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Daily Defence Report

CMS Strategic News Report

by CMS Team on 31 March, 2021

 

Wednesday

March 31, 2021

ARK Invest: space cadets, Australia fast tracks missile-making programme as regional tensions rise, Computer science the future of Britain’s defence, says Head of the Armed Forces, Saab trials 3D-printed battle damage repair for Gripen.

HERE ARE THE TOP INDUSTRY AND WORLD STORIES

ARK Invest: space cadets (FT)

  • ARK Invest is an investment manager and ETF provider that believes the future is now. Since it was founded in 2014 by veteran fund manager Cathie Wood, the investment house has ridden a near decade bull market in speculative technology stocks to amass over $30bn of assets under management. Cementing the business as, depending on your perception, a pin-up for growth investing or a sign of unhinged market excess.
  • Either way, whether its ARK’s $3,000 price target for Tesla’s stock or its defence of Bitcoin’s environmental impact, it’s hard to ignore the once Wirecard investor’s current spot in the market discourse.
  • So, of course, we just had to take a look at its latest ETF launch: ARK Space Exploration and Innovation, which is due to start trading later on Tuesday under the ticker ARKX.
  • Designed to invest in companies who will benefit from the ongoing attempts to commercialise the void, you might expect ARK to be plumping on a host of well known aerospace, defence and satellite businesses exposed to the errr . . . space. Think at the mature end Boeing and Airbus, and at the speculative end, Richard Branson’s boyhood fantasy play Virgin Galactic.

Australia fast tracks missile-making programme as regional tensions rise (FT)

  • Australia is fast tracking plans to manufacture advanced missiles and other guided weapons in response to growing tensions in the Indo-Pacific region and concerns over its reliance on imports.
  • Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister, said on Wednesday the government would spend A$1bn (US$712m) to develop a manufacturing capability and would look to select an industry partner. Raytheon Australia, Lockheed Martin, Kongsberg and BAE Systems are expected to compete to participate in the programme.
  • “As the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, having the ability for self-reliance, be it vaccine development or the defence of Australia, is vital to meeting our own requirements in a changing global environment,” said Morrison on a visit to Raytheon Australia.
  • “It’s an imperative we now proceed with the creation of a sovereign guided weapons capability as a priority.”
  • Canberra said last year it would partner with the US to develop a generation of hypersonic cruise missiles that are capable of travelling at five times the speed of sound. China and Russia are developing similar weapons amid a worsening strategic environment, which has caused a rethink in Canberra about its defence priorities.
  • The government plans to spend A$100bn over the next 20 years on guided weapons, as part of a significant investment programme in the defence forces. Canberra forecasts it will spend A$270bn on military hardware over the next decade, including on a fleet of submarines and frigates.

Computer science the future of Britain’s defence, says Head of the Armed Forces (Telegraph)

  • Data scientists will be the new ‘Afghan interpreters’ of the Armed Forces and will be embedded at every level, the Chief of the Defence Staff has said.
  • General Sir Nick Carter told a webinar on Defence Innovation that computer scientists would be as integral to the future of defence as the interpreters who risked their lives supporting British troops in Afghanistan.
  • Sir Nick told the International Institute for Strategic Studies: “I think data scientists are going to be found at almost every level in our Armed Forces. They are going to be the new Afghan interpreters, which give you the turnkey capacity to be able to maximise that adaptability and innovation.
  • It comes after the publication of the Integrated Review and Command Paper which put data, cyber, space and AI at the heart of its future defence capabilities.
  • Sir Nick, the Head of the Armed Forces, also told the webinar that as part of the UK’s pivot towards cyber, by 2030, it would be “entirely respectable” for a tactical formation of the Air Force to reduce the number of Typhoons and instead make up the mass with other aircraft, including drones.
  • He said that “you can see that playing out both in their land and maritime domains as well”.
  • Sir Nick also said that as warfighting focuses more on the grey zone, fighting terrorists was comparatively “easy”.
  • He said new domains like cyber and space, which are not regulated in the way that the traditional domains are regulated, makes defence more challenging today.

 Saab trials 3D-printed battle damage repair for Gripen (Janes)

  • A 3D-printed panel hatch was created and fitted to a Gripen D testbed, with a 30-minute test then flown over Saab’s Linköping facility in southern Sweden on 19 March. While 3D-printed parts have been flown internally, and included in the Gripen E, this test marked the first flight of an external section of the aircraft.
  • “A Gripen was fitted with a hatch that had been 3D printed using additive manufacturing, using a nylon polymer called PA2200. The spare part passed the test with flying colours,” Saab said in a statement. As noted by the company, as there was no 3D computer model of the hatch, the original was first removed from the aircraft and scanned.
  • “This work is a step towards 3D-printed spares being used for rapid repairs to fighter aircraft that have sustained damage while deployed on remote operations, thereby gaining a vital time-saving advantage,” Saab said.
  • According to support contract manager for Gripen C/D Håkan Stake, who has also been managing the development project, this process reduces the operational time lost in repairs and means that other jets do not have to be cannibalised for parts. Göran Backlund, chief technology officer, Business Area Dynamics and chair of the Saab Additive Manufacturing Group, told Janes

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WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON

Merkel and Macron in talks to use Russia’s Sputnik Covid vaccine (Telegraph)

  • France and Germany were in negotiations on Tuesday night with Vladimir Putin to supply the Russian Covid-19 vaccine to the EU, after Angela Merkel suspended use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab for the under-60s.
  • Emmanuel Macron, the French president,  and the German Chancellor held a video call with the Russian president to discuss “cooperation” over vaccines which would see the Russian Sputnik jab used in the EU once it is approved by regulators.
  • The move came after German authorities identified 31 cases of blood clots known as cerebral sinus vein thrombosis to those given the AstraZeneca jab.
  • Among the cases, 29 involved women and nine had resulted in death. Canada has also reduced the use of the jab, banning it for the under-55s, and France has yet to authorise its use for younger age cohorts.
  • Number 10 was forced to reiterate that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was “safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives”.
  • There has been continued bafflement in Whitehall at the approach of European countries to the vaccine rollout, in which governments have switched positions and delayed deployments.
  • In the UK on Tuesday, there were only 4,040 new cases of Covid-19 and 56 deaths, with the country starting to ease lockdown. However, in Germany there were 9,549 new cases and 180 deaths, as the country continues to grapple with a third wave.
  • The decision to turn to Russia for vaccine supplies may have profound geopolitical consequences as it threatens to undermine the global western coalition which has imposed sanctions on senior Russian figures following the country’s involvement in international atrocities.

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?

Justin Welby backs free speech in Batley Grammar School Prophet cartoon row (Times)

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury has defended the right to free speech after a teacher was suspended for allegedly showing his class a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.
  • Parents of children at Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire protested for several days last week after children said they had been shown the cartoon during a religious studies lesson.
  • Gary Kibble, the head teacher, apologised over the use of the “inappropriate” image, which is thought to have been taken from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
  • The teacher, who has faced threats, has been suspended pending a full investigation. His family say that he is in hiding and is in fear for his life.
  • A petition calling for him to be reinstated, which is believed to have been started by other students at the school, has passed 67,000 signatures.
  • The school has launched an independent investigation into the incident and its religious education curriculum.
  • In response to the row, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, told La Repubblica, the Italian newspaper, “we have to hold on to freedom of speech”.
  • He said: “We have very good relationships with Muslim leaders across the country. Many of them are very upset by the cartoons that were shown but also many of them have said make it clear that you disagree strongly, but no violence, no threats. In other words, exercise your freedom of speech, but don’t prevent other people exercising their freedom of speech.

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