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British Typhoon fighter jets arrive in Malaysia
By Tom Dunlop
October 2, 2019

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The RAF have announced that Typhoon fighters have arrived in Malaysia to begin preparations for Exercise Bersama Lima, the annual Five Powers Defence Arrangement exercise.

The RAF say that pilots and ground crew from the Lossiemouth based II (Army Cooperation) Squadron, plus supporting personnel from across the Royal Air Force have deployed to the Malaysian Air Force base at Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia to take part in the exercise.

“The jets have flown in after a stopover in Sri Lanka. Previously the jets had been flown as part of the recently completed Exercise Magic Carpet in the Middle East.”

The Officer Commanding II (AC) Squadron said:
“This is a fantastic opportunity to train together with our Commonwealth Allies in Asia. The RAF have conducted this exercise for many years now, and we look forward to celebrating 50 years of the Five Powers Defence Arrangement in the near future.

During the exercise we will all be sharing knowledge and expertise in the tactical environment, continuing to develop our combined skills and procedures. We have been warmly welcomed by the Royal Malaysian Air Force at Butterworth Air Base and we very much look forward to continuing to share friendship, flying and experience.”


The Five Powers Defence Arrangement is the cornerstone of British defence policy in the region and brings the militaries of Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom together in a defensive arrangement in the region.
 

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UK defence secretary wants to end ‘hollow force’
Tim Ripley, Manchester and Fenella McGerty, London
04 October 2019

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The UK’s newest aircraft carrier, Prince of Wales, sailed from Rosyth Dockyard for the very first time on 22 September 2019 to begin initial sea trials. Some observers in the UK defence establishment worry that the UK has often funded high-profile prestige projects at the expense of less-glamourous enabling or support capabilities. Source: Crown Copyright

Key Points
  • The UK defence secretary has made a bid to put the UK 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
UK 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, Wallace said he had secured acceptance earlier this summer from the UK Treasury (finance ministry) 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”.

Wallace, who was appointed by the new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July, 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, secretaries of defence, chancellors of the exchequer [finance ministers], and generals have not been matched with funding,” he told the event.

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.
 

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RAF seconds pilot to Virgin Orbit satellite programme
Gareth Jennings, London
04 October 2019

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Virgin Orbit is developing the launch of small satellites from a 747 testbed aircraft. Source: Crown Copyright

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has seconded one of its pilots to the Virgin Orbit satellite launch programme as part of a wider ‘ambitious’ national defence space effort.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 3 October that Eurofighter Typhoon and test pilot Flight Lieutenant Mathew ‘Stanny’ Stannard had been selected to join Virgin’s Boeing 747-based small-satellite launch programme.

“Flt Lt Stannard is 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 MoD said, adding, “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.”

The MoD’s decision to second a pilot with Virgin Orbit was first announced at the 2019 Chief of the Air Staff’s Air and Space Power Conference (ASPC) in London on 18 July. At the time the then-Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said, “Science fiction is becoming science fact [and] one day I want to see RAF pilots earning their ‘space wings’ and flying beyond the stratosphere.”

At the same time as the announcement was made, Mordaunt outlined a raft of space-based efforts for the MoD valued at GBP30 million (USD36.9 million). As well as the Virgin Orbit secondment, these comprised a satellite development and launch programme, a counter counter-satellite effort, the creation of a new military command to oversee operations in the space domain and beyond, a competition to boost the capabilities of UK satellites in orbit, and the building of new ground control station facilities.
 

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British F-35Bs take off from, land on new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth
Oct. 14, 2019
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A British F-35B aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth prepares for takeoff, one of several exercises officials say moves Britain closer to having an operational carrier strike capability. Photo courtesy of British Ministry of Defense
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Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The first landings and takeoffs of Britain's Royal Navy aboard the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth were a success, the British Defense Ministry reported on Monday.

The exercises, held over the weekend near the U.S. East Coast, involved the Royal Navy's F-35B Lightning fighter planes and were staged to demonstrate the next-generation fighter planes' "end to end" compatibility with the new carrier, commissioned in December 2017.

The British military has 17 F-35 variants, the first of which arrived in 2017.

The landings, takeoffs and hovering of the short-takeoff-and-landing planes were part of the "Westslant 19" carrier strike group deployment trials, the ministry said in a statement.

The F-35B of pilot Wing Cmdr. Adam Curd of the Royal Air Force was the first to arrive.

"This is the first time I have landed onboard an aircraft carrier," Curd said in a statement. "For it to be HMS Queen Elizabeth, and in an aircraft as amazing as a UK Lightning, is quite something. This is a proud moment not only for me, but the wider team that has brought us to this milestone for maritime aviation and U.K. defense."

Royal Navy pilot Cmdr. Nathan Gray was the first to take off from the carrier.

The carrier group escorting the HMS Queen Elizabeth, once the vessel is declared fully operational, will include the destroyer HMS Dragon, submarine hunter HMS Northumberland, tanker RFA Tideforce and Merlin and Wildcat aircraft.
 

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British Typhoon fighter jets arrive in Malaysia
By Tom Dunlop
October 2, 2019

View attachment 10457
The RAF have announced that Typhoon fighters have arrived in Malaysia to begin preparations for Exercise Bersama Lima, the annual Five Powers Defence Arrangement exercise.

The RAF say that pilots and ground crew from the Lossiemouth based II (Army Cooperation) Squadron, plus supporting personnel from across the Royal Air Force have deployed to the Malaysian Air Force base at Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia to take part in the exercise.

“The jets have flown in after a stopover in Sri Lanka. Previously the jets had been flown as part of the recently completed Exercise Magic Carpet in the Middle East.”

The Officer Commanding II (AC) Squadron said:
“This is a fantastic opportunity to train together with our Commonwealth Allies in Asia. The RAF have conducted this exercise for many years now, and we look forward to celebrating 50 years of the Five Powers Defence Arrangement in the near future.

During the exercise we will all be sharing knowledge and expertise in the tactical environment, continuing to develop our combined skills and procedures. We have been warmly welcomed by the Royal Malaysian Air Force at Butterworth Air Base and we very much look forward to continuing to share friendship, flying and experience.”


The Five Powers Defence Arrangement is the cornerstone of British defence policy in the region and brings the militaries of Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom together in a defensive arrangement in the region.
For Exercise Bersama Lima 19 the Royal Air Force has deployed six Eurofighter Typhoons to RMAF Butterworth (Malaysia) while the supporting Voyager multi-role tanker transporter has been deployed to Singapore.

Exercise Bersama Lima brings together the militaries of Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom, who make up the Five Powers Defence Arrangement (FPDA). They join in the region to develop training. BL19 is an annual FPDA Maritime/Air Field Training Exercise (FTX) and Joint Command Post Exercise (CPX) conducted to enhance the interoperability and mutual cooperation between the FPDA nations.

The Ex is sponsored on a rotational basis between the armed forces of Malaysia and the Republic of Singapore and facilitated by HQ Integrated Area Defence System (IADS). The Ex also aims at developing the integration of Air, Maritime and Land forces to promote interoperability while exercising FPDA combined and joint doctrines at the tactical and operational levels.
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British F-35Bs take off from, land on new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth
Oct. 14, 2019
View attachment 10860
A British F-35B aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth prepares for takeoff, one of several exercises officials say moves Britain closer to having an operational carrier strike capability. Photo courtesy of British Ministry of Defense
View attachment 10861

Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The first landings and takeoffs of Britain's Royal Navy aboard the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth were a success, the British Defense Ministry reported on Monday.

The exercises, held over the weekend near the U.S. East Coast, involved the Royal Navy's F-35B Lightning fighter planes and were staged to demonstrate the next-generation fighter planes' "end to end" compatibility with the new carrier, commissioned in December 2017.

The British military has 17 F-35 variants, the first of which arrived in 2017.

The landings, takeoffs and hovering of the short-takeoff-and-landing planes were part of the "Westslant 19" carrier strike group deployment trials, the ministry said in a statement.

The F-35B of pilot Wing Cmdr. Adam Curd of the Royal Air Force was the first to arrive.

"This is the first time I have landed onboard an aircraft carrier," Curd said in a statement. "For it to be HMS Queen Elizabeth, and in an aircraft as amazing as a UK Lightning, is quite something. This is a proud moment not only for me, but the wider team that has brought us to this milestone for maritime aviation and U.K. defense."

Royal Navy pilot Cmdr. Nathan Gray was the first to take off from the carrier.

The carrier group escorting the HMS Queen Elizabeth, once the vessel is declared fully operational, will include the destroyer HMS Dragon, submarine hunter HMS Northumberland, tanker RFA Tideforce and Merlin and Wildcat aircraft.
74214378_3106299139396599_4227868074201579520_o - Copy.jpg
 

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UK discloses Reaper accidents
24 October 2019
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The UK currently has eight of its Reapers operational, after accidents caused one to be decommissioned and another to undergo long-term repairs. Source: Crown Copyright

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has disclosed that two of its 10 General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc MQ-9 Reaper medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been involved in serious accidents since the beginning of 2015, with one aircraft being decommissioned and the other being placed in long-term repair as a result.

Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) made the disclosure in a freedom of information (FOI) request that was submitted by Drone Wars UK, and was supplied to Jane's on 24 October.

According to the FOI response, Reaper ZZ201 suffered a collapse of its port main-landing gear during a landing on 17 October 2015. That aircraft was withdrawn from service as it was nearing the end of its viable flying life, DE&S said. Jane's reported this decommissioning earlier this year following another FOI request submitted by Drone Wars UK, but the response to that request from the MoD made no mention of an accident.
Separately, on 16 August 2016, Reaper ZZ205 suffered a runway excursion. "The air vehicle is under repair at Poway [in California] and will be returned to the fleet", DE&S said.

With nine Reapers currently in its inventory and eight in service, all the vehicles themselves are currently based in the Middle East (understood, but not confirmed, to be Kuwait) for operations over Syria.

The UK is due to replace its Reapers with up to 26 MQ-9B Protector RG1 MALE UAVs. The Protector programme is running some years behind schedule, and the original plan was that the transition would take place seamlessly with no loss of capability. The first of an initial 16 Protectors is set to enter service in the mid-2020s.
 

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Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier HMS Prince of Wales Vists Invergordon for Resupplies
October 26, 2019

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The UK Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales (R09) has paid her second visit to the Scottish port of Invergordon – one of the few harbours in the north of the UK able to accommodate the 65,000-tonne vessel.

The £3bn carrier has been undergoing sea trials in the Moray Firth and the North Sea. The short stop-off in Invergordon allowed the ship to get rid of rubbish (aka ‘gash’), take on fuel and fresh food, and also allow the ship’s company to get ashore.

The remote port – north of Inverness – is used to handling tankers connected with the North Sea oil and gas industries as well as cruise liners (passengers visit Loch Ness). But it is not normally geared up for handling ships of the size, shape and nature of HMS Prince of Wales which is too large and unwieldy to berth unaided.

With the help of a civilian pilot, the ship sailed into and out of Cromarty Firth – announcing her presence at the mouth with blasts on her horn. Four tugs were needed to help the carrier to her jetty, brought in by port authorities from various other harbours – including one which made the 100-mile journey up from Leith.

The ship tested another facet of her defences against chemical, nuclear and biological warfare. As well as a protected ‘citadel’ – the air-tight inner heart of the ship where the crew are safe from dangerous elements in the atmosphere – the flight deck has the ability to ‘wash off’ any toxic particles which land on it.

A complex web of high-pressure jets covers the four-acre flight deck, with pop-up nozzles pumping out spray covering around 50 square metres with the spouts reaching up to two metres high. Left running for an hour, the ‘pre-wetting’ system can wash the flight deck with 4,500 tonnes of water – that’s as much as a Type 23 frigate displaces. It can also be used to tackle flight deck fires alongside Prince of Wales’ own dedicated firefighting teams.

With 600 Royal Navy personnel and more than 300 industry experts on board to test the engineering, weapons and sensor systems, Prince of Wales is continuing her trials in the Moray Firth for the rest of the autumn.

The carrier is due to debut in her future home of Portsmouth before Christmas. She is expected to be commissioned into the Royal Navy fleet next year and should be fully ready for frontline duties from 2023
 

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