and now in the last days of desperation and manoeuvring the Australian is running a story, along the lines of what I mentioned early. -Post Brexit, the Type 26 if selected would represent a big political win for the UK govt, who need as many post Brexit "good news" stories about ties outside of the EU as they can get. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation ... 3c0ee75982DEFENCE
Brexit to help tighten UK defence ties with Australia, says minister
The Australian, May 7, 2018
Britain’s exit from the EU would draw it closer to Australia in defence and security co-operation, according to British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.
“Europe has been sometimes too much focused on,” Mr Williamson said. “There’s a whole big world out there.
“We trade more with the rest of the world than we do with Europe. What we need to be doing is working out how we maximise those opportunities to play a bigger role with our partners, both old and new.”
In particular he believed Brexit would “shift the way we do defence industry collaboration”.
Mr Williamson outlined a plan to The Australian for Britain and Australia to work much more intimately on jointly developing defence technology for their own use and for joint export.
He was speaking in support of the bid by British company BAE to win the $35 billion contract to build Australia’s nine new anti-submarine warfare frigates.
“If you look at the Type 26 (BAE frigate), this will be the finest anti-submarine frigate in the world, but also pack one of the most powerful punches on the sea to be able to do other tasks,’’ Mr Williamson said.
Two other companies, Spain’s Navantia and Italy’s Fincantieri, are on the shortlist to supply the frigates for Australia. The decision is expected later this month or next.
Asked whether the Type 26 was disadvantaged by not yet being a finished ship, Mr Williamson said: “You could say rather cynically that the people who are going to take all the grief, if there is grief, are the Royal Navy. We’re building the ships as we speak. If Australia goes down this route, by that time this will be a very developed design and a very developed production.”
He believed Britain and Australia could develop a much closer industrial collaboration following their strategic and political closeness.
“Australia is a major power and has a significant footprint. We have a lot of experience working together, both in conflicts in the distant past and the near past,’’ Mr Williamson said.
“Australia is one of the few countries that you’d feel very comfortable with in commanding and leading British forces.
“Both Australia and the UK have played a really important role in Syria. We’ve flown over 1600 strikes. Australia with its Hornets has been absolutely pivotal in degrading Daesh.
“We shouldn’t think that this is a job that’s done, though, there are still estimated to be up to 10,000 Daesh fighters in Syria. They are a threat to the UK and our allies.”
In a post-Brexit environment, Mr Williamson believed Britain would be more energetic and proactive in seeking defence industry collaborations.
“Where it can work best is with nations like Australia, because you have those deep links between the two countries,’’ he said. “It’s all very well to look at where we can sell things to Australia and where Australia can sell things to us, but the real prize is how we develop the ideas, develop the technology that Australia and Britain can sell to the world.
“It’s very easy to sell the idea of this collaboration to Australian and British scientists. It’s never been a big chore to convince British scientists to go and spend some time in Australia.”
Mr Williamson emphasised the intimacy of the “Five Eyes” intelligence relationships between the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand as providing a context of trust and technological interoperability.
He said Brexit Britain planned to make a bigger commitment to Asian security and he cited the voyages through the region of three British warships, HMS Sutherland, HMS Albion and HMS Argyle.
“For us, the (Indo-Pacific) region is very important. It is important that we signal our interest and our solidarity with our friends and allies. And it’s very important that we have the military resources within the region,’’ he said.
He cited the Five Power Defence Arrangements that involve Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia in the defence of peninsular Malaysia as an example of British commitment and involvement in Asia.
Mr Williamson has been reported as Prime Minister Theresa May’s favoured successor, although he has lined up with the Brexiteers in cabinet to oppose her preferred option of pursuing a customs “partnership” with the EU.