There is various media coverage of yesterday's announcement on the future of Search and Rescue services (see below for more). | Various media also report on the findings of the Public Accounts Committee regarding Britain's Carrier Strike capability (see below). | There is continued coverage of the NATO strike on Saturday which resulted in the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers, with Pakistan denying it opened fire first. | ITV News had a feature on charity Hounds for Heroes which is helping ex-servicemen and women who struggle to do everyday things because of their injuries. | The Daily Telegraph reports that an MP has called for the introduction of a central register of fallen soldiers, following a rise in medal thefts. | The Daily Mirror reports that the Royal Navy's newest icebreaker has begun a seven-month deployment to Antarctica. | The Sun features its Military Awards, which are due to take place next month. | The Daily Mirror claims that soldiers and military police will secure borders during tomorrow's public sector strikes. | The Wall Street Journal reports that two NATO soldiers have been shot during clashes with Serb protesters in Kosovo. | The Guardian reports that Islamist rebels have banned UN and international aid agencies from central and southern Somalia.
Rifleman Sheldon Lee Jordan Steel killed in Afghanistan
It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Rifleman Sheldon Steel, from 5th Battalion The Rifles, was killed in Afghanistan on Sunday 27 November 2011. Click here to read more.
UK Carrier Strike capability
Both the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee today published reports on the MOD's Carrier Strike capability. Several media sources have reported on inaccurate claims that a full Carrier Strike capability will not be achieved until 2030.
This is not true. The more capable Carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter fast jet will begin operating from our aircraft carrier from 2020, with six UK jets available for operations. By 2023, this number will increase to 12 UK jets onboard and we will be able to work with our allies to increase that number because of the interoperability that the Carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter allows.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "We are tackling the inherited black hole in the Defence Budget and, earlier this month, the National Audit Office [NAO] rightly recognised the work that this Government is undertaking to bring the Department's finances back into balance.
"When this Government came into power, the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers were already £1.6bn over budget. As part of an overall package of measures taken in the Strategic Defence and Security Review we have reduced overall spending on the Carrier Strike Programme by £4.4bn over the next ten years.
"The NAO and the Public Accounts Committee have both acknowledged that our decision to build a second aircraft carrier makes financial sense. Converting one of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers to operate the more capable Carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter fast jet from 2020 will maximise our military capability and enhance interoperability with our allies.
"Operating the more cost effective Carrier variant fast jet will, in the long term, offset the conversion costs and provide us with aircraft that have a longer range and carry a greater payload. Until our new Carrier capability comes into service, we can utilise our extensive basing and overflight rights to project decisive air power, as we showed during the Libya campaign."
Future of Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters and the Duke of Cambridge
Various papers follow up yesterday's announcement by the Department for Transport on the future of SAR provision. Some media sources have mistakenly reported that this announcement will directly impact on the Duke of Cambridge's future.
This announcement will not affect the Duke who became a fully operational Sea King pilot based at RAF Valley in 2010. It is anticipated that he will complete his SAR tour flying Sea Kings in 2013. Like all other military personnel it would be expected that at the end of his tour he would be redeployed at the discretion of the RAF.