Wires Brief: Delays in frigate development for UK; Russia threatens reaction to Swedish and Finnish NATO involvement; Iran threatens US

27 July 2018 – Cambridge, UK

by Robert Grayston

United Kingdom

A cyber watchdog has strengthened its warning about Chinese company Huawei and its involvement in UK digital infrastructure. In their recent report it was said that “Huawei’s engineering processes have exposed new risks in the UK telecommunication networks,” to which the company has responded in a statement saying, “We are grateful for this feedback and committed to addressing these issues.”

The UK government has been forced to restart the bidding process for the Type 31e frigate. The Ministry of Defence has said there will be no delays to the expected delivery dates, with the first expected by 2023, and that “we will incorporate the lessons learned and begin again as soon as possible so the programme can continue at pace.”

Europe

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has said Russia would react to Finland and Sweden joining NATO. This was met with indifference by his Finnish counterpart Jussi Niinistö who mentioned prior Russian rhetoric on the matter, saying “the Finns can sleep safely in their beds tonight.” The Finnish Defence Minister mentioned that Russia’s sabre-rattling could be a means of distracting Russian citizens from domestic problems.

Defence spending is set to fall in Italy to below its current 1.15% of GDP by 2019, despite recent pledges to increase defence budgets in several European countries, and pleas by the US for other NATO members to increase their budgets to the 2% NATO pledge amount.

North America

US Congress is preparing to pass a bill which would provide support for Taiwan in the face of difficult relations with China.  The US has recently approved $1.3 billion in arms sales to Taiwan, and this latest bill could see the Pentagon become more actively involved in helping strengthen the Taiwanese armed forces in case of invasion from mainland China.

A laser mounted on a helicopter has been used by the US Navy to detect a submerged mine-like object at the Rim of the Pacific naval exercise. “This is the first opportunity for a non-test-centric fleet exercise. It has been placed in sailors’ hands and we are looking forward to getting training feedback and tactics feedback,” said Program Manager, Mine Warfare, Captain Danielle George.

Africa

Ahead of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) conference held in South Africa, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signed a defence deal with Rwanda and engaged in talks with several other African nations in an area which already has a lot of Chinese influence. Africa is seen as being “part of an extremely important maritime neighbourhood and is critical to India’s security,” according to one New Delhi academic.

Middle East

$195 million worth of military aid from the US to Egypt which was frozen owing to human rights concerns on the part of Egypt, has now been released to the country. A State Department official said the US “remains committed to strengthening our strategic relationship with Egypt.”

General Qassem Soleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force has said “we are ready to confront you,” and “you will start the war but we will end it,” concerning recent comments by US President Donald Trump. Since that time Trump has suggested that negotiation may be an option.

Israel launched multiple strikes on targets in Gaza after an Israeli soldier was recently killed. Hamas has said three of its fighters have been killed after the Israeli Defence Force hit 40 targets with aircraft. The UN envoy for the Middle East Peace Process has said “everyone in Gaza needs to step back from the brink.”

Asia-Pacific

China has received its first complement of Russian-made S-400 missiles. China is thought to have ordered enough units for two regiments of the weapon system for a reported $3 billion. It is not known when the first unit will be fully active.

South Korea summoned a Chinese embassy official to answer for airspace violation, the third of its type this year. South Korean fighters were scrambled to intercept the Chinese plane which spent time near a submerged island which is in dispute between the two countries.

After the recent announcement by the UK of its new Tempest fighter programme, Japan is now in talks concerning possible involvement with development of the jet. The Japanese Air Self Defence Force is currently looking a replacement options for its Mitsubishi F-2 fighter.

Social media wires

Imran Khan’s PTI party gained a majority in the Pakistani elections, although the two main opposition parties are contesting the vote saying that it was rigged.

 

The UN urges Myanmar to create the conditions where the Rohingya can return, while Bangledesh’s PM says that they Rohingya need to return to Myanmar.

 

Feature photo – BAE’s vision for the Type 31 frigate project – 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