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Daily Defence Report

CMS Strategic News Report April 14

by CMS Team on 14 April, 2021

Wednesday
April 14, 2021

Exclusive: Government forced to defend Army cuts amid growing threat from Russia, Babcock set to rack up £1bn losses, IAI and Thales UK to provide Sea Serpent for Royal Navy, Biden to order all US troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11.

Ministry of Defence

Type 32 Frigates: Procurement: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when he plans to publish plans for procurement of Type 32 frigates. (Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“The programme and procurement strategy for the Type 32 frigate will be decided following the concept phase, which has not yet been launched. As set out in the Defence Command Paper, our shipbuilding investment will double over the life of this Parliament to more than £1.7 billion a year.”

Nuclear Weapons: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 24 March 2021 to Question 170597, whether any of the new warheads part of the planned increase to the UK’s nuclear weapons stockpile ceiling will be capable of tactical use (Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion)• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“It will remain the case that none of the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons are designed for tactical use during conflict. The nuclear deterrent exists to deter the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life, which cannot be deterred by other means.”

HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the out of service dates for HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark have changed as a result of the Integrated Review(Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“The out of service dates for HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark have not changed as a result of the Integrated Review. Both ships remain on their current schedule to be removed from service in the early 2030s.”

Armed Forces: Recruitment: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 22 March 2021 to Question 170542, whether the Defence Recruiting System records the school or college of applicants; and if he will he publish the number of successful applicants by school or college for the last five years (Derek Twigg Labour, Halton).

Answer from James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

“As part of the application process to the Armed Forces, the Defence Recruiting System records the names of schools attended by applicants. However, the requested information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.”

Marines: Plymouth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what plans he has for basing the Royal Marines in Plymouth after the closure of Stonehouse Barracks in 2028 in light of the Integrated Review (Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).Answer from James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

“The Royal Navy is developing new basing options for Royal Marines based at Stonehouse Barracks. Any implications from the Integrated Review will be included in the final analysis and details will be published once a decision is made.”

Telecommunications Cables: Seas and Oceans: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the new Royal Navy vessel announced in the Defence Review to protect undersea cables will be based in Devonport (Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

Answer from James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

“The new Royal Navy Multi Role Ocean Surveillance vessel announced in the Defence Review is in its pre-concept phase, therefore, no decisions have yet been taken on base porting arrangements.”

AWACS: Procurement: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the cost of the purchase of three E-7 Wedgetail is (Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham).

• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“Ministry of Defence officials will be negotiating with Boeing to agree the cost of the revised E-7 Wedgetail programme, based around the acquisition of three aircraft. Therefore, to protect the Department’s commercial interests, I am withholding details of the cost at this time.”

Nuclear Weapons: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the Government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, published in March 2021, what estimate he has made of the cost of the additional nuclear warheads; and if he will make a statement and, what costings have been made for the acquisition of new nuclear weapons up to a total of 260 as announced in the Integrated Review (Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion and Stewart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence)).

Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“The Integrated Review announced the UK will move to an overall nuclear weapon stockpile of no more than 260 warheads. This is a stockpile ceiling and we will remain deliberately ambiguous about the exact number of warheads to avoid simplifying the calculations of potential adversaries. The cost estimates for the wider warhead programme are undergoing consideration as part of Departmental budgeting.”

Fleet Solid Support Ships: Procurement: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the new Fleet Solid Support Ship tender will be restricted to UK bidders (Luke Pollard Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“The detailed contract requirements are yet to be published but we would expect substantial UK involvement in any successful bid.
As referenced in the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence in response to question 906278 we would encourage interested international partners to work with UK firms to bid, building on the success of T31.”

HERE ARE THE TOP INDUSTRY AND WORLD STORIES

Exclusive: Government forced to defend Army cuts amid growing threat from Russia (Telegraph)

The Government will be forced to defend the logic of Army cuts in the face of increasing threats from Russia.
Labour will on Wednesday use an opposition day motion to question the Tories over its 2019 election manifesto pledge, in which Boris Johnson said he would “not be cutting the armed services in any form”.
However the recent Command Paper revealed that as part of its pivot towards cyber, the Ministry of Defence would axe more than 100 aircraft, reduce the size of the army from 82,000 to 72,500 and cut a number of tanks.
Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey said his party wants “to hold the Prime Minister to his pledge not to cut our armed forces”.
He said: “The Government says the threats to the UK are increasing yet they plan fewer troops, fewer ships, fewer planes over the next few years. Ministers must square this circle and back off yet more cuts to the strength of our Armed Forces.
“Ministers confirm that Russia’s modernised land and sea forces are the number one threat to Britain and our allies. They must ensure we are ready to meet the growing threats now and in the years ahead.”

Babcock set to rack up £1bn losses (Times)

Babcock International is to plunge more than £1 billion into the red after new management at the defence contractor ordered a drastic writedown in the value of the company and the profitability of its contracts.
The company is also making 1,000 redundancies, mainly in middle management, 850 of them in the UK.
In an unscheduled statement a few weeks before a planned update on a review of the business, Babcock said it had “identified impairments and charges totalling approximately £1.7 billion”.
Of that sum, £1 billion will come from write-offs in goodwill — effectively correcting an over-valuation — on the £3 billion worth of acquisitions that it has made over the past decade. That will come on top of 2020 profits from operations falling more than 40 per cent to £307 million.
Babcock is a Ministry of Defence contractor, operating the Devonport naval dockyard at Plymouth and building Royal Navy warships at its Rosyth yard near Edinburgh. It is also a key part of the supply chain building the country’s new generation of nuclear submarines. It undertakes engineering support and flight training for the Royal Air Force, trains engineers and performs maintenance for the army, and also operates search and rescue helicopters in the UK and Europe.
The majority of its £4.7 billion annual income comes from the British taxpayer. It has a workforce of 34,000.
The present structure of the group is the result of a takeover spree by its late chief executive Peter Rogers, who successively spent £350 million acquiring Devonport, £1.3 billion on VT Group, formerly known as Vosper Thornycroft, and £1.6 billion on Avincis, the old Bond helicopters group.

IAI and Thales UK to provide Sea Serpent for Royal Navy (Shephard News)

Partners IAI and Thales will equip Type 23 frigates with next-generation missile technology.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Thales UK on 13 April announced a cooperation agreement to provide the UK RN with Sea Serpent anti-ship and anti-surface missiles.
The RN will equip its Type 23 frigates with Sea Serpent in response to the growing intensity of emerging threats.
Sea Serpent provides anti-ship and land capabilities at ranges beyond 200km. Its design is derived from the Gabriel family of surface-to-surface missiles, albeit with significant upgrades.
According to IAI, Sea Serpent can overcome kinetic counter-fire and electronic countermeasures so that the missile can locate and attack its target in any environment.
The missile has been designed for contested and confusing situations, characterised by many decoys and interference. Sea Serpent can adjust its course while in flight, using real-time ISTAR feeds.

Biden to order all US troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11 (Defence News)

President Joe Biden intends to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that started the decades-long conflict, congressional officials confirmed Tuesday.
News of the withdrawal deadline was first reported by the Washington Post. Biden had faced a deadline set by the previous administration of removing all U.S. military forces from the country by May 1, but publicly admitted meeting that deadline was unlikely.
Still, White House officials have said Biden remained committed to ending the ongoing U.S. military presence there. In March, during a press conference, Biden said he did not see a scenario where U.S. troops were still in Afghanistan in 2022.
Defense Department officials have said there are about 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan performing training and counterterrorism missions. Another 7,000 foreign forces are also in the country, helping to support the still-inexperienced Afghan security forces.
In March, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction warned in congressional testimony that despite billions spent on fortifying local security forces in the war-torn Asian country, “Afghan security forces are nowhere near achieving self-sufficiency, as they cannot maintain their equipment, manage their supply chains or train new soldiers, pilots and policemen.”

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WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON

Quarter of Covid deaths not caused by virus, new figures show (Telegraph)

Almost a quarter of registered Covid deaths are people who are not dying from the disease, new official figures show, as the Government was urged to move faster with the roadmap in the light of increasingly positive data.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 23 per cent of coronavirus deaths registered are now people who have died “with” the virus rather than “from” an infection.
This means that, while the person who died will have tested positive for Covid, that was not the primary cause of their death recorded on the death certificate.
Other data also shows an increasingly positive picture of the state of the pandemic in the UK.
Daily death figures by “date of death” reveal that Britain has had no more than 28 deaths a day since the beginning of April, even though the government-announced deaths have been as high as 60.
This is because the Government gives a daily update on deaths based on the number reported that day, which can include deaths from days or weeks previously and therefore may not reflect the true decline in deaths. On Tuesday, the Government announced that there had been 23 further deaths.

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?

Britain follows as Joe Biden says US troops will leave Afghanistan (Telegraph)

Britain will withdraw nearly all its troops from Afghanistan after President Biden said last night that US forces would leave by September 11.
About 750 British soldiers are stationed in the country and sources said that they would struggle without American support because of a reliance on US bases and infrastructure.
Some of America’s 2,500 troops will withdraw over the coming months, with the last soldiers due to leave 20 years to the day after the attacks on the US that led to the War on Terror and the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. It will end America’s longest war.
Britain has also drawn up plans to hand over control of “Sandhurst in the Sand”, the academy in Kabul where troops help to train Afghan soldiers, to the government. Most of the British troops in Afghanistan take part in a force protection mission in the capital, which involves driving around VIPs. The UK military has been shifting its focus to counterterrorism missions in Africa and elsewhere.
Major General Charlie Herbert, who was senior Nato adviser to Afghan police until 2018, questioned whether the decision to withdraw troops was premature, adding: “Of course this dreadful war must come to an end one day but cutting and running from our Afghan partners in this way feels like a betrayal to them, not least the Afghan military whose sacrifices we shared for so many years.”
Colonel Simon Diggins, former British defence attaché in Kabul, said that without attaching conditions to the withdrawal, the US and Britain were giving a “green light to the Taliban to take over”.

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