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Welcome to the latest edition of Defence Insights and the first one completed by me. Do let me have your feedback, good or bad. We would like to develop it further so let us know if you have any ideas to improve it. If you have any comments or questions arising from the contents of this document, please do not hesitate to contact me or your NDI Account Manager. We are here to help and support you through this very challenging time. We send you our best wishes in the meantime. Please look at www.makeuk.org for the very latest news and advice for manufacturers. 

Andrew Kinniburgh ([email protected])

31.03.2020

WESTMINSTER NEWS

Military stands up COVID Support Force

Not surprisingly, official MOD news is dominated by the response to Covid-19, including putting an additional 10,000 military personnel at a higher readiness and placing Reserves on standby to support public services as part of a new “COVID Support Force”. What the press release does not mention is some criticism in the press and social media of the Treasury mechanism of ‘full cost recovery’ of Military Personnel under the terms of Military Aid to Civilian Authorities (MACA) deal. The author’s experience of this in MOD agencies is that MACA support, however excellent, is eye wateringly expensive, especially for the cash strapped NHS. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and how the Treasury will respond.   

So far, the military have assisted with repatriation flights from China and Japan. They are also providing specialist military planners to Local Resilience Forums who are providing support to public services, local authorities and emergency services in preparing their response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 150 military are being trained to drive oxygen tankers if required to support the NHS and scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) are supporting Public Health England’s effort to understand the virus and tackle the spread.

Letter to the Defence Industry from Sir Stephen Lovegrove – Permanent Secretary to the MOD

Most of you will have seen the letter from Sir Stephen Lovegrove which has been posted here

We would encourage you ask questions and challenge the letter. It is not clear from this letter who is classified as a ‘key worker’ in the defence supply and nor which projects and programmes are considered ‘vital’. The only one mentioned by name is the Continuous at Sea Deterrent. We are happy to coordinate responses back into MOD on behalf of members. Please send any questions or queries to [email protected].

Baseline Profit Rate 2020-21 for Single Source Defence Contracts 

The latest annual adjustment to agreed rates for Single Source Defence Contracts (SSDC) has been announced via parliamentary questions and can be found here

Hansard Defence News – not much news here, just a fairly bland question and answer regarding the Integrated Review. However, we would wholeheartedly support the notion that British Manufacturing lies at the heart of any defence industrial strategy.  The question and answer are as follows:

James Sunderland (Bracknell) (Con)

“Will the Secretary of State confirm that the strategic defence and security review will be aligned to a defence industrial strategy that places British manufacturing at the heart of defence?”

Mr Wallace

“It will certainly place prosperity and manufacturing at its heart. It will also place at its heart our very real obligation to give the men and women of the armed forces the best equipment we can, so they can fight with the best chance of success. There is always a natural tension where we are not providing that. The industrial strategy will hopefully indicate to industry where it should invest to ensure it competes with a competitive edge, so that the Ministry of Defence can buy from it for our men and women.”

Defence News reported that the Former British national security adviser Peter Ricketts has urged the government to put the brakes on its plan to complete an integrated review of defence, security, foreign policy and development by July. The new coronavirus pandemic is partly to blame, he said.

“I do not see how a deep, thorough and integrated review covering the entire spectrum [of requirements] can now be done by July,“ Ricketts told a March 17 parliamentary Defence Select Committee hearing on the government’s plan.

Tobias Elwood, the recently appointed defence committee chairman, said the panel is “not impressed” by the initial way the review is progressing. Elwood said at the March 17 hearing that the Army had been told to submit their requirements by Mar 20, before they had been informed by the government what its new foreign policy will look like.

The Foreign Office has produced five separate essays on its view of Britain’s role in the world, and the Army had not seen the documents, said Elwood. One government lobbyist said that Elwood’s remarks showed that Dominic Cummins, Boris Johnson’s special adviser and one of the main proponents for radical change in the defence sector, had settled on an answer even before the review questions had been asked.

Janes Defence Weekly reports that the UK has established two helicopter-hubs to support the fight against Covid-19. The hubs at Kinloss Barracks in Scotland and Royal Air Force (RAF) Benson in England will see a mix of Chinooks, Pumas and Lynx Wildcat helicopters to meet any requests for assistance from National Health Service (NHS) boards in the north and south of the country respectively.

UK Defence Journal reports that the Farnborough International Airshow has been cancelled by ADS subsidiary FIA. 

Defence-Aerospace.com reports on a new document obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) shows that the F-35 program office has made little progress in fixing the fighter jet’s hundreds of design flaws, and continues to discover more of them. Apparently the F-35 has 162 deficiencies listed as “open, no planned correction.”

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