UK Halt exports to Turkey
The government announced on 15 October that it is suspending arms exports to Turkey, following the invasion of Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria. Addressing the House of Commons, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced a “very careful and continual” review of exports to Turkey. He added that “no further export licences to Turkey for items which might be used in military operations in Syria will be granted while we conduct that review”.
However, exports can continue under licences that have already been approved. The 20th EU Annual Report on Arms Exports, published in December 2018, stated that the United Kingdom approved licences worth EUR659.74 million (USD727.49 million) in 2017 for arms and ammunition exports to Turkey.
First UK Fighter Jets Land Onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth
Flown by Royal Navy and Royal Air Force pilots, the Lightning jets are embarking in the 65,000 tonne carrier to conduct operational trials off the East Coast of the USA. This follows successful developmental trials last year with US Lightning jets, where forces conducted 500 take offs and landings over their 11-week period at sea. These trials are aimed at ‘end-to-end’ testing of the aircraft and personnel to ensure the aircraft are compatible with the carrier. The tests involve mission planning, arming the aircraft using the ship’s Highly Automated Weapon Handling System, flying missions and debriefing on completion.
The landings on HMS Queen Elizabeth are part of the ‘WESTLANT 19’ Carrier Strike Group deployment. Once fully operational, UK Carrier Strike Group will be a formidable force around the world, using a number of platforms to work alongside our allies. During this time, the aircraft carrier will be escorted by Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon, submarine hunter HMS Northumberland, tanker RFA Tideforce and Merlins from 814, 820 and 845 Naval Air Squadrons, Wildcats from 815 squadron and Royal Marines from Lima Company, 42 Commando. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
This is another step towards the UK’s carrier strike capability becoming fully operational. The bringing together of the UK Lightnings on the first in class HMS Queen Elizabeth paves the way for the world’s most up to date, fully integrated carrier force.
The Lightning aircraft operates with a cutting-edge design. It is the first jet to combine radar evading stealth technology with supersonic speed, as well as the ability to land vertically. Given its ability to conduct missions both from land and sea, the jets act as a formidable spine to the ‘carrier strike’ capability. The UK currently owns 18 aircraft, with an additional order placed for 30 jets.
Type 31 Frigates: Procurement: Commons
asked the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Government's contract with Babcock on Type 31 Frigates contained any stipulation on which yards in the UK would conduct the work, Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan stated:
The Government announced the preferred bidder for the Type 31 General Purpose Frigate in September 2019 and looks forward to contract award in due course.
Whilst it was a mandatory requirement for the Type 31 frigates to be built and integrated in the UK, the specific build strategy to meet the Department's time and cost parameters was proposed by the Preferred Bidder as part of the Type 31 competition.
Shipbuilding: Recruitment: Commons
asked the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps the Department is taking to increase the number of skilled welders entering UK shipyards, Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan stated:
As the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSBS) acknowledges, having the skills within the UK to design, build, repair, and supply certain equipment and systems and integrate naval ships (and security sensitive equipment in all naval ships) is a key factor in the successful delivery of naval capability. We acknowledge that ensuring that there are sufficient numbers of properly skilled workers across the sector will require continued investment and support from Industry.
Defence is working closely with other Government Departments and industry to develop and reinvigorate the pipeline of skills for shipbuilding in the UK and to improve the industry's productivity and competitiveness. In September, the Prime Minister appointed the Defence Secretary the Shipbuilding Tsar for this Government to better realise the potential that this sector can offer across the four Home Nations and to strengthen UK shipbuilding.
Type 31 Frigates: asked the Secretary of State for Defence, when a decision will be made on what Government Furnished Equipment will be attached to the UK's Type 31 Frigates, Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan stated:
The full scope of the type of Government Furnished Equipment attached to the Type 31 frigates will be determined when the Design and Build contract is signed by the end of the year.
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