Peers seek to block limit on UK soldiers’ accountability for war crimes, South Korea’s cheaper, less stealthy alternative to the F-35 marks ‘new era of independent defense,’ president says, France offers Germany four Atlantic 2 maritime patrol aircraft, Leonardo to unveil UK New Medium Helicopter demonstrator, Lancer radar undergoes support work.
HERE ARE THE TOP INDUSTRY AND WORLD STORIES
Peers seek to block limit on UK soldiers’ accountability for war crimes (Guardian)
Peers behind a cross-party amendment to halt plans to restrict prosecutions of torture and war crimes by British soldiers serving abroad are hopeful of inflicting a high-profile defeat on the government in the Lords on Tuesday.
A group led by former Nato secretary general and Labour defence secretary Lord Robertson want torture and war crimes to be excluded from a five-year limit on prosecutions proposed in the overseas operations bill.
They argue that British soldiers will otherwise be at greater risk of prosecution from the International criminal court, because under international law the prohibition against torture is absolute – and cannot be restricted by a country’s courts.
Lord Falconer, another of the amendment’s sponsors, and Labour’s shadow attorney general, said: “Vexatious claims are a serious problem faced by troops, but the issue has to be solved in a way which respects the UK’s international obligations.”
Ministers say they want to prevent British soldiers who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere from being subject to vexatious prosecution, and the measure is a core part of the bill, which cleared the Commons in November. They argue there is an exception to the five-year limit, in cases where the attorney general gives consent.
But Michelle Bachelet, the UN Commissioner on Human Rights, warned on Monday that the five-year limit “would make it substantially less likely” that British forces serving abroad “would be held accountable for serious human rights violations”.
South Korea’s cheaper, less stealthy alternative to the F-35 marks ‘new era of independent defense,’ president says (Business Insider)
South Korea unveiled a prototype of its first domestically developed fighter jet on Friday and President Moon Jae-in hailed the KF-X as the future backbone of the air force and a step toward the US ally’s greater military independence.
The next-generation aircraft developed by Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI) is designed to be a cheaper, less-stealthy alternative to the US-built F-35, on which South Korea relies.
The display at the KAI headquarters in the southern city of Sacheon was attended by Moon and representatives from Indonesia, which partnered with South Korea on the project.
“A new era of independent defence has begun,” Moon said, according to a transcript of his comments released by his office.
The advantages of having a domestically produced fighter could not be overstated, he added.
“Whenever we need it, we can make it.”
France offers Germany four Atlantic 2 maritime patrol aircraft (Defense News)
The French Armed Force Ministry has offered four Breguet Atlantic 2 planes to plug a looming gap in the German Navy’s anti-submarine capabilities, provided that Berlin springs for modernizing the planes.
“Depending on Germany’s needs, the four planes could be sold once the update to Standard 6 will be taken in charge by Germany,” a French defense spokesperson wrote in an email to Defense News.
“The four planes will be at the latest aircraft standard which successfully passed the initial operational capability milestone of the French navy in 2020, with a range of high-tech equipment for maritime patrol missions,” the email read. “The proposal includes training and maintenance.”
The ministry declined to specify a price tag for the offer. Weapons and countermeasures would be “processed in a second step,” the email stated.
Driving the French offer is a desire to keep Germany connected to the future Maritime Airborne Warfare System that the two countries want to jointly develop for fielding around 2035. But the German sea service needs new planes by 2025, the year the current P-3 Orion fleet is slated to reach the end of its serviceable life.
Leonardo to unveil UK New Medium Helicopter demonstrator (Shephard News)
Leonardo is to unveil a demonstrator helicopter at its Yeovil plant in Somerset in May to spearhead its bid to win the UK’s recently announced New Medium Helicopter (NMH) competition with its AW149 helicopter
The AW189 helicopter is currently being painted black at Yeovil to allow it to be used to brief UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) procurement officials, military personnel, government decision makers, and media representatives on the potential of the company’s sister AW149 product.
Leonardo Helicopters Managing Director UK Nick Whitney told Janes on 9 April that the demonstrator helicopter is the same size as an AW149, with the same cabin size and performance. “It will show the helicopter cockpit’s open architecture to [demonstrate] what the MOD can start with and then modify,” said Whitney. “This is not a paper aircraft.”
A Leonardo spokesperson told Janes on 9 April, “The demonstrator aircraft [will] highlight specific characteristics related to the aircraft, including the possibility of choosing between a General Electric or Safran engine. It should be noted that the AW149 was designed as a military helicopter. The AW189 commercial helicopter came later, developed specifically for the commercial market based on the common platform which originated with the AW149.”
Lancer radar undergoes support work (Shephard News)
Northrop Grumman will design a new radar instrumentation system for the B-1B.
The US Defense Logistics Agency Aviation (DLA) has awarded Northrop Grumman Mission Systems a $2.3 million contract to design a new radar instrumentation system for the B-1B Lancer bomber.
“The instrumentation service order will bring much needed updates to the current system, including new single board computers, ethernet-based protocol, high-speed data lines, and solid-state drive data collection units,’ the DLA announced on 8 April.
Installation is scheduled in late 2021 aboard two instrumented B-1Bs at Edwards Air Force Base. The contract is due for completion in May 2022.
The B-1B carries an AN/APQ-164 phased-array multimode pulse-Doppler radar system.
‘The radar system [on the B-1B] is 30 plus years old, and the current radar instrumentation system is over 10 years old. We are updating the instrumentation system to overcome [diminishing manufacturing sources – DMS] challenges as well as provide a path for data collection on future radar efforts,’ said Phil Ngo, an engineer within the B-1 System Program Office.
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WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON
Back to life and a nation drinking in a taste of freedom once more as lockdown eases (Times)
Liberty, so often a nebulous idea, took shape yesterday in England’s beer gardens, its shopping centres and its mother-and-baby groups.
Activities that would have been mundane little more than a year ago were suddenly tinged with anticipation. The pint of lager served in an overcast beer garden, the treadmill of the local gym, even the chance to queue outside Ikea all came with a sense of satisfaction that in the battle between humans and viruses, we still have the upper hand.
For some, liberty meant a floating tiki bar. Matt Simonds and Guy Hawkins shivered in shorts and Hawaiian shirts aboard their home-made bar as it bobbed in the River Teign in Devon. “It’s a little cold,” Simonds said. “But great to be open again.”
Customers drinking lager in the chilly morning air at the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, Kent, smiled as they raised their glasses to their lips.
Pippa Ingram, 51, was with her friend Sue Bell in one of England’s biggest beer gardens. “Absolutely delicious,” she said. “It’s not going to last long at all.”
In Coventry the prospect of a drink brought hundreds of people to the opening of the Oak Inn pub — at midnight. Darren Lee, 51, the landlord, said that he reached capacity within 30 minutes and that 320 customers entered, leaving another 200 in the street.
“It was going off, it went really well,” he said. “Last night we probably had one of the most sober crowds we’ve ever had because people usually come to us after a few drinks. Tonight will be even busier with people going for drinks after work and carrying on through the night. It’s the first time in six months we have been able to open properly because the 10pm curfew killed us.
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?
NHS website crashes as over-45s can now book jab (Telegraph)
The NHS website for booking vaccination appointments crashed on Tuesday morning after those aged over 45 were allowed to receive a jab.
It signals the start of ‘Phase 2’ of the vaccination programme – which involves offering vaccines to healthy adults under the age of 50.
Until now the NHS in England had been focusing on offering vaccines to those at highest risk including people over the age of 50 and people deemed to be “clinically extremely vulnerable”.
Following the announcement, the NHS website crashed on Tuesday morning, as under-50s flooded the booking system hoping to get an appointment for their jab.
A message on the website said: “The NHS website is currently experiencing technical difficulties.
“We are working to resolve these issues. Thank you for your patience.”
Other users reported being placed in a queue, with a holding screen which read: “You are in a queue. Lots of people trying to book an appointment.”
Shortly after the NHS booking site crashed, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi tweeted that the problem had been “fixed”.
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