News Round-Up – September 27th 2017

british army combat

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.


General Defence News

US-led Exercise Formidable Shield begins offshore Scotland
(Naval Technology)

Trump’s new UK ambassador wrongly accuses Britain of spending ‘minimum’ on its military
(The Independent)

MoD sells off ships, planes and vehicles to meet £20billion hole in defence budget
(Daily Star)

Shocking rise in number of monkeys used for experiments at Ministry of Defence’s top secret warfare lab
(Mirror)

Brit military wants a small-drone-killer system for £20m
(The Register)

Prince Harry kicks off Invictus Games in Toronto
(insideTORONTO.com)

Ministry of Defence bracing for a no-deal Brexit to protect Armed Forces
(Mirror)

Two planes collide in mid air at Duxford Battle of Britain air show
(Essex Live)


British Army News

Former sergeant major who applied for 400 jobs still struggles to find work
(Telegraph)

The British Army is trying to give its tanks ‘shields’
(Scout)

Battle over plans for new £3bn contract for new Army vehicle
(Telegraph)

‘When will this nightmare end?’ War vet tells of shock at fourth inquiry into suspicious death of Iraqi civilian
(Telegraph)

Army grounds £1bn drone fleet after two crash
(Telegraph)


Royal Air Force News

What happened to Corrie McKeague? Bury St Edmunds RAF gunner is still missing one year later
(The Sun)

Shamed historian ordered to pay widow of RAF hero £12500 for stealing treasured Dambusters log book
(Scottish Daily Record)

Dozens of ex-RAF workers ‘suffering life threatening illness and terminal cancers after being exposed to deadly chemicals
(The Sun)

Lucky thirteen take to the skies! Dramatic sight over wartime fighter station as Spitfires and bombers
(Daily Mail)

British pilot of Maltese descent Graham Muscat brings T2 Hawk to Malta for the first time
(Malta Independent Online)


Royal Navy & Marines News

Ultra Electronics wins £37m contract with BAE Systems
(Digital Look)

HMS Ocean has arrived in the Caribbean in mammoth relief effort
(Plymouth Herald)

The Royal Navy and Freedom of Navigation Operations
(CIMSEC)

New Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship to support the Aircraft Carriers arrives in UK
(Royal Navy)

Watch Royal Navy bomb squad carry out explosion on busy Cornwall beach
(Cornwall Live)


Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

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Latest incursion by Spanish warship in to Gibraltar’s waters prompts calls to cancel visit by King Felipe VI to Buckingham Palace

A Spanish Navy warship, the Centinela, deliberately ignored radio calls from authorities on Gibraltar after it violated British territorial waters around the island on Saturday. This prompted the Royal Navy’s Gibraltar Squadron to dispatch one of its fast patrol boats, HMS Sabre, to order the vessel to leave.  It has been reported by the press in Gibraltar that this led to a potentially dangerous situation when the British patrol boat came “within yards” of being rammed by the 1,200 ton Spanish warship.

Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron HMS Sabre

The British Daily Express newspaper claimed a source within the Royal Navy told them;

Instead of leaving, she deliberately altered and re-altered her course. At one stage there was a real and imminent danger of collision.

The government on Gibraltar were quick to condemn the incident and criticised the Spanish Navy and government for the provocative act. Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said;

These silly but dangerous manoeuvres by a supposed Nato ally are operationally irresponsible, legally irrelevant and politically inopportune. They do nothing to create a positive environment for mutual co-operation and instead hark back to another century.

This latest incident comes ahead of a planned visit by Spanish King Felipe VI to the UK scheduled to take place in the middle of this month. It is the first time in over 31 years that a Spanish monarch has visited Britain but some MPs have called for the visit to be cancelled in protest to Spain’s continued disregard for Gibraltar’s sovereignty.

Conservative Andrew Rosindell, MP for the Romford constituency in Greater London, said on Sunday;

The people of Gibraltar are rightly nervous. They break the rules while we, in turn, welcome the King and Queen of Spain for a state visit. What kind of message is that for the people of Gibraltar? The people of Gibraltar are very unnerved, and rightly so. The Government needs to be much more robust.

Last weekend’s incident is only the latest in a long line of incursions in to the waters around Gibraltar by Spanish ships;

  • Tuesday July 7th 2015 – A Royal Navy RIB was damaged in a collision with the Spanish survey ship Angeles Alvarino in Gibraltar’s waters.
  • April 2016 – It was reported that a Spanish Guarda Civil patrol boat deliberately blocked a US submarine, USS Florida, as it sailed through Gibraltar’s waters forcing the Royal Navy to fire flares over the vessel to warn it off.
  • Sunday November 20th 2016 – HMS Sabre uses flares to warn off the Spanish survey ship Angeles Alvarino after attempts to contact it by radio failed.
  • Thursday April 13th 2017 – Royal Navy escorts patrol boat Infanta Cristina back to Spanish waters.
  • Saturday April 29th 2017 – The Spanish corvette ‘Cazadora’ entered waters off Gibraltar, where Royal Navy and local police launches sailed out to meet it.

Earlier this week, British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed Britain’s continued support for Gibraltar’s sovereignty while the EU continues to demand that Spain should have influence over the British territory’s future after Brexit.

News Round-Up – June 13th 2017

Panavia Tornado GR.4 No.31 Squadron Goldstars paveway brimstone

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.

Ongoing News

British military base in Cyprus hit by blast
(ITV)


General News

Britain is sleepwalking into joining EU army, warns top UK military commander
(Express.co.uk)

Post UK election, ‘defense will have to fight hard for what it needs’
(Defense News)

US Air Force Says F-35 Tech Can Stop Enemies From Learning New Info on F-35
(Scout.com)

US warplane ‘in emergency landing’ at RAF base as Trump moves bombers to UK
(Daily Star)

Lessons from The Troubles
(National Review)


British Army News

Ministry of Defence paid nearly £22 million in Iraq War compensation claims
(ITV)

British Army Band performs in Baku
(AZERTAC News)

3 ways data has transformed the British Army
(Information Age)

Law firm cleared of misconduct charges over Iraq cases
(Financial Times)


Royal Air Force News

ISIS leader Baghdadi ‘on the run’ as RAF bombers ramp up air offensive in Syria
(Express.co.uk)

Dad of missing RAF man, Corrie McKeague, releases new family snaps and says he’d do ‘anything’ to get his son back
(The Sun)

Divers plan to recover Dambuster bouncing bombs in time for 75th anniversary of raid
(Mirror)

Is RAF Northolt being turned into ‘little Heathrow’?
(Get West London)


Royal Navy & Marines News

Royal Navy seizes drugs in fishing dhow in Indian Ocean
(Daily Nation)

Wood Group to deliver insulation installation services for UK’s Astute-class submarines
(Naval-Technology)

Ultra Electronics Wins Contract From Royal Navy
(LSE)


Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

News Round-Up – May 12th 2017

RAF Reaper drone UAV

Here are some of the latest British military news stories making the headlines this past week.

Ongoing News Story

UK among 70 countries hit in massive cyber attack
(BBC)


General News

Great Britain needs a defence strategy for the post-Brexit age
(The Telegraph)

USAF Awards $48M Contract To BAE Systems To Operate 5 Phased Array Radar Systems Stations
(Defense World)

Leonardo to Develop Next-Gen Missile Decoy With UK Air Force Rapid Capability Office
(Executive Biz)

Commoners shell-shocked by MoD ‘land-grab’ plan
(Farmer’s Weekly)


British Army News

Army chiefs and wounded war heroes deliver damning letter to PM demanding she save forces from cuts
(The Sun)

British soldiers train Nigerian Army instructors
(Premium Times)

Exhibition opened looking at history of Sikh soldiers in British Army
(Slough Express)


Royal Air Force News

Heartbroken mum of missing RAF man Corrie McKeague fears police have been given “wrong information”
(Mirror)

Thales connects simulators for Tornado GR4 at RAF bases
(Airforce Technology)

RAF Shawbury, drone flying advice for Low Flying Area 9
(sUAS News)

Heartwarming moment little disabled girl runs towards her RAF dad as they reunite after months of Afghanistan service
(Mirror)


Royal Navy & Marines News

Royal Navy Escorts Russian Sub Through English Channel
(Maritime Executive)

Securing the Royal Navy’s future firepower
(Naval Technology)

Prince Harry to take over from Philip as head of Royal Marines
(Express)

Sailor airlifted from UK submarine off Achill coast
(Mayo News)


Disclaimer: All news stories are the property of their respective publishers. Any opinions expressed in the articles are of the person making them. An effort is made to vary news sources as much as possible to avoid political bias.

Spanish Navy vessel intercepted by Royal Navy off Gibraltar as tension grows

spanish gunboat gibraltarAs the war of words between Britain and Spain intensifies over the future of Gibraltar following the triggering of Article 50 starting Britain’s process of leaving the European Union, a Spanish gunboat entered Gibraltar’s territorial waters today and was promptly intercepted by a Royal Navy patrol boat. The vessel was then escorted back to Spanish waters.

A spokesperson for the government of Gibraltar was quoted in the Press Association as saying;

 The ship entered British/Gibraltarian territorial waters. It was met by the Gibraltar Squadron and invited to leave.

Gibraltar has been a British possession since 1713 when it was officially ceded under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht to Great Britain although it had been under a British occupation since 1704 when it was captured by Admiral Sir George Rooke. The Treaty of Utrecht helped end the War of the Spanish Succession which saw an alliance of European nations including Britain fighting against France and Spain which was then ruled by Philip, Duke of Anjou, the second-eldest grandson of King Louis XIV of France.

In the treaty, Spain outlined that Britain now held dominion over;

The full and entire propriety of the town and castle of Gibraltar, together with the port, fortifications, and forts thereunto belonging … for ever, without any exception or impediment whatsoever.

Modern-day Spain largely accepts that Britain has control over the island but the source of the dispute lays in the waters around “the rock” that are considered British. Spain claims this inhibits its fishing industry and presents an obstacle to its shipping. The Government of Gibraltar and the UK government disagree, a position largely accepted by the international community.

hms-sabre-scimitar-class-patrol-boat-royal-navy-gibraltarThe Royal Navy maintains two fast patrol boats under the Gibraltar Squadron namely HMS Sabre and HMS Scimitar, to help secure Gibraltar’s shores and support military and civil vessels in the Strait of Gibraltar. These vessels are also supported by a small number of rigid inflatables one of which was damaged during an incident involving an intruding Spanish survey vessel in 2015.

While long the source of debate between Britain and Spain, the argument flared again when Gibraltar featured in a document last week outlining the plans for Britain’s Article 50 negotiations that suggested that Spain would be given a veto over any agreements that cover the British territory. British Prime Minister Theresa May and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have both reiterated that the sovereignty of the islands will be decided by the people who live there and it is clear they wish to remain British despite the island’s population voting against Brexit last year.

Wildcat assembly to be relocated from Yeovil to Italy

Italian company Leonardo Helicopters subcontracts out the assembly of the Lynx Wildcat helicopters for the Royal Navy to GKN which carries out the work at their facility in Yeovil, Somerset adjacent to RNAS Yeovilton. However, staff at the site have been told that as many as 230 jobs could be lost due to Leonardo deciding to relocate assembly to Italy.

A Leonardo spokesman was quoted in Manufacturing and Engineering Magazine (MEM) as saying that the primary reason for them relocating the work to Italy was due to “changes in their demand” making the current arrangement “no longer sustainable”. However, MEM have quoted sources claiming that Leonardo’s decision is politically motivated as opposed to reflecting a change in demand.

The Lynx Wildcat is the latest development of the earlier Westland Lynx and will become one of the most significant rotary-wing types in service with the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm over the coming decade. The engines are considerably more powerful than the previous generation Lynx HMA.8’s Gem 42-200 powerplants providing significantly improved performance when operating in hot and high conditions. The aircraft’s flight and weapon systems are also significantly improved.

Union representatives are demanding greater government action to protect GKN employees and other defence industry jobs from going overseas particularly in the wake of the Brexit vote which some claim has left the UK in a state of industrial limbo which has dissuaded investment.

 

 

 

Could a Trump presidency encourage an EU Army?

Even the most casual observer of US politics has been shaken by the extremities of the Donald Trump presidential campaign. He is perhaps the most high profile example of the recent trend in western politics as a whole of more colourful characters that are trying to Donald Trump NATObuck the trend of the grey-suited, stoic politicians that are often indistinguishable from one another. Regardless of your own opinion of Donald Trump it can’t be denied that he is a charismatic personality that can fire up his supporters and energise crowds with his often inflammatory statements.

While the rest of the world has looked on with curiosity at the battle for the Republican leadership it was a recent statement by Trump that has got Europe slightly worried. Speaking in Cleveland, Ohio earlier this week the Republican candidate for the White House reiterated his “America First” policy and as part of that he dropped the bombshell that if he gets in the White House then America may not automatically honour its obligations to defend NATO countries should they come under attack.

This is in reference to Article 5 of NATO membership which promotes the principle of collective defence which has been at the very heart of NATO since its founding. The term “collective defence” means that an attack against one member state is considered an attack against all member states. It is interesting to note that only once in the alliance’s history has Article 5 ever been invoked and it was in defence of the United States of America in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Trump said that while he would “prefer to go on” with the way things are regarding the alliance he clarified his position by stating that under his presidency, US support to a member state would depend entirely on how much that member has contributed to the alliance. This is more than just Trump stating that the US will not foot the bill for European defence. It can be argued that the US signed the Washington Treaty regarding collective defence and is therefore bound by it but from the Trump camp’s perspective, many of Europe’s members have already failed to live up to their own commitments by not meeting the target of 2% of GDP being spent on defence in 2016.

According to figures published by NATO earlier this month only five out of the twenty-eight countries in NATO have met this target;

  1. The United States of America
  2. The United Kingdom
  3. Greece
  4. Estonia
  5. Poland

Not even France and Germany have met this target which means that much of Europe has little right to criticise Donald Trump regarding honouring the Washington Treaty and NATO itself. The reasons why so many countries have not spent 2% of their economies on defence as required are both varied and numerous but the biggest problem has been claimed to be Europe’s slow recovery from the economic crisis of 2008 and to a lessor extent the influx of refugees from Syria and Africa.

Reading between the lines however there is another factor that Trump and his supporters are becoming increasingly frustrated with. It is interesting to note that he specifically mentions a member state’s support to the alliance not the defence of Europe for there are now two military factions protecting western Europe; NATO and the military wing of the European Union. The EU has no army but instead has an organisational wing devoted to military cooperation between members.

EU European Union Army.jpgGenerally speaking, NATO still takes priority in the defence of western Europe but the armed forces of the European Union are increasingly becoming a more dominant factor in European foreign policies. From its very inception, NATO has been driven by US policies afforded to Washington by American military and economic support that was vital to western Europe’s defence during the days of the Cold War. For France in particular this was an intolerable position and there has long been a feeling that there has been a determination in Europe to rid itself of the White House with the ultimate goal being to create a true “EU Army”. This has understandably caused friction across the Atlantic as the US sees NATO having to compete for resources with the EU military wing.

With this in mind, it is easier to understand US frustration with Europe but if “President Trump” intends to force Europe in to deciding which is more important – NATO or the EU Army – then he may find that the European dream that is the EU may in fact overpower the perceived need for NATO especially if the matter is handed to the people in a referendum. The Trump policy of “America First” which has won him so many supporters in the US may in fact convince EU member states that President Trump’s America would be an unreliable ally and view a true European Army as the only way to guarantee its defence in the face of an increasingly aggressive Russia and an alarming increase in terrorist activity.

It’s a nightmare scenario for “Brexit Britain” which would find itself out of the European Union and in a NATO that stands for very little anymore. Of course, the UK would still enjoy its special relationship with the United States but as a political outsider on the European continent its strategic position would be significantly weakened.

But an EU Army being primarily responsible for the defence of western Europe would be a potential disaster for Europe as well. After sixty years of NATO dominance the militaries of Europe have come to rely heavily on the United States military for a number of specialised roles e.g. there is no real equivalent to the Boeing E/A-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft in Europe’s air forces. More fundamentally, the sheer number of “boots on the ground” an EU Army could generate would be many times smaller than a mobilised NATO force.

Again, the worry is that Trump’s extreme foreign policies would actually encourage the formation of an EU Army despite these drawbacks. Proponents of the EU Army would argue that with pooled resources Europe could develop its own equivalent systems that it currently has to rely on the US for but what they forget is that Europe still relies very heavily on US weapon systems such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (below). Put bluntly, a totally EU Army cannot shake off US influence completely.

F-35 Lightning II 1

So how can such a nightmare scenario be avoided?

The obvious answer is that European NATO members meet their 2% commitment to NATO and confirm that the alliance has authority over defence of the west. As the old saying goes; that’s easier said than done. The European economy is largely recovering from 2008 but with the withdrawal of one of the major economic powers, the United Kingdom, being imminent and the influx of refugees from Syria and Africa placing a weighty burden on European countries the prospect of NATO’s target being met by every country looks bleak. Even NATO’s second largest standing army, Turkey, is now in complete disarray following the recent coup attempt to overthrow the government in Ankara bringing in to doubt how useful it would be to NATO if a major crisis erupts in the coming months.

Only Donald Trump knows how far his presidency may push Europe over NATO should he win the upcoming US election. Regardless of this fact however there continues to be a will in Europe to establish the EU Army. Against such a backdrop, NATO may either have to go through a radical reshaping or be disbanded altogether and have the US, UK and Canada sign a new treaty with the EU Army regarding the defence of the west.