A Boost for the Armed Forces

Mark Sandford - March 2013
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Despite having to make savings under current government spending cuts, the Ministry of Defence has managed to protect future equipment programmes and remedy shortfalls. The MOD has signed a 9 million contract with the Austrian manufacturer Glock to provide the British Army with a new sidearm, the Glock 17. This pistol fires a 9mm round and has a magazine capacity of up to 17 rounds. The new weapon will be issued to all 3 services and is also currently carried on duty by police forces all over the world.

The new weapon will repplace the Browning 9mm that had been in service with the Army since 1967. The Glock 17 will also be lighter and more accurate than the weapon that it replaces. Once acquired, this pistol will be immediately issued to troops still serving on the front line in places such as Afghanistan where the enemy still attacks at close range. A team from the MOD conducted a tendering process over 2 years and the Glock 17 emerged as the winner.

The Royal Navy has also purchased 3 vessels outright under a 39million contract from VT plc. HMS Severn, Tyne and Mersey were all built at Portsmouth as OPVs or Offshore Patrol vessels. All ships usually spend 300 days a year on patrol annually around the British Isles. In a typical year, they cover 80,000 square of territorial waters on fishery protection duties. There was some hope during their construction that the design would attract overseas interest but this never transpired.

The MOD has now also published a 10 year equipment acquisition plan for the next 10 years amounting to 159 billion. Several major projects are included, which will be outlined here. The Royal Navy will be taking delivery of two new aircraft carriers, the Queen Elizabeth class and possibly the next generation of nuclear armed submarines to replace Trident. A decision on construction of this class is liable to be taken after the next General Election. A new frigate design, the Type 26 Global Combat Ship is also in the design stage at present and has already attracted overseas interest from other countries such as Malaysia, New Zealand and even Turkey.

At least 18 billion is earmarked for purchase of new fighters for the RAF such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightening II and the Eurofighter Typhoon. The United Kingdom has ordered 160 of these already and the fighter is being marketed to potential buyers overseas such as the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. The British Army will also be equipped with new armoured fighting vehicles such as the Scout built by General DyDynamics and the Warrior built by GKN. Over 11 billion will also be spent on new missiles such as the Meteor that will ultimately arm Typhoon. Army aviation will also benefit with new money to buy the AW159 Lynx Wildcat now in production at Yeovil.

Some or all of these programmes could still be affected by the next Strategic Defence Review to be completed in 2015 after the next General Election. But it is crucial for equipment to be purchased over the medium term, not just the short term so that the Armed Forces can carry out the tasks assigned to them by central government. In today's security climate, this should never be overlooked.

(See www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20978842)

Mark Sandford - Permission granted to freely distribute this article for non-commercial purposes if attributed to Mark Sandford, unedited and copied in full, including this n notice.

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