Ukraine conflict: Scandinavian countries contribute to Ukrainian defence

by Charles Forrester

A US Army instructor teaches an Iraqi soldier to fire the AT4. Sweden is to provide Ukraine with the AT4 as part of its military assistance package. (US Army/Cpl Nelson Rodriguez)

Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland have all increased their support for the defence of Ukraine, with Finland being the latest to announce the donation of weapons.

Finland's Ministry of Defence announced on 28 February that following a government proposal, and with the approval of the country's president, the country would deliver 2,500 assault rifles, 150,000 rounds of ammunition for the assault rifles, 1,500 single-shot anti-tank weapons, and 70,000 combat ration packages. The approval follows a previously announced donation of 2,000 bulletproof vests, 2,000 composite helmets, 100 stretchers, and equipment for two emergency medical care stations that was announced on 27 February.

Finland also approved the re-export by Estonia of D-30A 122 mm howitzers to Ukraine on 27 February. However, further approval from Germany – the original seller of the systems – for this transfer is still required.

Sweden announced on 27 February that it would be proposing a package of direct support to Ukraine's armed forces totalling SEK500 million (USD52.6 million), consisting of 5,000 Pansarskott m/86s (more commonly known as the Saab Dynamics AT4 84 mm light anti‐armour weapon), as well as 5,000 pieces of body armour, 5,000 helmets, and 135,000 field rations.

In a statement, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said “Europe and also Sweden are now in an exceptional situation, you also need to make exceptional decisions. It is not Swedish practice to send military equipment to conflict zones. The last time Sweden did so to any great extent was when the Soviet Union attacked Finland in 1939.”

Norway has also announced the donation of up to 2,000 M72 anti-tank weapons, and also followed similar donations of body armour and helmets. The weapons will be provided as a donation from one state to another, not a commercial export, the Norwegian government noted in a statement.

“The Government decided this afternoon [28 February] that Norway will offer arms support to enable Ukraine to defend itself against the military attack from Russia. We are therefore aligning our actions with our close allies and the other Nordic countries. Norway has a restrictive policy with regard to exporting defence-related products, but Ukraine is now in a desperate and extraordinary situation,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said.

“After consultations with the Storting [Norwegian parliament], the Government has decided to donate weapons to Ukraine. Russia's invasion of Ukraine makes it necessary for us to take unprecedented decisions and action,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt said.

Denmark also announced on 27 February that it would contribute 2,700 shoulder-launched anti-tank weapons systems from the country's operational stock, likely M72 or M3. The country is also sending usable components from outdated Stinger man-portable air defence missile systems to the US for potential onward use by Ukraine.

The country had announced the donation of 2,000 bulletproof vests and 700 medical kits on 26 February.

US says PLA J-16 conducted ‘unsafe' manoeuvre ahead of RC-135

by Akhil Kadidal

A Chinese SAC J-16 fighter flies in front of a USAF RC-135V Rivet Joint aircraft over the South China Sea on 26 May 2023. This is a screen-grab from a video of the incident. (US Department of Defense)

The United States has said that a Chinese Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-16 fighter aircraft conducted an unsafe manoeuvre near a US Air Force (USAF) Boeing RC-135V Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft on 26 May.

US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) said in a statement on 30 May that the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) J-16 “performed an unnecessarily aggressive manoeuvre during the intercept of a US Air Force RC-135 aircraft”.

INDOPACOM added that the Chinese “pilot flew directly in front of the nose of the RC-135, forcing the US aircraft to fly through its wake turbulence”. This action describes the buffeting turbulence experienced by an aircraft caused by another jet aircraft flying in close proximity ahead of it.

The incident took place over the South China Sea, according to INDOPACOM.

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US contractors told to brace for government debt crisis

by Marc Selinger

The US Capitol building in Washington, DC. (Janes/Marc Selinger)

The US Professional Services Council (PSC) is urging its member companies to prepare for the possibility that the US government could delay payments to contractors if it fails to resolve its debt limit crisis.

Contractors should stockpile cash and consult with their credit providers to ensure they can continue operations if the government suspends payments, David Berteau, PSC president and CEO, told reporters on 25 May.

The government is expected to run out of money in early June unless its borrowing authority is increased. While President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress support raising the USD31.4 trillion debt ceiling without conditions, congressional Republicans insist that a ceiling increase be coupled with cuts in non-defence spending. The Biden administration and congressional leaders have been trying to negotiate a compromise but have yet to reach a deal.

“We want this to be done as soon as possible,” Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary, told reporters on 25 May. “That's why the negotiators have been working around the clock – 24 hours, practically – to get this done.”

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Royal Navy SSBN Vanguard departs Devonport following completion of refit

by Kate Tringham

HMS Vanguard is expected to return to operations later in 2023 following the completion of its post-refit trial period. (Crown Copyright)

The UK Royal Navy's (RN's) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), HMS Vanguard (S28), has finally departed Babcock International's Devonport Royal Dockyard facility in Plymouth following the completion of a much-delayed deep maintenance and refuelling programme.

An RN spokesperson confirmed to Janes that Vanguard set sail from Devonport Dockyard on 9 May bound for HM Naval Base, Clyde, at Faslane, Scotland, where it will start its post-refit trial period. This will include crew training and will culminate in a demonstration and shakedown operation. The demonstration firing of the Trident weapon system typically takes place off the Eastern Seaboard of the US.

Vanguard started what was originally intended to be a three-year Long Overhaul Period (Refuel) – (LOP[R]) – at Babcock Internationals Devonport facility in Plymouth in December 2015. However, the programme ended up taking more than seven years at significantly increased cost because of technical issues as well as further setbacks arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland have all increased their support for the defence of Ukraine, wi...

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