Britain & Turkey
Britain’s Royal Navy is undergoing colossal change. On the one hand, it will be getting some very highly sophisticated kit including two large Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, Type 45 destroyers and seven Astute-class submarines. On the other hand, one of those new carriers will be mothballed on delivery, the F-35 fighters slated to fly on them won’t be around in numbers until 2020 and there will only be six Type 45s built in total. Hopes in the Admiralty establishment are therefore pinned on the replacement for the Type 22 and 23 range of frigates known as the Type 26 frigate. There is also hope that Britain can co-operate with other nations on the Type 26′s design. And so it has been mooted that Britain and NATO ally Turkey are discussing a far-reaching defense accord similar to the one the U.K. signed with France last year. While initially covering only co-operating on training, Britain hopes to gain Turkey’s advanced knowledge on maritime stealth whilst Turkey wishes to harness improved knowledge of building big warships.
Well that didn’t take long. The rising star of German politics and current German defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is under fire over a thesis he produced only five years ago. The thesis was for his 2006 PhD and is titled “Constitution and Constitutional Treaty: Constitutional Developments in the U.S. and E.U.” Newspaper Suddeutche Zeitung alleges that entire sections of the thesis were lifted from other people’s work and that Guttenberg incorrectly attributed other sources. On top of this, Guttenberg has been hit by mutiny on the training ship Gorch Fock. The man once tipped to become the next chancellor of Germany is finding life tough at the top.
How about a Sea Typhoon? EADS — seemingly making just as much money in merchandise and media deals relating to the Typhoon as it is selling the actual thing — announced its plans to develop a navalized version in its fun monthly magazine Eurofighter World. The idea had been originally mooted by the British MoD after it dueled with the Americans over F-35 technology transfers, but is now seemingly on the table as a serious option for the Indian navy. EADS Cassidian is eying the potentially lucrative market in Indian naval aviation, and as India is planning to build its own aircraft carriers the potential is huge. This could be a further setback for France’s Rafale fighter, which already has a tried and tested navalized version. The magazine issue also features lots of happy photos of Indian air force Su-30MKIs lining up with Typhoon F2s. The man in charge of promoting the Typhoon, Enzo Casolini, also confidently predicted that 250 planes would be sold overseas over the next decade. This is, of course, official propaganda and a huge chunk of those 250 would be from the Indian order of 128-odd, but it is startling to see just how confident EADS Cassidian is about selling the fighter.
The little country that couldn’t has been suffering from chronic poverty, high unemployment, ethnic violence and the little problem that most of the establishment are blatantly mobbed up. Make no mistake about it: Kosovo is in trouble as it heads into its third birthday. Its ministers are being investigated by international investigators for alleged corruption, and Kosovo’s newly re-elected prime minister Hacim Thaqi has been linked to organ-smuggling rings and other gang-land shenanigans. This at a time when Bosnia struggles to rid itself of its demons, Croatia has its own organized-crime problems and Serbia an image as an ultra-nationalist time bomb.
Understaffed, overly bureaucratic and which has “achieved very little”: this is the damning verdict in a British House of Lords Committee report into “EUpol,” the European police mission to Afghanistan. EUpol’s job is to train over 96,000 Afghan policemen, but with a staff of only 300 (well under the 400 called for) it has struggled to make an impact. Furthermore, it has suffered from a lack of E.U.-NATO co-operation. One of the reasons behind this is Cyprus and Turkey clashing over issues outside of Afghanistan. Also, the Americans aren’t helping by cannibalizing EUpol to put “boots on the ground, such that you have someone in the line of fire against the insurgents.”