Thursday, 30 June 2016

HL259 – United Nations (Answered)

Lord Judd To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the tasks and role of UK military personnel committed to service at the headquarters of the UN. Earl Howe The UK currently has four military personnel at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York: The Deputy Military Advisor to the UN Secretary General and Deputy ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/hl259-united-nations-answered/

40671 – Maritime Patrol Aircraft (Answered)

Mr Kevan Jones To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the P-8 Poseidon will be capable of carrying UK Storm Shadow and other manufactured munitions. Mr Philip Dunne The Department intends to bring the P-8A into service without significant modification to ensure the delivery of operational capability as soon as is practicable. There ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/40671-maritime-patrol-aircraft-answered/

40712 – EU Battlegroups (Answered)

Andrew Rosindell To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what involvement UK armed forces have had with EU battle groups in the last three years; and how many UK armed forces personnel the Government has pledged to commit to those groups. Mr Julian Brazier The EU Battlegroup concept has Lead Nations on standby for ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/40712-eu-battlegroups-answered/

HL728 – Unmanned Air Vehicles (Answered)

Lord Moonie To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they expect the Watchkeeper Programme to achieve Initial Operating Capability 2, previously expected to be achieved by April, and when they now expect Equipment Support Systems to be released to service. Earl Howe It is expected that the Watchkeeper programme will declare Initial Operating Capability 2 standard ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/hl728-unmanned-air-vehicles-answered/

40787 – Maritime Patrol Aircraft (Answered)

Mr Kevan Jones To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what future ground surveillance capabilities his Department plans to develop for the P-8 Poseidon programme. Mr Philip Dunne The Ministry of Defence expects the P-8 Poseidon to be principally used in the Maritime Patrol Aircraft role, although it does have a limited overland surveillance ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/40787-maritime-patrol-aircraft-answered/

40781 – Maritime Patrol Aircraft (Answered)

Mr Kevan Jones To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many UK (a) flight crew, (b) ground crew and (c) intelligence analysts have served on US P-8 Poseidon aircraft under the Seedcorn exchange programme; and what the cost to the UK public purse has been of deploying those people since the start of ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/40781-maritime-patrol-aircraft-answered/

40783 – Maritime Patrol Aircraft (Answered)

Mr Kevan Jones To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, which of the UK’s allies has aircraft which are capable of refuelling P-8 Poseidon aircraft to be procured by the UK. Mr Philip Dunne The P-8 Poseidon is currently undertaking air-to-air refuelling trials in the United States to clear the aircraft to receive fuel ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/40783-maritime-patrol-aircraft-answered/

40549 – NATO: Armed Forces (Answered)

Sir Nicholas Soames To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will provide details of what (a) ships and (b) aircraft by (i) type and (ii) number are allocated to the Very High Readiness Task Force in 2016-17. Mr Julian Brazier In 2016 the UK’s contribution to the Very High Readiness Joint Task ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/40549-nato-armed-forces-answered/

40973 – Armed Forces: Training (Answered)

Rachael Maskell To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the out-turn cost was of (a) Army Foundation College, Harrogate and (b) Infantry Training Centre, Catterick in the most recent financial year for which figures are available; and what proportion of that cost was attributable to the army’s initial training programme. Penny Mordaunt The ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/40973-armed-forces-training-answered/

41229 – RAF Northolt (Answered)

Gareth Thomas To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether his Department has plans in the next three years to stop flights into or out of RAF Northolt to enable work to reinforce or rebuild the runway at that base; and if he will make a statement. Mark Lancaster Plans are being considered to ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/41229-raf-northolt-answered/

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy

Thought this might be interesting; High Representative Federica Mogherini today presented the EU Global Strategy on foreign and security policy to EU leaders, meeting in Brussels at the EU summit. Mogherini was mandated to prepare the new strategy by the European Council in June 2015 and invited to present it to leaders in June of ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/eu-global-strategy-foreign-security-policy/

Brexit – possible impacts on the Royal Navy

On the 23rd of June 2016 the United Kingdom voted by a narrow margin of 51.9-48.1% to leave the European Union and while much has changed, much remains the same. The day after “Brexit” Britain continues to move 95% of its traded goods by sea and imports 40% of its food from overseas. Offshore wind, tidal and North Sea oil and gas will continue to play a crucial part in powering the lives of millions of Britons. The maritime world remains as vital to national life as ever, as it has through centuries past and will continue to be for centuries to come. While our economic fortunes may wax and wane the UK’s dependence on the sea is eternal and unchanging. In line with this the Royal Navy will, ultimately, continue to perform its duties regardless of the economic and political weather. Now, more than ever, those functions may prove crucial to safeguarding the UK’s “place in the world” as an outward-facing trading nation with a major stake in international security structures. The Royal Navy defines its own functions as: preventing conflict, providing security at sea, humanitarian assistance, protecting our economy and being ready to fight. It is important to recognise that the result of the referendum hasn’t degraded the relevance of any of these. Sea lanes will still need to be protected, global hot-spots policed and potential aggressors deterred. Plus ├ža change.

In times of political disorder like these the activities of Britain’s armed forces will continue to represent an essential point of continuity, reassuring friends and allies of our enduring commitment to peace, stability and security around the world.

NATO will, of course, continue to play the essential role in the defence of the Western international order and Britain will continue to play an indispensable role in NATO. It is vital to recognise that “the West” is not simply a structure with two pillars: the United States and the EU. Instead it is better understood as a series of interlocking networks, bound together by common values and institutions. The UK’s stake in the security of its neighbours will not be diminished if it leaves the EU. Indeed, its contribution to common security structures may increase in importance, as a means of demonstrating continued commitment to the rules-based international order built by the UK and others after the Second World War.

On the economic front it is still very early days and the consequences of the decision have yet to begin playing out. Uncertainty is currently the word of the day and, as the saying goes, “everything is still to play for”. If the consequences for the country are unclear, then so are the consequences for Britain’s armed forces. A simplistic “straight-line” extrapolation of the short-term shock, which we’ve seen since the referendum result was announced, will probably prove to be unhelpful and misleading. However, it is clear that any lasting economic damage could translate into lower tax receipts for the Exchequer and less money to spend on public services, including the armed forces.

As it stands the current Conservative government has not suggested any intention to renege on its commitment to spend the NATO minimum, 2% of GDP, on defence throughout this parliament. However, it’s quite obvious that if the economy contracts then the money available to be spent on defence would also shrink, unless the government were to deliberately ring-fence current levels of spending. For the Royal Navy the impact of further reductions would likely be felt most in the equipment budget, as manpower is already stretched and the service would likely look to safeguard the small improvements it has made on that front since the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review. Some ongoing equipment programmes are unlikely to be affected because of their advanced progress; these include the Carriers, Tide class tankers for the RFA, River Batch 2 OPV and Astute class SSN. Others, such as the Type 26 frigate, the Type 31 “lighter frigate”, MARS Solid Support Ships and the “Successor” SSBN are at much greater risk if declining economic performance is coupled with strict adherence to the 2% commitment.

Beyond the quite obvious problems for the Ministry of Defence that would be caused by a shrinking economy there are other factors which could have a significant impact on the equipment programme. First, the weakened pound is very much a two-edged sword. It will place particular pressures on equipment programmes with high dollar content. Some key areas of exposure that will impact the Royal Navy include the planned purchase of nine Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, the F-35Bs that will form the core of the new carriers’ Tailored Air Group and the US-made Mk.41 vertical launch system for the Type 26 frigates. Since the 2010 defence review the MoD has improved its capacity to absorb budgetary shocks to individual programmes, building substantial contingency funds into individual equipment budgets to cover eventualities such as this. The robustness of these contingencies will no doubt be tested in the years ahead, as will the Treasury’s not insubstantial foreign currency reserves; mostly held in dollars.

However, the consequences of a weaker pound aren’t all negative for the industries that support the Royal Navy. As imports of foreign-made goods become more costly UK exports become relatively cheaper and more competitive on the international market. An increase in the cost of buying equipment from abroad could also mean renewed impetus to build in the UK and this could possibly tip the balance decisively in favour of native shipbuilding, especially for the RFA. The net effect of a less valuable pound on the British defence industry as a whole could also be positive, improving the ability of UK firms to successfully export equipment, designs and sub-components: something they have often struggled to achieve. Potentially relevant for the “lighter general purpose frigate”, intended as an attractive export product as well as a means of ensuring the Royal Navy maintains its escort fleet of “at least nineteen” frigates and destroyers. The Type 26’s position in the competition for Australia’s next generation frigate may also be strengthened due to the lower relative cost of UK-made components. If BAE can successfully export the design the individual unit-cost of the class would be brought down, due to longer production runs of equipment and a larger fleet in service internationally, reducing the build and running costs of the eight Type 26s planned for the Royal Navy.

As it stands though, the greatest risk to the Royal Navy’s future remains the possibility of an independent Scotland.

Spurred on by the difference in majority opinion between the UK’s constituent countries the SNP have made it clear that “another referendum is on the table”. While it remains to be seen if another referendum will indeed materialise there is certainly a renewed risk for the Royal Navy. The MoD has, over time, concentrated the bulk of Britain’s complex military shipbuilding capacity north of the border; along with the specialist facilities for operating the UK’s fleet of nuclear-powered and nuclear armed submarines. Military shipbuilding facilities currently concentrated on the Clyde would also have to be steadily moved South, if the UK government continued to hold to its commitment of building complex warships within its own borders. This could potentially cause enormous disruption to military shipbuilding in the short-medium term. It is also unlikely that the UK could continue to base its nuclear forces in Scotland following a vote for independence and the cost of replicating the Clyde naval facilities currently located at Faslane and Coulport would place additional strain on an already tight defence budget. As an interim measure the UK’s deterrent submarines could potentially be operated from the US Navy’s East Coast submarine base, in Kings Bay Georgia, while new facilities were built. Scottish Independence might also give renewed momentum to those who wish to see the UK’s nuclear forces disbanded altogether, and the “Successor” ballistic missile submarines would undoubtedly come under renewed scrutiny.

We do not yet know how history will judge Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, it is still early days, yet the die has now been cast. Although uncertainty abounds, and the future holds a great many risks for the service, the Royal Navy will continue to serve the country and its people. It will continue to do its duty, as it has done for many centuries: Protecting our Nation’s Interests.

This is a guest article by Engaging Stategy Twitter: @EngageStrategy1

 



from Save the Royal Navy http://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/brexit-possible-impacts-on-the-royal-navy/

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Defence Implications of Brexit – Further Thoughts

The nation has decided, although as we know, there is currently all sorts of activity trying to reverse the decision. But assuming this all calms down and the Government gets on with the business of leaving the European Union, what are the defence implications? A few thoughts. Day to Day Matters Since 1998, various initiatives ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/defence-implications-brexit-thoughts/

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

FOI release: FOI responses published by MOD: week commencing 20 June 2016

Ministry of Defence (MOD) Freedom of Information (FOI) responses published during the week commencing 20 June 2016. from Ministry of Defence – Activity on GOV.UK http://ift.tt/28MZ7sR Armed forces members entitled to service accommodation plus domestic assistant costs and individuals contributions accommodation report from 2014 to 2015 Ref: HOCS FOI2016/00861PDF, 80.6KB Appointment of Colonel Jim Morris ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/foi-release-foi-responses-published-mod-week-commencing-20-june-2016/

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

40342 – Armed Forces: Information Warfare (Answered)

Jim Shannon To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many members of the (a) Royal Navy and (b) Royal Air Force are deployed to the 77th Brigade. Penny Mordaunt 77th Brigade includes 10 members of the Naval Service (Royal Navy and Royal Marines) and 11 Royal Air Force personnel. from Filtered Feed for ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/40342-armed-forces-information-warfare-answered/

40346 – Armed Forces: Information Warfare (Answered)

Jim Shannon To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether 77th Brigade’s full operating capability has been met. Penny Mordaunt Following its establishment in April 2015, 77th Brigade is planned to reach full operating capability in December 2019. from Filtered Feed for Question and Answers: http://ift.tt/28JarnC

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/40346-armed-forces-information-warfare-answered/

40345 – Armed Forces: Information Warfare (Answered)

Jim Shannon To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what (a) exercises and (b) deployments the 77th Brigade has conducted in each of the last three years. Penny Mordaunt Since 77th Brigade was formed in April 2015, 116 personnel have deployed on 30 exercises, the vast majority of which have been UK based; 20 ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/40345-armed-forces-information-warfare-answered/

Friday, 17 June 2016

Some Thoughts on the Batch 2 River Class

GUETS POST FROM KEITH CAMPBELL Since the first information was published about the second batch of the River-class patrol ships, officially referred to as Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), I have felt that they have been widely misunderstood. I believe they could be a much more significant development than is generally believed. The origin of the ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/thoughts-batch-2-river-class/

39995 – Nuclear Weapons (Answered)

Paul Flynn To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when his Department established the Nuclear Warhead Capability Sustainment Programme at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE); who has been appointed as Senior Responsible Owner for that programme; who the key stakeholders for that programme are; how many scientists from the US national nuclear weapons laboratories ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39995-nuclear-weapons-answered/

40194 – Trident Missiles (Answered)

Steven Paterson To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the goal is of the Mk4A upgrade programme. Mr Philip Dunne The UK currently fields the Trident Mk4 warhead as part of the Trident Strategic Weapons System. In order to ensure continuity of the Mk4-based capability, the Mk4A Arming, Fuzing and Firing system is ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/40194-trident-missiles-answered/

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Committee writes to Secretary of State on Type 26 Global Combat ship

Defence Committee publishes letter to the Defence Secretary regarding information on Type 26 Global Combat ship from Defence Committee http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/defence-committee/news-parliament-2015/oyal-navy-type-26-and-45-letter-16-17/

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/committee-writes-secretary-state-type-26-global-combat-ship/

39903 – Royal Fleet Auxiliary (Answered)

Ian Mearns To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many merchant seafarers were employed by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in each year from 2008-09 to 2015-16. Penny Mordaunt The number of Royal Fleet Auxiliary employees on 1 Apr for each year 2008-09 to 2015-16 are as follows: 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39903-royal-fleet-auxiliary-answered/

40232 – Eurocorps (Answered)

Mrs Anne Main To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when the UK’s liaison officer to Eurocorps was withdrawn. Mr Julian Brazier We have no digital record of there being a UK liaison officer to the Eurocorps. from Filtered Feed for Question and Answers: http://ift.tt/1VRkQQc

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/40232-eurocorps-answered/

39969 – Royal Fleet Auxiliary (Answered)

Ian Mearns To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent estimate he has made of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s future requirement for (a) officer cadets and (b) ratings. Penny Mordaunt Under current planning assumptions the Royal Fleet Auxiliary expects to recruit the following number of Officer Cadets and Apprentice Ratings in each of ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39969-royal-fleet-auxiliary-answered/

39904 – Royal Fleet Auxiliary (Answered)

Ian Mearns To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many merchant seafarers employed by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary took voluntary redundancy in each year from 2008-09 to 2015-16. Penny Mordaunt None. from Filtered Feed for Question and Answers: http://ift.tt/1UgzsHM

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39904-royal-fleet-auxiliary-answered/

39957 – Armed Forces: Pay (Answered)

Kirsten Oswald To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on morale among members of the armed forces of the transition from Pay 2000 to the new Pay 16 pay structure. Mark Lancaster The new Pay 16 structure was specifically established in response to Service personnel ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39957-armed-forces-pay-answered/

Monday, 13 June 2016

39379 – Ministry of Defence: Staff (Answered)

Louise Haigh To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what proportion of staff in his Department were (a) payroll and (b) non-payroll staff in each financial year from 2010-11 to 2015-16. Mark Lancaster The table below shows the number of payroll and non-payroll appointments made by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in each of ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39379-ministry-defence-staff-answered/

39020 – Mediterranean Sea: Human Trafficking (Answered)

Mrs Anne Main To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what estimate he has made of the length of time for which UK naval resources will be committed to Operation Sophia. Penny Mordaunt We have committed to maintain our naval vessel HMS ENTERPRISE in Operation SOPHIA until August 2016. We will continue to assess ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39020-mediterranean-sea-human-trafficking-answered/

39397 – Ministry of Defence: Pay (Answered)

Louise Haigh To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many civil servants in his Department are paid through limited companies. Mark Lancaster No civil servants employed by the Ministry of Defence are paid through limited companies. from Filtered Feed for Question and Answers: http://ift.tt/21ijgqn

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39397-ministry-defence-pay-answered/

39746 – Military Aircraft: Ministers (Answered)

Tom Watson To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent estimate the Government has made of the cost to the public purse to date of the adaptation of the Voyager aircraft for the transport of senior ministers. Mr Philip Dunne To date the Departmental spend to convert one Voyager aircraft’s cabin into an ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39746-military-aircraft-ministers-answered/

39657 – Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft (Answered)

Douglas Chapman To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will estimate the cost of upgrading the mission software on F35B Lightning II aircraft operated by the Royal Air Force after the completion of Block 3F testing. Mr Philip Dunne The UK is part of a collaborative partnership on F-35 and therefore pays ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39657-joint-strike-fighter-aircraft-answered/

39739 – Puma Helicopters (Answered)

Douglas Chapman To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the Answer of 19 April 2016 to Question 33645, how many Puma Mk2 helicopters are fitted with the Wire Strike Protection System; and whether the Puma Mk2 that crashed in Afghanistan on 11 October 2015 was fitted with such a system. Mr ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39739-puma-helicopters-answered/

39786 – Unmanned Air Vehicles (Answered)

Mr David Davis To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether his Department has demonstrated the capability of Certified Predator B for the duration of the Protector programme. Mr Philip Dunne Following an extensive Assessment Phase, the Department has concluded that the GA-ASI Certified Predator B is the only platform capable of meeting the ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39786-unmanned-air-vehicles-answered/

HL444 – Army: Recruitment (Answered)

Lord Touhig To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the regular army annual recruitment target for each year from 2015–16 to 2020–21. Earl Howe The Army’s annual recruitment targets for regulars for each year from 2015 to 2021 are as follows: Type 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 Officers 738 740 733 723 720 719 ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/hl444-army-recruitment-answered/

39787 – Unmanned Air Vehicles (Answered)

Mr David Davis To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what timeline has been proposed for publication of the revised Joint Doctrinal Note on UK Unmanned Systems. Penny Mordaunt Joint Doctrine Publication (JDP) 0-30.2, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, (which will replace Joint Doctrine Note 2/11, The UK Approach to Unmanned Aircraft Systems) was endorsed by ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39787-unmanned-air-vehicles-answered/

Flat out: The Royal Fleet Auxiliary in 2016

Following on from the 2015 article about the stretched Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service, this is an update on current operations. Like the navy, manpower shortages, tight budgets and industrial issues, together with ever-increasing demand for its services are creating a prefect storm of pressure on the RFA.

Depending on your point of view, the RFA is either being over-worked and its vessels utilised in ways beyond what is prudent, or it is demonstrating incredible flexibility and the best of British improvisation. The RFA has been increasingly taking on ‘traditional’ warship roles over the last 20 years but 2016 has witnessed this trend taken to extremes.

RFA Fort Victoria has mostly spent the last few years providing support to RN and coalition vessels in the Gulf and Indian Ocean. After refit in the UK during 2014 she returned to Gulf duty but in March 2015 was sent to the Aegean Sea. The Prime Minister is often likes to be seen to be “doing something” on the international stage and has regularly offered to despatch a naval vessel, presumably without consulting the Navy to see if his cuts have left any ships available. He dispatched HMS Bulwark to attend to the growing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean last Summer but this year only the 31,000 tonne Fort Victoria was available.

Her size allowed her to easily embark plenty of specialist personnel as she headed to the Aegean. Royal Marines, a Lynx helicopter flight, medical staff, interpreters, Border Force personnel, intelligence advisors and specialist searchers could all be comfortably accommodated. However signs of desperation were apparent, even the usually inscrutable Royal Navy website admitted that an auxiliary of this size was ill-suited to these patrols, particularly in the confined and busy waters of Aegean. Despite her limitations, Fort Victoria ably acted as command ship for the inevitable rescue operations that save lives but do nothing to solve the long-term migrant crisis. After only a few weeks in the Aegean she was sent back through the Suez Canal to more revert to her more familiar duties.

RFA Mounts Bay was deployed on migrant patrols in the Aegean in early March for just a few weeks before being relived by Fort Victoria. She arrived in Gibraltar for a “30 day” refit on 11th April but technical problems delayed her departure until 30th May. She will spend her summer “patrolling” the Med before joining the Cougar 16 deployment in September.

RFA Lyme Bay participated in exercise Griffin Strike in UK waters in April. During the exercise FS Dixmude, HMS Bulwark, HMS Ocean, HMS Sutherland, RFA Lyme Bay formed up with a French tanker and 3 French frigates to create a substantial and genuinely credible amphibious task force (in contrast with the RN’s rather less robust recent Response Force Task Groups). Five years after the Lancaster House agreement was signed, this was a tangible demonstration of genuine Anglo-French power projection capability. Lyme Bay then visited Gibraltar (pictured above) before heading to the Gulf where it is planned she will remain for several years.

RFA Cardigan Bay has been based in Bahrain as support ship for Gulf mine warfare forces for the last 3 years. Alongside in Souda Bay, Crete On 18 May she formally handed her Gulf duties on to Lyme Bay. Cardigan Bay then joined Standing NATO Group 2 which is conducting migrant patrol duty in the Eastern Med. It is expected she will return to Falmouth for major refit in the near future.

Apart from hydrographic survey ship HMS Enterprise, not a single Royal Navy warship has been seen in the Med in the last few months while the RFA has been rapidly shuffled around, valiantly covering gaps.

Although the threat from the Russian navy is part of the reason more RN vessels are staying close to home, the underbelly of Southern Europe is a worry. Migrants, mostly from Africa making dangerous journeys across the Med will remain a problem. UK special forces are apparently active in an unstable Libya and need support from the sea while terrorism on the beaches of North Africa or Europe is also a concern.

RFA Wave Knight is due to replace HMS Mersey in APT(N) on Caribbean patrol in July. The last two APT(N) deployments have been conducted by two OPVs. It is interesting that with media focus on migrants crossing the English Channel by sea that all three OPVs will be back in home waters. RFAs have conducted Caribbean patrols before and although cumbersome, they do benefit from having a flight deck and embarked Lynx. RFA Wave Ruler remains in the South Coast areas operating as FOST tanker.

RFA Black Rover has already been decommissioned and awaits her fate in Birkenhead. Apart from OPV HMS Clyde, 40-year old unarmed tanker RFA Gold Rover is at present is the closest thing we have to a South Atlantic Patrol ship. The Armed Forces Minister cynically cited “operational security” to avoid questions in Parliament about when an RN warship will next be sent on APT(S). Gold Rover completed extended maintenance period in Simon’s Town, South Africa in February and is now operating off West Africa. She will return home from this final deployment to be scrapped.

There has been a deafening silence from official sources about the delays to the four new Tide class RFAs being constructed by DSME South Korea. As the Rover class leave service this will temporarily leave the RFA with just 3 vessels able to provide fuel to warships at sea!

RFA Tidespring naming ceremony Korea

The MoD spent £5,000 to fly Lady Boyce out to Korea for Tidespring’s naming ceremony in October 2015. It would seem more sensible to conduct ceremonial events for these ships in Falmouth which would be cheaper and more visible to the British taxpayer funding them.

RFA Tidespring was due in Falmouth in “Spring 2016” for fitting out with RAS and military equipment but this has slipped to “anytime between mid August and mid September”. She has conducted sea trials off Korea but it is unclear if the delays are due to technical or manpower problems. The hulls of her 3 sisters are all at various advanced stages of construction and the initial build work seems to have been done remarkably fast, as was promised. This raises the question of whether DSME are paying the MoD penalties for late delivery and what are the knock-on effects for A&P Falmouth who were all set to begin the £15M final fitting out contract.

In early 2014 RFA Orangeleaf entered refit at Cammel Laird in Birkenhead but in September the work was suspended. She was in poor condition but there was a very optimistic plan to convert her into a double-hulled tanker and extend her life for several years. There had been expenditure on new generators and other equipment installed before it was discovered that the hull was too corroded to be converted. She was towed away for scrap in February 2016, looking in sparkling condition. Another shocking waste of scarce taxpayer resources.

RFA Diligence remains indefinite lay up in Birkenhead with no immediate or long-term replacement mentioned in MoD planning. Nearby RFA Fort Austin is also remains inexplicably laid up, apparently in good condition after maintenance carried out at CL between December 2015 and February 2016. RFA Fort Rosalie has been active in the South Coast areas. She was the largest available vessel that could be found for Portsmouth tugs to use as practice for docking HMS Queen Elizabeth in March 2016. RFA Argus has been one of the few RFA ships employed predominantly in her intended primary role, providing aviation training off the South Coast during 2016.

 

 

Main photo: Daniel Gib, via Flickr. RFA Lyme Bay and Mounts Bay in Gibraltar, early May 2016.


from Save the Royal Navy http://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/flat-out-the-royal-fleet-auxiliary-in-2016/

Sunday, 12 June 2016

39350 – Tanks (Answered)

Sir Nicholas Soames To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks are held in reserve in the UK. Mr Philip Dunne The Challenger 2 is a highly capable Main Battle Tank and sits at the heart of the Army’s war fighting Armoured Infantry Brigades and is a key ...

The post 39350 – Tanks (Answered) appeared first on Think Defence.



from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/39350-tanks-answered/

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Damen Multi-Role Auxiliary Vessel

From Damen During the Oceanographic Survey Vessel Conference in London, Damen Shipyards Group announced the introduction of a new range of Multi-Role Auxiliary Vessels (MRAV). The common theme running through the series is the provision of a basic platform offering reliable and cost-effective multi-role potential and hydrographic survey capabilities to naval clients. With the addition ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/damen-multi-role-auxiliary-vessel/

Buy American

This perfectly illustrates a dilemma that is both fiendishly complex and intractable at the same time; support your own defence industry and inevitably it means paying a premium because of smaller production volume but buy everyone from Uncle Sam and you end up being unable to reap the wider industrial and societal benefits of a ...

The post Buy American appeared first on Think Defence.



from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/buy-american/

New Zealand Defence White Paper 2016

Always interesting to see how our partners and long time allies are approaching their different, but sometimes related, defence and security challenges. Click the image to read more. In addition to maintaining the Defence Force’s existing mix of capabilities, the Government will invest in: better supporting sea-to-shore operations with a littoral operations support vessel that ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/new-zealand-defence-white-paper-2016/

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

FOI release: FOI responses published by MOD: week commencing 6 June 2016

Ministry of Defence (MOD) Freedom of Information (FOI) responses published during the week commencing 6 June 2016 from Ministry of Defence – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/foi-responses-published-by-mod-week-commencing-6-june-2016

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/foi-release-foi-responses-published-mod-week-commencing-6-june-2016/

Monday, 6 June 2016

38683 – Married Quarters (Answered)

Rachael Maskell To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many properties within the Married Quarters Estate have been unoccupied for the majority of (a) 2010-11, (b) 2011-12, (c) 2012-13, (d) 2013-14, (e) 2014-15 and (f) 2015-16. Mark Lancaster The number of properties within the Married Quarters Estate that have been unoccupied for the ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/38683-married-quarters-answered/

38719 – Type 45 Destroyers (Answered)

Mr Douglas Carswell To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will make it his policy to seek compensation from Rolls-Royce for the remedial work for the power and propulsion systems of the Type 45 Destroyers. Mr Philip Dunne The decision to procure the Rolls Royce WR21 was taken in November 2000 by ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/38719-type-45-destroyers-answered/

38535 – Military Aircraft (Answered)

Kate Hollern To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what his Department’s policy is on procurement of a British sixth-generation jet fighter. Mr Philip Dunne As set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, we will invest in the next generation of combat air technology, in partnership with our defence industry and ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/38535-military-aircraft-answered/

38800 – Armed Forces: Deployment (Answered)

Mrs Anne Main To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what estimate he has made of the number of UK service personnel currently deployed on EU missions. Mr Julian Brazier The UK currently has around 120 Service personnel deployed on five EU missions, principally on Operation SOPHIA, where HMS Enterprise is employed in the ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/38800-armed-forces-deployment-answered/

38305 – Military Police (Answered)

Sir Nicholas Soames To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many by rank of personnel there are in each (a) regiment and (b) unit of the Royal Military Police. Mark Lancaster The information requested is shown in the table below: Royal Military Police strength by posted unit and paid rank as at 1 ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/38305-military-police-answered/

HL261 – Peacekeeping Operations (Answered)

Lord Judd To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people, and of what nationalities, the UK is training as international peacekeepers; what is the form of such training; and by which UK personnel it is provided. Earl Howe Her Majesty’s Government makes a significant contribution to improving the effectiveness of peacekeeping forces through its training ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/hl261-peacekeeping-operations-answered/

HL212 – South Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations (Answered)

Lord Judd To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the tasks and role of UK military personnel committed to service in South Sudan. Earl Howe The UK currently has five military personnel deployed in South Sudan. Of those, four personnel serve as staff officers within the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and contribute to ...

The post HL212 – South Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations (Answered) appeared first on Think Defence.



from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/hl212-south-sudan-peacekeeping-operations-answered/

Friday, 3 June 2016

Procurement of Type 26 and Type 45 combat ships examined

Defence Committee questions top Navy Officials on Type 25 and Type 45 ships procurement from Defence Committee http://ift.tt/25CSW0B The Defence Committee takes evidence from top Navy Officials on the procurement of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship and the Type 45 Destroyer. Watch Parliament TV: Naval Procurement: Type 26 and Type 45 Inquiry: Naval Procurement: ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/procurement-type-26-type-45-combat-ships-examined/

FOI release: FOI responses published by MOD: week commencing 30 May 2016

Ministry of Defence (MOD) Freedom of Information (FOI) responses published during the week commencing 30 May 2016 from Ministry of Defence – Activity on GOV.UK http://ift.tt/20VLiri   Information of Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) discipline sacked of suspended to claims of extremism or radicalisation Ref: HOCS FOI 2016/04296PDF, 49.5KB Number of failed drug tests of army ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/foi-release-foi-responses-published-mod-week-commencing-30-may-2016/

38260 – Army: Reserve Forces (Answered)

Toby Perkins To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many people who joined the army reserve force in each year since 2010 subsequently left that force in each of those years. Mr Julian Brazier The information requested is shown in the tables below. Numbers joining and then leaving the FR20 Army Reserve 1 ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/38260-army-reserve-forces-answered/

38258 – Maritime Patrol Aircraft (Answered)

Toby Perkins To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of UK allies providing maritime patrol aircraft for use in the UK in advance of the delivery of new P8 aircraft. Mr Philip Dunne Since the withdrawal of the Nimrod MR2 in March 2010, we have ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/38258-maritime-patrol-aircraft-answered/

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Migrant boats crossing the Channel demands a measured response

Small numbers of migrants intent on entering the UK illegally have started taking to small boats in an attempt to avoid the strict controls on cross-channel ferries. As the Brexit debate climaxes, media focus on migration is at fever pitch with some journalists even trying to blame the navy for being ill equipped to respond. A few migrants in rubber dinghies that make it across the Channel should not be cause for over-reaction. There is undoubtedly a shortage of RN, Border Force and Coastguard vessels available to patrol UK waters but sensibly addressing this issue should not undermine the RN’s main purpose as a globally-deployed, ocean-going navy.

Every problem can be blamed on aircraft carriers…

Both The Times and The Telegraph turned to their “defence experts” for poisonous editorials about how a lack of small ships is a problem and the Navy’s fault. Max Hasting disciple, Con Coghlin claims “the RN is obsessed with big ships“. The RN is not obsessed with anything, other than trying to create a fleet that can fight and win in conflicts of all kinds. The RN would like more OPVs and patrol craft if they were given the resources that ensured they did not come at the expense of warships that could actually fight a war. Coughlin suggests the RN somehow has its priorities wrong.. “Left to its own devices, the Navy would equip itself with a fleet of state-of-the-art frigates and destroyers” Whatever next? a properly equipped navy with more than 19 surface escorts!

Ex-Army journalist Allan Mallinson tried to find a parallel between failures at Jutland in 1916 and the size of the RN’s carriers. Through no fault of its own, the RN is certainly not big enough but is constructing a balanced force with capabilities that are both flexible and future-proof. If we dispose of conventional naval forces in favour of greater numbers of cheaper/simpler ships we might cope marginally better with asymmetric threats, but be unable to defend against the much more serious threats from other states. The US, Russia, China and many other nations are investing heavily in conventional forces and are not fooled into changing their whole concept of operations by a few terrorists in a speed boat or migrants in rubber dinghies.

Carriers are indeed big and have their vulnerabilities but remain firmly the centre peice of every world-class navy. For several decades hordes of amateur commentators have been trying to suggest the aircraft carrier is obsolete like the battleships became in WWII. They forget that their aircraft armament has continued to rapidly evolve in a way that battleships never could. Mallinson’s ‘corvette navy’ could do little but protect against low-grade seaborne threats and certainly could not project power ashore, the most likely role for the RN’s carriers.

There are plenty of proponents of the ‘two-tier navy’ that would rush to build more OPVs, corvettes and patrol vessels. Unfortunately constrained budgets would almost certainly mean these snatch Land Rovers of the sea would come at the expense of vessels with a full range of fighting capability. These craft would undoubtedly be useful for policing and patrols until the day the RN had to take on a serious foe when they become a liability. There is much hope that the National Shipbuilding Strategy could bring a measure of stability to the industry and it begin to deliver the balanced force the RN needs. The NSS should not be derailed by a rush for OPVs.

Keep calm and carry on

The English Channel itself is one of the most monitored stretches of water in the World. It is also an exceptionally busy shipping lane subject to strong winds and tides, hazardous to cross in small craft if you are not an experienced mariner. Although there is no room for complacency, there is unlikely to be anything like the number of migrant boats attempting to cross the Channel as there are crossing the Mediterranean.

Although the English Channel presents a formidable barrier, the UK as whole has 17,820 Km of coastline and 3,200 sq Km of territorial waters that needs to be kept under surveillance. There are an abundance of quiet harbours, estuaries and beaches which could be used for illicit activities. Besides people trafficking in our waters, terrorism, drug smuggling, illegal fishing and waste dumping are a concern. Offshore oil, gas and wind farm infrastructure may also need protection. Even Mumbai-style terror attacks launched from a ‘mothership’ remain an outside possibility.

No one can be comfortable with the paucity of assets available to patrol our territorial waters. France has a shorter coastline than the UK but the Marine Nationale alone has at least 21 patrol craft of various kinds. At present HMS Severn and HMS Tyne are the only RN ships dedicated to continuous,  patrols, while HMS Sutherland is the currently the ‘Fleet Ready Escort’. The FRE routinely escorts ‘unfriendly’ warships near UK waters or may be involved in hunting submarines, search and rescue and general surveillance. However calls to place a frigate permanently in the Channel is plainly overkill and not the best use of sophisticated warships in very short supply.

In addition to the RN vessels the UK Border Force has 5 cutters (although one is deployed on to the Mediterranean on the EU-directed migrant patrols of Operation Sophia). The UKBF has not explicitly stated that it needs more vessels to tackle the migrant problem, although it is shortly due to receive 8 large RHIBs.

Already without long-range Maritime Patrol Aircraft until at least 2019, in November 2015 the Home Office bizarrely terminated a contract with civilian firm Cobham to provide basic airborne surveillance of UK waters.

The specific migration issue cannot be fixed by any navy and is a complex global problem that needs to be solved on land. Although politicians talk about stopping people traffickers, most of the naval actions in the Mediterranean have been humanitarian. People at the risk of drowning cannot be left, are rescued and landed in Europe which may actually encourage more to put to sea in flimsy boats. If the RN picks up migrants in the English Channel it is hard to imagine the French government allowing them to be returned to France.

Affordable solutions are possible

Under current plans the 3 batch 1 River class OPVs (HMS Severn, Tyne & Mersey) are simply to be replaced by the marginally more capable (but grossly expensivebatch 2 class currently under construction (HMS Forth, Medway and Trent, with 2 more on order). SDSR 2015 only promised upto 6 OPVs which includes HMS Clyde permanently stationed in the Falklands. Keeping the batch 1s in service would increase capability and not cost a great deal. As relatively modern vessels they would be an attractive prospect for many navies especially at the MoD’s usual knockdown prices but we would be foolish to sell them. Manpower and ongoing running costs would require some extra resources but keeping our home waters secure must surely be a political priority. Successful patrols in the Caribbean by HMS Severn, and now Mersey also demonstrate they can usefully relieve pressure on the surface fleet.

The RN also has 16 Archer class P2000 patrol boats but they have very limited endurance and ability to operate in rough seas. Apart from the 2 vessels used for fleet protection duties around Faslane, they are unarmed but could be useful for short patrols if operating from the Chanel ports. The RN’s minehunters could also be deployed on patrol duties in an emergency but for a sustained period this would be a waste of relatively expensive specialist vessels.

  • P2000-HMS-Raider

    Primarily used to give students and prospective officers of the University Royal Navy Units (URNU) some time at sea, at 50 tons the P2000s should not be considered a serious part of the RN ORBAT. However they might be suited to conducting short migrant patrols.

  • HMS-Tyne

    The 3 batch 1 River class OPVs commissioned in 2003 and could comfortably continue to serve far beyond their  decommissioning currently planned for 2018-20.

  • HMS-Blackwater

    12 of these river class minesweepers were completed in the mid-1980s originally designed to sweep deepwater mines but mainly employed on fishery protection, training and patrol duties by the RNR. All victims of defence cuts 1991-93 and sold to foreign navies were they are all still in service.

  • HMS_Jersey

    Based on a simple, robust fishing trawler design, these 6 vessels conducted fishery protection and maritime security patrols from the 1970-90s before being sold to foreign navies where many of them are still doing sterling service

Although it is unlikely to be on the Navy Board agenda, creative thinking might deliver some cheap home waters patrol ships. Not long ago the RN operated the Island class fishery protection vessels and the River class minesweepers. Based on fishing trawler designs and manned partly by reservists, these simple ships had the sea-keeping quality and endurance to provide plentiful surveillance around the UK. Similar patrol craft could be purchased off the shelf quickly and cheaply and would only require small crews. A mini ‘flight deck’ on these vessels to launch and recover UAVs would vastly extend the area that can be monitored.

As a final thought… while we are paying BAE Systems around £116M for a single OPV, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force was able to procure 9 Patrol vessels & their complete berthing facilities for around £130m.

 

Main photo: Bill Scott via Flickr, UK Border Force Cutter HMC Seeker departs Ramsgate


from Save the Royal Navy http://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/migrant-boats-response/

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Vote Leave or Vote Remain but Remember why Great Britain is Great

Vote leave or vote remain, but please, vote knowing that Britain is Great… Anyone who thinks otherwise is obviously uneducated, or French. Without Great Britain the world would be a poorer place in every regard. Lets just remind ourselves why… We gave the world democracy, common law, the Bailey Bridge, tanks, gravity, the worlds most ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/remember-great-britain-great/

Corporate report: Defence Equipment and Support: corporate plan financial years 2016 to 2019

The Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation is a bespoke trading entity and arm’s length body of the Ministry of Defence. The primary purpose of DE&S is to equip and support the UK’s armed forces for operations now and in the future. The DE&S corporate plan captures some of the organisation’s main achievements from the ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/corporate-report-defence-equipment-support-corporate-plan-financial-years-2016-2019/

38101 – Falkland Islands: Armed Forces (Answered)

Jim Shannon To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many (a) helicopters, (b) Royal Navy ships and (c) Royal Air Force aircraft are stationed in the Falkland Islands. Penny Mordaunt Four contractor-owned and operated helicopters are currently stationed in the Falkland Islands. Two AW-189 helicopters deliver search and rescue services and two S-61 ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/38101-falkland-islands-armed-forces-answered/

38102 – Falkland Islands: Armed Forces (Answered)

Jim Shannon To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many (a) army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force personnel are stationed in the Falkland Islands. Penny Mordaunt As of 24 May 2016, there were 59 Royal Navy, 483 Army and 600 Royal Air Force personnel stationed in the Falkland Islands. from ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/38102-falkland-islands-armed-forces-answered/

37893 – Armed Forces: Housing (Answered)

Tom Tugendhat To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the cost was for (a) management of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation estate of Service Family Accommodation (SFA), (b) the maintenance of SFA and (c) improvements to SFA in (i) 2013, (ii) 2014 and (iii) 2015. Penny Mordaunt The cost for the management of the ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/37893-armed-forces-housing-answered/

37897 – Ministry of Defence: Empty Property (Answered)

Tom Tugendhat To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many of his Department’s properties and in which locations are classified as void. Penny Mordaunt The number and locations of properties classified as void as of 24 May 2016 are shown in the table below: County Voids ABERDEENSHIRE 5 ANGUS 20 ARGYLL AND BUTE ...

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from Think Defence http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2016/06/37897-ministry-defence-empty-property-answered/