May 6, 2021
France dispatches two navy ships as minister claims he will not be ‘intimidated’ by UK show of force, US Army extends FHTV contract with Oshkosh, Egypt bumps up its Rafale fleet by 30 new planes, USMC’s AAV fleet still sidelined as fixes continue, service leaders say.
HERE ARE THE TOP INDUSTRY AND WORLD STORIES
France dispatches two navy ships as minister claims he will not be ‘intimidated’ by UK show of force (Telegraph)
• France has dispatched two military vessels to Jersey’s capital of St Helier, as the row over post-Brexit fishing rights escalates.
• The port has been under blockade since dawn this morning, with eyewitnesses estimating around 60 French fishing vessels have been taking part in a protest against new rules that limit their access to British waters around Jersey.
• The Royal Navy’s HMS Tamar and HMS Severn, both of which are equipped with machine guns, are stationed just off the coast.
• In response two patrol vessels have been sent to waters close to the Channel island of Jersey, as France’s European affairs minister Clement Beaune told AFP his government would “not be intimidated” by the UK’s show of force.
• Ian Gorst, Jersey’s External Affairs Minister, said the ships would have to remain within French waters unless it sought permission from UK authorities.
• But he noted that France was “only 14 miles away” from the island, adding: “They can remain in French waters and still be close to us.”
US Army extends FHTV contract with Oshkosh (Shephard News)
• Oshkosh Defense has received a contract extension from the US Army for continued production and modernisation of its Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles (FHTV).
• The three-year FHTV IV extension from US Army Contracting Command is accompanied by initial delivery orders worth $146.8 million for 353 new and modernised vehicles, the US manufacturer announced on 3 May.
• Under the extension, Oshkosh will provide new and recapitalised Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTTs), Palletized Load System (PLS) trucks and trailers, and Heavy Equipment Transporters (HETs).
• Oshkosh designed the FHTV to support various roles, with a flexible architecture to accommodate capabilities such as condition-based maintenance, advanced driver assistance systems, autonomy, onboard power ‘and other proven technologies’, the company claimed.
• HEMTT is a logistics vehicle available in multiple variants for a range of operations, while the PLS truck and trailer form a complete system that reduces the need for forklifts or other material-handling equipment.
• HET conducts rapid transport of tanks and other fighting vehicles, recovery vehicles and construction equipment, as well as their crews. HET A1 trucks are often paired with the M1000 heavy-duty trailer to haul the M1A1/M1A2 Abrams MBT, Shephard Defence Insight notes.
Egypt bumps up its Rafale fleet by 30 new planes (Defense News)
• Egypt has bought 30 more Rafale aircraft from France, according to statements issued on Tuesday by the Egyptian and French defense ministries as well as Dassault Aviation, the aircraft’s manufacturer.
• The new acquisition complements the first Egyptian purchase of 24 Rafales six years ago and will up the Rafale fleet in the Egyptian Air Force to 54, making it the second-largest Rafale fleet in the world after France.
• The first aircraft of this new contract will be delivered three years after the contract takes effect, according to a French Defense Ministry statement, but nobody at the ministry was available to specify when that would be.
• According to the investigative, not-for-profit website Disclose, the deal, signed on April 26, is worth almost €4 billion (U.S. $5 billion). The Egyptian Defense Ministry said the purchase would be financed through a loan that would be repaid over at least 10 years, but the government gave no further details.
• Egyptian officials were expected at the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance on Tuesday to sign the financing deal linked to the contract.
USMC’s AAV fleet still sidelined as fixes continue, service leaders say (Janes)
• The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is working on material fixes and upgrades to its Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) fleet. Since the accident of July 2020 that killed nine military members, the service has not resumed waterborne operations with the AAVs, service leaders told lawmakers during a 3 May hearing.
• Members of the House Armed Services Committee met virtually to hear from USMC and US Navy (USN) leaders about ongoing steps to improve AAV training and readiness to prevent another accident.
• “It was preventable in so many ways, but we failed,” USMC Assistant Commandant General Gary Thomas told lawmakers.
• “Let me be clear, the AAV platoon should have received vehicles in a higher state of material readiness than they did,” he added.
• Major General Gregg Olson, staff director of the USMC, noted that the AAVs were delivered to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in “horrible condition”. Mechanics prepared them for land operations and later made them “waterborne capable” but subsequent inspections found that there were “watertight integrity” issues.
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WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON
Tories take 10-point poll cushion into Super Thursday election day (Telegraph)
• The Conservatives are still enjoying a vaccine bounce and retain a significant lead over Labour as voters head to the polls, a survey has suggested.
• Research by YouGov for The Times in the run-up to the “Super Thursday” elections today found the Conservatives had a ten-point lead over Labour, down just one point from last week.
• Nearly nine in ten voters believed the government had handled the Covid-19 vaccine programme well, and 51 per cent of those who thought it was a success credited Boris Johnson.
• While just over half of voters thought the government’s overall handling of the pandemic had been bad, only one fifth of those polled said they thought Sir Keir Starmer and Labour would have handled it better. One third said it would have been “much the same” under Labour, and 29 per cent said it would have been worse.
• Four in ten voters said the government’s response to the pandemic would have been worse if Britain had still been in the European Union.
• The poll, which was conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, put the Conservatives nationally on 43 per cent and Labour on 33 per cent. It found Johnson was more popular than Starmer, with 40 per cent of people having a favourable view of the prime minister, against 31 per cent for the Labour leader.
• Up to 48 million people are eligible to vote today for local councillors, metropolitan mayors, MSPs, Senedd members, police and crime commissioners and the MP for Hartlepool.
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos delivers the final frontier (for 11 minutes) as Musk achieves Starship landing (Times)
• When Alan Shepard became the first American to go into space on his Freedom 7 capsule 60 years ago he had no window, no company — and the Russians had already beaten him to it.
• Now thrill-seekers can bid to join five crewmates as the first to ride a rocket named in his honour, and view their home planet through the “biggest windows in spaceflight history”, following a surprise announcement by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin company.
• “It’s time for astronauts to climb on board,” the rocket company owned by the billionaire founder of Amazon said, as it opened an auction for the first ticket. This seat will change how you see the world,” it added.
• Blue Origin’s fully re-useable New Shepard rocket — which has made 14 successful test flights — will send space tourists with deep pockets on suborbital joyrides, providing an 11-minute journey to experience “life-changing views of Earth”.
• It came as Elon Musk, Bezos’s rival in the commercial space race, announced that his SpaceX launched its Starship rocket and completed its first successful high-altitude ascent and landing on Wednesday.
• In four previous tests the Starship models, which Musk intends to use to send people to Mars, have been destroyed after running into trouble as they went through their landing manoeuvres. Yesterday Serial Number 15 (SN15) made a controlled return to the ground at SpaceX’s R&D facility in Texas. A minor fire was seen at the base of the rocket on touchdown but was extinguished quickly.
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