If you thought relations between Britain’s military and the previous government were bad, you haven’t seen anything yet. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday lashed out at critics in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force who complained of low morale due to almost 14 years of constant operations. Matters came to a head when the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, warned that current operations were “unsustainable.” When asked about the comments at a press conference on Downing Street, Cameron remarked, “There are moments when I wake up and think, ‘You do the fighting, I’ll do the talking.’”
The remarks come at a time when a game of cat and mouse is being played between the Ministry of Defense, the Treasury and the three military services over implementing the Strategic Defense and Security Review. All three services are desperate to protect what current kit and future procurement projects they have left.
Italy has called for a halt to the NATO bombing campaign over Libya, primarily to allow for humanitarian assistance to enter the country — but also to assess the effectiveness of the operation so far.
Speaking to the lower house of the Italian parliament, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called for an aid corridor to be set up, adding, “With regard to NATO, it is fair to ask for increasingly detailed information on results as well as precise guidelines on the dramatic errors involving civilians.”
Italy’s request should be taken with a grain of salt, as Italy — the former colonial power in Libya and a firm friend of Moammar Gadhafi after he gave up Weapons of Mass Destruction — has a vested interest in seeing some kind of ceasefire between Gadhafi and the Libyan rebel forces.
Regardless of whether NATO declares a halt to operations, it’s unclear that Gadhafi and the rebels would follow suit.
Paris Air Show, Part One
Britain and France have announced at the ongoing Paris Air Show a delay to their joint Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program, conceived of late last year as part of the Anglo-French defense pact. The 12-to-18 month delay was agreed to consider options, French defense minister Gerard Longuet noted.
The project was to involve BAE Systems and Dassault, which compete closely in the conventional fighter-jet market but were pushed to work together to develop a truly European UAV. France will in the meantime consider American drones to fill the gap.
Paris Air Show, Part Two
Airbus Military and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) say they are to co-operate on developing a European Airborne Early Warning system. IAI already offers a solution based on Gulfstream aircraft that is currently in service with the IAF, but Airbus Military is proposing that its C-295 tactical transporter could be the perfect AEW platform.
Paris Air Show, Part Three
Europe’s perennially troubled military heavylift transport developed another headache at the Paris Air Show this week, when it suffered gearbox problems. This prevented the A400M from flying in its scheduled display slot.
Airbus Military said that it’s still investigating the problem and added that the plane had been grounded purely as a precaution.
Paris Air Show, Part Four
The European Defense Agency (EDA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have inked a new cooperation deal. The deal is expected to cover the ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) program, originally developed to detect space debris in low orbit. EDA would now like to use SSA to track rival nations’ spy satellites.
The deal is controversial for the civilian ESA, as its charter commits it to “exclusively peaceful purposes.”