Portuguese Navy's first modernised M-class frigate arrives in Lisbon

by Victor Barreira

The Portuguese Navy's Bartolomeu Dias-class M-frigates were acquired from the Royal Netherlands Navy in 2006 and now form the backbone of Portugal's surface fleet. They serve alongside three Vasco da Gama-class (MEKO 200PN) frigates that were ordered from Germany in 1986 (Portuguese Navy)

The first of the Portuguese Navy's two Bartolomeu Dias (M)-class multipurpose frigates returned to the Lisbon Naval Base on 25 October after completing its mid-life upgrade (MLU) in the Netherlands, the service has told Janes.

First-of-class NRP Bartolomeu Dias (F 333) sailed to Den Helder in May 2018 for the start of its upgrade programme, which was carried out by the Royal Netherlands Navy's Naval Maintenance and Sustainment Agency under the lead of the Dutch Ministry of Defence's Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO). The MLU of the ship was initially scheduled to be completed in 2020.

Sister ship NRP D Francisco de Almeida (F 334), meanwhile, has been undergoing an identical MLU since July 2020, with completion scheduled for 2022.

The modernisation of Portugal's two M-class ships was formally approved in September 2016 and aims to extend their service lives until 2035 and address obsolescence issues.

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Infantry takes big hit in British Army reorganisation

by Tim Ripley

Nearly 20% of the British Army's infantry soldiers are to be lost as a result of the Future Soldier reorganisation, UK defence secretary Ben Wallace announced on 25 November.

Wallace confirmed the strength of the British Army would be reduced by a total of 9,000 posts overall, with its infantry branch taking the biggest cut.

Under the plans, the British Army's infantry branch will be reduced by 3,000 posts from its current total of about 5,000 soldiers, according to senior UK defence sources. The remainder are being spread across the other branches of the army.

The bulk of the infantry personnel cuts will come from infantry units previously assigned to conventional armoured warfighting roles. Two battalions of the Mercian Regiment are also to be combined into a single battalion, saving about 650 posts, Wallace announced on 25 November.

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Berlin Security Conference 2021: Lockheed Martin confident STH timeline for Germany can still be met

by Gareth Jennings

The CH-53K was displayed at the last ILA Berlin Airshow in 2018. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Lockheed Martin is confident that the Bundeswehr's latest schedule for its Schwere Transporthubschrauber (STH) heavy-lift helicopter programme can still be met, should the protest being heard in the German courts progress in a timely manner.

Speaking to Janes at the Berlin Security Conference (BSC) 2021, company officials said that the timeline of a contract signature in 2023 and deliveries beginning in about 2026 is still tenable should the High Court in Dusseldorf issue its written judgement in the coming weeks on Lockheed Martin's protest at the programme being cancelled in September 2020.

“The timeline depends on how the Bundeswehr moves forward, but a 2023 contract date is still realistic,” Director International CH-53K Programs, Elizabeth Parcella, said on 25 November. Sikorsky's International Business Development official, Christian Albrecht, added, “We would be able to support a transition [to the CH-53K King Stallion] from 2026 onwards, as we will have the production capacity at out Stratford site in Connecticut”.

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UK aims to downsize British Army to 73,000 soldiers

by Tim Ripley

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace told parliament on 25 November that the British Army would be reduced by 500 soldiers to a target strength of 73,000 by the middle of the decade. Pictured: soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment training in Oman in October. (Crown copyright)

Proposals to reduce the size of the British Army have been scaled back by 500 troops, UK defence secretary Ben Wallace announced on 25 November.

Wallace told the UK parliament that the British Army would now be reduced to 73,000 by the middle of the decade. When the Defence Command Paper (DCP) was published in March, the target strength of the army was set at 72,500 trained soldiers, down from the 82,000 hitherto planned.

Wallace revealed a series of changes to the organisation and deployment of the British Army's major units, confirming the new brigade combat team structure set out in the DCP in March.

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The first of the Portuguese Navy's two Bartolomeu Dias (M)-class multipurpose frigates returned to t...

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