Morning Defence News Briefing 2 April 2020

Morning Defence News Briefing 2 April 2020

Morning Defence & Security News Briefing 2 April 2020.

EUROPE

UK: two of the four Trident nuclear subs out of action for repairs 

Two of Britain’s four Trident nuclear-armed submarines is out of operation due to repair and maintenance work, it has been reported.

Tobias Ellwood, a British Conservative Party politician, raised concerns over lengthy works undertaken simultaneously on a pair of Vanguard-class boats, which he said left the Royal Navy “limping on” with only two operational nuclear missile-carrying submarines alternating missions.

COVID-19: NATO to help Italy and Spain

To date, the request from Italy and Spain to activate the European civil protection mechanism to cope with the coronavirus pandemic has not yet been accepted. If the block seems to be ignoring the distress call from its southern member, support may arrive from NATO

German newspaper Franfkurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported, that Italy and Spain have received “aid to Europe, not through the EU, but through NATO”. 

The Czech Republic, trough NATO, has sent medical supplies to both Italy and Spain. Meanwhile, NATO HQ is planning nine additional operations for the delivery of aid to states affected by the pandemic, including Montenegro and North Macedonia, as well as to partner countries Ukraine and Moldova (read more).

Russia: St. Petersburg, calls to suspended miitary draft for coronavirus

The call to the draft in the St. Petersburg region is suspended until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision was taken in a meeting with the municipal administration by the city’s military commissioner, Sergei Kachkovskij, citing instructions from the Defense General Staff. 

Russia: North Macedonia to NATO will not strengthen Balkan security

Russian Foreign Ministry said that the accession of North Macedonia to NATO will not contribute to strengthening the security of the Balkan region nor help the country to better manage threats such as the Covid-19 pandemic.  

NATO confirmed its focus on the Balkan region and the “open door” policy by officially admitting North Macedonia as the 30th allied country. The accession of North Macedonia follows that of Montenegro, which took place in 2017. 

Russia’s Navy to get 14 Marlin-350 unmanned submersibles by late 2020

The Russian Navy’s will receive 14 additional Marlin-350 unmanned submersible vehicles before the end of 2020, the Defense Ministry’s press office said. The system is designed to search for submarines in distress and other objects in coastal and inland waters and examine them.

NORTH AMERICA 

USA and South Korea close to reaching an agreement on sharing troop station costs 

The US and South Korea are close to reachung a broad understanding on the redefinition of their respective obligations in relation to the costs of stationing US forces on the Korean Peninsula. 

The issue has been the subject of a tough struggle between the two countries since last year, when Seoul agreed to increase its contribution to almost a billion dollars a year; the US administration, however, requested South Korea to pay four times more each year. 

US Army participate in bilateral exercises with UAE

In support of the Task Force Spartan mission, troops from the 115th Field Artillery Brigade and 4-133rd Field Artillery Regiment (FAR) have participated in multiple bilateral exercises with their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Land Forces. 

NATO: Secretary General Stoltenberg appoints a new group of experts

COVID-19, NATO Coordination Center for Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response provides critical help to Italy and Spain

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has appointed the members of the expert group to further strengthen the political dimension of the Alliance.

The NATO expert group was established from an initiative presented in November 2019 by the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, following the statements of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, on the “brain death” of the Atlantic Alliance. With this expression, Macron wanted to denounce the lack of strategic coordination in the Alliance between the United States and the European member states.

MIDDLE EAST 

Iran threat retaliation against US after deployment of Patriot MIM-104 air defense systems in Iraq

Iran has warned of possible retaliation to the US strategic interests, after Washington deployed MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) system to the Ain al-Asad base in the province of Anbar and the Harir base.

US deployment of Patriot defence system in Iraq has been negotiated since the January missile strike targeting the Ain al-Asad that Iran launched in retaliation for the US strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

Tehran fired 16 ballistic missiles into Iraq on January 8 at US military base. Iran launched its missiles from three sites in Iran, with 11 striking a base in Ain al-Asad and one hitting a base in Erbil. At that time, with no ballistic missile interceptors in range, US armed forces could only watch and wait for impact of the missiles. A closer look at the attack (read more).

Syria: Damascus says that it has repelled an Israeli raids 

According to the official Syrian News Agency (SANA), Syrian air defence systems responded to missiles fired by Israeli aircraft from Lebanese airspace at targets in eastern Homs in central Syria. 

The agency said that “the air defense media in the Syrian Arab Army responded to an Israeli aggression with rockets in eastern Homs and dropped a number of them before they reached their targets.”

Sources in the Syrian opposition said that the bombing aimed to target a high-level meeting of officers from the Syrian and Iranian army, including the commander of the Iranian Quds Force.

Yemen: army advances on the Sarwah front

Backed by the coalition Air Force, the Yemeni army made progress on its advance in the Sarwah front between Sana’a and Marib, amid a major breakdown in the ranks of the Houthi militia. 

During the clashes, the front of the pro-Iranian rebels collapsed pushing the militiamen to flee to the capital.

Iraq: operations against Islamic State continue in the north

The operation of the Armed Forces of Iraq against the Islamic State (IS) in the north of the country continues for the third consecutive week. 

In the meanwhile, the government of Iraq has announced that coronavirus deaths have reached 50, and the number of infections has risen to 694. 

AFRICA 

Libya: GNA accuses General Haftar of facilitating the spread of the coronavirus

A spokesman for the Libyan National Agreement (GNA) Ministry of Health, Fawzi Ness, blamed General Khalifa Haftar for the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic in Libya. He said that the cause of the outbreak in the region is the recruitment of mercenaries to fight among his forces. 

In a press release, Ness said that the bodies of the numerous mercenaries who fought in Haftar’s ranks are all non-Libyan. The official added: “All the bodies of the fighters that we have recovered, as well as the prisoners detained in our prisons, have dark skin. 

DEFENCE, AEROSPACE & SECURITY INDUSTRY  

US Army renews contract with Envistacom for Network Priorities under GTACS II

The 10-year contract will support network modernization and deliver improved, cyber hardened capabilities for the US Army and across the Department of Defense (DoD). 

 US DoD awards SAB contract to develop rapid response antibody test 

SAB Biotherapeutics (SAB) has been awarded a contract to develop and test a Rapid Response Antibody Programme for the US Department of Defense (DoD).

Under the contract valued at $27m, the company will develop a modern, pharmaceutical platform technology capable of producing antibody-based Medical Countermeasures (MCM) for biological threats. 

Envistacom secures US Army contract for GTACS II vehicle

Envistacom has been awarded a contract from US Army Contracting Command to support the Army’s Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) and Project Manager Tactical Network (PM Tactical Network). 

The award on the ten-year $5.1bn GTACS II contract vehicle aims to support network modernisation and deliver improved, cyber hardened capabilities for the army across the US DoD.

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