24 April 2014 – London, UK
The F-35 is set to make its maiden flight British flight, according to the Ministry of Defence. This will be the first time since the aircraft has flown outside of the United States. The MoD states that approximately 15% of the F-35 aircraft are built in the United Kingdom. It is estimated that the first F-35B will be delivered to the UK in 2018 and will conduct flight trials on the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier. A Scottish Member of Parliament, John Finnie, has stated that the British government is taking advantage of Russia’s ‘routine military maneuvers’, reports RIA Novosti. Finnie stated that “[Defence Minister] Hammond is no friend of Scotland. His remarks suggest a poor attempt at conflating this routine occurrence with other political issues.”
Tens of thousands residents of the Italian city of Vicenza were evacuated as a WWII ‘blockbuster’ bomb was defused, reports Stars and Stripes. The 4,000 pound bomb was discovered in October and has been under constant police guard since. The evacuation will affect 30,000 residents, but this is not the first time Vicenza residents have been evacuated for bomb disposal. In 2001, 77,00 residents were evacuated after another blockbuster bomb was found in a local cemetery. Helsinki Times reports that the Finnish Defence Minister, Carl Haglund, has advised against the proposed acquisition of the JAS Gripen fighter aircraft. Haglund is open to the idea that Finland could acquire Lockheed Martin’s F-35 instead.
Russia is holding military drills on the border of Ukraine after the Ukrainian government imposed a crackdown on the region that has been divided by pro-Russian activists, reports RIA Novosti. A gunfight erupted between pro-Russians and the Ukrainian army in the town of Slaviansk. Protestors in the towns of Kharkiv, Donetsk, Gorlovka, Slaviansk and Kramatorsk are urging the Ukrainian government to hold similar referendums of that in Crimea.
Canada’s Globe and Mail reports that Canada is under increasing pressure to devise a coordinated response to Russia in the Arctic. Canada has long been against discussions on Arctic issues, but many worry about an increased militarized Russian presence. Former Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier, believes that there will be no military bid by Russia in the Arctic.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed in a massacre in South Sudan, reports Reuters. Rebels slaughtered men, women and children after seizing the South Sudan oil hub of Bentiu. Hostilities continue between soldiers that support President Salva Kiir and soldiers that are loyal to the former vice president, Riek Machar. The United Nations Peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) was able to escort thousands out of the area.
The UN reports that it is currently protecting more than 12,000 civilians at its Bentiu base. French troops have escorted a convoy of 102 Muslims out of the capital of the Central African Republic, reports Reuters. Violence between Christians and Muslims have increased since the Muslim Seleka rebels were forced to relinquish their power in January. It has been estimated that 200,000 people have fled the country and that a further 160,000 will flee this year.
Israel has suspended its talks with the Palestinians after the unity deal struck between President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority and Hamas. After a six hour meeting, the Israeli security forum decided to impose sanctions.
The Times of India reports that Pakistan successfully test-fired its short-range “Hatf III” missile. This comes at a time when India will be testing its anti-ballistic missile system, reports the Times of India. India’s ABM system is designed to intercept missiles with a rage of 2,000km (1,242 miles) before they reach any of India’s major cities. India will also be testing its new sub-sonic cruise missile this month.
Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald reports that China is building intelligence networks to monitor Chinese students studying at Australia’s universities. More than 90,000 Chinese students are studying in Australia and China is concerned with what ideas and activities they are exposed to. China’s activities in Australia are becoming the major concern for Australian intelligence services.
Social media wires
An entertaining music video has been published with footage from China’s new Liaoning aircraft carrier. DefRep’s favourite part is with the singer’s hand lowering with the wings of the J-15 in the background.
A small glimpse of the massacre at Bentiu, South Sudan.
Reports compiled by Stewart Webb Feature photo / “Lancaster bomber dropping a ‘blockbuster bomb'” – Wikimedia Commons, 2014 The Wires Brief is a mid week breaking news report incorporating wire service news and social media updates. DefRep can not verify the authenticity of social media reporters nor the accuracy of social media updates.