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Today’s defence related news includes coverage of the Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt's speech this morning where she outlined the MOD’s ambitious space programme.

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Station Commander, Group Captain Ian Townsend awards the 207 squadron patch to OC 207 Squadron, Wg Cdr Scott Williams. Crown Copyright 

Ministry of Defence Space Programme

The Defence Secretary committed £30 million to fast-track the launch of a small satellite demonstrator within a year.

The small satellite demonstrator, which will be supported by a new transatlantic team of UK and US defence personnel, named Team ARTEMIS, will sit alongside a host of other programmes that will demonstrate the UK’s leading future role in space.

Coverage has appeared online and on social media. The full announcement can be found on the .gov website, and the Defence Secretary's speech can be read here.

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Today’s defence related news includes coverage of a report into inappropriate behaviour in the armed forces.

Coverage is carried in the Independent, Times, Telegraph, Express and the Mail, as well as appearing on Sky News and the Today Programme bulletins. The reporting notes that the review was commissioned after allegations of sexual assault emerged in April, following which the head of the Army Sir Mark Carleton-Smith issued a warning to personnel that inappropriate behaviour was at odds with the standards expected in the military. Coverage also notes that the new measures that will be introduced to address these issues, such as the creation of a behaviour and culture tsar and new training and reporting measures.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

Whether it is crude comments, discriminatory treatment, or even offences of a sexual nature, inappropriate behaviour has no place in society, let alone in our armed forces. This report sends a clear message and I am committed to ensuring its recommendations are delivered in full. In addition to the report, I want to ensure non-commissioned officers are able to address poor behaviour when they see it. They are the moral compass of the Armed Forces.

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HRH The Prince of Wales delivers a speech to all staff at GCHQ last week.

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Today’s coverage of defence issues in the news is dominated by the deployment of HMS Duncan to take over from HMS Montrose in the Gulf as Montrose is due for routine maintenance.

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His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales meets with Jeremy Fleming, director of GCHQ and watches as the Red Arrows Centenary Flypast over GCHQ for their Centenary.

HMS Duncan

There is widespread coverage this morning of the news that HMS Duncan is due to deploy to the Gulf. Most outlets lead with the angle that Britain is to deploy a second warship to the Gulf, amid rising tensions in the region. Papers note that while HMS Duncan was always due to deploy to the Gulf, HMS Montrose and HMS Duncan’s deployments will overlap for a period of time, before Duncan takes over from Montrose, which has pre-planned maintenance.

A Government spokesperson said:

“As part of our long standing presence in the Gulf, HMS DUNCAN is deploying to the region to ensure we maintain a continuous maritime security presence while HMS MONTROSE comes off task for pre-planned maintenance and crew change over. This will ensure that the UK alongside international partners can continue to support freedom of navigation for vessels transiting through this vital shipping lane.”

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Today’s coverage of defence issues in the news includes several reports from Baltic Protector and a story on the cost of accommodation for senior military staff.

Military chiefs' accommodation

Yesterday the Mail on Sunday reported on a query under the Freedom of Information Act into the cost of housing for military chiefs. The paper reported that the bill for homes for senior officers has increased by 16%. The Daily Star carries a report today under the headline “Luxury life for Army’s top brass”.

The Star carries the Ministry of Defence’s response to the reports. A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said:

Our accommodation costs are closely monitored in order to ensure value for money for the taxpayer.

A small number of the most senior military appointments require an appropriate property and limited staff support to enable them to fulfil their duties, including official engagement with senior international allies.

The Ministry of Defence abolished official service residences in 2010. Now, only a small number of very senior military appointments require dedicated properties to help chiefs carry out their operational roles and official engagements.

Royal Marines in Estonia

Royal Marines are in Estonia for the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) exercise Baltic Protector. The Marines have conducted amphibious landing drills and other exercises alongside forces from the eight other JEF nations.

In total, nearly 4,000 personnel from all nine partner nations have taken part.

The Daily Express and the Daily Star carry full coverage today after spending time with the Royal Marines in Estonia. Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster said:

“From Denmark to Lithuania, from Sweden to Estonia, Baltic Protector will leave potential adversaries in no doubt of our collective resolve and ability to defend ourselves.

“This force is a key component of European security, a force of friends that complements existing structures and demonstrates that we are stronger together.”

A Royal Navy Merlin helicopter takes part in amphibious landing drills at Kolga Bay in Estonia.

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Today’s defence related news includes reporting on UK-led military exercises in the Baltic Sea.

Exercise Baltic Protector

The Telegraph reports this morning on the UK-led Exercise Baltic Protector, which is currently being held in the Baltic Sea. The article quotes Commodore James Parkin, who tells the paper that the Joint Expeditionary Force, is a “force of friends, filling a hole in the security architecture of northern Europe between a national force and a NATO force.” Commodore Parkin, who is leading UK forces in the exercise, goes on to say that “we are equipped, fuelled and armed to go on any operation.”

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

Whilst our relationship with Europe is changing, our commitment to the continent’s security is not. For the last 70 years, we have been a leader in the most successful military alliance the world has ever known, and we will continue to do so for many years to come.

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HRH The Princess Royal at the Salisbury Hudsons Field for Armed Forces Day on Saturday, talking to the troops.

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The Sunday Mirror features a report on MOD expenses and bonuses on its front page today.

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The Red Arrows fly over the Salisbury Cathedral on Armed Forces Day, 29 June 2019

MOD expenses

The Sunday Mirror dedicates its front page today to a report on the costs of expenses for service chiefs and MOD staff. A further report mentions that bonuses worth almost £250 million have been paid to MOD civil servants over the past decade.

The figures are taken from transparency data frequently published by Government departments.

The article suggests that expenses such as costs for staying in hotels are costing thousands of pounds while the military faces cuts.

Responding to the front page story, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said:

We expect our staff to act responsibly when incurring expenses and continue to make significant savings in travel costs.

Hotel stays are only approved when they are the cost-effective solution.

And on bonuses, the Ministry of Defence said:

Like many employers, we offer bonuses to staff who have demonstrated exceptional performance.

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The Defence Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, has given an interview on Reserves Day to the Portsmouth News, which is out today.

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Air Vice-Marshal Ian Gale, talking to members of the Armed Forces at the start of Armed Forces week. Crown copyright.

The Defence Secretary conducted the interview from the deck of HMS Medway to mark Reserves Day.

The Defence Secretary said in the interview "the main message we want to send is thank you" and pledged to make the training process quicker and more accessible. The Defence Secretary praised the work of reservists, highlighting that they ‘spend huge amounts of time training, working and supporting the mission of our nation".

The article highlights the MOD’s target to increase the number of people serving as reservists to 36,000 by April next year as part of the Future Reserves 2020 proposals. After being questioned on whether the MOD could meet these targets, the Defence Secretary responded by saying "the numbers are going in the right direction" and pledged to improve the retention of reservist staff. The Defence Secretary also said she would be encouraging other reservists to help with recruitment, claiming "the best recruitment tool is these reservists themselves".

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Defence news today focuses on the news that the RAF's F-35 stealth fighter jets have carried out their first operational sorties, joining the fight against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

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Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt meets RAF personnel in Akrotiri, Cyprus. Crown copyright.

There is widespread coverage of the F-35s completing their first missions in The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Star, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express and The Times. The news was also covered as a news item on BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.

Reports state that the jets have conducted 14 sorties over Iraq and Syria in the past 10 days, but have yet to unleash any bombs or weapons. Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who was interviewed by the majority of the above outlets at RAF Akrotiri, is quoted as saying that the fight against Daesh is not over. “They’re still a threat,” she says. “They’re a threat in the region and clearly their networks are a threat elsewhere in the world. That’s why, as well as making sure these fantastic capabilities are working well and that we are using them well, we have to also thing about what next.”

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Defence news today includes the appointment of the first female MOD Chief Scientific Advisor, as well as coverage of an RAF Typhoon quick reaction alert launch.

Chief Scientific Advisor

There is reporting today of an announcement made by Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt on International Women in Engineering Day that Professor Dame Angela McLean will be the MOD’s next Chief Scientific Adviser. This includes articles in the Sunday Telegraph and Sun on Sunday.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

The Chief Scientific Adviser plays a key role in ensuring that our armed forces stay at the cutting edge of technology and innovation.

It’s poignant that we appoint Professor McLean as our first female Chief Scientific Adviser on International Women in Engineering Day, where we look to increase female participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

As a highly respected scientist, Professor McLean is a role model to all those wanting to pursue a career in this area, and will bring extensive knowledge and expertise to the role.

RAF quick reaction alert

Following widespread reporting online yesterday, there is further coverage in most print outlets today that RAF quick reaction alert Typhoon aircraft were launched to escort a commercial flight into Stansted.

A Royal Air Force spokesperson said:

We can confirm that RAF quick reaction alert Typhoon aircraft from RAF Coningsby scrambled to escort a commercial flight into Stansted shortly after take-off due to reports of a disruptive passenger.

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Today's coverage of defence and security issues includes coverage of a report on the disposal of military submarines following an inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee.

Submarines

The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mirror and Glasgow Herald all cover the committee's report into the defuelling and dismantling of nuclear submarines. Their report found that the storage of nuclear submarines that have not yet been dismantled costs nearly £30 million each year.

The Ministry of Defence is a responsible nuclear operator and works to meet the highest standards of safety, security and environmental protection when maintaining, storing and decommissioning nuclear submarines.

The MOD also works closely with defence industry partners and the civil nuclear sector to find new, innovative techniques to safely and securely dispose of decommissioned equipment.

An MOD spokesperson said:

As the committee acknowledges, the disposal of nuclear submarines is complex, but we are committed to ensuring they are disposed of safely, securely and cost-effectively and have already made progress.

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Defence minister Tobias Ellwood officially opened a new diner at Larkhill, where he joined some of the soldiers for lunch.

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