Tuesday, 12 November 2019
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The Defence Viewpoints interview.
Sir Kevin Tebbit, former Permanent Under Secretary at the Ministry of Defence talked to Nick Watts recently.
 
At a time of fiscal stringency where every department is undergoing spending cuts the retention of Britain’s nuclear deterrent is once again under scrutiny. The current Coalition Government has undertaken a review to examine alternatives to the proposed Trident successor programme. As things stand, this will be based on a submarine launched ballistic missile system. Some initial design studies have already been ordered. The replacement is due to begin entering service in 2028.  The current stockpile of warheads is reported to be viable until the mid-2030s. The MOD expects that the programme will reach Main Gate in 2016. The Trident alternatives review is due to report on the feasibility of alternative methods of delivering a nuclear capability in the first half of 2013. It is seen by some as an attempt by the Liberal Democrats to argue the case for nuclear disarmament.
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A|D|S, the UK's AeroSpace, Defence and Security trade organisation yesterday commented on the signing of a defence treaty between UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

Ian Godden, Chairman of A|D|S, said:

As the natural partner to both Governments, with an existing strong element of cross-Channel co-operation, the UK-based defence industry welcomes today's treaty. This agreement may well prove crucial to both retaining and developing future capabilities within Europe by ensuring sustained investment in research and technology (R&T) - to deliver the next generation of programmes for our armed forces. The alternative, buying off the shelf from the US, is often not the appropriate solution for our troops and this development ensures that future governments will retain a choice of suppliers both UK-based and from overseas that meet the needs of our armed forces.

The UK is number one in Europe and second only to the US worldwide in terms of global defence exports market share. The UK defence sector employs over 300,000 people, generates more than £35 billion per year to the UK economy and last year our defence exports were worth £7.2 billion. Retaining a manufacturing base of this scale in Britain will sustain this economic strength for the long-term and ensure a continued competitiveness in the global market to meet the aims of the Government to grow our economy through exports.

Joint R&T programmes that lead to collaborative procurement programmes can be an efficient way of delivering capabilities to our armed forces that might not be affordable on a purely national basis. The conditions for co-operating with French industry have never been better. Both countries are seeking to sustain capabilities which they could otherwise not afford. Our R&T budgets are of similar size and we are engaged in similar operations which require similar capabilities. We look forward to joint programmes that will benefit from the efficiencies that flow from larger scale purchases and sustain skills and technology.

 

On the 9th June a NATO helicopter providing support to British troops in Afghanistan was shot down by Taliban forces. The deaths of four American crewmen took the number of U.S. casualties for the month to 19 servicemen. What was already proving to be a bad month for the United States and its partners has since then got much worse.

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A new programme of defence co-operation between the UK and France has been announced by British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy today, Tuesday 2 November 2010.

The programme is to be delivered through an overarching Defence Co-operation Treaty, a subordinate treaty relating to a joint nuclear facility, a letter of intent signed by Defence Ministers and a package of joint defence initiatives.

The announcement was made by the two leaders following a summit meeting held in London today.

This co-operation is intended to improve collective defence capability through UK and French forces working more closely together, contributing to more capable and effective forces, and ultimately improving the collective capability of NATO and European Defence.

These measures build on commitments made in the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review to create stronger strategic defence relationships with the UK's main allies whose security interests and military capabilities are closest to our own.

The measures agreed between the UK and France today will include:

• jointly developing a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) as a non-standing bilateral capability able to carry out a range of operations in the future whether acting bilaterally or through NATO, the EU or other coalition arrangements - this concept will be developed over the coming years;

• building primarily on maritime task group co-operation around the French carrier Charles de Gaulle - the UK and France will aim to have, by the early 2020s, the ability to deploy a UK-French integrated carrier strike group incorporating assets owned by both countries;

• developing joint military doctrine and training programmes;

• extending bilateral co-operation on the acquisition of equipment and technologies, for example in unmanned aerial systems, complex weapons, submarine technologies, satellite communications and research and technology;

• aligning wherever possible our logistics arrangements - including providing spares and support to the new A400M transport aircraft;

• developing a stronger defence industrial and technology base; and

• enhancing joint working to defend against emerging security concerns such as cyber security.

Overall, the Defence Co-operation Treaty will enable the strengthening of operational linkages between the French and UK Armed Forces, sharing and pooling of materials and equipment, building of joint facilities, mutual access to defence markets, and increased industrial and technological co-operation.

 

There was a hint today from UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox that there could be a radical change to the new aircraft carriers already under construction.

When the design was first unveiled, some play was made of the fact that they were "adaptable" - i.e. while the principal plan was to operate STOVL aircraft (F-35B replacing Harriers) the design could allow for catapults and arrester wires to be installed instead.

Writing in The Times, Dr Fox criticised "the decision  to order aircraft carriers that are not fully interoperable with our two closest allies - the United States and France. Neither the French Rafale nor the US Navy's planned version of the Joint Strike Fighter could land or take off from our carriers.

"The design of the carriers also meant that the variant of JSF as planned is the most expensive."

Although he goes on to say that "getting the carriers right would take longer and is likely to cost more", there are clear seeds there. After all, the F-35C - US Navy variant - is cheaper, has a longer range and greater "throw weight". This could justify a reduction in numbers on the basis of greater capability, and although time is money - as today's National Audit Office Major Projects Report clearly shows - there wouldn't be too much gnashing of teeth if delay in bringing the new carriers into service could be sold as being on the basis of capability and flexibility  not just expedience.

Then there's the politics. On November 2nd French President Sarkozy meets Prime Minister David Cameron at Portsmouth. Sarkozy is about to order more Rafales, a decision that is causing great scandal in Paris as he's accused of giving a "sweetener" to Serge Dassault to buy Le Parisien newspaper which would then back Sarkozy in the run-ip to the 2012 Presidentail elections. France also has its defence budget problems. It needs a second carrier to augment the small, under powered Charles de Gaulle. Bear in mind that France pitched in a nine figure sum at the design stage of the new UK carriers, so they have good visibility of its technical spec.  

How convenient would be the ability for maritime Rafales to hitch a ride on a UK carrier instead? And what a driver for the much-mooted improved Anglo-French defence co-operation.

And again today, US Secretary of State Clinton is reported to be concerned about defence cuts and says "Each country has to be able to make its appropriate contribution." How valuable would it be for Cameron to call Clinton and say "well, we've taken it to heart and we're going to make our carriers more interoperable with yours - and remember that our new strategic tanker aircraft use probe and drogue like the US Navy do, so we can keep backing you up with logistics as we have over Afghanistan so far". Added to which France is in the market for strategic tankers, so some kind of joint force would be another warm fuzzy for Britfrogs to push the way of the cousins.

Last straw in the wind? Recently a dozen UK Forces personnel have been undergoing training on cat and trap operations over in the USA.... 

 

To clarify : In the 6 years 2005 - 2010 31 Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel underwent training as pilots, landing safety officers or weapons ssytems officers on US carriers. The tempo is picking up : in the 3 years 2011-2013, which of course is right in the middle of  the UK carrier build programme, a further 51 will be trained.

In answer to a Parliamentary question, Defence Minister Lord Astor of Hever said : "The current design of the proposed "Queen Elizabeth" class aircraft carriers is also configured for the Short-Takeoff and Vertical Landing aircraft variant of the Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) but this carrier design could be adapted for the operation of catapult-assisted take-off aircraft. If this option is chosen, the training plan would be altered."

In other words, are we already training the trainers?

 

Britain's oldest WW1 veteran has this week been made an Officer of the French Legion of Honour.

Henry Allingham, aged 112, was awarded his Legion d'Honneur medal by the French Ambassador to Britain, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne at the French Embassy in London.

Henry, who served in World War One, is the oldest Royal Navy veteran, the last known survivor of the Battle of Jutland, a founding member of the Royal Air Force and Britain's oldest man.

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By George Friedman

The European financial crisis is moving to a new level. The Germans have finally consented to lead a bailout effort for Greece. The effort has angered the German public, which has acceded with sullen reluctance. It does not accept the idea that it is Germans' responsibility to save Greeks from their own actions. The Greeks are enraged at the reluctance, having understood that membership in the European Union meant that Greece's problems were Europe's.

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By Scott Stewart

On Oct. 8, 2009, French police and agents from the Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (known by its French acronym, DCRI) arrested French particle physicist Adlene Hicheur and his brother, Halim, who has a Ph.D. in physiology and biomechanics. French authorities arrested the brothers at their family home in Vienne, France, and also seized an assortment of computers and electronic media. After being questioned, Adlene Hicheur was kept in custody and charged on Oct. 12 with criminal association with a terrorist enterprise for allegedly helping al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) plan terrorist attacks in France. Halim Hicheur was released and denies that the brothers were involved in any wrongdoing.

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By George Friedman

Three major meetings will take place in Europe over the next nine days: a meeting of the G-20, a NATO summit and a meeting of the European Union with U.S. President Barack Obama. The week will define the relationship between the United States and Europe and reveal some intra-European relationships. If not a defining moment, the week will certainly be a critical moment in dealing with economic, political and military questions. To be more precise, the meeting will be about U.S.-German relations. Not only is Germany the engine of continental Europe, its policies diverge the most sharply from those of the United States. In some ways, U.S.-German relations have been the core of the U.S.-European relationship, so this marathon of summits will focus on the United States and Germany.

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by Katia Zatuliveter Resaerch Associate, U K Defence Forum

The decision to return to NATO's Integrated Military Structures (IMS) is one of the major recent changes in France's defence policy. It was announced by President Nicolas Sarkozy in August 2007. One of 12 founding members of NATO France left the IMS in 1966. The then French President Charles de Gaulle protested against the American domination in the organisation and what he perceived as a special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. Charles de Gaulle wanted to create a tripartite directorate that would put France on an equal footing with the US and the UK. His idea was not met with enthusiasm within the Alliance and de Gaulle made a dramatic decision.

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