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03/06/2019

WESTMINSTER NEWS

Spain to join Franco-German FCAS programme

Reports this week suggest that Spain will formally join the Franco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme in the coming weeks. FCAS is the joint programme to replace France’s Rafale and Germany’s Typhoon programmes with a future sixth-generation fighter by 2040. Industrial cooperation will be the critical component of Spain’s involvement, with Spanish companies currently involved with the Typhoon programme keen to claim a stake in the design and build of the envisaged fighter. The extent of such cooperation remains to be determined, though with Airbus already in place as the German prime contractor alongside France’s Dassault from France, it is likely they will reshuffle its share of work to include its existing Spanish operations. Meanwhile the German Government is expected to decide on Berlin’s initial funding contribution before the parliamentary summer break begins in late June. It is also the last opportunity to secure approval before the June 16-23 Paris Air Show, which is expected to be used as an opportunity to move the programme forward.

Separately, it was reported last week that the Swedish air force are in discussions with the UK regarding participation in the rival Tempest programme, being led from the UK by BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo UK and MBDA UK. 

US launches new European defence subsidy

Defense News this week reported on a new initiative by the US aimed at subsidising defence sales to Eastern European countries nations to speed up the transfer from legacy Russian equipment. The $190m The European Recapitalization Incentive Program will initially apply to six countries; the EU nations Croatia, Greece and Slovakia, and Albania, Bosnia and North Macedonia. That the fund will expressly support the sale of US equipment, is believed to have been ill-received by Western European nations with developed defence industries, concerned that it represents an ‘industry power grab’ to ensure US equipment becomes the default. The program has been established in the wake of a breakdown in trans-Atlantic relations over the US request to access programmes funded through the  European Defence Fund and the Permanent Structured Cooperation.

PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

PROCUREMENT & SOVEREIGN CAPABILITY: Asked what assessment MOD has made of the potential merits of retaining sovereign capabilities when undertaking procurement contracts with SME suppliers; and where retaining sovereign capabilities ranks on the MOD Procurement scorecard, Defence Procurement Minister, Stuart Andrew, replied that “The MOD has a responsibility to procure the right capability for our Armed Forces and to ensure value for money for the taxpayer in the goods and services that we buy, regardless of the company's size. We are clear that international competition is at the heart of our approach. This allows our Armed Forces to secure the best equipment from an open, global marketplace to meet evolving threats. We also recognise, however, that defence procurement needs to protect UK freedom of action and operational advantage. These strategic considerations shape our procurement strategies. Our refreshed Industrial Policy sets out the basis on which we will develop specific sector approaches to protect national security. There is no single MOD procurement scorecard. Once we have launched a commercial competition, the MOD considers a wide range of factors when awarding our contracts to obtain the best value for money outcome for defence and the taxpayer.”

SME PROCUREMENT POLICY: Asked what the policy priorities are for Defence Equipment and Support with respect to procuring with domestic SME's in emergent markets, Mr Andrew replied that “The MOD including Defence Equipment and Support, has a responsibility to get the right capability for our Armed Forces and to ensure value for money for the taxpayer in the goods and services that we buy. The MOD is committed to making it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to do business with defence. In March 2019, we published our SME Action Plan which explains how we will increase our spend with SMEs, and addresses behavioural, policy and process change. I also hair SME Forums around the UK to understand the issues facing SMEs, the most recent of which was held on 9 May 2019 in Broughton.”

 

BODY ARMOUR: Asked what progress she has made with the procurement process for new body armour; and which companies have been shortlisted, Mr Andrew answered that “A project is under way to procure and support a range of ballistic and training plates to fit the VIRTUS body armour and load carriage system. It is currently in the assessment phase with tender returns due over the next three months. I am withholding the company names as their disclosure would prejudice commercial interests.”

OTHER NEWS

QinetiQ to market air launched ‘Rattler’ UAV supersonic target

Airbus celebrates 50 years of Pioneering Progress (Airbus)

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