Defence Secretary says UK should spend more than NATO 2% target
Speaking ahead of his speech to the Conservative Party conference this week, Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, said that the UK must increase its defence spending in the face of growing threats from terrorism and rogue states. According to Sir Michael, the Government should “aim to do better” than its current target of spending 2% of GDP on the Armed Forces. His remarks came as the recently retired General Sir Richard Barrons wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister warning Britain must turn the tide of defence cuts “and restore the military security of the UK if it is to keep us safe”. Sir Michael’s words will be received with some positivity in the Defence community, coming as it does ahead of the MOD’s Capability Review, which is widely seen as necessary in order for MOD to fix its overheated budget. Within Government his comments will been taken as a direct challenge to the Treasury to ensure MOD is properly funded to deliver its 2015 SDSR commitments.
MOD unveils a £1 billion support model for the Royal Navy
Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, Sir Michael Fallon this week revealed details about the Common Support Model, which will provide a fleet support framework for the Royal Navy’s warships. The new arrangement will bring together separate support agreements for individual ship types under a single model. Worth around £1 billion, the aim is to improve the performance of service providers by having them adopt a common approach across all classes of warship. According to MOD, the suite of contracts will support over a thousand jobs in the UK, including at BAE Systems and Babcock in Portsmouth, Bristol, Devonport and on the Clyde, as well as Thales in Crawley and AGI Ltd in Poole. 10 of the 16 agreements, worth £794 million, included in the model have already been signed, with the others set to follow in the coming months.
Royal Navy could lose Albion-class ships in planned cuts
The BBC are reporting this morning that the Royal Navy’s two Albion-class landing platform dock ships could be withdrawn from service as part of the capability review currently underway in the MOD. According to unnamed sources, the retirement of HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark is part of a proposal formulated by First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, for the Royal Navy’s package of savings designed to help MOD bring its budget deficit under control. Deleting the Albion class would apparently be combined with a reduction in the strength of the Royal Marines by 1,000. A BBC source is quoted as saying that the Royal Marines are the victim of the financial and manning problems created by the introduction of the new aircraft carrier capability. The MOD told the BBC that no decisions have been made yet and that discussion of options was "pure speculation".
Budgetary responsibility within a given envelope was devolved to Service Chiefs under the MOD’s 2012 ‘Levene reforms’, hence why the proposal is being formulated within the Royal Navy management itself. However, the Capability Review currently underway in MOD is the first real test of how this will work in a climate of reducing budgets. MOD will fear that inter-Service rivalries will result in further leaks as the Capability Review work progresses as each branch of the Armed Forces looks to protect its own capabilities versus those of their uniformed colleagues. Previous leaks have indicated that the Royal Air Force could slow down orders of its new F35 fighter, and the army lose entire helicopter capabilties as part of the review.
BAE Systems unveil UAV concept using fixed rotary wing flight (UK Defence Journal)