Today’s defence related news includes extensive coverage of the arrival in the UK of the F-35 and a long read in The Guardian on the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT).
BBC News covered the arrival of the F-35 jets and The Today Programme also carried an interview with the Station Commander at RAF Marham, Group Captain Ian Townsend in which he stated the arrival of the jets signifies a “step into the future”.
The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Times, The Daily Mirror and the Daily Star all cover the arrival which also featured online on Wednesday night including in including in The Mail Online, BBC online and The Daily Express’ website.
The first four of Britain’s new cutting-edge aircraft arrived into RAF Marham their new home in Norfolk two months ahead of schedule. They touched down at 20.15 after a trans-Atlantic flight from the United States, where Britain has more of the jets and 150 personnel in training. The F-35s took off from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort earlier on Wednesday and were flown by British pilots of the newly-reformed 617 Squadron, which was immortalised by the famous Dambusters’ raid of World War II.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
These formidable fighters are a national statement of our intent to protect ourselves and our allies from intensifying threats across the world. With a game-changing ability to collect crucial intelligence, fight wars and tackle terrorism, these are the most advanced jets in British history. The work that’s gone into their early arrival shows they have the people to match. Our defence industry and military have always been at the very forefront of technology, and today’s momentous arrival of these incredible jets shows we are upholding our proud tradition of innovation while keeping Britain safe from the gravest of dangers.
For more information on the F-35 read here.
The Guardian has published a long read on the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT).
As a high profile inquiry, IHAT was subject to full scrutiny by both the public and formal oversight by the High Court. IHAT reported to the High Court at regular and detailed progress hearings and at no point were poor investigations raised as a cause of concern. In addition to this, in 2016 Sir David Calvert-Smith carried out an independent review as ordered by the Attorney General. The review was complimentary about the leadership of the organisation and found no problems with the standards of investigation.
The journalist alleges that access to senior military officials was not permitted. This is despite the fact that there were many cases where senior officers were interviewed.
The article also claims that pressure was placed on investigators to concluded investigations quickly. IHAT was operationally independent from the MOD and the Service Prosecuting Authority is fully independent of the chain of command. The Provost Marshal has a statutory duty, under the 2011 Armed Forces Act, to ensure that investigations are free from improper interference. The independent review by Sir David Calvert-Smith also raised no concerns about senior interference.
The closure of IHAT was enabled by the striking off of Phil Shiner, who levelled many false allegations against British troops and had his law firm (Public Interest Lawyers) closed. The MOD deplores the levelling of false allegations against British service personnel.
An MOD Spokesperson said:
IHAT investigations were carried out by an experienced and dedicated team and were subject to the highest level of scrutiny, including regular and detailed progress hearings in the High Court and an independent review. Sir David Calvert-Smith, former Director of Public Prosecutions, found no major flaws with the investigating process.
Officers of very senior ranks were interviewed in many IHAT investigations when the evidence and line of inquiry required it and no investigation was shut down prematurely.
Image of the day: