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CMS Strategic News Report May 25

by CMS Team on 25 May, 2021

Tuesday
May 25, 2021

EU questions Eutelsat for taking stake in OneWeb, Saab to upgrade radar warning systems on German Tornados, Poland to buy Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones, Leonardo to upgrade NATO AWACS aircraft.

Ministry of Defence

A400M Aircraft: Parachuting: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, for what reason the Military Aviation Authority does not accept French accreditation for parachute operations for the A400M aircraft (Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham).
• Answer from Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

“The existing French accreditation for their EPC (Ensemble de Parachutage du Combattant) parachute is based on Airbus trials for A400M Simultaneous Side Door exit, using French equipment and techniques. This foundation certification is the baseline from which the UK, and the other nations, must undertake further trials to account for its own regulations, equipment and standards. The Airbus certification for A400M High Altitude tailgate parachuting was achieved by using UK test teams, equipment and procedures and so other nations, including France, will have to clear their equipment before employing this capability. This approach has simplified the process of approving new parachuting capabilities for use on UK A400M.”

National Security: Infrastructure: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to protect (a) critical infrastructure, such as the energy industry and financial services, and (b) physical infrastructure, such as airports and the NHS (John Healey Shadow Secretary of State for Defence).
• Answer from James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

“The protection of critical national infrastructure (CNI) in the UK is the responsibility of its owners and operators in collaboration with the Centre for the Protection of Critical National Infrastructure (CPNI), the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and Civil Police Forces. Ministry of Defence Police support the protection of UK CNI through the provision of guarding services for a small number of sites.”

UK Space Command: Staff: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many personnel will be allocated to the Space Command announced on 1 April 2021. (John Healey Shadow Secretary of State for Defence).
• Answer from James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

“At Full Operating Capability, there will be approximately 650 personnel within UK Space Command which will be a a Joint Organisation with personnel from all three single Services and the Civil Service. There will be approximately 250 personnel in the Headquarters and capability development element of UK Space Command. As well as 320 personnel at RAF Fylingdales, 45 personnel in the UK Space Operations Centre and 35 personnel in Space Assurance, Training, Test and Evaluation Unit.”

National Security: Infrastructure: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to protect (a) critical infrastructure, such as the energy industry and financial services, and (b) physical infrastructure, such as airports and the NHS (John Healey Shadow Secretary of State for Defence).
• Answer from James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

“The protection of critical national infrastructure (CNI) in the UK is the responsibility of its owners and operators in collaboration with the Centre for the Protection of Critical National Infrastructure (CPNI), the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and Civil Police Forces. Ministry of Defence Police support the protection of UK CNI through the provision of guarding services for a small number of sites.”

Defence Equipment: Procurement: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the total value of defence equipment contracts awarded by his Department was in (a) March and (b) April 2021, and if he will publish the details of defence equipment contracts over a value of £5 million awarded since 1 March 2021 (John Healey Shadow Secretary of State for Defence).
• Answer from James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

“Defence procurement projects cover an extensive range of equipment, infrastructure, information services and broad service contracts.
With over 500 contracts placed by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) since March 2021, including over 40 contracts with a value over £5 million, specific details concerning equipment contracts could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The MOD publishes statistics on organisations paid more than £5 million and the levels of expenditure against competitive and non-competitive contracts, although due to the need to verify the information before publication, the next update is not expected until later this year. The most recent publication can be found at the following link: www.gov.uk/government/collections/defence-trade-and-industry-index.MOD contracts worth over £10,000 are published on the Government’s Contracts Finder website at: www.gov.uk/contracts-finder.”

HERE ARE THE TOP INDUSTRY AND WORLD STORIES

EU questions Eutelsat for taking stake in OneWeb (FT)
• Eutelsat has jeopardised its involvement in a new EU space-based internet service by investing alongside the UK government in the satellite broadband company, OneWeb, the EU’s internal market commissioner has warned.
• “We took good note of their decision to participate in a project that is in direct competition with the European initiative. I do not see how, structurally, an entity can have stakes in two competing projects,” said Thierry Breton, who also oversees the European Commission’s tech policy, at the launch of the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA).
• The new EU constellation was “absolutely critical for our autonomy, for our sovereignty, for our future. So, we will not compromise,” he added.
• His comments are likely to further inflame tensions between Brussels and London over collaboration on space projects. After Brexit, the EU barred Britain from full participation in Galileo, its satellite navigation system, and Josef Aschbacher, the new head of the European Space Agency, told the Financial Times recently that there were still “a lot of tensions and suspicions on each side”.
• After the EU said it wanted to launch a sovereign satellite internet service from low earth orbit (LEO), industry executives speculated that OneWeb’s network could be a potential platform for collaboration.
• New LEO constellations are very costly — at between $6bn and $10bn — and high risk. A $550m investment in April by Eutelsat — which is 20 per cent owned by the French state — for an equal stake in OneWeb to the UK government and India’s Bharti Global was seen as a potential bridge to co-operation.

Saab to upgrade radar warning systems on German Tornados (Shephard News)
• Has Germany changed tack on radar warning receivers for its ageing Tornado fleet?
• Saab is under contract to upgrade the BOW radar warning equipment on the Tornado fighter aircraft operated by the German Air Force.
• The contract from Panavia Aircraft is worth approximately SEK400 million ($48.4 million) and deliveries will occur from 2021 to 2025.
• This appears to contradict the Budget Committee of the German Parliament, which announced in April 2021 that the German Tornado fleet would receive a new radar warning system, requiring €105 million ($128.6 million) of investment, as there are no spare parts available for the existing system in the medium term.
• In its order from Panavia, Saab will supply modern digital components to ‘enhance the processing power and extend the lifetime of the Tornado’s radar warning equipment’, the company stated on 25 May.
• Saab will carry out the work at its sites in Nuremberg, Germany and Järfälla, Sweden. The company supplied its first radar warning equipment for German Tornados in 1999.
• As noted by Shephard Defence Insight, Germany is acquiring Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 3 aircraft to replace its ageing Tornado fleet.

Poland to buy Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones (Defense News)
• Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak has announced his ministry will buy 24 Bayraktar TB2 drones from Turkey.
• Under the plan, Warsaw will acquire four sets of unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with anti-tank missiles. The deal is to be signed during Polish President Andrzej Duda’s official visit to Turkey which kicked off yesterday.
• “The first set will be delivered to the Polish military in one year, in 2022,” Błaszczak told local broadcaster Polish Radio.
• The planned contract is set to make Poland the second NATO member state to operate the UAV which is currently used by Turkey’s armed forces. The drone’s deployment by Azerbaijan in the country’s armed conflict with Armenia last year triggered interest in the Turkish drones among Polish decision makers, local industry observers say.
• The Bayraktar TB2 has a flight range of 150 km, according to data from Turkey’s top procurement agency, the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB).
• Meanwhile, Ret. Gen. Mirosław Różański, the president of the Stratpoints Foundation and former General Commander of the Polish Armed Forces, told Defense News that Poland’s armed forces also need to acquire long-range UAVs capable of carrying out strikes beyond the country’s borders.

Leonardo to upgrade NATO AWACS aircraft (Janes)
• Leonardo is to upgrade a first Boeing E-3A Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) aircraft test aircraft as part of NATO’s wider Final Lifetime Extension Programme (FLEP).
• The Italian company announced on 21 May that it has been contracted by Boeing, as prime contractor for the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) Programme Management, Agency to upgrade the first NATO E-3A test aircraft.
• “The activity, to be completed within 2023, includes the installation and checkout of newly-developed hardware under the FLEP programme [and will be] accomplished by Leonardo’s […] personnel of the Venice-Tessera plant in Italy,” the company said. “Leonardo will then provide support during the final test phase at the Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base [in Germany].”
• Leonardo did not specify the nature of the hardware to be fitted to the test aircraft, nor when the upgrade is planned to be rolled out to the remaining 13 aircraft of the NATO E-3A Component.
• With an original line up of 18 Boeing E-3A AWACS aircraft (now reduced to 14), the E-3A Component is directly supported by Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, and the United States.

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WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON

Politics latest news: Government accused of imposing ‘lockdown lite through the back door’ on Indian variant hotspots (Telegraph)
• Britain said that the dictator of Belarus faced “serious consequences” after he
• The Government has been accused of imposing “lockdown-lite through the back door”, after new restrictions were brought in to Indian variant hotspots without informing local leaders or residents.
• People living in Bolton, Blackburn, Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside have been told not to travel in and out of the areas, or socialise indoors. The guidance appears to have been updated, without any announcement, on Friday.
• Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer branded the move “utterly shameful”, and called for clarity “fast”.
• Kate Hollern, the MP for Blackburn, said: “On Friday night the Government rolled out lockdown-lite through the back door… I strongly oppose the Government’s attempt to introduce new measures by stealth and without consultation.”
• Yasmin Qureshi, Labour MP for Bolton South East, said she was “gobsmacked” by the Government’s “incompetence”.
• However Therese Coffey told Sky News the plans had been trailed by Boris Johnson during a press conference last week, and that it was “good practice to have formally put that guidance on the record”.
• The Work and Pensions Secretary added: “We have been working in close contact with local leaders, so I am surprised to hear people think this has come out of the blue – it hasn’t.”

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?

Belarusian journalist reportedly pleaded with crew before being detained in Minsk: ‘Don’t do this. They will kill me.’ (Business Insider)

• Roman Protasevich, the Belarusian journalist and activist who was detained in Minsk on Sunday, pleaded with cabin crew not to ground the Athens-Vilnius flight in the Belarus capital, out of fear for his life, according to Politico.
• Belarusian authorities on Sunday sent a fighter jet to divert the Ryanair plane, citing a bogus bomb threat. When the passenger plane was forced to land in Minsk, police officers boarded the jet and arrested Protasevich and his girlfriend, sparking international outrage.
• Passengers on Ryanair Flight 4978 told the outlet that the plane was “just minutes” from its destination in Lithuania when the pilot announced the plane would make an emergency landing in Minsk.
• Initially, many of the flight’s 171 passengers worried there was something wrong with the plane or the Vilnius airport, Politico reported.
• But Protasevich — a 26-year old dissident who has been openly critical of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s rule — knew what was really happening, according to multiple media reports.

REPORTING TO YOU

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QUICK THINGS TO KNOW

• BBC: BBC boss says it may have to pay out to whistleblower over Bashir interview Guardian

• Yemen Airbase: Mysterious airbase being built on volcanic island off Yemen Guardian

• EU: EU imposes new economic sanctions on Belarus over ‘hijacked’ flight Guardian
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