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CMS News Report April 27

by CMS Team on 27 April, 2021

Tuesday
April 27, 2021

China simultaneously commissions three warships on Navy anniversary, US approves potential sale of up to 12 weapons-ready MQ-9B UAVs to Australia, Maiden UK Carrier Strike Group deployment draws closer, Defence spending will rise as Covid spurs nationalism, says Saab.

Ministry of Defence

Nuclear Weapons: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what progress his Department made on meeting the target in the Strategic Defence and Security Review, published in 2010, to reduce the UK’s nuclear warhead stockpile ceiling from not more than 225 to not more than 180 by the mid 2020s. (Deidre BrockDeidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)).
• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“As announced in the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, published on 16 March 2021, the UK will move to an overall nuclear weapon stockpile of no more than 260 warheads. I am withholding further details on the size of the stockpile for the purposes of safeguarding national security.”

Ministry of Defence: Greensill: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether Ministers or officials in his Department have had contact with Greensill Capital in the last two years (Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham)
• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“The Ministry of Defence publishes in arrears details of Ministers’ and Senior Officials’ meetings on a quarterly basis on:
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings-with-external-organisations-in-the-ministry-of-defence and
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/senior-staff-meetings-with-external-organisations.”

Navy: Radiation Exposure: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the Answer of 6 December 2018 to Question 197642, how many submariners have received radiation doses in excess of safe limits in each of the last 10 years (Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)).
• Answer from Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

“No submariners have received radiation doses in excess of safe limits in any of the last ten years.”

Challenger Tanks: Repairs and Maintenance: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if his Department will publish a breakdown of the Challenger 2 Life Enhancement Programme by (a) ammunition, (b) training and (c) infrastructure costs; and what the total cost was of that programme (Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham).
• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“As announced in the Integrated Review, the Ministry of Defence will invest £1.3 billion in armoured capability by upgrading 148 main battle tanks. To date, £73.3 million has been spent on the programme (£7.4 million on Concept and £65.9 million on Assessment). The programme is currently at the beginning of the Demonstration phase and no Training, Ammunition or Infrastructure costs have yet been incurred.”

Navy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent assessment he has made of the capacity of the Maritime Capability Trials and Assessment Team (Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham).
• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“The number of trials demanded of Maritime Capability Trials and Assessment (MCTA) has been broadly similar over the last three years and MCTA has fulfilled this requirement.
MCTA has 146 posts (Royal Navy personnel and civil servants), which has been sufficient to meet the requirement. However, MCTA is constantly matching capacity, efficiency improvements and new techniques (including digital improvements) with the demands of the equipment programme and Fleet Operational Schedule. As with the rest of Navy Command’s structures, MCTA is currently under review to ensure sufficient capacity to meet future requirements.”

HERE ARE THE TOP INDUSTRY AND WORLD STORIES

China simultaneously commissions three warships on Navy anniversary (Defense News)
• China commissioned 60,000 tons worth of major vessels earlier this month, officially putting into service a new nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, a guided-missile cruiser and an amphibious helicopter carrier on the 72nd anniversary of its Navy.
• The unprecedented triple commissioning was carried out in a ceremony held at the Yulin naval complex near the city of Sanya on the southern Chinese island of Hainan. Yulin is the main naval base of the South Sea Fleet of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The fleet’s area of responsibility lies in the waters of the nearby South China Sea.
• Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the ceremony, which saw the Type 075 (Yushen-class) amphibious helicopter carrier Hainan, the Type 055 (Renhai-class) guided-missile cruiser Dalian and the Type 094 (Jin-class) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine Changzheng-18 join the PLAN.
• The Hainan is the lead ship of a new class of amphibious assault ships being built for the PLAN as it continues to boost its naval capabilities. The helicopter carriers, which are estimated to displace between 35,000 to 40,000 tons, have an uninterrupted flight deck with seven deck spots for large transport helicopter operations, and a well dock for launching conventional or air-cushioned landing craft for amphibious landing operations
• At least two more Type 075s are under construction at a shipyard in the major eastern city of Shanghai, and their introduction will significantly boost the PLAN’s ability to conduct large amphibious operations — a capability gap for China despite its massive military modernization program.

US approves potential sale of up to 12 weapons-ready MQ-9B UAVs to Australia (Janes)
• The US State Department has approved a potential USD1.65 billion Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Australia of up to 12 weapons-ready MQ-9B medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), along with related equipment and services.
• The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 23 April that the government in Canberra requested to buy the UAVs, which are made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI), along with 15 Raytheon Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems-D (MTS-D), 16 Lynx AN/APY-8 synthetic aperture radars featuring ground moving target indicators, 15 Rio communication intelligence systems, and 36 embedded global positioning systems/inertial navigation systems with selective availability anti-spoofing modules.
• The proposed sale, which still needs to be approved by the US Congress, also includes six KMU-572 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) tail kits for 500 lb bombs; four MXU-650 airfoil groups for 500-lb Paveway II GBU-12 laser-guided bombs (LGBs), seven MXU-1006 airfoil groups for 250-lb Paveway II GBU-58 LGBs, four MAU-169 or MAU-209 Computer Control Groups for 250-lb/500-lb Paveway II GBU-58/GBU-12 LGBs, six FMU-139 fuse systems, 12 MK-82 general purpose 500-lb inert bombs, and five high-bandwidth compact telemetry modules, according to the DSCA.

Maiden UK Carrier Strike Group deployment draws closer (Shephard News)
• HMS Queen Elizabeth will embark in May on a 28-week deployment.
• UK Secretary of State Ben Wallace shed more light on 26 April about what the MoD described as the ‘globe-spanning maiden deployment’ of the UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG) led by HMS Queen Elizabeth.
• On a 28-week deployment commencing in May 2021 and covering 26,000nmi, the CSG will conduct exercises and engagement with allied navies (India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea) ‘as part of the UK’s tilt towards the Indo-Pacific region’, the MoD noted.
• The CSG will participate in NATO exercises such as Exercise Steadfast Defender, and provide support to NATO Operation Sea Guardian and maritime security operations in the Black Sea.
• Wallace confirmed that Queen Elizabeth will be joined by two Type 45 destroyers (HMS Defender and HMS Diamond), two Type 23 ASW frigates (HMS Kent and HMS Richmond) and the fleet support vessels RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring.
• A single Astute-class submarine (as yet unnamed) will offer sub-surface support.
• ‘Providing a cutting edge on the carrier’s flight deck will be eight state-of-the-art RAF F-35B Lightning II fast jets,’ Wallace added. ‘Alongside will be four Wildcat maritime attack helicopters, seven Merlin Mk2 anti-submarine helicopters and three Merlin Mk4 commando helicopters – the greatest quantity of helicopters assigned to a single UK Task Group in a decade.’
• Also involved in the CSG are the USN Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS The Sullivans, a squadron of ten USMC F-35B aircraft and the Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Evertsen.
Defence spending will rise as Covid spurs nationalism, says Saab (FT)
• The Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed more nationalist feelings worldwide causing countries to increase their military spending, according to the chief executive of Swedish defence group Saab.
• Mikael Johansson told the Financial Times that defence spending would continue to rise and predicted that some countries would use their recovery plans to boost military capabilities.
• “There is no sign of any less market activity or less demand,” he said. “On the contrary, many countries have the feeling that they need to protect societies. There is a little bit more nationalist sentiment.”
• European countries have been increasing military spending ever since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 with the moves particularly pronounced in the Nordic and Baltic region.
• Sweden, home to Saab which produces the Gripen fighter jets, in December approved a 40 per cent increase in the defence budget up to 2025 after warning that the security situation in the Baltic Sea was at it most serious since the Soviet Union collapsed three decades ago.
• Johansson stressed that the “pandemic is not over yet” and that the defence industry should see a boost from the recovery plans of some countries.
• Saab wants to grow internationally and is looking to countries such as the UK, US and Australia for growth as well as establishing operational bases there.
• One of the big challenges for the group during the pandemic has been with its supply chain, mostly due to lockdown closing down production facilities in certain countries. “We had problems all over the place last year,” Johansson conceded.
• He said that Saab had made a variety of changes to its supply chain, such as financially supporting suppliers, finding an alternative provider or even bringing production of some parts closer to Saab’s own factories.

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WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON

‘Let the bodies pile high’: What really happened on night Boris Johnson was accused of outburst (Times)
• The accounts of what happened on the evening of October 30, 2020 could not be further apart – but on one matter there is unanimity. Boris Johnson was in a foul mood on a day he now wishes he could forget.
• Having publicly pledged to do everything he could to avoid the “disaster” of a second lockdown, the Prime Minister had been strong-armed by his most senior ministers and aides into agreeing to just that.
• Mr Johnson feared he would pay a heavy price politically for a decision that would hit the economy and rile Tory MPs and the public at large. He was wrong.
• Six months on, it is not the U-turn that has come to haunt him but two other events that happened within minutes of each other that evening – an alleged outburst and the ongoing reverberations of a highly disruptive leak.
• According to two separate accounts published on Monday, Mr Johnson barked in frustration after losing the argument over lockdown: “No more —-ing lockdowns. Let the bodies pile high in their thousands!” It is alleged that three different people overheard the remark and have confirmed what he said.
• Not so, says Number 10. The Prime Minister denied making the comment when asked about it during a visit to Wrexham on Monday, while his official spokesman said the story was “untrue”. Downing Street sources described it as “just another lie”.
• At around the same time as the Prime Minister’s alleged comment was made, someone with intimate knowledge of what had happened in the lockdown meeting was busily leaking details of it to the press.
• Memorably described by a Johnson ally in the days that followed as a “chatty rat” inside Number 10, the leaker made sure the public knew about the coming lockdown even before Mr Johnson had time to finalise the detals

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?

Crawley College: students flee boy armed with pistol and knife (Times)

• A teenage boy armed with a pistol and knife walked into a college and fired several blank rounds before stabbing a teacher as terrified pupils took cover.
• The masked attacker fired directly at one teacher before being tackled to the ground at Crawley College in West Sussex yesterday afternoon.
• Wearing a black facemask, black hooded top and black trousers, he entered the building at about 3.10pm. Armed police, including snipers, were sent to the college. Sussex police said that an 18-year-old man was arrested and two people were taken to hospital with minor injuries.
• One student, posting on Snapchat, said that a teacher tackled the gunman to the ground, adding that the attacker “managed to slice his hand open”.
• Elise Stellebotte, 17, said that she and fellow students ran from their classroom after hearing shots fired. “It all was pretty terrifying,” she said. “I was only a few yards away and I could see he had this pistol in his hand and was waving it around. I don’t think he was very old but he was difficult to see behind the mask and hoodie.”
• The gunman had pointed the gun at her tutor and fired but it appeared they were blank rounds. “Everyone was petrified. We had no idea what was happening,” she said. “I heard he stabbed one lecturer in the hand when he tried to tackle him and I also heard he may have also stabbed himself.”
• Eddie, 18, another student, said: “I saw the guy. He was wearing a black hoodie and a jumper and he had a mask on.

REPORTING TO YOU

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