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CMS Strategic News Report April 21

by CMS Team on 21 April, 2021

Wednesday
April 21, 2021

Post-Brexit rules threaten N Ireland aerospace, minister warns, New IRA tried to murder officer after ‘viable’ bomb found next to car, police say, China close to ‘any plausible nuclear strategy’, says USSTRATCOM chief, Germany injects funding into land, sea and air programmes.

Ministry of Defence

Armoured Fighting Vehicles: Iron and Steel: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much UK-produced steel has been used in the manufacturing of Boxer Armoured Fighting Vehicles procured by his Department (Chris Evans Labour/Co-operative, Islwyn)
• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“While UK steel may be used at component level, the BOXER vehicles being developed and qualified are likely to require significant quantities of specialist steel not available in the UK.”

A400M Aircraft: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Military Aviation Authority has certified that it is safe to conduct parachute operations from A400M aircraft (Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham)
• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“The Military Aviation Authority has certified aerial delivery of certain categories of cargo on the ATLAS C Mk1.
Aerial delivery of personnel has not currently been certified, however, trials to support this activity are planned.”

Cyprus: Military Bases: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether his Department has plans to provide covid-19 vaccinations for British Nationals that are working overseas under defence infrastructure organisation contracts as part of the vaccination programme for armed forces personnel at UK sovereign bases (Alec Shelbrooke Conservative, Elmet and Rothwell).
• Answer from James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

“COVID-19 vaccinations have been and will be offered to eligible UK Defence contractors across our overseas network, in line with UK timelines.”

Qatar: Defence: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the cost to the public purse has been of upgrades to the UK’s defence footprint in Qatar over the last five years (Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham)
• Answer from James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

“There have been no UK-funded upgrades to the UK’s defence footprint in Qatar over the past five years. This does not include running and maintenance costs.”

Type 31 Frigates: Iron and Steel: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much UK-produced steel has been used in the manufacturing of Type 31 Frigates procured by his Department, how much UK-produced steel has been used in the manufacturing of Astute-class Submarines procured by his Department (Chris Evans Labour/Co-operative, Islwyn)
• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“No steel has yet been procured for the Type 31 frigates. There are no UK suppliers of the specialised steel required in the manufacture of submarine pressure hulls. Other grades of steel used in the manufacture of Astute Class submarines were sourced from a range of suppliers, including a number of UK companies. Owing to the complexity of the Astute programme supply chain and the time that has elapsed since steel for the programme was procured, it is not possible to provide reliable information on the tonnages of steel provided by each supplier.
Steel for our major defence programmes is generally sourced by our prime contractors from a range of UK and international suppliers and that remains the case. This Government is committed to creating the right conditions in the UK for a competitive and sustainable steel industry. It publishes its future pipeline for steel requirements, together with data on how Departments are complying with steel procurement guidance. This enables UK steel manufacturers to better plan and bid for Government contracts.”

USA: Arms Trade: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the new initiatives set out in the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy published on 23 March 2021, whether single source, non-competitive foreign military sales contracts with the US Administration will come under the regulation of the Single Source Regulations Office (Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham)
• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“Regulation 7 of the Single Source Contract Regulations excludes contracts to with Governments of any country other than the United Kingdom. This includes contracts made under foreign military sales agreements. The regulations do apply to contracts with other overseas suppliers, providing they meet the other criteria set out in the legislation.
The Regulations are currently being reviewed as part of the changes set out in the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy. Once completed, the conclusions of the review and proposed reforms to the Regulations will be published in a Command Paper.”

Armoured Fighting Vehicles: Iron and Steel: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much UK-produced steel has been used in the manufacturing of Ajax Armoured Fighting Vehicles procured by his Department (Chris Evans Labour/Co-operative, Islwyn)
• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“The majority of the steel for the hull and armour of Ajax being smelted and rolled to create a high hardness specification required for the ballistic properties needed to ensure survivability. This steel being produced is low volume and not available in the UK.”

HERE ARE THE TOP INDUSTRY AND WORLD STORIES

Post-Brexit rules threaten N Ireland aerospace, minister warns (FT)
• Northern Ireland’s economy minister is pushing the UK government to ease the strains of post-Brexit rules that threaten the competitiveness of the region’s aerospace industry by forcing companies to pay tariffs on raw materials imported from Great Britain.
• Diane Dodds outlined aerospace companies’ mounting concerns in a recent letter to Lord David Frost, the Cabinet minister in charge of post-Brexit trade arrangements, and urged him to “ensure that the competitive position of Northern Ireland businesses within the UK internal market was not damaged” by the imposition of tariffs.
• Under the Northern Ireland protocol, which sets the terms for the region’s post-Brexit trade, raw materials moved by aerospace companies from Britain to Northern Ireland are defined as being “at risk” of being moved into the EU.
• That means the importing company has to pay tariffs on the raw materials as soon as they enter Northern Ireland or Ireland, a cost that could run to £14m a year according to ADS, Britain’s trade body which represents most of the 90 aerospace companies that employ more than 10,000 people in Northern Ireland.
• The actual tariffs are ultimately refundable, but ADS said administration costs could run to as much as £65m annually and argued that the raw materials should be tariff-exempt because they are highly specific and only ever likely to be used for aerospace, an industry whose products are generally exempt from tariffs under World Trade Organization rules.
• Dodd’s intervention came as prime minister Boris Johnson told the BBC that he was still trying to remove what he termed the “ludicrous barriers” and “unnecessary protuberances” thrown up by the protocol.
• Johnson’s repeated denials of the practical realities arising from the protocol since its October signing have caused significant frustration among EU member states and the European Commission, which has launched legal action to force the UK to fully implement the deal.
• Neale Richmond, European affairs spokesman for Ireland’s Fine Gael party — a member of the ruling coalition — accused Johnson of deploying “needless verbiage” instead of focusing on making the protocol operational. “Worth remembering that what Boris Johnson calls ludicrous is what he himself negotiated & ratified, the post Brexit protocol isn’t a foreign construct,” he added on Twitter.

New IRA tried to murder officer after ‘viable’ bomb found next to car, police say (Telegraph)
• Republican dissidents have been accused of trying to murder a police officer after a “viable” bomb was found next to her car.
• The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said the New IRA was likely to be behind the attempt to kill a part-time police officer outside her home in a rural area close to Dungiven in Co Londonderry.
• A security operation has been ongoing since the device was discovered on Monday on the Ballyquin Road.
• PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said on social media: “I strongly condemn this outrageous attack on our officer and her family. PSNI officers and staff bravely step up to serve the community and this attempt to harm is a stark reminder of the challenges still facing us all.”
• Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan said the device was placed beside the officer’s car and designed to create a fireball. He added the terrorist group would have been aware of the child seat in the car when they placed the bomb.
• “This is a group who are intent on targeting police officers. They have a total disregard for other members of the community and who they hurt or harm in the course of achieving that objective,” he said, adding that these types of terrorist groups seek to drag Northern Ireland back to the “dark days”.

China close to ‘any plausible nuclear strategy’, says USSTRATCOM chief (Janes)
• China is capable of executing “any plausible nuclear employment strategy” within the Indo-Pacific region and will soon be able to do so at intercontinental ranges, US Navy Admiral Charles A Richard, the commander of the US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), said in a written statement to the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services on 20 April.
• “They [China] are no longer a ‘lesser included case’ of the pacing nuclear threat: Russia,” said the admiral, adding that such capabilities “bring into question” China’s stated ‘No First Use’ policy declaration and implied minimum deterrent strategy.
• The commander said that while China’s nuclear stockpile is smaller than those fielded by Russia and the United States, it is undergoing an “unprecedented” expansion.
• “Behind a complete lack of transparency, China is rapidly improving its strategic nuclear capability and capacity, with rapid growth in road mobile production, doubling the number of launchers in some ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] brigades, deployment of solid fuel … ICBM silos on a potentially large scale, an added air leg; and are well ahead of the pace necessary to double their nuclear stockpile by the end of the decade,” he said.
• The admiral said that in the “very near term” China will possess a credible nuclear triad, supported by its growing stockpile and weapon systems capable of multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs).
• “The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] is developing and fielding precision-strike nuclear delivery systems such as the dual-use DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) and survivable road-mobile ICBMs with the CSS-10 mod 2 (DF-31A)-class missile capable of striking locations within the continental United States,” noted Adm Richard, adding that China has stood up “at least two brigades” equipped with the CSS-20 (DF-41) road-mobile ICBM system which became operational in 2020.

Germany injects funding into land, sea and air programmes (Shephard News)
• Some €600 million is being spent in Germany on a range of defence procurement initiatives.
• The Budget Committee of the German Parliament has given the green light to about €600 million of investment in a series of defence procurement programmes.
• A total of 44 new tracked armoured engineering vehicles (based on the Leopard 2A4 main battle tank) will be acquired for €295 million to replace the Pionierpanzer Dachs, which entered service in 1989.
• The German Navy will equip two of its Braunschweig-class (K130) corvettes with an undisclosed number of Skeldar V-200 VTOL UAVs (known as Sea Falcon in German service), in a two-phase procurement programme worth €78 million.
• Six other countries have already ordered the V-200, according to Shephard Defence Insight.
• ‘In a pilot phase, the drones will be adapted to the needs of the Bundeswehr, and a subsystem consisting of two [Sea Falcon] aircraft and a ground control station for the corvette will be delivered and installed,’ the German Armed Forces announced on 14 April.
• Subsequently, the navy will acquire two additional systems – one for training, including the simulator component – plus control stations and other onboard equipment.
• In addition, the German Armed Forces are renting seven Airbus H135 helicopters for €63 million from ADAC Luftfahrttechnik until the end of 2024. These helicopters will be based at the International Helicopter Training Centre in Bückeburg.
• The EC135 is an interim solution until a new light multipurpose helicopter enters service in the mid-2020s.

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WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON

Promises of a Covid pill come with warning of a third wave (Times)
• Pills taken at home will stop people getting severe Covid-19, Boris Johnson promised as he warned that the country would have to deal with a third wave of the virus this year.
• The prime minister set a goal of finding two treatments to stop people in the early stages of the illness ending up in hospital as he sought extra ways to ensure that lockdown could be eased safely.
• Johnson said he saw “nothing in the data” to suggest that plans to allow indoor mixing from May 17 and to remove all restrictions on June 21 would need to be delayed. He added, however, that “we can’t delude ourselves that Covid has gone away” and “we must as far as possible learn to live with the disease”.
• A handful of treatments have been found to improve hospital patients’ chances of survival, but there has been nothing available in the early stages of disease to stop patients deteriorating. In Johnson’s own case, an initially mild disease became life threatening.
• Developing antiviral treatments has proved difficult because viruses offer far fewer targets than bacteria to attack. Trials in early-stage disease have also struggled to recruit patients through GP surgeries, and some drugs have had disappointing results.
• However, Johnson promised yesterday to kick-start efforts to find treatments by the autumn, saying: “This means, for example, that if you test positive there might be a tablet you can take at home to stop the virus in its tracks, and significantly reduce the chance of infection turning into more severe disease. Or if you’re living with someone who has tested positive, there might be a pill you could take for a few days to stop you getting the disease yourself.”

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?

Johnny Mercer sacked by text message after row over Northern Ireland veterans (Telegraph)

• Johnny Mercer, the Veterans’ Minister, was sacked by text message on Tuesday as he accused Boris Johnson of lacking the “moral strength and courage” to protect ex-soldiers from prosecution in Northern Ireland.
• Mr Mercer, a former captain in the Army, had told Number 10 of his intention to resign on Monday night but was fired 24 hours later in a pre-emptive strike.
• Mr Mercer on Tuesday night posted on Twitter a letter of resignation he had originally planned to make public on Wednesday in which he criticised the prime minister for continuing “to say all the right things” but failing “to match that with what we deliver”.
• He complained that Mr Johnson’s Government had “abandoned our people in a way I simply cannot reconcile” and added: “Whilst endless plans are promised… veterans are being sectioned, drinking themselves to death and dying well before their time – simply because the UK Government cannot find the moral strength or courage … to stop these appalling injustices.”
• Mr Mercer had become increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress and had clashed with Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, and Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland Secretary.

 

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