Royal Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vessel named HMS Spey
HMS SPEY, the last of five cutting-edge Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) procured for the Royal Navy has been formally named on the Clyde today.
The next-generation River Class ship, equipped with a 30mm cannon and flight deck capable of accommodating a Merlin helicopter, will boost Britain’s counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling work and provide essential support to defence operations.
The 90-metre vessel is the final of a five-strong OPV contract with BAE Systems, worth a combined £635 million. Defence Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:
Our Offshore Patrol Vessels play a pivotal role in patrolling our coastline, protecting our domestic waters and supporting maritime interests from anti-smuggling to fisheries protection.
Construction of the OPVs for the Royal Navy, alongside the Type 26 anti-submarine frigate programme, has meant the Glasgow shipyards’ order books are full until the early 2030s In doing so this has protected 1,700 Scottish jobs and supported a further 2,300 roles across the nation through the supply chain.
RAF pilot seconded to Virgin Orbit space programme
The Royal Air Force (RAF) and Virgin Orbit have selected the RAF pilot to be seconded to the company’s ground-breaking small satellite launch programme. The partnership between the RAF and Virgin Orbit was unveiled at the Air and Space Power conference in July. Following a tough selection process, Air Vice-Marshal Simon ‘Rocky’ Rochelle and Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart have announced that Flight Lieutenant Mathew ‘Stanny’ Stannard had been selected.
Flt Lt. Stannard is currently a Typhoon pilot with one of the RAF’s test and evaluation squadrons and is expected to join the pioneering Virgin Orbit programme next year, pending final US and UK regulatory approvals. The secondment is expected to last three years and will see Flt Lt Stannard join the fleet of expert ‘test pilots’ trialling Boeing 747-400 aircraft from which cutting-edge satellites will be launched.
Flt Lt Stannard will return to the RAF with considerable skills and expertise gained from the secondment which will improve the UK’s understanding of the military uses of small satellites. Defence Minister Annie-Marie Trevelyan said:
The UK and the US already have an incredibly close defence relationship and now we’re working together to forge new frontiers in space. This exciting partnership will see Virgin Orbit benefit from the skills and expertise of our personnel while propelling the RAF’s space ambitions to new heights.
Defence secretary wants to end ‘hollow force’.
The Defence secretary has made a bid to put the defence budget on a realistic footing. Defence spending is set to get an uplift, at least in the short term, but these plans remain to be enacted , Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he wants to end the “hollowing out” of the country’s armed forces that have led to recruitment shortfalls, equipment that does not work, and low stockpiles of supplies.
Speaking to a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on 30 September, Ben Wallace said he had secured acceptance earlier this summer from the Treasury that the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review – which set in train several major equipment procurement projects – was “not properly funded”. He added that Ministry of Defence (MoD) cost-saving projections that have underpinned many of the review’s spending plans “were not realistic”.
The Defence Minister decried 20 to 30 years of “hollowing out” of the UK military, in particular of the army. “It is an iceberg,” he said. “Beneath it is poor recruiting, a shortage of pilots, kit not working, and low stocks.”
“Ambitions of Prime Ministers, Defence Secretaries, Chancellors of the Exchequer, and Generals have not been matched with funding,”
This, he said, led to overstretch that was unfair on the UK armed forces, he said, adding that he blamed the current situation on a series of short-term decisions or the failure to make decisions. “We need to be honest to the rest of government that we need more money or be honest to the public about our ambitions,” he said. “The music is about to stop and it will not be funny. It’s about political leadership; we have to cut our cloth.”
Armed Forces, Finance: Commons asked the Secretary of State for Defence, whether a proportion of the additional £2.2 billion announced in the Spending Round 2019 for the armed forces can be allocated towards increasing the headcount of procurement-related civil servants and support services, Defence Minister Annie-Marie Trevelyan said:
This additional funding will enable our world-class Armed Forces to begin to modernise and meet the intensifying threats and risks we now face, including prioritising investment in key capabilities such as shipbuilding, offensive cyber and the nuclear deterrent. We will decide on the allocation of this funding as part of our normal financial planning and budgeting process.
Aircraft Carriers: Commons asked the Secretary of State for Defence, what discussions have been had with representatives of the Scottish shipyard industry on future maintenance of the HMS Prince of Wales, Defence Minister Annie-Marie Trevelyan said:
Routine scheduled repair and refitting of the two Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers, other than dry-docking, will be undertaken at Her Majesty's Naval Base Portsmouth.
Plans for a long-term in-service support solution are under consideration as part of the Common Support Model for complex warships. Whilst no decisions have been made, we anticipate that dry-docking periods will be put out to competitive tender if the market for such work exists, in line with Departmental policy. The costs of dry docking QEC aircraft carriers have been benchmarked in competition to ensure value for money through negotiation with suppliers if no market for competition is forthcoming.
It is currently too early for any formal engagement with industry on these matters, but the following dry-dock facilities in the UK are of a sufficient size to accommodate the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers:
Able UK, Seaton Port, Teeside; Babcock, Rosyth; Cammell Laird, Birkenhead; Cammell Laird, Greenock (Inchgreen); Harland and Wolff, Belfast.
Armoured Fighting Vehicles, Procurement: asked the Secretary of State for Defence, what progress has been made on the procurement of new land platforms (a) MRVP and (b) MIV; and if he will make a statement, Defence Minister Annie-Marie Trevelyan said:
The Multi-Role Vehicle - Protected programme is being delivered in two packages. The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) has been identified as the preferred option for Package 1, Command, Liaison and Logistic Vehicles, procured through a Foreign Military Sales case. A decision on the procurement of JLTV is due in 2020. For Package 2, Troop Carrying Vehicles and Future Protected Battlefield Ambulances, the competition is ongoing. Subject to the conclusion of current negotiations and internal approvals, the competition winner is planned to be on contract early in 2020.
The Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme is now in the Assessment Phase and progress is developing, as internal assessment of the case is undertaken.
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