May 5, 2021
British Lightning strikes to subdue terror threat in Iraq and Syria, USMC weighing ARV bids for prototyping competition, Babcock prepares sale of rail business as overhaul continues, With F-35 expulsion, Turkey’s top weapons buyer prioritizes TF-X work.
HERE ARE THE TOP INDUSTRY AND WORLD STORIES
British Lightning strikes to subdue terror threat in Iraq and Syria (Telegraph)
• The aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will send “Dambuster” fighter jets to strike terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
• The Ministry of Defence said the F35B Lightning fast jets would join Operation Shader from the Carrier Strike Group to “pack a potent punch” against Islamic State.
• The “Dambusters” squadron, also known as 617 Squadron, is set to operate the jets to support the counter-IS operations.
• Eight RAF and 10 US Marine Corps F35B jets will be operating from on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, which deployed on her maiden voyage on Saturday and will head for Asia accompanied by six Royal Navy ships, a submarine, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.
• The F35B jets are multi-role combat aircraft equipped with advanced sensors, mission systems and stealth technology – enabling them to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks.
• Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said he was in no doubt “violent extremism and the toxic ideology underpinning it is still rooted” in the region.
• He added: “I’m absolutely clear in my mind that what we are doing every day … is making the streets of the UK safer.”
• Sir Mike said the Armed Forces would continue “to take the fight to them in their sanctuary where otherwise they would be threatening the streets of the United Kingdom and our allies”.
USMC weighing ARV bids for prototyping competition (Janes)
• Industry bids for the US Marine Corps’ (USMC’s) advanced reconnaissance vehicle (ARV) prototyping competition were due on 3 May and at least two companies said they are vying for contracts.
• Both General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) and Textron Systems announced that they had responded to the service’s request for prototype proposals: a document only available to National Advanced Mobility Consortium members.
• In a 2020 draft publicly released, the service said it intends to award up to four contracts for this upcoming prototyping phase that will end with an evaluation.
• “The ARV prototype vehicle (PV) is envisioned as a next-generation platform with a combination of capabilities that will enable light armoured reconnaissance (LAR) battalions to function as a battlefield manager,” the US Army wrote on behalf of the USMC effort last year. “This will require multiple and resilient means to process information and communicate,” it added.
• The prototypes will need to have an “open system architecture” and strike the right balance between the demands to “sense, shoot, move, communicate and remain transportable” as part of the naval expeditionary force.
• “The ARV PV will provide a balanced set of performance, payload, and protection attributes with sufficient size, weight, and power (SWaP) to accommodate future growth and the development of other platform variants,” the notice added.
• David Phillips, Textron Systems’ senior vice-president for land systems, provided reporters with some additional ARV requirement details during a 3 May call. He noted that the USMC wants the prototypes to weigh less than 18.5 tons, there are likely to be different variants, and that four vehicle should fit onto each ship-to-shore connector.
Babcock prepares sale of rail business as overhaul continues (FT)
• Babcock International is preparing to put its rail business and parts of its aerial emergency services up for sale as the defence contractor seeks to restore its finances to a firmer footing.
• Britain’s second-biggest defence contractor is in the middle of a sweeping restructuring under new chief executive David Lockwood. The company recently told investors that it hoped to generate at least £400m over the next 12 months from the sale of some of its businesses as it announced a £1.7bn writedown and said it would cut 1,000 jobs.
• Babcock provides maintenance and support for the UK’s nuclear submarines at Faslane, and was a member of the consortium that built the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers.
• It is also one of the largest track renewal companies in the UK, supporting Network Rail in maintaining the network, and is part of a joint venture responsible for electrifying thousands of kilometres of railways. The company also specialises in the refurbishment of high voltage power lines.
• Babcock hopes to sell its rail and power activities as one combined sale, according to two people familiar with the situation. Its training division, which provides engineering apprenticeships, is also being earmarked for sale.
• Separately, the company intends to divest some of its aerial emergency activities outside of the UK, the people confirmed. Babcock operates about 500 planes and helicopters used for search and rescue and aerial firefighting in France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Canada and Norway. The company has previously confirmed it is in talks to sell its oil and gas aviation division, which provides helicopter transport for offshore workers to US-based CHC Group.
With F-35 expulsion, Turkey’s top weapons buyer prioritizes TF-X work (Defense News)
• Turkey’s top defense procurement official, Ismail Demir, said in an April 30 TV interview that the government will prioritize the production of its indigenous TF-X fighter jet amid an estimated loss of $1.4 billion for local industry following the country’s expulsion from the American-led F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
• The U.S. decided to exclude Turkey from the multinational program in response to Ankara’s decision to acquire and deploy the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile system. Turkish aerospace officials said domestic companies associated with the F-35 production effort are to fulfill commitments to manufacturing thousands of parts until next year, but the aircraft will not be delivered to the Turkish Air Force.
• Turkish Aerospace Industries is designing, developing and will build the TF-X, aiming to fly the aircraft around the 2025-2026 time frame.
• TAI CEO Temel Kotil said in an April 27 TV interview that “the government has earmarked an additional $1.3 billion to Phase 1 of the TF-X program. A total of 6,000 engineers are working on this program.”
• He added his company will soon build the first hangar for the TF-X as well as what he called Europe’s second-best wind tunnel for testing the aircraft.
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WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON
Coronavirus latest news: All Indian G7 delegation self-isolating in London after two members test positive (Telegraph)
• India’s entire delegation to the G7 summit in London is self-isolating after two of its members tested positive for Covid-19.
• “The meeting had been enabled by a strict set of Covid protocols, including daily testing of all delegates,” a British official said.
• India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, will participate virtually in the event after coming into contact with the suspected cases, although he has not tested positive.
• He said: “Was made aware yesterday evening of exposure to possible Covid positive cases.
• “As a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, I decided to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode. That will be the case with the G7 meeting today as well.”
• There are strict coronavirus security measures in place at the Lancaster House summit, which is the first face-to-face meeting of G7 foreign ministers for more than two years.
• The two Indian cases were picked up by advance testing and none of the party had attended the summit venue.
• India is not a G7 member but Mr Jaishankar was invited to the event at Lancaster House as a guest.
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?
Joe McCann killing: Collapse of ‘farcical’ Paras trial prompts calls to protect Troubles veterans (Times)
• A landmark case against two former paratroopers collapsed yesterday because of a lack of fresh evidence, strengthening calls for new laws to protect Northern Ireland veterans.
• Soldier A and Soldier C were acquitted of the murder of Joe McCann, an Official IRA commander, in 1972 — the bloodiest year of the Troubles during which more than 450 people were killed. The trial collapsed at Laganside court in Belfast after the prosecution confirmed they would not be appealing against a ruling by the judge that previous evidence was inadmissible.
• Johnny Mercer, the former veterans minister who quit over the government’s treatment of investigations into the Troubles, said the handling of the case had been “farcical”.
• There are concerns that hundreds of former soldiers, many in their seventies and eighties, could be brought before the courts. Four other cases are already at the pre-trial stage in the province.
• The government has promised new laws to deal with so-called “legacy” cases but has presented no solution so far. Mark Francois, the former armed forces minister, said the collapse of the trial increased the pressure on ministers to bring forward legislation.
• Soldier A and Soldier C had pleaded not guilty to murder in the first prosecution since the 1998 Good Friday agreement. Security sources claimed McCann was behind the deaths of more than ten British soldiers although this was disputed by the Official IRA.
• Statements given by the soldiers in 1972, when they admitted firing shots but said they believed they had acted lawfully, were deemed inadmissible during the trial, as were subsequent statements given in 2010.
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