Australia is trying to determine who is behind what has been called an extensive hack of sensitive defence information.
About 30GB of data was compromised in the hack on a government contractor, the BBC and other news outlets have reported. That information included commercially sensitive data on Australia’s F-35 program. Data on P-8 Poseidon aircraft and C-130 transport aircraft was also compromised. Naval data was also included in the hack.
“It could be one of a number of different actors,” Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne told the Australian Broadcasting Corp “It could be a state actor, (or) a non-state actor. It could be someone who was working for another company.”
He said the information was not classified.
Australia’s special advisor on cyber security, Alastair MacGibbon, said there are a number of ways the breach could have taken place. “Unfortunately, there are a range of ways that the attacker could have got in, including default passwords on certain key parts of the IT infrastructure of the target company,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The target of the hack was an aerospace firm with about 50 employees.
Britain is being forced to call on France and other Nato allies to defend British waters against Russian spying operations, it has emerged.
The number of foreign maritime patrol aircraft stationed in the UK has risen by 76 per cent in a year according to Ministry of Defence records.
Nato allies were stationed at RAF Lossiemouth 37 times last year to guard against foreign ships and submarines and carry out training exercises, a significant increase on the previous year when extra forces were deployed to the base 21 times.
The British armed forces do not have patrol aircraft of their own after Nimrod was scrapped in 2010 and Russian attempts to spy on the UK’s nuclear deterrent have increased, military experts and Labour’s shadow defence secretary have warned.
The RAF has invested £3billion in nine new P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft which will be ready in 2020 but in the meantime the Government has to rely on allies in Nato to patrol British waters when a threat is raised.
Sir Gerald Howarth, the defence minister at the time when Nimrod was scrapped, said: “I made no secret of the fact it was a very dangerous decision that left us exposed.”
In 2016, 20 American aircraft were deployed to the UK, along with eight from Canadian forces, five French, three German and one from Norway.
In the previous year it was just 11 American, three Canadian, five French and two German, a difference of 76 per cent year on year.
The MoD says 20 per cent of the foreign aircraft stationed in Scotland carry out operations over British waters, with the remaining 80 per cent involved in exercises and training which include readying British pilots for the arrival of the new P8 aeroplanes.
It is understood that American, Canadian and French aircraft patrolled offshore following reports of suspicious vessels in British waters.
Senior military figures have warned that the continued gap in capability is leaving the UK at risk because Russia has stepped up its efforts to map out British military secrets, including Trident’s acoustic signature.
Admiral Lord West told The Telegraph: “There has been an increase in the amount of Russian interference in our waters and that interference generally is in our ballistic missile submarine, Trident.
“I find that extremely worrying. They are trying to obtain Trident’s fingerprint, its acoustic signature.”
He said that the reliance on Nato forces was “part of a wider picture of the hollowing out of our defence”, adding: “Its all very well saying we’ve got the P8 coming and we will be building ships in the future – but that’s only three – we need far more than that.”
Nia Griffith, Labour’s shadow defence secretary, said: “These figures highlight the extent to which we are now reliant on the goodwill of others to keep Britain safe. We are thankful for our allies’ support but this level of dependence is simply unacceptable.” [must keep]
But defence minister Earl Howe claimed the fault lies with Jeremy Corbyn’s party for mishandling the Nimrod replacement, adding that 80 per cent of aircraft stationed at Lossiemouth from abroad were used in training exercises. [must keep]
He said: “Labour created this capability gap by retiring Nimrod early and utterly mismanaging its replacement to the point of negligence.
“Labour’s replacement was £800million over budget, nine years over due and a risk for our service personnel to fly.
“The hypocrisy of Labour complaining that the UK has relied on allies to help provide maritime patrol when we fix the mess they created is as breathtaking as it is irresponsible.”
Ms Griffith added: “As an island nation, the ability to patrol our own shores and protect our key military assets is absolutely essential. As Labour said at the time, the Tories’ decision in 2010 to cut up our Nimrod aircraft and sell them for scrap was a serious mistake. It now looks downright reckless.”
RAF FAIRFORD, England — The United States Air Forces in Europe celebrated the service’s 70th anniversary with one of the largest displays of military aircraft in recent years at the annual Royal International Air Tattoo airshow.
“We are hugely privileged that RAF Fairford is the one place in Europe where USAFE has said ‘This is where we’re going to celebrate our birthday,’ ” said Andy Armstrong, chief executive officer of the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises.
More than 157,000 people arrived from nearby campsites and hour-long traffic queues Saturday. Ticketholders crowded the showgrounds while others swarmed nearby viewing areas around the base perimeter and throughout the countryside to appreciate and photograph static and aerial displays of 236 different aircraft from 29 nations.
“We invite the nations’ air arms from all across the world and we give them a great time when they come here,” Armstrong said. “The more we do that, the bigger this show will become.”
Airmen gave away freebies and guided tours around static displays of current U.S. military aircraft such as the B-1 and B-52 bombers, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, CV-22B Osprey and many more. The U.S. Navy showcased maritime patrol aircraft P-8A Poseidon.
This year’s show also saw a performance by the Thunderbirds for the first time in a decade.
“It’s a great opportunity. We’re the Air Force’s ambassadors in blue and part of our mission is to represent the Air Force to the world and what better place than RIAT,” Thunderbirds pilot Maj. Whit Collins said. “At least 29 of the world’s different air forces are here at this tradeshow and get to see the flying performance and precision of the United States Air Force.”
Tension built minutes before the Thunderbirds’ scheduled performance as some questioned whether they would perform under a low cloud ceiling of around 1,500 feet.
Along the flight line people packed into grassy areas and filled stands while military pilots from around the world strutted to restricted viewing areas and company VIPs emerged from private pavilions.
Suddenly, Joe Satriani’s song “Surfing with an Alien” began playing over the loudspeakers as the Thunderbirds took off. They then stole the show with their aerial expertise.
“It’s really cool to be able to show-off what our Air Force is capable of to a world stage,” Collins said.
Norway’s decision to buy five P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft is the latest in a series of moves tying the NATO member closer to the UK and US, as top defense officials from the three countries seek to re-energize a maritime-surveillance alliance that had weakened in recent years.
The United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway have signed a statement of intent to outline principles of cooperation on the P-8A Poseidon maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
The statement was signed on the outlines of the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
Norway and the UK are set to start operating the Boeing-built maritime patrol aircraft after the first aircraft arrive in 2019.
With the signing of this agreement, the three countries established a framework for further cooperation in areas such as readiness, enhancing defense capability, and interoperability.
The P-8A is a derivative of a modified Boeing 737-800ERX airliner with antisubmarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities. The armament of the Poseidon consists of five internal and six external stations for AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER, AGM-84 Harpoon, Mark 54 torpedo, and a High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon system among others.
Development of the P-8A program was started in June 2004 when the U.S. Navy selected the Boeing multimission maritime aircraft, 737 MMA, as the best successor to the P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.
LONDON -The Conservative government’s general election effort June 8 may have ended in failure. But for the immediate future, the Ministry of Defence will continue to be pinched.
There, officials continue to focus on trying to bring the budget under control irrespective of the wider political situation, say analysts and others.
The current defense program is unaffordable and the MoD can’t expect to be a priority for more spending if the minority government led by the Tories loosens the purse strings on its austerity plan, said Sir Peter Luff, the former Tory defense procurement minister. He pointed to health and social welfare as among the sectors getting a lot of focus.
Luff, and others, said the MoD will likely run a quick mini-review of defense and security strategy ahead of making some hard decisions on issues like future equipment programs.
Industry executives are already reporting delays and programs cuts as the MoD seeks to bridge the gap between funding and requirements.
Despite the spending squeeze, it’s possible there could be a number of contract announcements between next week and the start of Parliament’s summer recess in mid-July. That could include a long awaited MoD deal with BAE to build the first three of eight planned Type 26 frigates at its yards in Glasgow, Scotland.
The MoD has not formally acknowledged they have a budget problem, but it has been reported in the U.K. that spending commitments could be running at between £10 billion and £20 billion, or as much as U.S. $25.42 billion more than budgeted over the life of the 10 year, £178 billion (U.S. $162.7 billion) equipment program.
“My guess is a review will happen quite quickly as the defense program is unaffordable at present,” said Luff, who served as defense procurement minister from 2010 to 2012. “I don’t see them getting any more cash than they have been promised to solve their problems so there will be tough choices to be made, irrespective of whether there is a minority government or not. The priority is to get the budget back in balance again.
The British defense sector is in bad shape and it could get worse, said Howard Wheeldon of Wheeldon Strategic.
“Further defense per se will be lower priority than policing and security,” he said. “There will in my view be no additional cash made available for procurement, personnel or the defense [sector] as a whole. U.K. defense looks to me to be in a bad place. Will it get worse? The answer I fear is yes.”
“Defense will have to fight hard for what it needs. [Prime Minister Theresa] May is intuitive in respect of security requirements, but I fear she does not get defense,” Wheeldon added.
In their manifesto the Tories pledged to increase defense spending by £500 million (U.S. $635.35 million) a year above inflation up until 2022, taking the budget from £35.1 billion in 2015–16 to £39.7 billion in 2020–21.
The Tories had pledged the extra £500 million a year for five years when they won the election in 2015 and May has effectively extended that spending hike by a further two years, if, as seems unlikely, the minority government survives that long.
Luff said he would be surprised if the MoD published the long-awaited defense industrial strategy review and associated national shipbuilding strategy before completion of the wider defense review.
ADS, the defense and aerospace lobby group, said it hoped to engage with the Government in the coming weeks over the industry strategy reviews.
An ADS spokesman declined to discuss when the trade association would like to see the reviews published but said, “It is more important than ever that industrial strategy gives business the long-term certainty it needs to invest.”
Luff said the MoD couldn’t afford to shelve the industrial reviews but he did think they would have to wait their turn after the defense and security review had been published.
Michael Clarke, the former director general of the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London, said in a briefing paper ahead of the election, that the strategic defense and security review conducted in 2015 was already drifting off course.
“It has become axiomatic that the new government will have to conduct a quiet review very quickly as defense increasingly falls back into all the old habits of drift and evasion that leave the armed forces much hollower than they appear,” he said.
Defense planners will have to look again at the requirements, commitments and costs to make the promises of the 2015 review stick, said Clarke.
The review of 2015 was strategically coherent but the Tories failed to fund adequately the large amount of new equipment, like the Boeing Poseidon P-8 maritime patrol aircraft program and the British Army Mechanised Infantry Vehicle requirement, aimed at reshaping capabilities by 2025.
Alex Ashbourne-Walmsley, a director at Ashbourne Strategic Consulting, said the MoD shouldn’t expect any new money from government to fix the problems caused, in part, by the failure to fund additional equipment of the Strategic Defence and Security Review.
“I don’t think there will be much new money for defense in any Tory policy changes that address public pressure for less austerity and more public spending. There may be more money for counter- terrorism and policing, but defense will be a low priority,” she said.
“I think you will likely have to wait a couple of weeks until the Queen’s Speech for a better idea on the direction of travel of the new government,” she said. The Queen’s Speech is when the list of legislation the government hopes to get approved by Parliament over the next year is published.
One election silver lining for the Tories in defense, said Luff, was the rolling back of the vote of the Scottish National Party.
SNP policy is to close the Royal Navy nuclear submarine base on the Clyde, home to British Trident armed nuclear submarines, as well as a fleet of hunter-killer nuclear submarines.
With the likelihood of the SNP pushing through its efforts to hold a second independence referendum receding as its support in Scotland crumbled June 8, “question marks over the deterrent have gone away,” said Luff.
Britain has recently started building the first of four Dreadnought-class ballistic missile submarines in a £32 billion (U.S. $40.69 billion) program scheduled to see first of the boats enter service in the early 2030s.
Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election for June 8 hoping to improve her slim majority in Parliament ahead of Brexit negotiations, due to start next week with the European Union over the terms of leaving the organization.
The Tories remained the largest party in Parliament, but lost their majority with the far-left Labour opposition polling much better than expected. They are now forming a government backed by a small number of Democratic Unionists from Northern Ireland.
Ships and submarines from the navies of Germany, Norway and the United States completed some 20 days of anti-submarine warfare drills in the Norwegian Sea.
Dubbed Eastlant 2017, the Norwegian-hosted exercise started on May 8 and concluded on May 26.
Not much has been said about the exercise, and the U.S. Navy only announced the exercise once it concluded.
The exercise was briefly referred to by the German Navy in April this year who said that two Type 212A boats would be taking part in the drill. The Barents Observer contacted the Royal Norwegian Navy chief public affairs officer who confirmed the exercise without providing additional details.
The exercise could be seen as a reaction to an increased presence of Russian submarines in the Baltic Sea whose activity now exceeds Cold War levels, according to NATO officials.
U.S. Navy units taking part in the exercise included Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Helena and one P-8A Poseidon aircraft. In addition to submarines from the German and Norwegian navies, the exercise was joined by the German Navy-operated research ship ‘Planet’.