Wires Brief: BAE awarded world’s biggest naval contract in a decade; Syrian southwestern offensive in full swing; US opens largest overseas base in South Korea

29 June 2018 – Cambridge, UK

by Robert Grayston

United Kingdom

BAE Systems has won a contract with the Australian Navy worth £20 billion. The British company will supply nine Type 26 frigates to Australia after beating rival bids by both Franco-Italian and Spanish firms. This will be the world’s largest naval defence contract awarded in a decade.

The former chief of defence staff has said the UK is “living a lie” concerning its defence capabilities, with Lord General Nick Houghton commenting that the British armed forces were at risk of losing their global standing if spending was not increased.

Europe

Nine European countries are to formalise a mutual defence treaty as envisioned by French President Emmanuel Macron, with the UK included as a means of maintaining ties post-Brexit. The European Intervention Initiative, as it will be known, may include later additions such as Italy which is currently “considering the possibility of joining.”

The chief of staff of the German air force has said “the Luftwaffe is at a low point” after a month in position and after several reports on the poor combat readiness of German planes due to reasons such as a lack of spare parts. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she aims to achieve higher funding in line with the NATO 2 percent GDP target by 2024.

North America

The US is replacing the Hellfire missile with Lockheed’s Joint Air-to-Ground Missile. The JAGM is the product of Lockheed being the sole party bidding for the contract to replace the Hellfire which was held in 2015. Operational testing will take place during 2018-2019, before a production review on the new system in 2020.

US Defence Chief Jim Mattis has visited China to bolster security dialogue between the two countries after a period of recent difficulty that has seen the Chinese uninvited from joint military exercises. Mattis said “I want to go in, right now, without basically poisoning the well at this point, as if my mind’s already made up.”

Africa

Egypt, Greece and Cyprus have conducted a joint exercise in Egyptian territorial waters, which included air and sea reconnaissance as well as communication processes between units. Called ‘Medusa 6’, it is “one of the largest” such recent exercises in the Mediterranean.

Middle East

The Israeli army ombudsman has revealed their findings on the current war readiness of the Israeli army. It has been reported that there are serious concerns over the maintenance of military equipment, as well as a lack of the correct types of training for reserve forces. High smartphone use was also criticised as a possible means of revealing troop movements to an enemy.

The Syrian government offensive in the country’s south-west has been met by silence from the USA, despite promises to intervene in the event of military activity in the region. If this area is subdued it will only leave one significant area of rebel resistance to the government. Upon condition of anonymity a Jordanian official has said that the Jordanian army had stepped up its readiness on the border and will not be permitting further refugees to cross.

Asia-Pacific

The US has opened what has been called the largest overseas American base, in South Korea. This has happened just weeks after the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un which sought to de-escalate tensions in the peninsula. The new base will eventually house over 40,000 people and the South Korean defence minister has said it will “contribute not only to peace on the peninsula but also to world peace as a stabiliser in North-east Asia.”

Ties between China and India will soon be the focus of a visit from a Chinese military official to help defuse tensions between the two countries. Although there are no dates for the visit as of yet, it will include a trip to Pakistan by the Chinese official. Topics for discussion will include border cooperation as well as military exchanges. In a recent effort to build positive relations between the two countries their respective border forces conducted a joint yoga session.

Social Media Wires

The Libyan Army in clashes purportedly with ISIS.


The Syrian conflict intensifies in Daraa, where the UN is now calling for each side to protect civilians caught in the crossfire.

Feature photo –BAE Govan Shipyard buidling a Type 45 Destroyer – Wikimedia, 2018

The Wires Brief is a weekly 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.

 

Robert Grayston is DefenceReport’s marketing coordinator and occasional contributor. His most recent experience has involved security policy work for a member of the Shadow Defence team in the British Parliament. He can be emailed at rgrayston@defencereport.com