May 10, 2021
Army’s new Challenger 3 tanks ‘outgun Russian rivals’, Iran claims US is ready to lift almost all sanctions, USN awards autonomous mine countermeasure retrofit contract, EU considers new rapid entry force and military training in Mozambique.
HERE ARE THE TOP INDUSTRY AND WORLD STORIES
Army’s new Challenger 3 tanks ‘outgun Russian rivals’ (Times)
• The army’s new Challenger 3 tank is better than Russian tanks because of its 120mm smoothbore gun and its communication systems, the defence secretary told an unveiling ceremony yesterday.
• Ben Wallace said that an £800 million upgrade to 148 of the army’s main battle tanks would make them more lethal, with ammunition that could travel faster and systems that could track an enemy.
• Wallace, a former Warrior platoon commander, said that it was pointless to have tanks that could be outgunned and whose crew were unable to talk to the support elements of its own forces, because soldiers could die as a result.
• “There is a future for tanks, they are incredibly important for battle, for major war fighting. They are incredibly important to give options to the generals and military leaders tackling the enemy,” he said. “It is important we have tanks better than the enemy’s.”
• Standing next to one of the tanks at the ceremony in Telford, Shropshire, he added: “Why this is better than the Russian’s is this thing here. This gun. The smoothbore gun and its lethality plus its ability to force-multiply by being able to talk to everyone else on the battlefield.”
• The Ministry of Defence announced in its defence command paper in March that 148 of its Challenger 2 tanks would be upgraded and the remaining 77 scrapped.
• Soldiers in the upgraded tanks will be able to share images of a battle on screens within the tank as well as communicate through the radio system to other weapons systems such as armoured vehicles.
Iran claims US is ready to lift almost all sanctions (Times)
• President Rouhani of Iran has declared that the US is prepared to lift “almost all” punitive sanctions on his country in order to revive a nuclear deal.
• Rouhani said that he was optimistic about talks to revive the 2015 agreement that was rejected by President Trump, with only “some details” remaining to be ironed out. “We’ve reached a point where the Americans and Europeans are saying openly they have no choice but to lift sanctions and return to the [nuclear deal],” Rouhani said, according to state media.
• His remarks provide the strongest signal yet that President Biden is ready to reverse Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure” sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy for three years.
• They came after US diplomats returned to Vienna for indirect talks with Iran, which are being mediated by Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, all signatories of the original 2015 deal. They hope to reach agreement before Iran’s elections on June 18, when Rouhani is due to stand down.
USN awards autonomous mine countermeasure retrofit contract (Shephard News)
• Five Knifefish UUVs will be retrofitted under a new deal for General Dynamics from the USN.
• General Dynamics Mission Systems is retrofitting five Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (SMCM UUV) systems to the Block I configuration, under a $72.80 million sole-source contract from US Naval Sea Systems Command.
• The deal also includes engineering support services, the DoD announced on 7 May.
• Work will be performed in Quincy, Massachusetts (60%); Greensboro, North Carolina (26%); and Taunton, Massachusetts (14%), and is expected to be completed by April 2023.
• Shephard Defence Insight notes that General Dynamics Mission Systems supplies its Knifefish system to the USN under the SMCM UUV programme. The UUV is a medium-class platform designed for deployment from the Littoral Combat Ship.
• In July 2020, the DoD awarded General Dynamics a deal worth about $13.5 million for ongoing engineering on Knifefish.
EU considers new rapid entry force and military training in Mozambique (Janes)
• European defence ministers meeting in Brussels on 6 May discussed ideas for strengthening the EU’s external security reach, topped by a debate over whether and how to create a new initial entry force for rapid deployment to partner countries in crisis. They also reviewed plans for a first-time military training mission in Mozambique.
• “We need to be better prepared – ready and equipped to move – when facing an urgent crisis, so the idea of an initial entry force as a first responder was widely discussed today,” EU foreign and security policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters after the meeting.
• Noting that the force’s composite elements would require better planning for the EU, plus joint training and exercises, he said, “If we want to deploy in the field, we must have improved planning structures. I think we could manage to agree on the entry force by next March,” which is when the 27 EU countries are set to approve their so-called strategic compass to strengthen the EU’s security and defence posture.
• The entry force proposal was included in a paper on crisis management put forward by 14 EU defence ministries and reviewed during the meeting. The group includes the EU’s largest nations – France, Germany, Italy, and Spain – plus Poland and the Netherlands.
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WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON
Politics latest news: Keir Starmer’s reshuffle inflames Labour civil war (Telegraph)
• Sir Keir Starmer’s “foolish” attempt to sack Angela Rayner from the party’s frontbench has further inflamed Labour’s civil war, following the dire election results that filtered out over the weekend.
• Ms Rayner was removed as party chair and campaign coordinator but could not be ejected from her elected role as deputy leader, and ended up being handed a swathe of new responsibilities.
• Over the course of a botched and protracted reshuffle, other female faces including shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds and shadow leader Valerie Vaz also lost their roles. Rachel Reeves has been promoted to go toe-to-toe with Rishi Sunak.
• Veteran MP and Corbyn ally Diane Abbott this morning blasted the leadership for having “tried to sack Angie Rayner to make her carry the can for the weekend”.
• She told Radio 4’s Today programme: “It was a very foolish thing to do – she didn’t take any of the big decisions around Hartlepool. No one up and down the country is saying ‘people weren’t voting Labour because of Angie Rayner’.
• “It was a foolish thing to even think about and he has had to walk it back.”
• Nia Griffiths, who kept her role as shadow Wales secretary, told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour: “We would all like to have seen things happen a little more smoothly.”
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?
Royal Mail’s drone delivery takes a load off the postie (Times)
• The new service may lack the personal touch of Postman Pat but Royal Mail’s drone is certainly faster.
• A trial will begin this week in which drones will help postal workers deliver to some of the most remote communities in the Isles of Scilly, where traditional services take longer to reach.
• The initiative, which has received government funding, will deliver parcels and orders from retailers to the most isolated residents on the islands.
• Royal Mail said that coronavirus health and safety supplies would get a particular focus, including personal protective equipment and testing kits.
• The company said that the service made it the first UK parcel carrier to deliver mail flying unsighted to an island after a drone flew to the Scilly Isles. It is also testing a smaller drone that can take off and land vertically.
• If the trial is successful, the technology will be considered to support workers delivering in other remote regions.
• Parcels will be flown to the islands’ airport at St Mary’s by drones that can carry up to 100kg of mail at a time, the equivalent of a usual delivery round.
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