Defence in the Media: 26 March 2017

Broadcast news this morning includes further updates on the attack on Westminster, as police say they believe Khalid Masood acted alone. There is also further reporting of the situation in Mosul, E-Bluey and Royal Navy submarines.


There is widespread coverage of the continuing battle to recapture Mosul from Daesh amid concerns of growing civilian casualties from airstrikes.

An MOD spokesperson said:

As operations to liberate western Mosul and Raqqa intensify, the RAF continues to provide precision close air support to ground forces engaged in difficult urban combat. We conduct detailed assessments after each strike and review information from organisations such as Airwars and we have not seen evidence that we have been responsible for civilian casualties so far. Through our rigorous targeting processes we will continue to seek to minimise the risk of civilian casualties, but that risk can never be removed entirely.


The Sunday Telegraph and Mail on Sunday both carry articles about E-blueys.

A MOD spokesperson said:

The use of e-bluey has dropped by 98% since 2014 and no longer provides value for money for the taxpayer. We will be introducing a new and better value system, with no break in service for our personnel, and all savings made will be reinvested into the cutting edge communications they deserve.

We are finalising the contract for a new, more modern and better value system, which will replace e-bluey on 1 April 2017, so there will be no break in service when the e-bluey contract ends on 31 March 2017. The new service will enable personnel on operations to continue to send and receive letters originally sent via email, but received in hard copy form. A further update on improvements will be announced shortly.

This new system should offer a substantial saving on the e-bluey system: this money will be reinvested in welfare provision for our service personnel. Since the draw down from Afghanistan in 2014, the number of downloads per month has dramatically decreased from 100,000 to fewer than 2,000 downloads per month. As a result, the service no longer provides the UK taxpayer with value for money.


The Sunday Times Business reports on the long –term maintenance facilities required for the Royal Navy’s Astute class submarines.

An MOD Spokesperson said:

There is no delay. We continue to explore options for future submarine docking requirements at Devonport. No decisions have been taken and the Royal Navy’s ability to deploy Astute Class submarines remains unaffected.

Separately, an article in The People says Russia has built a hypersonic missile that could wipe out our most sophisticated warships.

A Royal Navy Spokesperson said:

We do not comment on force protection measures but keep threats constantly under review.


HMS Ocean, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship, has returned to her base port
HMS Ocean, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship, has returned to her base port of Devonport following a period of six and a half months on operations. HMS Ocean has been deployed as part of the Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) 16 and as the command platform for Commander Task Force 50 in the Mediterranean and the Gulf.


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