Herrick 20 parade
The Daily Telegraph carries a picture story of yesterday’s parade by the last combat troops to have served in Afghanistan. Members of 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade and 102 Logistic Brigade, responsible for service in Regional Command (Southwest) and Joint Force Support (Afghanistan), paraded from Wellington Barracks to Parliament, and later attended a reception at the Palace of Westminster.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
“The contribution of our Armed Forces over many years in Helmand has given Afghanistan the best possible chance of a secure future.
“It is right that we welcome members of the final Herrick deployment and pay tribute to their efforts and sacrifices.
“We should not under estimate the scale if the logistical challenge that they successfully overcame, nor the dangers that they faced even in those final months.
“While they represent the last of our combat forces, we should not forget that the UK’s commitment to Afghanistan has not ended and we will continue to support its security and development.”
You can read more about the parade here.
Sun defence position
Marking 100 days until the general election, the Sun has produced its own manifesto, reflecting that the paper has not chosen who to endorse. The paper calls for a halt to cuts to the armed forces, continued investment in Trident’s replacement, support for the primacy of security service work over civil liberties and a commitment to maintain spending at 2% of gross domestic product.
Defence Minister Philip Dunne – Keynote speech at the International Armoured Vehicles Conference
It’s a pleasure to be invited to talk to you once again…during what is something of a milestone year for the Armoured Vehicle Industry in the UK...
2015 is, of course, a big anniversary year here in the UK, with the signing of the Magna Carta 800 years ago, but it is also 100 years since the first tank prototype was built.
I’m told that the early designs were scribbled literally on the back of a cigarette packet in a hotel room, in the small cathedral city of Lincoln, a money-saving device we have so far managed to avoid at the Ministry of Defence!
And, despite this inauspicious start, a few months later, the first completed tank prototype in history was born.
It was called “Little Willie”…a quaintly British name for a vehicle designed to embody the very essence of man’s power and dominance.
Continuing importance of the armoured vehicle
A century later…despite falling in and out of favour at regular intervals…tanks continue to prove their worth on the modern battlefield…providing mobility, precision firepower, protection and psychological influence…
They were a key component of International Security Assistance Force's operations in Afghanistan.
And most recently, of course, they were back in force on the plains of Northern Poland as part of NATO’s exercise Black Eagle.
But I have not come to the International Armoured Vehicles Conference to talk exclusively about tanks.
My point is a wider one – and it applies to the whole Armoured Vehicle family.
It is this: That in an age where we face a kaleidoscope of concurrent and diverse threats…
…from Russian aggression in the Ukraine and ISIL in the Middle East, to global weapons proliferation and the steady undermining of traditional military advantage by disruptive technologies…
…Our Armed Forces will continually be called upon to provide the agile, speedy, intelligent response that is their calling card…
…deploying appropriate resources to respond to any given situation and mixing hard power with soft and smart power.
So…the imperative to maintain and develop a battle-winning fleet of versatile armoured vehicles remains as great as ever.
Sustaining a Battle-winning Armoured Fleet under challenging circumstances
Yet it is an imperative complicated by 2 interlinking factors:
Firstly, the need to stay ahead in a world of exponential technological advancement.
And secondly…shrinking defence budgets.
Each country represented here is in a similar situation…
Reforming Defence to deliver better capabilities
But the UK has been busy over the last 4 years getting our Defence machine in better shape…ensuring we can meet these challenges head on.
When this government came into office in 2010, the legacy we inherited included:
Which, ultimately, damaged confidence in the Ministry Of Defence’s ability to deliver.
Just to illustrate how bad it was, the NAO Major Projects report for 2009 reviewed the top 17 defence projects which were a staggering £4.5 billion over budget and 339 months overdue.
So we had a lot to do. We went back to basics and restructured our forces…creating a scalable, modular, and fundamentally joint approach to provide us with the flexibility and agility that our volatile world demands…
We devolved budgets to the single services…ensuring the men and women who really understand what’s required take responsibility, and accountability, for delivering military capability across their domains...
And lastly, we transformed our infrastructure and equipment organisations…injecting them with much needed private sector expertise.
…Ensuring we are a more intelligent customer; able to get high-quality equipment and services at best value for the taxpayer.
In short, we’ve transformed the MOD into a leaner and more efficient machine that equips our Armed Forces with the kit they need…when they need it.
And the proof that defence has been transformed is in the latest NAO report on Major Projects for 2014, published earlier this month where the 11 top defence projects are £397 million under budget and a total of only 14 months over time.
But this isn’t a one-shot wonder… because we have institutionalised behavioural change with a long term plan, a credible and reliable 10 year Defence Equipment Plan…
…A realistic and affordable roadmap, setting out in detail – for the benefit our Armed Forces, our allies, our defence industry and our taxpayers – how we intend to spend around £163 billion ($247 billion or €214 billion) on new equipment and equipment support over the next decade.
£6.7 billion Armoured Vehicle Programme
£6.7 billion ($10 billion or €9 billion) of this sum will be invested in Armoured Vehicles…
And we have already seen the theory translated into tangibles…with a series of major programmes underway.
Scout Specialist Vehicles
In September last year, we signed the largest single order for a UK armoured vehicle in 30 years…
…a £3.5 billion contract with General Dynamics UK for 589 Scout Specialist Vehicles (Scout SV), the vehicle’s training system and its initial in-service support package.
As the Army’s first fully-digital Armoured Vehicle, the Scout SV is, without doubt, a game-changer…
…providing a multi-purpose capability…
…and heralding a huge leap forward…not only in the Army’s ability to operate in any environment…
…but in its capacity to work integrally with military allies and civilian colleagues from any partner nation.
It will be the “eyes and ears” of commanders on the battlefields of the future…
And as well being excellent news for our soldiers…
…it’s a boost for UK industry…
…sustaining 1,400 engineering jobs across the UK in key defence industries…
…A number that is set to rise as more contracts are let across the supply chain.
One of the army’s top equipment priorities this decade is the Warrior Capability Sustainment programme….
…A programme designed to keep Warrior at the front and centre of combat capability for at least another 25 years…with state-of-the-art firepower and electronics.
Not long after I spoke to this conference last year we started a series of live firing trials using the CT40 cannon integrated into the Warrior’s new turret.
And we look set to deliver the initial service acceptance of 28 vehicles in 2020 – on time and to cost.
Last week I announced an initial £50 million contract with BAE Systems for long-term contract to support the British Army’s armoured vehicle fleet…providing support and key engineering skills to protect the capabilities of the British Army now and in the future.
Returning to tanks, the Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme…which will ensure the UK can field a Main Battle Tank out to and beyond 2025…continues in its Concept Phase.
UORs in Core – GD Land Announcement
Meanwhile, we’re forging ahead with our scheme to bring the Jackals, Huskeys, Mastiffs…all those vehicles purchased with Urgent Operational Requirement funding… back into our core long-term equipment programme.
And today, I can announce that we’ve signed a £30 Million ($45 million/€40 million) contract with General Dynamics Land Systems – Force Protection Europe for the conversion of around 250 Mastiff and Ridgeback vehicles…ensuring these versatile platforms will continue to be key players in Britain’s ongoing and future capability.
Medium Weight Capability
Finally, the Army is also looking at how we might complement our heavy and light forces with a medium capability.
Scout SV provides the Army and UK Defence with operational and tactical reach, battlefield and network dominance, punch and protection….
But we need to consider what other capabilities we might require to complement Scout SV and the rest of the Land Environment…further improving operational and tactical reach with minimal logistic drag.
And here there’s a lot we can learn from our allies, and we have troops experimenting in France as we speak on the VBCI (Véhicule Blindé de Combat d'Infanterie) as well as being willing to look at other platforms.
But we need to look further ahead than just the next 10 years.
Research into future generations of capability continues apace…ensuring that we continue to retain that battle winning edge.
Which is why – despite a squeeze on spending – we’re investing significantly in world-class science and technology…
…protecting our annual investment in S&T…so it remains at least 1.2 per cent of the defence budget…
And focussing our resources on Research and Development.
Devolving equipment capability setting to the Army gives Land Command greater responsibility to help direct its share of this investment in to systems of the future. So the Army is currently working with our Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) on a host of projects such as …
… Active Integrated Protection Systems (AIPS)… devices designed to offer vehicles both "hard" active defence…by physically intercepting incoming projectiles…and "soft" active defence…through the use of electronic countermeasures.
And, crucially, the development of Generic Vehicle Architecture…a concept that has been successfully applied to Scout SV and Foxhound…but one that has even greater potential to…
…reduce logistical complexity and costs…
…increase functionality, adaptability and safety
…and better prepare our Armed Forces for all contingencies…
But, when it comes to propelling innovation forwards, we can’t go it alone.
That’s why we’re harnessing the talents of our Whole Force – not just those from the military but those from the defence, civilian and commercial worlds.
Working with Primes and SMEs
So we’re encouraging defence primes to open up their supply chains
Smoothing the path for the SMEs that are the lifeblood of the defence industry, some of which are exhibiting here today…
Providing the niche capability, the groundbreaking ideas, and the enterprise that gives us the edge.
Working with innovators
Through our Centre for Defence Enterprise we’re working with the broadest possible range of science and technology providers, nurturing those sparks of inspiration…and developing novel high risk, high-potential benefit innovations…
…as we’ve seen recently with CDE’s call for proposals to increase the robustness and ease-of-repair of components and platforms, after a blast or impact.
Defence Growth Partnership
Meanwhile, our Defence Growth Partnership, is bringing together the best brains in industry, government and academia,…
… fostering a collaborative environment to ensure the UK defence industry remains at the forefront of innovation, becomes more sustainable and more competitive…
So we not only continue to provide leading edge capability for our armed forces and international customers…but create a UK centre of excellence with a worldwide reputation.
I have high hopes that the Defence solution Centre being established in Farnborough will provide a fulcrum for innovation for the defence supply chain to work with academia and other UK innovators, such as the motorsport sector, and the Advanced Propulsion Centre and other Catapult centers of excellence in the Automotive Industry in the UK.
Finally, we’re working with our international partners.
All of us here today know that if we want to stay at the very forefront of global innovation…
…and if we’re to remain ahead of our adversaries…
…we must pool our resources more widely…using the mechanisms we have in place to share everything from nascent ideas to deep technical data…
…exploiting innovation as widely as possible.
We’ve seen what this partnership can achieve with the Warrior and Scout SV’s class-leading CT40 Cannon – the product of Anglo-French Cooperation…
We’re seeing it in our work with the US on things like novel armour and the development of our protected mobility vehicle fleets…
And we’re seeing it on a multinational scale with the Technical Collaboration Programme…a joint effort between the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand…looking at IED protection.
But collaboration is not just about equipment…
…we must work together, too, on the training of our people and the way we operate capability in the future.
…capitalising on the lessons we learned in Afghanistan, in the heat of the battle.
The next couple of days will provide you with ample opportunity to
do just that…
…making new contacts
…and strengthening friendships.
At such a time of turmoil across the world, there is much to discuss.
Not just the very real challenges we face now and in the future…
…but the means we have at our collective disposal to adapt and develop our technology and platforms…
…so that we can continue to tackle those challenges effectively, efficiently and affordably.
And I hope that as you go about your business you can take inspiration from those 2 British engineers… William Tritton and Lieutenant Walter Wilson… whose inspiration 100 years ago has let to us all being here today.
Red Flag, the largest and most complex air warfare exercise in the world, has commenced at Nellis Air Force Base in the United States. Over the course of the next 3 weeks Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel will train to operate alongside partners from the United States and Australia in a series of increasingly challenging scenarios. The training will ensure the RAF maintains the very highest levels of readiness for all potential future military operations. Pictured, 1 (Fighter) Squadron Typhoon FGR4 multi-role aircraft taxi in a line at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. [Picture: Wing Commander Dylan Eklund, Crown copyright]
The front page of Saturday’s Times claimed that Army “top brass” will be reduced by up to a third under the most significant reform of senior command in a century. Today, the same paper reports that General Sir Nicholas Carter will have a fight on his hands to break a decades-old culture of “conformism and regimental tribalism” among senior ranks.
The Army Command Review is the next step in the development of Army 2020. It builds on the delegated model that Defence has implemented as a result of Lord Levene’s report on Defence reforms. It will ensure that the Army's command structure and its staff are best placed to meet future challenges in an agile, imaginative and effective manner.
The Sunday Express carries the expected story that the Ministry of Defence has spent around ￡175,000 spying on wounded soldiers to check they are not exaggerating injury compensation claims. Official figures reveal that nearly 100 military personnel and civil servants have been “spied on” since 2008.
Our policy fully complies with UK law and helps to protect the public purse against fraud. It is restricted to public places and only takes place when evidence exists which brings into question the honesty of a claim. Since 2008 this represents less than 1% of all claims brought against the department.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
Today’s Daily Telegraph (on page 16) carries an opinion editorial from Boris Johnson, who writes about his recent visit to Iraq. He says that whilst he witnessed the military contribution the UK is providing, and that we can be proud of the RAF sorties and British Army’s training role in the region, it is simply not enough. Mr Johnson suggests that the government looks at intensifying military support; he says that the Kurds are pro-West and particularly pro-British and that in a struggle against savagery that washes up on our shores, their cause is our cause.
The first tranche of Royal Navy engineers who have completed a brand new course are now set to join ships across the fleet. As part of the Navy’s drive to deliver excellent, relevant training, the enhanced Engineering Technician initial career course is now 11 weeks longer. The additional training gives the budding technicians hands-on experience with the chance to physically practice their skills on engines based in ships across the fleet. Pictured, a Royal Navy engineer recruit making checks to an engine during the new training course. [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Dave Jenkins, Crown copyright]
Foreign & Commonwealth Office Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) conference
There is significant reporting of the Foreign Office-led ISIL conference today as coalition leaders met yesterday to discuss the significant gains made in the battle against ISIL. Elsewhere, the Daily Mail writes that Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has warned that British troops could be fighting a war against ISIL for as long as 2 years before the extremists are driven out of Iraq.
An international team of observers are based onboard the Royal Navy's ice patrol survey ship, HMS Protector, to carry out inspections in accordance with Article VII(1) of the Antarctic Treaty. Royal Navy specialists are assisting with the inspections. The observers record facts and give recommendations to each base regarding personnel training, scientific activities, logistics and infrastructure, transport and communication, safety training and emergency procedures, environmental management, medical and tourism. Pictured here, HMS Protector at Galindez Island in the South Atlantic. [Picture: Petty Officer Airman (Photographer) Si Ethell, Crown copyright]