John A Silkstone

Mi General
MI.Net Member
Jul 11, 2004
Taken from Sky News 2100 hrs 23/04/14


Two Russian bombers which flew close to UK airspace have been chased away by an RAF jet fighter.
The aircraft, believed to be Tupolev 95s, were spotted off the coast of northeast Scotland.

They were turned away from Britain when an RAF Typhoon was scrambled from Leuchars airbase, near Dundee.

Crews stationed there are on standby to intercept unidentified aircraft at a moment's notice.

The incident comes amid heightened international tensions over the situation in Ukraine, following the annexation of Crimea by Russia last month.

It also follows the arrival of a Russian warship, the Vice Admiral Kulakov, in waters off the coast of Britain.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the vessel was met by Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon, which is "keeping an eye" on the ship's movement.

Sky's Defence Correspondent Alistair Bunkall said foreign planes often fly close to UK airspace, with eight similar incidents reported in 2013.

"The RAF Typhoon is one of Britain's quick reaction aircraft and would have gone up, made contact with the Russian planes and ensured they did not plan to fly into British airspace," he said.

"These sorts of events happen quite regularly and that maybe surprising for some people.

"It's all about testing defences and seeing exactly what your 'enemy' is capable of."

The two Russian planes were escorted by the Typhoon, as well as military aircraft from the Netherlands and Denmark, until they flew off towards Scandinavia.

Also known as 'Bears', the aircraft - turboprop-powered bombers which also conduct airborne surveillance - have been used for more than 50 years.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "The Russian military aircraft remained in international airspace at all times and they are perfectly entitled to do so.

"Russian military flights have never entered UK sovereign airspace without authorisation."
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Belgian SF die at Yuma USA

On 27 February 2018, at 1900 hr, Dimi’s family, the Special Forces Group and our nation lost an extraordinary son, brother and defender of our values.
Becoming a Special Forces operator means accepting a life in the shadows, but Dimi’s death should not be lost in discretion
The Special Forces main mission; defending Belgian interests, safeguarding our values and way of life is only possible with Belgians’ best men. To be capable of facing the nowadays threats, inside and outside the country, the Special Forces operators undergo a harsh and demanding training. They flirt with the boundaries of ‘impossible’ and go beyond. These are the men who face the dangers so others can be safe.
Becoming a Special Forces operator was Dimi’s dream and for the Special Forces Group he was to become a dream operator. Smart, very fit and an uncompromising will to succeed. Dimi was the type of man that shape the success of the Belgian Special Forces and as a consequence, the safety of us all.
Eager to learn, to adapt, to improve, always looking to excel and be the best he could be. Where others saw limitations and difficulties, Dimi saw opportunities and challenges. He didn’t choose an easy going life but accepted the most demanding job with a smile. By becoming a Special Forces operator, he accepted the hardness and inherent dangers of his chosen profession.
Dimi was an operator, 26 years old. He succeeded the Qualification course 2017 and reached the end of his complementary course. He just finished the High Altitude Free fall course in Eloy before he joined Yuma, Arizona for the tactical air insertion training.
Dimi was a natural. He was very ‘gifted’ as a new operator and excelled in everything he did. His smile and enthusiasm made him immediately accepted and appreciated by his colleagues. It was obvious he enjoyed every minute of his new life in the Operational Detachment and he had a promising future inside the unit.
Dimi lost his life during a High Altitude High Opening (HAHO) jump in the Yuma desert (Sonoran desert).
The night jump, fully equipped with a heavy backpack, webbing, weapons and night vision goggles, should have been the start of a 2-day exercise. It turned out to be fatal for Dimi, who was found afterwards by the SAR helicopter on a hillside, with his main and reserve parachutes next to him. The SAR helicopter winched Dimi, brought him back to his team, where the team leader accompanied Dimi to the Yuma Regional Medical Center.
A Belgian doctor participated in the medical examination of the body. Dimi died at the impact and did not suffer. An investigation is still ongoing to find out what caused the parachutes to fail.
Words cannot describe the sorrow and dismay for the family and his colleagues. The press is asked to respect the mourning process of the family. Their loss is ours and without a doubt, Belgium lost one of his finest…
The Special Forces operators in Yuma held a serene ceremony to honour their fallen comrade. (see picture) A 50 kg memorial stone was carried up the hillside where Dimi lost his life.
All Belgian military personnel present paid their respect.
Dimi was brought back to Belgium this weekend and united with his family.

Although young in our unit, you gave us all a lesson which can never be forgotten: For those who serve in the military, police, firemen, medical personnel…thank you for your sacrifice. For the others, remember those who are ready to pay the highest price to ensure your safety.
For the SF Gp; climbing the mountain, reaching for the summit, aiming at the top is what we do, but on our way to the top, we should stop once in a while to enjoy the landscape.
Dimi, we will remember you and our sorrow will be replaced by respect. You choose a life of danger and discomfort to protect others. You lived a life of passion and action. And you died the way you lived.
Thank you for your service and the toll you paid for our safety.
You will always be one of us, in our hearts, in our thoughts, in the sky….
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France received its 14th A400M Atlas military airlifter and meets a major milestone. The delivery took place several months in advance of the scheduled date, thanks to significant improvement in the quality of the aircraft delivered. Delivery of the 14th unit means that the French air force now has a large enough fleet of A400Ms to fly operational missions and test further tactical capabilities such as in-flight refueling of fighter jets. France ordered a total of 50 A400Ms. The 15th A400M is due to be shipped next year, the first of the 11-strong batch of units scheduled for delivery in the draft 2019-2025 military budget law. Airbus’ A400M is a €20 billion program that aims to repeat Airbus’ civilian successes in the full size military transport market. A number of smart design decisions and versatility leave the aircraft well positioned to tale overall market share form Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules.
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In the coming months two German Bundeswehr drone projects are up for some critical milestones. The government’s newest biannual snapshot of big-ticket investments that seek to reverse a trend of out-of-date equipment after years of chronic underfunding. Despite the fact that a previous deal regarding the lease of five Heron drones failed, one can expect advocates for the German Heron TP to push parliamentary consideration of the project soon.
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The EU will on Wednesday present detailed plans to make it easier to move troops and equipment around the bloc as Europe seeks to boost its defences in the face of the growing threat from Russia.

Officials want to create a "military Schengen zone" similar to the EU's civilian passport-free travel area by simplifying customs checks and bureaucracy that currently cause hold-ups for NATO forces and vehicles trying to cross borders.

Top NATO commanders say the changes are essential if Europe is to have a serious deterrent to potential Russian aggression, warning that cumbersome checks are hampering their ability to move resources quickly.

The European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, will present an action plan for reducing bureaucratic hurdles and improving infrastructure to make sure roads and bridges are able to carry heavy military equipment.

Tensions with Moscow have been high since the Ukraine crisis and Kremlin's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the current diplomatic spat over the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain has done nothing to calm matters.

"There is a practical dimension to these proposals, but the end purpose is obvious as soon as tensions rise with Russia," a European diplomat said.

Another warned that "we can no longer say that conflict in Europe is impossible".

US General Ben Hodges, commander of US ground forces in Europe at the time, in October last year said that to create an effective deterrent to Moscow, NATO needed to move forces "as quick or quicker than Russian Federation forces".

"What we have called for is something similar to a military Schengen zone. To have that same sort of freedom of movement a truck full of Polish apples has," Hodges said.

French Navy destroyer FS Jean de Vienne intercepted 570 kilos of heroine from a dhow in the Arabian Sea, achieving its second successful drug interception on its deployment as part of the Combined Maritime Forces.
The operation took place on March 25 in international waters of the Arabian Sea.
Jean de Vienne’s seizure is the tenth for CTF150 since January this year; which together with Her Majesty’s Australian Ship Warramunga and Pakistani Naval Ship Aslat totals in excess of 22 tonnes of narcotics seized.
The Jean de Vienne’s Lynx helicopter was conducting routine surveillance in the international waters of the Arabian Sea as part of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). Detecting a vessel of interest, the Jean de Vienne tracked the dhow to investigate further and determined the vessel was suspicious.
Boarding teams from Jean de Vienne then conducted a non-destructive search of the vessel and found 20 bags of heroin weighing a total of 530 kgs, a street value of over $120 million USD. After a thorough search, the illegal narcotics were recorded and transferred to Jean de Vienne for safe destruction at sea.
Commander of CTF 150, Commodore Mal Wise, Royal Australian Navy, said the remarkable success of CTF 150 is due to the teamwork between partner nations within the task force and stated that: “Providing security and stability in the international waters of the Middle East is essential to ensure the free flow of commerce in the region. CMF accomplishes this through a flexible mix of nations and ships committed to working together in a common purpose.”
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Norway’s procurement of the F-35 joint strike fighter and new high-end submarines is on track, and the government is working to induct both new systems.

Additionally, Norway will move along with the planned procurement of the P-8 anti-submarine aircraft. The planned acquisitions constitute a major modernization of Norway’s military equipment.

The four German made diesel-electric submarines of the Type 212A built by Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems subsidiaries HDW and Nordseewerke are set to be ready to go by the mid-2020s. In April 2006, a German U-212A set a world record for non-nuclear subs with a two-week-long dive from Eckernfoerde in Germany to Rota in Spain.

Norway further intends to buy 52 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing jets to replace its current inventory of 56 F-16 Fighting Falcons, which it will phase out as early as 2021. The five P-8 aircraftare scheduled for delivery in the 2022-2023 time frame.
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Germany's lack of military readiness 'dramatic,' says Bundeswehr commissioner

The German parliament's military commissioner has published a report sharply critical of Germany's combat-readiness. The problem comes amid the country's increasing involvement in military missions abroad.
Germany's military has deteriorated in recent years amid budget cuts and poor management, according to a report published on Tuesday by Parliamentary Armed Forces Commissioner Hans-Peter Bartels.
The call on politicians to double-down on reforms and increase funding came in the same week a Defense Ministry paper revealed German soldiers did not have enough protective vests, winter clothing or tents to adequately take part in a major NATO mission.


The defense minister launched a series of reform to "clean" the German army from old traditions (after the discovery of some Wehrmacht relics at the Illkirch-Graffenstaden barracks). They started to rename some of the German garrisons. Emmich-Cambrai garrison is now the Hauptfeldwebel Lagenstein Kaserne in memory of Tobias Lagenstein killed in Afghanistan in 2011. Other garrison will be renamed in a near future like the Rommel kaserne.
US, Allies Band Together To Expel Russians Over Spy Case
WASHINGTON (AP) — From Washington to Warsaw, Western nations banded together Monday to expel more than 100 Russian diplomats they accused of being spies, punishing Moscow for its alleged poisoning of an ex-intelligence officer in Britain.

President Donald Trump, under constant political heat for his reluctance to challenge Russia, ordered 60 of its diplomats out of the U.S. — all of them spies, the White House said. The United States called it the largest expulsion of Russian spies in American history, and also shuttered Russia’s consulate in Seattle, deeming it a counterintelligence threat.

All told, at least 21 countries have ousted more than 135 Russians, including 23 kicked out earlier by the U.K.

“Together we have sent a message that we will not tolerate Russia’s continued attempts to flout international law and undermine our values,” British Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament ...more

The daughter of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, who with her father was poisoned with a nerve agent at his home in England earlier this month, is no longer in a critical condition and is improving rapidly, the hospital said on Thursday.
Yulia Skripal, 33, and her 66-year-old father were found on March 4 slumped on a bench in the southern English city of Salisbury where the former Russian double agent lived.

British counter-terrorism police believe a nerve toxin had been left on the front door of his home. Last week, a British judge said the Skripals might have suffered permanent brain damage as a result of the attack.
More here=
Swiss will sign for the SCO/Musis spy satellite program

According to some well informed sources, the Swiss government will sign to enter the MUSIS (Multinational Space-Based Imaging System) program with the French, German and Swedish.
Four satellite will be lauch, the 2 first are manufactured one by the French, the other by the German.
3 sat will orbit at 800km (for fast covering and receptivity) and the 4th at 480km (for very resolution images).
about the program

Reuters reports that Germany currently faces major problems with its ageing Tornado fighter jet fleet.

Reports suggest that the 10 Tornado’s currently registered for the NATO Response Force cannot be fitted with an encryption device for secure data transfer into the jet.

Germany plans to phase out the over 40 years old Tornado in its GR4 low-level precision strike configurations by 2025. The German defense ministry currently lists the Eurofighter, the F-35, the F-15, and the F-18 as potential successors.
France’s defence procurement agency, the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), has accepted the delivery to the French Armed Forces of the first batch of 50 missiles and 20 firing posts from the new MMP system.

The deliveries were conducted between 15 and 23 November and will gradually replace the Milan, the HOT missiles mounted on VAB Armoured Fighting Vehicles and the ERYX for some of these missiles. Issued to French Army infantry and cavalry units, as well as Special Forces, the MMP program will see the delivery of 400 firing posts and 1,750 missiles across all of the French Armed Forces by 2025, with first operations deployments expected in 2018.

The DGA, which awarded MBDA the MMP contract in 2013, qualified the system last July, clearing the way for serial production. According to MBDA, MMP offers both ‘fire-and-forget’ and ‘man-in-the-loop’ capabilities and can be used by day and by night.

“Its multi-purpose warhead is effective against a wide variety of targets such as vehicles, armour, infrastructures and personnel. Its extreme accuracy gives it the ability to strike at a range of over 4,000 metres while minimising the risk of collateral damage,” managing director MBDA Australia Andy Watson said. “The missile can also be fired from confined spaces, a crucial characteristic for urban combat, by dismounted infantrymen.”

MMP is to be fitted on the EBRC Jaguar armoured reconnaissance and combat vehicle, due to be delivered to the French Army in 2020.

UK backs MBDA’s Brimstone missile to 2030 and beyond

The United Kingdom has awarded MBDA a £400 million contract for the capability sustainment programme (CSP) of the advanced Brimstone air-to-surface missile, to extend its service life beyond 2030.

Under the CSP effort, MBDA will manufacture new Brimstone missiles for the UK Armed Forces in order to replenish the country’s inventory and to maintain the UK’s battlefield edge into the future.

The new-build Brimstone missiles will incorporate all of the improved functionalities offered by the spiral upgrades of Brimstone that have taken place over recent years in order to meet UK operational requirements. These include the highly capable Dual Mode SAL/millimetric wave (mmW) seeker, enhanced autopilot, and the new insensitive munition compliant rocket motor and warhead.

The effort will also include a significant memory and processing update to the missile in order to enable all of Brimstone’s functionalities and to future-proof the missile. Brimstone CSP will deliver the baseline hardware standard that will be evolved through software enhancements which will result in a common stockpile of identical missiles for use on fast jets, attack helicopter and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) for the UK MoD and will enable the manufacture of Brimstone to meet export orders. CSP modes will be cockpit selectable providing users with simple access to the unique performance capabilities of Brimstone against the most challenging of targets.

Chris Allam, MBDA Group Engineering Director and Managing Director of MBDA UK, said: “I am delighted that the UK has chosen to proceed with the Brimstone capability sustainment programme. This new investment by the UK is an endorsement of the unique and world-beating capabilities offered by Brimstone. The CSP contract forms the basis for the through-life sustainment and upgrade of Brimstone to 2030 and beyond.”

Brimstone will be carried by the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon fighter aircraft and is expected in the future to be carried by the RAF’s new Protector RPAS and the British Army’s new Apache attack helicopters. By using Brimstone across different platforms and services, the UK will receive significant logistical advantages and cost savings.

French Rafale jets head for US and deployment aboard USS George H.W. Bush

A squadron of 12 French Navy Rafale M fighter jets, accompanied by three KC-135 refueling tankers, took off from the Landivisiau Naval Aviation Base in northwest France on April 4 to head to the United States for a two-month deployment.

The aircraft usually fly from the French Navy aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle, but after 15 years of operations, the carrier had to dry dock for a mid-life upgrade which will be completed in early 2019.

Deployment of the jets to the US is a way of preparing the pilots for a return to carrier-borne operations next year.

In addition to fighter jets, France is sending an E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft to the US. Since it has no aerial refueling capability, the Hawkeye will have to reach the US East Coast via the United Kingdom, Iceland, Greenland and Canada.

The French aviators’ training with the US Navy will be divided in two periods. The first, onshore phase, at Naval Air Station Oceana will last until May 8 and will see French and US pilots and personnel fly and maintain the aircraft.

On May 8, the Rafale M jets will embark the US aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush for ten days of flight evolutions. French Rafales are the only non-US aircraft fully compatible with the catapult assisted take-off and barrier arrested recovery system employed on US aircraft carriers.

This deployment, named “Chesapeake” in reference to the battle which took place off Virginia in 1781, was first announced by US Navy chief Adm. John Richardson during his visit to France in December 2017.

Deployment of French Rafales to the US will not be the first time French aircraft are landing and taking off from US carriers. This was done multiple times in recent years as the two countries closely cooperate in their fight against the Daesh with joint operations from the Persian Gulf. Cross decking events, including one from July 2016, saw US F/A-18E Super Hornets launch from FS Charles de Gaulle and French Rafale jets operate from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Worth noting is the fact that in addition to embarking French jets, the USS George H.W. Bush is currently underway training with Norwegian and German frigates. The German air defense frigate FGS Hessen will also join the carrier as it deploys later in the year as part of its carrier strike group.
The US State Department has cleared the sale of 17 CH-47F Chinook helicopters to the Spanish military.

Valued at $1.3 billion, the foreign military sale comes with a host of associated parts and mission equipment including the AN/AAR-57A(V)8 Common Missile Warning System (CMWS).

According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), "The proposed sale of the CH-47F aircraft will improve Spain's heavy lift capability," adding that "Spain will use this enhanced capability to strengthen its homeland defence and deter regional threats. Spain will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces."
Germany - MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
WASHINGTON, Apr. 5, 2018 -- The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Germany of MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for an estimated cost of $2.50 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on Apr. 4, 2018.

The Government of Germany has requested to buy four (4) MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), one (1) Mission Control Station (MCS) comprised of one (1) Main Operating Base (MOB) (MD-3A) and one (1) Forward Operating Base (FOB) (MD-3B), ten (10) Kearfott Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System (INS/GPS), units (2 per aircraft plus 2 spares), and ten (10) LN-251 INS/GPS units (2 per aircraft plus 2 spares). This proposed MQ-4C UAS sale will be a modified version of the USN Triton configuration. Also included is one Rolls Royce Engine (spare), communication equipment, support equipment, mission planning element to include Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS) Global Positioning System (GPS) items, Communications Security (COMSEC) equipment, mapping, training ...more

Germany Puts Air Defense Unit Under Foreign Control in 'New Era' for EU Military
The first-ever "sharing parenthood" of the air force marks a milestone in the creation of a German-Dutch joint military, which began more than 20 years ago, and falls in line with expansion of the all-European common defense system PESCO.

Following a path of military cooperation between Germany and the Netherlands, the Hague is taking 450 soldiers from an air force base on German soil close to the Dutch border under its wing. The unit will remain stationed in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. They are to protect military objects from ground attacks.

Berlin retains command in foreign operations abroad. However, both countries must agree to deploy the forces together.

Germany's Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen noted that the transition of command has added momentum to the military cooperation between the two countries. "We share common values and interests ...more
France / Germany :

France expects combat jet announcement at Berlin Air show: report
France expects to take a “first significant step” in the development of a new European fighter jet with Germany later this month, Defence Minister Florence Parly said in remarks published on Thursday.
Paris and Berlin first unveiled plans to develop the new warplane in July, two months after President Emmanuel Macron’s election win, burying past industrial rivalries to tighten defense and security.

The project accelerates steps to shape the future of the European fighter industry and its three existing programs - the Eurofighter, France’s Rafale and Sweden’s Gripen.

Parly said that ongoing “active talks” should result in an announcement at the ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25-29.

“On a political level, discussions between the French and German teams are intense. The industrial groups are working well together and now we have to ensure the two processes come together,” Parly told La Tribune newspaper.

A French defense ministry source, speaking before Parly met her German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen, said the two sides would sign a high level common operational requirements document in Berlin, a 10-page document that outlines the basic needs of the two militaries.

After that the companies involved - Dassault, MBDA, Thales and Safran on the French side and Airbus on the German side - would spend just under a year working separately on technical specifications before agreeing a common contract to work together.

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