News Round-Up – December 12th 2017

HMS Queen Elizabeth Royal Navy CVF carrier

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


General Defence News

Armed Forces face ‘completely unacceptable’ delay to pay rise
(Telegraph)

Theresa May orders ministers to cool public dispute over defence
(The Guardian)

Qatar Goes Ahead With $6.7 Billion Typhoon Combat Jets Deal With UK’s BAE Systems
(U.S. News & World Report)

The F-35 could intercept a North Korean missile launch — but it could bring an all-out war
(AOL)

Forces children’s charity which scooped a Sun Millie faces closure after Government denies funding
(The Sun)

‘Prepare for invasion’ Ex-MoD UFO chief drafts WAR PLAN for future ALIEN assault
(Express)

EU Army to be formed by 2025 – but France and Germany CLASH over defence plans
(Express)


British Army News

Can you find the camouflaged soldier hidden in this viral photo?
(Atlanta Journal)

Indian & British Army flex muscles in joint anti-terrorism exercise
(India Today)

Tank Driving Trainers To Strike
(Forces Network)

Royal Office minister meets top British military official
(Times of Oman)

New Capita system has left British Army recruits unable to register online
(The Register)


Royal Air Force News

Corrie McKeague: Mother of missing RAF serviceman ‘now knows’ her son is not in landfill
(ITV News)

Member of Brunei royal family was on RAF training course in Shropshire
(Shropshire Star)

RAF Typhoons Return To Fly Sorties Over Estonia
(Forces Network)

Youngster donates his Christmas money to help Bournemouth veteran after RAF plea
(Bournemouth Echo)

How Sly;RAF Tornado crews repeatedly killed US Navy F-14s and F/A-18s in training
(The Drive)


Royal Navy & Marines News

The Queen commissions the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier – HMS Queen Elizabeth (Telegraph)

MoD confirms it is in talks with Brazil over sale of Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean
(Plymouth Herald)

Head of the Royal Navy will fight for our Royal Marines ‘every step of the way’
(Plymouth Herald)

Plymouth could lose 1400 sailors and submariners as Devonport fleet comes under attack
(Plymouth Herald)

I was invited on the Royal Navy’s newest and most powerful aircraft carrier — here’s what it was like
(Business Insider)

Dockyard union calls on Royal Navy work for Rosyth to stave off job cuts
(The Courier)

Ex-RN helicopter in Irish service to be named after crewmember lost in accident
(Irish Examiner)

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.

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.

Typhoons to be sent to Romania to reassure Eastern European allies

typhoon_2657017bEurofighter Typhoon FGR.4s from the Royal Air Force’s No.3 (Fighter) Squadron based at RAF Coningsby are set to be deployed to Romania. Four aircraft and up to 150 personnel (air and ground crew) will be based at Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase in south east Romania for up to four months beginning on May 1st as part of NATO’s southern air policing mission.

The announcement was made by the British Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon who confirmed that Prime Minister Theresa May had sanctioned the deployment in an effort to reassure the former Warsaw Pact countries of Eastern Europe who are now members of NATO that the alliance remains committed to their protection. The deployment is speculated to be in response to an increase in Russian air activity over the Black Sea that has kept the Romanian Air Force busy.

Fallon has said;

The UK is stepping up its support for NATO’s collective defence from the north to the south of the alliance. With this deployment, RAF planes will be ready to secure NATO airspace and provide reassurance to our allies in the Black Sea region.

The RAF has had a long history patrolling NATO’s border with Russia having led four deployments of fighter aircraft as part of the alliance’s Baltic air policing mission since 2004. In those instances the aircraft have largely been the sole air defence asset for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. However, Romania has its own fighter force built around the MiG-21 LanceR – an upgraded version of the legendary but increasingly ageing MiG-21 “Fishbed”. The fare more modern RAF aircraft will have to integrate in to Romania’s air defence network.

Romania will also host a large scale NATO exercise in July that U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm said last week would include up to 30,000 NATO troops.

The deployment comes as news reports circulate in both Romania and Russia that Russian inspectors have today visited a military site in Romania to confirm it is no longer operational. The inspection is being carried out under the provisions of the 2011 Vienna Document on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures and while the location of the inspection has not been disclosed the Romanian Defence Minister insists that the inspection is a “normal” undertaking in relations between the two countries.

 

 

Royal Navy fires flares to warn off Spanish ship in Gibraltar waters

hms-sabre-scimitar-class-patrol-boat-royal-navy-gibraltar

The Royal Navy Scimitar-class fast patrol boat, HMS Sabre, was forced to fire the flares over the Spanish research vessel Angeles Alvarino after it entered the territorial waters of Gibraltar without authorisation and then failed to respond to radio calls. The incursion occurred yesterday after midday and once the flares were fired the Spanish vessel left Gibraltar’s waters without further incident.

The Ministry of Defence issued a statement saying;

The Royal Navy challenges all unlawful maritime incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters. We back this up by making formal diplomatic protests to the Spanish government.

This was the second time in three days that the Angeles Alvarino had entered Gibraltar’s waters without permission. The Angeles Alvarino, whose mission on behalf of the Spanish government is to conduct geological research of the seabed, is a frequent intruder in Gibraltar’s waters and as such the Royal Navy’s fast patrol boats are quite familiar with it. Last year a Royal Navy RHIB was damaged when it struck a survey probe dropped by the vessel.

Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo was quoted in The Telegraph as saying;

I congratulate the Royal Navy for the work they have undertaken so far in very challenging circumstances in light of the reckless disregard for safety displayed by the official Spanish vessels involved. Diplomatic and political action must now support the excellent work undertaken by the navy personnel with limited resources.

 

British PM: 650 British troops to join NATO forces in Eastern Europe

British Army Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle Poland 2015

British Army Warrior IFV on exercise in Poland last year (yahoo news)

British Prime Minister David Cameron made the announcement during the NATO summit held this week in Warsaw, emphasising that Britain’s role within the alliance is in no doubt. Cameron revealed that the deployment will be broken down in to 500 troops being based in Estonia and 150 in Poland. He also stated that up to 3,000 troops will be made ready in the UK for rapid deployment to Eastern Europe should a situation arise that warrants their use.

According to The Telegraph, the British contingent will comprise of elements from the following units;

  • The 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade.
  • 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.
  • The 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.

In terms of equipment, these units will include Challenger II Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) and Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs).

When questioned about what message this is sending to Russia, Cameron replied;

It’s a combination of defence and dialogue. We can’t close the door on Russia – we have to engage in dialogue with them. But Russia must be in no doubt that the NATO forces are lined up in Europe and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with each other.

David Cameron’s words were intended to emphasise that the UK’s uncertain economic and political future regarding Europe following the vote to leave the European Union will not impact on its role in maintaining security on the continent.

Brexit & Trident – What do you think?

Vanguard-class nuclear submarine trident

There’s no escaping the fact that replacing Britain’s nuclear deterrent is an awesomely expensive undertaking. Figures released in the past put it in excess of a staggering £100bn!

So with that in mind; would a Brexit from Europe endanger the program since some politicians would want that money to be spent on instead beefing up an economy independent from Europe?

What do you think?

  • Maybe you think the money should be spent on the economy?
  • Maybe you think a Brexit would guarantee the project for economic and security reasons?

There is no wrong answer and I look forward to reading your opinions in the comments below.