilaterally…as we’ve done with the French on the FASGW missile system or with US on the Common Missile Compartment.

Sometimes, it’ll mean working as equal partners, sometimes it’ll mean differing levels of national commitment, and sometimes it’ll simply mean agreeing to buy off each other’s shelf…as we’re exploring with the US when it comes to Scout and Striker.

Each approach presents pros and cons.

But whichever one we take…I believe it’s inevitable and desirable that UK capability programmes will become increasingly international.

And, if I’m right, it’ll be vital to work hand in glove with our allies and partner nations to make this shift in a coordinated and intelligent fashion…

…Ensuring we can align acquisition, access each other’s markets…and see capability collaboration for what it really is: a force multiplier and a pooling of the market; not a mechanism for eroding national sovereignty, competition or profit.

What’s more, by adopting common equipment platforms, interfaces and standards, our armed forces will be better able to interoperate with our allies…

Making collaborations more than just the sum of their parts when meeting the onslaught of emerging and rapidly evolving threats.



So as we approach the next SDSR

…despite the challenging targets the MOD has had for the last 5 years…

…defence can enter the process from a position of much greater strength than the doomsayers suggest…

…a strength that is the legacy of 5 years of imagination, innovation and internationalism…

…offset by a regime of realism, efficiency and prudence.

UK defence is in a far, far better place today than we were 5 years ago.

I firmly believe that whoever holds the reins of power…

And of course now 20 minutes closer to the polls opening, I am increasingly positive about the prospects that this will be the party I have the honour to be part of….

But whoever has the rare privilege of joining the ministerial team in the Ministry of Defence, I am sure that if they continue on the course we have set…

As a nation, working closely in concert with our international allies, we will find opportunity in adversity…

To deliver security through defence…

…to secure the future for Britain.

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14 juillet 2014 1 14 /07 /juillet /2014 16:50
Defence for 2015 and Beyond – Part 1 Introduction



With less than a year to go to the next General Election and thereafter the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 it’s time to start considering the background, priorities and options for the future of the UK’s defence.

After the criticism of SDSR 2010 there is a clear need to develop thorough and transparent strategic thinking to define the UK’s military forces, disposition and capabilities.  This must not only include a realistic assessment of medium and long-term threats to the security of the UK but take into account current capabilities and the likely financial constraints that any future Government will have to operate under.

To ensure long-term planning, stability and value for money every attempt should be made to achieve a political consensus in this assessment and that is why discussion should begin now, giving at least a year for informed comment to influence the priorities and options for SDSR 2015.  This is especially important in a world where procurement projects are increasingly taking 20 years to move from conception to deployment and where threats can evolve over much shorter time periods.

We need to begin by defining our key defence priorities and the minimum necessary force levels that can achieve these goals through a series of scenario plans.  We should then analyse the strengths and weaknesses of both our current defence forces and those of our allies to see where there might be gaps in capability that need to be addressed.

So what should be the United Kingdom’s key defence priorities?

  1. The security of the United Kingdom itself, our airspace and territorial waters and our ability to remain a free democratic country.
  2. The defence of our remaining sovereign territories throughout the world.
  3. Our defence and security obligations to treaty partners and regional neighbours in NATO.  Scenarios that need to be planned for include any potential threat from the south or Middle East and increased Russian assertiveness from the east and north.  The analysis here only considers the position of European NATO members as the strength of US forces available is highly uncertain as they enter a period of significant budget reductions and a marked change of focus towards Asia.
  4. A capability to operate in defence of our national interests and other international obligations on a global basis either (a) in co-operation with our allies or (b) on our own.

After examining each of these scenarios and what forces and equipment would be needed for the UK to be secure we should then use this information to inform the proposed structure of the British Army, Royal Navy and RAF respectively.

For each service we need to examine whether current plans are adequate and whether new equipment or additional forces are required.  However, we also need to address where any additional cuts, that may be unavoidable, could fall with minimal damage to the UK’s overall military effectiveness.

In total six Options are outlined going from an aspirational option where the defence budget is increased in real terms to options where there are further reductions in funding.

Finally, all of this information will be brought together to outline the options for change available in the 2015 SDSR.



The rest of the series

Part 1 – Introduction

Part 2 – Defence of the United Kingdom

Part 3 – Other Sovereign Territories

Part 4 – NATO

Part 5 – A Southern or Middle Eastern Threat

Part 6 – An Eastern and Northern Threat

Part 7 – Global Intervention

Part 8 – British Army 2025

Part 9 – Royal Navy 2025

Part 10 – Royal Air Force 2025

Part 11 – Conclusion

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5 juin 2013 3 05 /06 /juin /2013 18:20
USMC AV-8B Harrier II hovering - photo D. Miller

USMC AV-8B Harrier II hovering - photo D. Miller

05/06/2013 by Paul Fiddian - Armed Forces International's Lead Reporter


The USMC Harrier II fleet is set to have its service life extended to 2030, with the F-35 Lightning II now further off entering service than originally expected.


Previously, the Marine Corps' AV-8Bs were due to be phased out in 2027 but, now, they'll remain in service for a minimum of three more years.


The USMC would have got its first F-35Bs this year but, now, their arrival's been put back to 2015 at best. Therefore, the USMC Harriers are being upgraded and in their favour is an abundance of extra airframes, spare parts and support equipment recently obtained from the UK, which no longer operates the Harrier.


The UK's Harrier Force was retired in December 2010 as a result of the SDSR (Strategic Defence and Security Review). The then-redundant airframes were initially stored but, shortly afterwards, sold to the US, after it became apparent that the F-35 programme was not proceeding as expected. Some now consider it ironic that the F-35's predecessor is, in effect, temporarily taking the new aircraft's place within the USMC.


USMC Harriers


The AV-8B VSTOL (Vertical Short Take Off and Landing) aircraft is a development of early Harrier models which, in turn, led to the UK's GR5, GR7 and GR9 versions. It features a redesigned wing and fuselage, a raised cockpit and other aerodynamic and systems enhancements, along with a weapons hardpoints increase.


Introduced in 1985, the AV-8B Harrier II remains in widespread USMC service and also equips the Spanish and Italian navies.


Powered by a Rolls-Royce vectored-thrust turbofan, it has a top speed of Mach 1 and a range of 1,200 miles. Its weapons include AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, AGM-65 Maverick and AGM-84 Harpoon air-to-ground missiles, CBU-100 cluster bombs and Paveway laser-guided bombs.


The AV-8B Harrier II's operational career includes deployments in the Iraq War, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Odyssey Dawn (Libya).

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7 septembre 2011 3 07 /09 /septembre /2011 16:50


The Nimrod MRA4 project was axed photo BAE Systems


07/09/11 By Craig Hoyle SOURCE:Flight International


Late last year, the UK armed forces were rocked by the effects of a Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) process overseen by a new coalition government determined to tackle a massive budget deficit head-on.


Almost 12 months later, the defence industry will gather for its largest post-SDSR coming-together at the Defence & Security Equipment International show, or DSEi, which will be held in London's Docklands on 13-16 September.

Since the event was last held two years ago, the UK has lost its fixed-wing carrier strike capability with the early retirement of its BAE Systems Harrier GR7/9s, and seen its replacement maritime patrol aircraft, BAE's Nimrod MRA4, axed after a programme investment of over £3 billion ($4.8 billion).


Also gone are two of the Royal Navy's three Invincible-class aircraft carriers and the Royal Air Force's last Panavia Tornado F3 fighters and Nimrod R1 electronic intelligence aircraft. Two squadrons equipped with the Tornado GR4 strike aircraft have also recently been disbanded, with the move having also trimmed a fleet that is expected to remain in use until around 2020.


Dramatic in nature, these cuts were adopted against a backdrop of the UK's recent withdrawal of forces from Iraq, and with plans in place for the country to end its combat commitment in Afghanistan around 2015, following the progressive transfer of control to local authorities. But the rise of the "Arab Spring" movement in nations across the Middle East and North Africa throughout this year has provided an unexpected test for a military hard-hit by the spending cuts introduced by UK defence secretary Dr Liam Fox.


In announcing the recommendations of the SDSR last October, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said his country's coalition government was seeking to tackle an investment "black hole" inherited from the previous Labour administration, which it valued at £38 billion. Failure to tackle this shortfall now could result in a more "severe recalibration in the future", Fox told the Royal United Services Institute's Air Power conference in London in mid-July.

The SDSR has received much criticism for the swift nature of its completion and the severity of its cuts. Speaking at the same event, one analyst described the process as having been "four years in anticipation, but only four months in gestation".


Sir Brian Burridge, Finmeccanica UK's vice-president, strategic marketing, and formerly one of the RAF's most senior ranking officers, drew a different analogy when referring to the loss of key capabilities. "The concern is that this government might come out of the supermarket without a balanced meal, and that the next time it goes the shelves will be empty," he said.


RAF Panavia Tornado GR4, SAC Simon Armstrong/Crown Copyright
 © SAC Simon Armstrong/Crown Copyright
Tornado GR4s will serve until around 2020


DSEi will provide a focus for the UK's defence contractors to pursue already planned deals and fresh business, both at home and on the international stage. It will also highlight the security opportunities available, with London preparing to host the Olympic Games in mid-2012.


Speaking at a pre-show media briefing on 6 September, minister for international security strategy Gerald Howarth identified the role that global defence and security sales could play in helping to repair the UK's economic prospects. "Exports are critical to a sustainable recovery," he said. "The UK defence industry is proving itself to be well-placed to weather the storm."


With UK defence exports having totalled around £6 billion in 2010 - when it was second only to the USA in terms of total exports - and security systems around £2 billion more, selling on the global stage is a vital requirement at a time of domestic squeeze. Current targets include closing a proposed government-to-government deal to supply Eurofighter Typhoons to Oman, and a campaign to offer the same type for India's medium multi-role combat aircraft deal.


The Typhoon made its combat debut for the UK as a multi-role platform earlier this year, with the RAF employing the type's air-to-surface weapons against regime targets in Libya. Perhaps crucially for the European type, the fighter also looks set to receive an active electronically scanned array radar enhancement, while MBDA's Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile also should be available for operational use from around 2015.


But more attention at DSEi will be given to Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), which will be on display as a full-scale mock-up. However, reflecting the UK's last-minute decision to swap to the C-model carrier variant, the design on show will be in the short take-off and vertical landing guise.


To meet the Joint Combat Aircraft requirement from late this decade, the F-35C will be flown from the Royal Navy's (RN's) two future aircraft carriers, with the combination to reintroduce a big-deck operating model last employed by the UK in the late 1970s.


UK Carrier with F-35s, BAE Systems
 © BAE Systems

F-35Cs will fly from the UK's future carriers


One source previously involved with the JSF programme describes the SDSR's surprise variant switch as potentially "one of the most catastrophic procurement decisions ever made". Abandoning years of experience in flying vertical/short take-off and landing Harriers could end up costing UK taxpayers billions of pounds extra, the source claims, as a result of the additional training needed to ensure pilots maintain proficiency. Regaining this skill is already a focus of attention, with the RN looking to train a new cadre of Fleet Air Arm officers on US Navy Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.


The UK's exact requirements for the F-35 have yet to be set, but the Ministry of Defence has previously identified a need for up to 138 of the aircraft. An initial three F-35Bs were ordered to participate alongside the US military during initial operational test and evaluation of the new aircraft, but the allies are working out the details of a deal to exchange the last example for an F-35C.


The new type could achieve initial operating capability as a land-based asset from roughly 2018, before launching embarked operations around 2020. Its introduction must be balanced with the planned draw-down of the Tornado GR4 force: an activity that Fox says will be "particularly challenging".


Some level of funding commitment will be required next year, to cover the order of long-lead items for an initial batch of around 16 aircraft to be built during the programme's low-rate initial production phase.


"We are still in the midst of the post-defence review figuring our conversion from -35B to -35C, and there's an awful lot of work still in that rescheduling process," says Air Marshal Kevin Leeson, the UK's chief of materiel (air).


For now, while the UK's carrier strike capability lapses, the strong performance of the Army Air Corps' Westland/Boeing Apache AH1 attack helicopters over Libya in May 2011 from HMS Ocean has highlighted one likely means by which the nation could respond to other such contingencies until its future aircraft carriers and F-35Cs enter use.


Plans to buy the JSF were safeguarded in July, when the government announced a planned £3 billion increase in defence spending for the five-year period starting 2015-16. This sum will help to cover initial spending on the F-35C, as well as the costs of converting both Queen Elizabeth-class carriers with catapults and arrestor gear.


The commitment also enabled the MoD last month to sign a £1 billion order for 14 Boeing CH-47 Chinook HC6 transport helicopters and to complete the acquisition of three Air Seeker (RC-135 Rivet Joint) surveillance aircraft. A memorandum of understanding covering logistics support activities and capability updates for the latter fleet until 2025 was also recently signed, with this valued at more than $850 million. The aircraft will replace the retired Nimrod R1s from 2014.


One glaring capability shortfall created by the SDSR has yet to be addressed, however. The cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 has left the MoD having to improvise on the provision of long-range maritime patrol aircraft cover by using RAF Lockheed C-130J transports and RN AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin HM1 shipborne helicopters.


Proposals have been made by industry to adapt some C-130Js to assume the role on a more formal basis, but other contractors are looking at any potential demand to field a smaller aircraft, possibly using an airframe such as the Alenia Aeronautica C-27J or Hawker Beechcraft King Air. With money to remain tight for some years to come, the idea of acquiring a more dedicated type - such as Boeing's 737-based P-8, now in development for the US Navy - seems fanciful.


Apache/Ocean, Crown Copyright
 © Crown Copyright

The Apache/Ocean pairing could sail again


Importantly, the costs associated with supporting NATO's Libyan operation since March have been covered from the Treasury reserve, and not the over-stretched defence budget.


The Libyan campaign has underlined the importance of the pending introduction of 14 Airbus A330-200-based Voyager tanker/transports from late this year, and of past investments in weapons systems such as MBDA's Storm Shadow cruise missile and dual-mode Brimstone air-to-surface missile, and Raytheon Systems' Paveway IV precision-guided bomb. It has also highlighted the value of the Bombardier Global Express-based Sentinel R1 surveillance aircraft's synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indication sensor, months after it was identified in the SDSR for disposal after the needs of Afghanistan.


The jury is still out as to whether the government's cuts to date and commitment for a future spending increase will cover the armed forces' procurement plans. Answers could be quick in coming, however, with an independent body having been tasked with conducting an "affordability audit" late this year on the MoD's top projects.


Looking at the likely equipment spending bill out to 2018-19 in his Defence Analysis publication, military analyst Francis Tusa says: "The spend curve looks far from balanced, and [SDSR] could well cause as many troubles as it resolved." He adds: "The extra 1% annual defence budget rise is only kicking in after 2015, so one has to ask how the books have been balanced prior to that time, when some £3 billion in funding will be needed."

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